First time novelist Stef Penney
shook the British literary world last year when she
won the Costa Award (formerly Whitbread Award) with
The Tenderness of Wolves, not least because
she has never been to Canada and carried out all her
research in the British Library. Although at first
glance it might seem surprising that an author could
write with such authority about a place she's never
been to, it should be noted that no one alive at this
time has been to 19th century Canada either! So,
whether she carried out her research by leafing
through pages in the British Library or wandering
through the trees of Northern Ontario is, arguably,
a moot point.
Having said that, often when an author writes about a place purely on the basis of research there ...
Stef Penney was born and grew up in
Edinburgh. She turned to film-making after a degree
in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University
and a variety of jobs in the UK and abroad. She made
three short films before studying Film and TV in
Bournemouth, and on graduation was selected for the
Carlton Television New Writers Scheme.
The closest she has been to a frozen wilderness was a desolate vacation in the Highlands as a child, when she recalls miserably trudging through mud. Shortly after leaving university she started suffering from agoraphobia*. The first panic attack occurred when she was squashed into the back of a car during a journey. From then on, any form of travel triggered an attack. Her greatest fear was of the panic itself, "It...
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