Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Tag

Giorgio Montefoschi: la grandezza di Elsa Morante

Elsa Morante

Lo scrittore e critico letterario Giorgio Montefoschi, laureato in Lettere con una tesi su Menzogna e sortilegio, racconta in una puntata di Scrittori per un anno la scrittrice Elsa Morante, le sue opere, i suoi luoghi di vita e di scrittura.

Elsa Morante non era un carattere facile, non aveva mezze misure ed era piuttosto violenta nelle sue affermazioni. Quando poi si parlava di letteratura, in senso assoluto, allora queste ‘mezze misure’ diventavano veramente incandescenti: per esempio diceva che bisogna scrivere soltanto i libri che cambiano il mondo”.

Jill Dawson, UK author, gives 3 question interview to Interlitq

Jill Dawson‘s ninth novel, The Crime Writer, now out in paperback, and about to be published in the States by Harper Collins, is a portrayal of Patricia Highsmith set in the 60s in Suffolk, England, where Highsmith has come in order to concentrate on her writing and escape her fans – and to continue a secret romance with a married lover. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that all her demons have come with her. Prowlers, sexual obsessives, frauds, imposters, suicides and murderers: the tropes of her fictions clamour for her attention, rudely intruding on her peaceful Suffolk retreat.
Interlitq: 1. What made you choose Patricia Highsmith as the subject of your latest novel? How did you feel about her on beginning your research, and how do you feel about her now
Jill Dawson: I found her an addictive writer, mesmerically compelling but I also felt about her how Ginny does in the novel: ‘I don’t think you could call me an admirer. I find much of your writing strangely distasteful….’  The distaste comes from the fact that Highsmith is obsessed with evil and criminality and why people commit the most heinous acts.  She has an uncanny talent for capturing this and the page seems to bristle with it.  In the end though, I also admired her craftsmanship, her bracing honesty and her superior psychological insights.
Interlitq: 2. Your novels are often based on real people – Fred and Edie, based on the case of Thompson and Bywaters in the 1920s; The Great Lover, a love story about the poet Rupert Brooke; or Wild Boy about the Wild Boy of Aveyron. It might be said that your novels sit in a hinterland between biography and fiction. What has made you create this third space to write in?
Jill Dawson: It comes from my interest in psychotherapy and my observation that some people – including some biographers that I know – don’t know themselves or understand people or the unconscious world very well.  I do love biographies and read them a lot for the factual information. But the ability of a biographer to conjure up a person on the page and make them come alive is a writing skill and not all have it!  Biographers do invaluable research – and to that I am indebted  – but I do not believe theirs is the only legitimate form in which to present ‘real’ life. I’d even suggest that sometimes a novel, like a painting or portrait, can capture a person’s likeness better than a factual representation (eg photograph) can. We have many selves.  I read eleven biographies of Rupert Brooke when writing my novel The Great Lover.  A different man emerged in each….
Interlitq: 3. You used to teach at the UK’s most famous MA of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and you’ve also taught Creative Writing at Amherst and for the Faber Academy. Can you tell us a little more about your work with new and emerging writers?
Jill Dawson: I have taught on many MAs in Creative Writing, yes, but students of such courses often want more input from the tutor, less time spent having to read the work of the other students and listen to their feedback.  They usually would like me, the only published professional writer on the course to read and comment on their entire novel and this is impossible when I have a course of 12 students to ‘workshop’ every week. So in 2007 I set up Gold Dust. ( It pairs new writers with well established ones to work with the new writer for a year on writing their novel, memoir, biography or other project. I think it’s a unique scheme – we have some great writers as mentors –  Louise Doughty, Andrew Miller, Jane Rogers, Sarah Hall, Tim Pears, Liz Jensen and Romesh Gunesekera to name a few –  so it’s a very special opportunity for new writers to receive individual input from an award-winning writer at the top of their game. (All our mentors have won, judged or been nominated for major literary prizes: the Booker, the Costa, The Impac, The Orange, The Governor General….)  Over the years since we’ve begun we’ve had tons of success stories and lots of  my mentees have gone on to publish, which of course is very pleasing. We do offer the mentoring online via Skype and email too and if anyone is interested do take a look at our success stories and the many testimonies on the site.

“The Linguist” to publish Peter Robertson’s article on rollercoaster decade with Interlitq

Peter Robertson

The article by Peter Robertson, the president, publisher and founding editor of Interlitq: “The adventures of a literary review: InterLitQ  Founder Peter Robertson describes his rollercoaster decade with the multilingual review” will be published in “The Linguist” TL56,2 (April/May 2017).

Interlitq publishes interview, in its “The Groves of Academe” series with Thomas Luschei

Thomas Luschei

Thomas Luschei

Interlitq publishes an interview, in its “The Groves of Academe” series with Thomas Luschei, a Consulting Editor for Interlitq.

Ruth Sharman, UK poet, gives 3 question interview to Interlitq

Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman gives 3 question interview to Interlitq.

Interlitq: You refer in some of your poems to your childhood in India. Do you feel you need to travel to exotic places to gain a sense of wonderment?

I do feel a sense of wonderment – largely second hand – through my father’s experience of remote regions like the Amazon Rainforest and the evergreen jungles of South India. What could be more wonderful than seeing a cloud of lime blues, several thousand strong, rising from the banks of a stream in the Nagalapuram Hills? But I was lucky enough to develop a real passion for nature while walking with my father as a child in the English countryside. From early on, the tiny worlds that took hold on a rotten tree stump – the forests of moss, the clumps of wood sorrel – were as much a source of wonder as the iridescent wings of a morpho butterfly.

I think you just have to be open and still. You don’t have to look as far as the stars: we’re surrounded by so much that is small but intricate and extraordinary. And ordinary things can be invested with great mystery – an empty chair in an artist’s studio, a bowl of flowers, the way the light strikes a distant hill top. I’m not religious in any conventional sense – and this is a big word to use – but I sometimes get this sense of the numinous hovering just beyond things, just out of reach.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Bennett says of her daughter Jane that she “couldn’t be so beautiful for nothing!” Of course Mrs B is being characteristically idiotic, but I think I’m getting at something a bit similar here. I may be wrong: perhaps the stars and the moss and the wood sorrel and my father’s butterflies can “be” for no purpose, totally arbitrary, signifying nothing beyond themselves, their in-this-moment existence. But I’m not convinced that everything is random – ultimately absurd and meaningless. Because we can never answer the fundamental how or why of existence, it seems to me there always has to be the possibility of purpose and meaning beyond anything we can decipher, and it’s worth living one’s life believing in that possibility, open and listening.

Interlitq: Time is obviously an important theme for many poets. How does one approach it in a fresh way?

“Fresh” would be good. I don’t know how one does that, really, other than to go as deeply as possible into one’s own experience. For me this links with what we’ve just been talking about – the sense of awe in the face of life’s extraordinariness. There’s a tension between wanting to celebrate this and being acutely aware of time passing – of things fading and dying, losing the people we love – and the poems attempt a balancing act between the two, between light and dark, both real and metaphorical.

I draw extensively on the natural world in my poems because that’s what I love. Butterflies and moths are a particular obsession, partly because they were my father’s obsession, and they form a means of communication between us which – in my imagination – bridges even death.

Perhaps because I left India at the age of not quite six and felt terribly uprooted, there’s a sense in which I am always searching for what might be our “real” home, since any feeling of being grounded in time and space is ultimately an illusion. This is a difficult thing to put into words, but it’s about trying to grasp a sense of some reality beyond what we know and experience. If the world as we know it had a beginning, then what existed before? Where are the limits of our universe? Even supposing Big Bang, where will we find the last Russian Doll?

Interlitq: Proper names recur frequently in your poems. The scarlet tiger moth of the title poem, for instance, keeps flitting in and out of your new collection. What is the importance of identification for you?

There are several aspects to naming things. In a way you’re honouring the thing, or place, by giving it a name. And in order to be authentic I think it’s also very important to be absolutely specific, to use the correct name, the correct technical term. But there’s also something much more fundamental going on here for me: names have a talismanic quality. They are a way of holding on to things, achieving a kind of anchorage in the face of chaos and flux. The same goes for the information that relates to the place or thing: it serves to build a storehouse of knowledge to set against oblivion and decay.

I know of course that what I’m talking about is completely illusory, but that doesn’t make the urge to do these things any less strong. And the deliberate echoes between poems – involving names but also certain words and phrases – are an attempt to weave together strands in order to create pattern and form and make something tangible out of life.