Monday, 11 January 2010

Charlotte Mendelson / Writer

The first person to take the TT test this year is Charlotte Mendelson [link], a writer whose novels have garnered so much praise it’s almost embarrassing ! Her second novel "Daughters of Jerusalem" was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize & Somerset Maugham Award and her third, "When We Were Bad" was short listed for the Orange Broadband Prize for fiction. She has written for the Guardian, TLS, and Independent among other publications, is an editor at Headline Review and I have heard a rumour that she also plays the French horn ! I’m very happy that she is taking part in the TT test ! What is your wake up song at the moment ? "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. I am obsessed with it. In fact I have a friction burn from dancing to it on Christmas day and then sliding across the floor dramatically at the climax. Maybe I love it TOO much. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession ? Difficult to say; I've always read and so many books have helped me to become a writer; I could name a hundred. But I do remember that when we read "The Dragon Book of Verse" at school my brain fizzed with excitement at what words can do and that feeling has never left me. If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why ? I've always thought the eighteenth century had a certain sexy charm, but as I wouldn't have been an English duchess with a complicated love life but a poor cross peasant starving to death in Central Europe, I'd better choose Paris in the 1920s... any Friday night at 20, rue Jacob. I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me ? Jin Kichi in Hampstead for fantastic Japanese [link] - try the pork and shiso skewers. What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/creative life ? Craig Raine, poet/novelist/critic, told me to stop worrying about inspiration or subject-matter or Being A Writer and just... write. He was right. BONUS QUESTION : You are quoted in an interview with the Guardian as saying "I do think that choosing a life that makes you happy takes bravery. It takes a lot of courage if you're a person who cares at all", I find this really intriguing, can you tell us a bit more about what you mean ? I was talking about trying to be as fulfilled and as happy as possible, rather than accepting the life that society, or family, think you ought to live. This particularly applies, at least for me, to writing and to love; I could have been an academic or a lawyer, and married a man, and made everyone happy - except me. Choosing a more uncomfortable, complicated life took much more courage, which I didn't even know I had but has been the making of me