Review in the Guardian, August 2014
What people are asking...
Why did you choose to write that story - what inspired you? Where did you get the ideas from?
I started the novel at the time when a British man called Reg Crewe chose to go to Dignitas in Switzerland for help with an assisted suicide. There was a documentary about him and his family – it filled my head. I was struck by the enormity of the gift as well as the vulnerability of everyone involved.
The other ideas and themes in the book seemed to arise organically out of my passion for what makes people tick, the secrets we all live with, and the fascinating quality of just about everything when you look at it really close up.
What did you enjoy most about writing The Gift of Looking Closely ?
I loved the way the characters surprised me with who they were and where they wanted to go. I also enjoyed finding the words to express my deep love for the natural world and the healing quality of being present in it in the moment. Above all, I enjoyed writing in the second person; I know it’s unusual, but it didn’t seem like an experiment to me, it felt like the most natural and engaging place to come from.
What was the most challenging part of writing The Gift of Looking Closely ?
The plot! I didn’t know what was going to happen when I started this novel and I had no confidence in my ability to plot – so I have been astonished by the process of weaving it together – and truly amazed at how many people have said they were gripped by the story and didn’t want to put it down.