Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel's novels include Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.

From her Q & A with Tim Adams for the Observer:

While you were working on the first two books [Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies] you were often in a great deal of pain from the health issues related to severe endometriosis that led to a long period in hospital in 2010. How did that affect your writing?

The spell in hospital occurred between the writing of the two books. I have had a lifetime of illness, but I wouldn't like to say how that feeds into what I have written. It was certainly a very strange time in 2010 though. I had won the Booker with Wolf Hall, and then there was a year in which I had two bouts of major surgery and it was sort of a hole bitten out of time. When I came to write Bring up the Bodies I did so in a storm: really, very, very fast. I suppose I had been mentally preparing all that year.

In a diary piece you wrote about your time in hospital, you mentioned the hallucinatory episodes you experienced. It sounds like some of those hallucinations led directly to the stories in the collection you have coming out later this year called The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Is that right?

Yes it is. That title story I started years and years ago and I could not get it right. The first night I was in hospital full of morphine I simply stayed up all night making up stories. And one of the things that happened was that I saw the assassin. I knew exactly who he was. So the missing piece of that story dropped into place. And I made up some other stories too. It wasn't me going temporarily mad; it was a drug-induced thing. But as a writer you try and use everything.

Given that morphine experience, have you been tempted to use drugs to aid imagination before or since?

No, it was a one-off. For every profitable idea, I think, 10 are going to be garbage. My problem is never ideas. My problem is...[read on]
Wolf Hall made Ester Bloom's top ten books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue