Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simon Lelic

Simon Lelic has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

His debut novel is A Thousand Cuts [Rupture, in the UK].

From a Q & A at his website:

Your novel is an unconventional approach to analyzing a brutal crime; anyone committing an act of violence against children would seem to generate no sympathy at all. Why did you decide to write this story?

Some time before I started work on Rupture (A Thousand Cuts), I came across a short news piece in the British press about a college professor in the US who shot and killed one of his colleagues. The story was barely a paragraph long and contained few details but it started me thinking about what could possibly have driven an obviously intelligent and emotionally mature man to commit such a desperate act. The default response to such crimes seems to be to dismiss those who perpetrate them as psychopaths – as crazed individuals who, as you say, deserve no sympathy whatsoever. There is invariably a reluctance, too, to explore the issue of broader culpability. The great thing about fiction, for both writer and reader, is that you can venture into emotionally charged terrain and consider its scars from every angle. You can raise questions that might otherwise remain unasked, and consider answers that might in normal circumstances be too painful to acknowledge.

Were there any real-life situations that inspired you? Has your reaction to news reports of this type of crime changed since writing this novel?

There was the incident I mention above, as I say, but episodes too from my own time at school: teachers, for instance, being subject to victimisation that was often more vicious than anything I witnessed in the playground. I recall teachers, on more than one occasion, fleeing the classroom in tears, and classes frequently became unteachable. Pupils were usually to blame but there was a sense as well that the staffroom had its own hierarchy and cliques – that the experience of teaching in a school could never be entirely distanced from that of being a pupil there. I went to a decent state-run comprehensive, I hasten to add. That it was a good school, though, in a way makes the events I witnessed even more worrying – even more suggestive that they were in no sense out of the ordinary.

With regards to my reaction to reports of the type of crime covered in the novel, there is...[read on]
Read an excerpt from A Thousand Cuts, and learn more about the book and author at Simon Lelic's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Cuts.

Writers Read: Simon Lelic.

--Marshal Zeringue