Catherine O'Flynn grew up in Birmingham, England and has had various jobs: teacher, secret shopper, web editor, and now novelist. What Was Lost draws on her experiences of working at record stores. She spent some time in Barcelona, Spain before moving back to Birmingham, where she currently lives and works. Her first novel was met with incredible critical acclaim. The novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and the Orange Prize for Fiction, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and won the First Novel Prize at the Costa Book Awards. In 2008, she was named the Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards. Her second novel, The News Where You Are, was released in 2010.
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I started writing What Was Lost without really intending to do so. I was working long hours in a large out-of-town shopping center as a manager in a music store. I found the center a very strange
and extreme environment for many reasons: the trancelike state of the shoppers consuming everything in their wake; the eeriness of the empty center at night; the constant awareness of surveillance; the day-to-day mix of desperation and humor in our dealings with customers; the industrial past buried beneath us (like many U.K. shopping centers it had been built on former industrial land). I started writing notes about it just for myselfto remind me of how hideous it was for some future point when hopefully I would no longer be working there. It was never my intention to write a novel at that stageI would have considered the idea ridiculous. So these
notes were just descriptive: bizarre exchanges with customers, staff-room scenes, the service corridors.
Then one day the security guard I worked with told me a story hed heard about a child being seen on the security monitors in the middle of the night. Subsequently I found out that the story is almost certainly a mytha classic security shaggy-dog storybut I&...
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