Sadie Jones discusses her first novel, The Outcast
You've had a fifteen year career as a screenwriter, did you find writing
for the page a very different experience to writing for the screen?
When I began the book I thought that the process would be very different, but
many of the decisions and aims are the same: what is left out and what is left
in, and trying to tell a story so that it lives.
The Outcast is set in the 1950s, what made you choose this era as a
background for the book?
The decision to put the story in the 1950s was one of the earliest ones, along
with who Lewis was, and where it would be set. I needed to isolate Lewis
entirely1950s Surrey seemed the obvious place to do it. Also, I have always
loved the fifties, and the films and books of that period.
Lewis is a very troubled yet charismatic young man, do you think you would
like him if you met him in real life?
That's a very hard question to answer, because I don't see Lewis from the
outside, so imagining meeting him is odd! I think I would like him, though, if
he wasn't in one of his entirely silent moods.
Some of the scenes in the book, particularly those between Gilbert and Lewis
are very poignant, did you find these upsetting to write?
I found a lot of the book upsetting to write, but writers are also fairly
ruthless about what they put their characters through.
Psychology and human behavior are very central themes to the book, is this an
area that you've always been interested in?
I think if you write about human relationships you're always exploring the
psyche and the soul. I don't separate certain perhaps more extremethings that
people do from others.
Alcohol is at the heart of the novel and the root cause or effect of many of
the problems that are raised in it, is this an issue that you purposefully set
out to raise?
Again, I never thought in terms of issues, but yes, alcohol is in many ways one
of the the main characters in story. Drinking, like ways of expressing love, or
violence, is passed down through families.
You capture the voices and concerns of children, especially in the voice of
young Kit, extremely well, did you conjure them from your own childhood
experiences or from watching your children?
I think that we are all much closer to our childhood selves than we often
think, so when we read about childhood it can surprise us how immediate or
moving it is, when perhaps those feelings are just there, waiting to be accessed
all the time. Also, I loved Kit, and felt very close to her. I don't consciously
use my own life or experience at all.