Writer, musician and fairy tale aficionado Louisa John-Krol did a very wide-ranging interview with me on her blog recently, asking some very interesting and thoughtful questions. Following is a short extract which refers to one of my fairytale novels, Clementine, but you can read the whole thing here.
L: One of my favourite books is “Candide” by Voltaire. I smiled to find that one of your characters in the novel “Clementine” is called Candide, which translates as optimism. You strike me as being an optimistic person, Sophie, not only in your conviviality but in the happy endings I’ve encountered so far in your stories. How would you describe your disposition?
S: Yes—I am an optimist—but a realistic one. I would say that love, joy, courage and laughter are every bit as real as hatred, gloom, betrayal and tears. We are not angels or perfect beings—we are shot through with flaws of iron—but also golden threads of beauty. That is human nature—divided—yet indivisible at the same time. My happy endings always, I think, have an inkling of that. Some experiences mark my characters forever—yet they can still get the joy that can be found in life. That to me is an important thing to hang on to, even in the darkest time.
L: Another device for evoking optimism in “Clementine” is your abundant use of present tense. It occurs to me that as the major key is cheerful in music, and minor key melancholy, so it is with present and past tense respectively in literature. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
S: What a lovely insight! It wasn’t a conscious decision, no—just an instinct. But I’m glad you saw it and articulated it.