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Original Essays | May 1, 2013 5 comments
I'd predict that 99 percent of the small talk in the staff elevator at my library involves the following question and its answers: "Are you reading... Continue »
Clare SambrookDescribe your latest project.
Hide and Seek is my first novel. Narrator Harry Pickles recalls the year when he was nine and his little brother disappeared. Terence Rafferty reviewed it warmly in the New York Times.
Here's how Hide and Seek came about....
Some years back I stopped working in journalism and started, again, learning how to write. I happened to take a trip with my karate club. I had a brilliant teacher. He could kick high and break rocks, but logistics was not his thing. We had with us on the coach out a six-year-old boy, unchaperoned. He was not with us coming back. By the time anyone noticed, we were miles away, driving through the night.
I woke up to hear kids discussing rescue plans. To my shame I took out my notebook and wrote it all down. The kids who knew exactly what to do. The guy in charge who dithered and dithered and then, at last, got out his cell-phone and stared at it like he'd not seen one before. That kind of thing.
The boy, it turned out, was safe; he'd been picked up by his aunt. I wondered, what if he'd been abducted? What if I were his brother? What happens to the family? How do I write it?
It was natural for me to write it as a boy; genitalia aside, I pretty much grew up as one. And nine seemed about the right age. My own memories of eight, nine, ten are acute: I was eight when my mother disappeared. I mean, she just died, but it felt like abduction to me.
So, here I had these observations in my notebook, these kids' voices in my head, and a sense that maybe I could write this. I knew a little of the territory and maybe I could bring something fresh to it, something life-affirming, something funny. I know that grief exerts pressures that sometimes explode into comedy. I wanted Hide and Seek to offer catharsis. I wanted readers to laugh as well as cry.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
"Yes," said Yossarian. "He poisoned the squadron."
What section of the newspaper do you read first?
What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Why do you write?
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
It turned out the Clare Sambrook who'd been her best friend at school was someone else, not me. Hoping to dispel her embarrassment I tried humor: "Shall I sign it, 'To my dear friend...'?"
"Yes," she said without a twitch of a smile. "That will do fine."
What do you dislike most?
Oh, now you've got me started... Hill and Knowlton, Halliburton, Henry Kissinger. And John-Joe X. Yes. Him. The boy at school who gave me such a kicking I still have the broken veins to show for it.
If you could have been someone else, who would that be?
Visit Clare Sambrook's official web site.