Mantel on character-author boundaries

Debbie Taylor interviews Hilary Mantel in the latest Mslexia. You can read a brief excerpt online at the magazine, but Book World pulls out a more interesting section including Mantel’s thoughts about the price of “identifying [] closely with one’s fictional characters.”

‘The more available you make yourself to your characters, the more you risk destabilising your own core,’ says Mantel. ‘Sometimes I’ll walk around the house thinking “Why am I so cold?”. And then I’ll realise that I’ve just killed one of my characters, and they’re cold, so of course I’m cold.’

Indeed, writers are rather like psychics, she suggests. ‘There is a part of you that has to be available day and night to this group of people who keep talking to you, who nobody else can see, but you’re in their service’. In that sense she’s like Alison? [the psychic in Beyond Black] ‘Yes, writing has to steal up on you. And that’s what people always say about ghosts, that you see them out of the corner of your eye.’

Elsewhere in the issue, Mantel discusses her writing process.


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