Muriel Mharie Macleod was born in the Western Isles of Scotland in 1951. She moved to Chelsea during the 1960s and spent time on an ashram in India in the 1970s before marrying a Trinidadian and moving to Port of Spain, Trinidad, where she ran a soup kitchen for the homeless. She returned to the UK as a single mother of two. She has enjoyed a long career as an artist and animation film producer. In 2003 she was invited to oversee development of the association for Fulbright Scholars in the UK. As a Director of the association, she arranged lectures and debates involving senior political figures. She has traveled extensively in the US. Muriel is now based in the UK.
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A Q&A with Muriel Mharie Macleod whose debut novel tells the story of a missing child, a buried tin of coins, and a terrible secret, set deep in the back country of early-20th-century Louisiana.
Arletta, the young, black narrator of What the River Washed Away, is a strong, authentic voice. Readers may be especially surprised to learn that you are a mature white British writer. How did you discover Arletta's voice and how did you go about developing such strong narrative authenticity?
I began writing the novel in the first person from the start, and to a large extent I felt it was writing itself. (Many authors say that and I now know what they mean). Arletta's voice was strong for me and I wanted people to feel deeply for her, to be moved by her circumstances. When I "heard" her speak in my mind, her narrative drove me and the writing forward, which led me very early on to the issues of civil rights and one woman's story in that wider social context.
I have worked with Americans most of my life, in fact at Fulbright here in the UK, everyone was from the US except for two of us. Strangely, when I would ask two people how they would say "such and such," quite often I'd receive two different answers! "Burlap"...
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