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The Writing of Little Egypt

16th Oct 2014

No one does eccentricity and idiosyncrasy better than Lesley Glaister and in her most recent novel, Little Egypt, she has excelled herself. In conversation with Fiona Armstrong for BOOKMARK, Lesley revealed the background to the story and also to her own life as a writer.

Lesley Glaister chats with Fiona Armstrong

Lesley Glaister chats with Fiona Armstrong

Lesley talked first of her early desire to be a writer, prompted by her first proper reading book. So struck was she by the idea that you can make a picture with words that she knew immediately that that was what she wanted to do.

Fiona was eager to know how Lesley, whom she described as such a lovely person, a good mum and ‘butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth’, was able to create such murder and madness kinds of scenario. Lesley herself was unsure of the answer, other than saying that human beings were very complex two-legged animals and that, in fact, she found the normal type of character more difficult to create.

Little Egypt was twenty years in gestation, the seed of it being sown during a holiday in Egypt when she visited a tomb in the Valley of the Kings on a day when she was feeling slightly ill and feverish; she later had a vivid nightmare in which she was transmuted into pigment and spattered over the ceiling in the form of the goddess Nut. This memory lay dormant for years until she came across an intriguing old house. Thoughts conjured up by this house fertilised the previous incident and the two came together to produce Little Egypt, featuring a pair of nonagenarian twins, locked together in a history of family dysfunction, zigzagging between England and Egypt, and spanning almost a century. 

Little Egypt is the latest in a long line of Glaister novels. Festival goers who were new to the author will surely have added them all to their reading lists. 




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