My Name Is Lucy Barton is simple on the surface: a woman in hospital. But it grows and grows. What was the germ of it?--Marshal Zeringue
I usually start by writing little pieces of scenes that come to me. But they have to have some sort of urgency beneath them and then they’ll stay on my desk. If they don’t have any urgency, then they just get pushed right off. So I was working on different things, and I kept coming back to this woman in bed, with her mother at the foot of the bed, and then I finally realised that Lucy’s voice was so particular that I was going to have to pay attention to it. So I said, OK then, let’s go.
Lucy reveals a very harsh background – extreme poverty, isolation, shame. But in adulthood, she’s escaped to New York, and is starting to have some success as a writer. What did you want to explore?
I came from a very rural background myself, in two different places, and I was aware even as a child that there’s always a family who is so poor, and so strange, that they’re ostracised by the community. And that was very interesting to me, increasingly, and I’m sure that’s even more so with the state of everything in this country, particularly. I was very interested in taking a member of that family and...[read on]