Taking a dip in authorial Waters

Lydia McNeillie attends the biggest literary event of the year: An evening with Sarah Waters on her latest book 'The Little Stranger'...

7th March 2016

Sarah Waters has enjoyed literary fame for quite some time. She has six novels currently published and is working on her next. She has been nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Award twice. Many of her work has been adapted for TV including “Tipping the Velvet” and “Fingersmith”. “ The Little Stranger” was Sarah Water’s fifth published novel and was released in 2009 and it enjoyed great success.

Set in 1940s England, the novel follows the upper class Ayres family and Dr. Faraday as they come to grips with post war England and the mysterious happenings which are beginning to haunt the house. Now in 2016, this story has been welcomed by Newcastle University students as the chosen book for The Booker Foundation.

The Booker Foundation has worked with Newcastle University for six years now and the principal of the foundation is to engage students from all academic areas and walks of life in the reading of literature by providing a free copy of the selected novel to students all over campus. In addition to this, the University and the Foundation work together to provide a talk with the author, and free tickets are provided to all students to the event. So, this year, Newcastle University was lucky enough to welcome Sarah Waters to this event, and I was lucky enough to attend.

An event like this also holds for any reader elements of intrigue.

As an English student and an avid reader, an event like this is always anticipated. We finally get to see the creator of what we spend hours studying and analysing. An event like this also holds for any reader elements of intrigue. The author figure is so often presented as a genius, as a person with understanding far greater than any of us mere mortals and an individual of extraordinary talent. Whilst, many authors in recent years have taken steps to debunk these myths, which probably stem from the tragic romantic poets such as Keats, these myths still stand the test of time with many placing authors and artists alike in a state of awe. However, the talk between Jackie Kay and Sarah Waters took steps away from this myth as both came across as highly relatable, pleasant people and as it turns out mortal like the rest of us.

It is undeniable that both Jackie Kay, a professor of creative writing at the University and an author herself, and Sarah Waters are highly intelligent woman with a talent for the written word.  The talk offered an insightful light on to Water’s writing process. She stated early on in the talk that for every novel she wrote, she had nearly as many pages worth of notes.  She also revealed that the novel “The Little Stranger” had taken her nearly two and a half years to write.  Both these revelations were endearing and yet again evidence to the fact that behind the novel as students we were so kindly given for free, came from more than simply talent but from years of hard work.

Waters did not shy away from engaging with multiple meanings and interpretations of the text.

Her comments upon her work “The Little Stranger” were also deeply appreciated. Waters did not shy away from engaging with the multiple meanings and interpretations of the text. Finally, she was also able to reveal that Domhall Gleeson had been cast to play Dr. Faraday in a TV adaptation of the novel. Whilst, many book purists were clearly outraged at this decision, I was personally rather ecstatic and it has definitely ensured beyond all doubt that I will watch the adaptation.  Overall, a great event, and I would recommend going to the next one in 2017!

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