Saturday, August 22, 2015

Nick Holdstock

Nick Holdstock is the author of The Casualties: A Novel.

From his Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always want to ask, what sparked this novel? What was it that was obsessing you that made you know you had to write this?

I think that sometimes we, as writers, are surrounded by a lot of great material without realizing it. We’re too stuck in our various ruts and complacencies to wonder why, for instance, our Italian neighbour calls loudly out of her window at almost the same time every day but never receives an answer. A lot of the elements of this book were part of my life without me thinking they might fit together. Like Sam, the book’s main character, I was working in a second hand bookshop, and was thus exposed to all kinds of different people, both the customers and the volunteers who staffed the shop. Like him, I opened many bags and boxes of books that had been donated by the public, and on each occasion made some automatic (and probably unfair) judgment about them based not only on the books they had given away, but on the photos, letters and other personal items that were sometimes left inside. And as a long-term resident of Edinburgh, which is a very small (even intimate) city, I was used to seeing the same kinds of unusual characters as those depicted in the novel. I saw a woman who always wore a bridal veil, a man with a beard so long and matted that birds could nest in it. My friends and I would talk about these people as if we knew something about them, but for the most part we were guessing.

So you could say that there was all this kindling around me. The spark that made me think all this could combine was Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio, a book about a small town in the 1920s populated by people that the narrator calls ‘grotesques’, but then depicts as anything but. Though apparently eccentric, even extreme, they are better seen as...[read on]
Visit Nick Holdstock's website.

Writers Read: Nick Holdstock.

--Marshal Zeringue