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I enjoy research; in fact research is so engaging that it would be easy to go on for years, and never write the novel at all.
I didn't choose Russia but Russia chose me. I had been fascinated from an early age by the culture, the language, the literature and the history to the place.
I could start with Mandelstam, who was a huge influence on my early writing.
I concentrate on the lives of individuals whom the reader comes to know and feel with intimately.
I can remember being in my pram: children stayed in their prams much longer then than they do now. A big bouncy pram with black covers and a hood with metal clips that could trap your fingers. I was looking up at my sister who was sitting on the pram seat, with her back to me.
However, the difficulties and pleasures of the writing itself are similar for a novel with a historical setting and a novel with a contemporary setting, as far as I'm concerned.
However, I began to submit poems to British magazines, and some were accepted. It was a great moment to see my first poems published. It felt like entering a tradition.
Fiction came quite a while later. I began with short stories and fiction for children.
Children will not pretend to be enjoying books, and they will not read books because they have been told that these books are good. They are looking for delight.
As individuals, we are shaped by story from the time of birth; we are formed by what we are told by our parents, our teachers, our intimates.
A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.
Being In Love With Your Best Friend
Never Give Up
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