Archives for Kate Atkinson

How Kate Atkinson did it: created Ruby in ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’

How did Kate Atkinson create the character of Ruby in ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ and thereby the central dilemma of the story? She tells all to Melvyn Bragg in an interview on ‘The South Bank Show’ [Sky Arts] MB: What did you set out to do with the character of Ruby? KA: I knew that she’d lost something, that for me was the spine of that book. MB: Did you know that at the very beginning, when there’s something at her back in the womb? KA: I went back and put it all in, it was never there. MB: Ruby is an identical twin, her sister Pearl died at three and Ruby blotted it out of her memory. KA: I had that sense that something had gone missing, I got to two chapters from the end and thought ‘I don’t know what she’s lost.’ What would be the worst thing I could lose, and I thought that would be me, so what’s the closest thing to me? And the closest thing to me would be an identical twin. So I went back and put the identical twin in throughout the book and that was very satisfying because it
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

I agree with… Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson “Everyone said [it] was an autobiographical novel, and I was very offended. It’s fiction, but there’s so much of my life and other people’s lives in it that it’s hard for me to defend that. I took a lot of the structure of my own family – the aunts, the uncles, the cousins – and lots of my memories of atmosphere. I think my best memories were always for atmosphere… I took it all and made it into something because, for me, fiction is about making the chaos in my head into objective external order.” [interviewed by Melvyn Bragg on ‘The South Bank Show’, Sky Arts] Since Kate Atkinson wrote her first novel in 1995, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, she has fielded questions about ‘the autobiographical novel’. All novelists will be familiar with the questions: Are you [add name of protagonist]? Did that happen to you? Etcetera. Odd questions really, when all novels must start from ideas that come from the author’s own life and experiences, somewhere, some time, to some degree. Perhaps it’s the sort of question that someone asks who hasn’t written a novel, almost as if there is something wrong with autobiographical elements in
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Life after Life

It’s a while since I read a book I didn’t want to put down, a book that made me continue reading in bed gone midnight. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is that book. Kate Atkinson manages the macro settings and the micro details with ease, from the petty sibling squabbles at Fox Corner to the camaraderie of the ARP wardens in the Blitz. Before I started reading ‘Life after Life’ I read the phrase ‘Groundhog Day’ a few times in reviews, which belittles the intricate weaving of Ursula Todd’s lives. In the way that Logan Mountstuart’s life runs parallel to the great historical moments of the last century, Ursula’s life stories are book-ended by the approach and aftermath of the First and Second World Wars. Ursula, little bear, is an engaging character we see born and die, again and again through her own personal déjà vu.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to work but once I stopped worrying about it and surrendered myself to Ursula, I was transfixed. This is another work of art, as mesmerising as her first Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It is such an ambitious novel, that I can only guess at
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Categories: Book Love.