Because we believe that there is no reason women should occupy fewer seats in the great dining room of literature, we have selected excerpts from interviews we lead this year and last year with talented writers whose books we loved. We hope you’ll find these excerpts interesting and eye-opening, and that you’ll be eager to read their works–beware, great reads ahead!
Samantha Ellis: “I think men should write heroines, just as women should write heroes, because if men don’t at least try to write heroines then they aren’t trying to understand women. And I think that radical act of empathy, of trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, is what writing (and reading) fiction is all about.”
Read our interview of Samantha Ellis about How To Be a Heroine
Kerry Hudson: “I am a working-class woman and I grew up in very working-class environments. Part of the reason I started writing the book, when I was by myself in Vietnam and I never even imagined it would be published in the UK, let alone France, was because I wanted to explore my own experiences growing up – the good and the bad – to explore my own interaction with society. So while I didn’t set out to write a ‘class’ or political novel I think it was inevitable that aspects of that would find their way to the page.”
Read our interview of Kerry Hudson about Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma
Maggie O’Farrell: “With Michael Francis and his wife, I was interested in writing about a sort of ripple effect of the feminist movement. Claire is not a hardcore feminist at all, or even on a political level, but I think that the movement was starting to be felt, especially in suburban houses. That’s what Claire is experiencing: she gets pregnant at university, she doesn’t finish her degree, she becomes a mother and a stay at home wife. In this way, some feminists were blazing a trail, enabling people like Claire to say: “actually, I do want to finish my degree, and I’m going to do it, and I’m going to study”.”
Read our interview of Maggie O’Farrell about Instructions for a Heatwave
Jennifer Clement: I have spent over ten years listening to women affected by Mexico’s violence as I was interested in writing about women in Mexico’s drug culture. This was a logical step for me after having written the novel A True Story Based on Lies, which is about the mistreatment of servants in Mexico. I interviewed the girlfriends, wives and daughters of drug traffickers and quickly came to realize that Mexico is a warren of hidden women. They hide in places that look like supermarkets or grocery stores on the outside, but that are really hiding places with false façades; in the basements of convents, where women live with their children and have not seen daylight for years; and in privately-owned hotels that are rented by the government — a surreal, Third World concept of a Witness Protection Program.
Read our interview of Jennifer Clement about Prayers for the Stolen
Hillary Jordan: It’s not just Obama’s election that gives me hope. In the legislative races also, all the worst crazies—those opposed to contraception and abortion, those against exceptions even in the cases of rape, incest and grave risk to the mother’s life—went down. And it was often the votes of women who took them down. I don’t believe the kooks will vanish, but I think the American people sent them a clear message that their extremism is not shared by most of us and will be tolerated less and less.
Read our interview of Hillary Jordan about When She Woke
Gillian Flynn: So basically: both men and women are buying into the idea that it’s good for women to like everything men like, but degrading for men to like everything women like. That’s incredibly unhealthy. There’s a bigger societal issue here, but perhaps the first step to correcting it is, yes: don’t fall into the cool girl trap.
Read our interview of Gillian Flynn about Gone Girl