With reference to their latest novels, Maggie Gee and Caroline Montague discuss with Caroline Sanderson the role of place in fiction. Whether it be a Margate Dental surgery, Dreamland, and a beach café or a Burgundy vineyard, Mont Blanc and a Paris brasserie – is place (as argued by the 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning author, Eudora Welty) the meeting point of ‘character, plot, [and] symbolic meaning’?
Maggie Gee OBE FRSL, was one of Granta’s original ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ and has been shortlisted for global prizes including the Orange (now Women’s) Prize, and the Dublin International IMPAC Prize. She writes novels, short stories, memoir, poetry and journalism, is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, a Director of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and a Vice-President of the RSL. Her work has been translated into fourteen languages and in 2012 there was an international conference about her work at St Andrew’s University. Her fifteen books include The White Family and (featured at the 2015 Festival) Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
What writers say about Blood:
‘A wise and beautiful book about what it feels like to be alive’ Zadie Smith
‘Fast-moving, energetic, constantly surprising’ Hilary Mantel
‘Gripping, original, highly entertaining – Gee is superb’ J G Ballard
Caroline Montague at ten won her first national poetry competition and from that moment dreamt of being a writer – reading law, marriage at nineteen, children, a career as an interior designer – something always got in the way. She moved to Burnt Norton twenty years ago and, inspired by the empty pools made famous by TS Eliot in the first of his Four Quartets, wrote an historical novel set at Burnt Norton. Her second novel An Italian Affair has been described as ‘Thoroughly engrossing’ by Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey.
Caroline Sanderson is Associate and non-fiction Editor of The Bookseller, co-hosts BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s monthly book club, and is Artistic Director of Stroud Book Festival. She has chaired events at Cheltenham Literature Festival among many others, and her five non-fiction books include A Rambling Fancy: In the Footsteps of Jane Austen and Someone Like Adele.