Interview

Alix Nathan opens up about her muse: Mother Nature.

From parthianbooks.com, 14 August 2013

What influences your writing aside from other writers?

Shropshire snowThe landscape of the Marches influences me greatly: skies, hills, trees.¬† I watch clouds form over Offa’s Dyke, storms advance towards me, sunsets sink down into Wales. I love trees: there are many huggable oaks in my small deciduous wood. All very unhelpful when writing about 18th-century London, you’d have thought!¬† But my surroundings are an inspiration. Look out for the odd natural detail in stories: puffballs, ants, birds in particular.

Could you describe your writing room?

L1070369I have two writing rooms. A small, dark study with books, a piano and my father’s collection of 78s which, alas, I rarely play. The room faces west, so I’m happy to write in here in late afternoon sun or hugging the heater on a freezing day. There’s a Max Beckmann poster above the piano and another of a woodcut illustrating Schubert’s Der Winterreise. Postcards, photographs and two African masks fill the small amount of remaining wall space and sides of bookshelves.

Most writing (first stage, pencil) is done in our glass house. Conservatory is too grand a word: it’s more of a live-in greenhouse with chairs and a large table. Plants inside and out, garden and fields east and south, Offa’s Dyke over the valley on the western skyline, sky above. House martins in the summer. Masses of light: my best work is done here.

Which of your characters is most like you?

All of my characters are like me to some extent. I have strong chameleon tendencies. For instance, I’ve always found it difficult not to adopt the accent of the person to whom I’m speaking. So, actually, thinking again, my characters are not like me, but I become like them.

I don’t like writing about myself. It’s not therapy I’m after, but challenge to the imagination.

Would you be friends with your characters?

Goodness, probably not. They’re all too problematic¬† – that’s why I’ve written their stories.

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