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An interview with Bridget McNulty PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 10:42

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.1. Your novel has been termed “chick lit” – do you find this term intellectually dismissive of women?
I actually haven’t heard anyone call it chick lit, which has been quite a relief! One reviewer suggested I was parodying chick lit (which I wasn’t) but I’m aiming more for light-hearted literature, that happens to appeal to women. I think chick lit writers are often very consciously writing chick lit, but I also think that people like lumping any non-political books by women writers into the chick lit category.

2. What inspires your writing?
Why people act the way they do – stupid or quirky things I overhear or see or imagine, and the strange things we’re willing to explain away for love.


3. With which character in Strange Nervous Laughter did you most sympathise?
I tried (very hard!) to find a part of me in each of the characters, so that I wouldn’t play favourites… that said, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Harry. He’s just so helpless so much of the time.

4. In the novel Durban assumes an almost palpable presence – was the decision to ground the novel so determinately a conscious one? Is your writing particularly linked to Durban?

This novel is particularly linked to Durban. It’s a Durban book through and through. I wanted to show the side of Durban that those who live there know, the side that hides from tourists… the seedy, fragrant, rich and confusing side. I don’t think my next novel will be set in Durban, but for a hot, sticky tale of love like this, there was no other choice for me.

5. What prompted you to begin writing SNL?
I wanted to explore that intensely private space between two people in relationship, and I wanted to explore it in an unusual and heightened way (hence the magical realism). Once I had the characters in that moment together, the story kind of blossomed out from there.

6. What books are sitting on your bedside table at the moment?
I’ve just finished Around Africa on my Bicycle by Riaan Manser (what an epic journey), I’m dipping into Paul Arden’s book on innovative thinking, It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be; and I always have Guy Browning’s Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade handy (for some of the most hilarious tiny pieces of laugh-out loud humour).

7. If you could lead the life of a literary character for one day, who would you be?
Morgaine from Mists of Avalon, in her younger priestess days (before it all turned desperate).

8. Which 3 writers, dead or alive, would you most like to invite to tea, and why would you choose them?
Banana Yoshimoto, Jack Kerouac and Gabriel Garcia Marquez… I think they’d make for interesting conversation!

9. In which direction do you see your writing developing? Other genres you’d like to tackle?
I think you’re given a voice, and then you hone it. So now I look forward to getting better at what comes naturally.

10. Is writing a routine part of your day, or something that keeps you up till 3 a.m. on a caffeine high?
It’s always been the way I start my day, when I’m fresh and clear, but the last 6 months I’ve been working full time so I haven’t had a chance to write new fiction. That’s all changing in the new year and I can’t wait to get started again…

11. Is there a particular social issue South Africa faces that you would like to deal with in a novel?
I don’t think I’ll ever start out with an issue in mind. I start out with a character, or a burning question I want to research, but not an issue. I don’t want writing to be the slave to any point I need to make… especially not fiction writing.

12. Beth floats when happy, Mdu speaks to whales – what magical ability would you most like to possess?
Flying. Hands down. The ability to fly anywhere in the world in a few instants. That would be heaven!