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.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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