How Mary Gaitskill writes

Mary Gaitskill “It wasn’t fast, partly because I had to learn to ride horses in order to write it.”
[on writing ‘The Mare’, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine]

Mary Gaitskill


American writer Mary Gaitskill is well-known in her native land, but has passed under the radar in the UK. Her third novel, The Mare, may change things. Velvet is a streetwise 11-year old Dominican girl living with her single mother and younger brother in a tiny apartment in a deprived part of Brooklyn. Eligible for the Fresh Air Fund, Velvet takes a free summer holiday with Ginger and Paul and discovers the stables next door. There she is entranced by a mare, a rescue horse called Fiery Girl. As Velvet is besotted with the horse, so Ginger becomes besotted by the child.

Gaitskill’s original idea was for a film, not a novel. She wrote a 30-page treatment in 2007 and sent it to her agent who said it wouldn’t work because it didn’t know if it was either a dark, gritty story or a Walt Disney story. Gaitskill said she wanted it to be both. She tried to forget about it, but couldn’t, wrote 50 pages and kept writing.

She had initially thought she could watch other people ride and ask questions, but that didn’t work. “I very quickly learned I didn’t even know enough to realise what people were doing. So I had to do it myself.” She spent three years learning to ride even though she was afraid of horses.

Mary Gaitskill


See how these other novelists write:-
William Maxwell
JoJo Moyes
Kate Atkinson

‘The Mare’ by Mary Gaitskill [UK: Serpent’s Tail]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
When author Mary Gaitskill has an idea, she won’t be deterred via @SandraDanby #amwriting