Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rosamund Lupton

From a Q & A with  Rosamund Lupton about her debut novel Sister, now available in the U.S.:

Q. Where do your characters come from and how do they evolve?

In Sister I began with a central relationship, rather than the characters themselves – clearly in this book the central relationship is between sisters. I then find a small detail, or turn of phrase, that suddenly lights up a character for me. With Beatrice it was her obsessively neat and anxious pictures that she did as a child. Although she is not based on anyone I know, and is completely imagined, I couldn't have written her relationship with Tess without being close to my own younger sister. The emotional truth is one that I know well. The minor characters start as simply puppets of the plot but after a while they snip the strings and acquire a life of their own; just as Beatrice and Tess became more than vehicles to show a relationship. At some point the characters take over and that is when writing becomes a magical thing for me. Before the last draft, I changed the central characters' names and then read it again, as if meeting them for the first time to see if they seemed real.

Q. Did Sister throw up any surprises for you?

Yes, many. In the story itself I was surprised by how the characters developed, often changing a great deal from my original character sketches. For example, Kasia had a very small role initially, but seemed to demand more story time and to contribute in un­foreseen ways. Other surprises were simply logistical. I hadn't appreciated how LONG a novel is, compared to the scripts I'd been used to writing, and how hard that middle section of a thriller can be. At one time I felt like a chess player needing to think twelve moves ahead and wondering if my brain was up to it! The ultimate surprise was how hugely satisfying it is to finish a hundred thousand words and have that bulk of paper sitting on my desk.

Q. A lot of medical research must have gone into writing Sister? How did you go about your research and was it difficult?

I read...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue