Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Could it be Magic?
Here's a very nice blog about Magical Realism in fiction, looking at a different book in each post. Today it was all about my novel 'Could it be Magic?' from way back in 1998. It was lovely to read this, and to remember how I loved writing that 'magical realist' stuff, and setting novels on the Estates where I grew up.
Oh, but I was patronised for it! For coming from the north-east, for writing about a heterogenous mix of characters and bringing in surrealism. I was patronised by the papers, the critics, the 'literary establishment' - all that lot, whoever they are. One of the first literary parties I went to that my publisher Vintage had organised, for an anthology I was in - and a very famous editor said to me, 'You are dressed in things I would give to the poor.'
It was - despite stuff like that - a very exciting time to be publishing my first books, in the mid to late Nineties, and I snagged myself a fancy lectureship teaching the MA at UEA about that time, too. For a little while it felt like these kinds of literary bastions were starting to let in the hoi-polloi...
Vintage and Chatto and Windus never really managed to sell very many copies of my books. They didn't know what to call them, or what to do with them. They thought they were soap operas because they weren't about middle class characters. And then they dropped me quite quickly, once my editor left. But I loved doing those books while the going was good. I wrote a trilogy! My first books out formed a great, ambitious, literary trilogy - and one that was seething with life and love and jokes and tropes from every genre going.