Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of nine acclaimed novels including Waterland and Wish You were Here, a collection of short stories, and Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. He has won many awards for his work including the 1996 Booker Prize.
From his Q & A at the Guardian:
How did you come to write Wish You Were Here?--Marshal Zeringue
I think I began with the concrete situation with which the book begins: a man staring from a bedroom window, a loaded shotgun on the bed behind him. I had to discover how he'd reached this extremity, and its outcome. I didn't know the story would include caravans, cattle disease and the war in Iraq – its almost literal "coming home". I seem to write novels that are domestic and undomestic, rooted and uprooted at the same time. In Wish You Were Here, all this is focused in the paradoxical word "repatriation". I felt that as well as telling the story of a man and wife the novel would strongly involve the relationship of brothers. But novels have secondary stages of ignition, on top of whatever unaccountable thrust that first lifts them off. One of these was when I realised the book would be a ghost story.
What was most difficult about it?
One potential challenge was having to deal with so much that was violent, emotionally if not physically – having to accompany my main character on a harrowing journey (it's a road trip novel, too). But writing is a strange thing. There are some traumatic episodes in Wish You Were Here that I intensely enjoyed writing. They were written in the sort of "heat" that is one reason why writers write. I believe this feeling is...[read on]