It’s a couple of years since my last collection of stories, Paradise & Elsewhere, was published and I’m very excited about its successor, The Two of Us, which Biblioasis are publishing in mid September. On the face of it, the two books are very different – Paradise & Elsewhere is in the fabulist tradition and features characters who do things such as changing into birds, whereas The Two of Us is firmly in the realist camp and deals with more regular, twenty-first century happenings – but I have come to see how both of these books, and the next, are very much connected, part of the same exploration. As many reviewers pointed out, the stories in Paradise & Elsewhere often concern an encounter between an existing community and an outsider of some kind: How do we treat the stranger at the gate, and how does that encounter change us? The stories in The Two of Us are preoccupied with the human need for connection, and focus on intense one-on-one relationships, mother and baby, husbands and wives, coach and athlete, mother and son, father and daughter, child and animal… Here’s how the jacket copy puts it:
“Meaningful connection,” continues to preoccupy me. What else is there, in the end? How far will we go to find or obtain it? How do we relate to those we think we are close to?
I have just finished the second draft of my next book, which concerns one relationship, a marriage, far from perfect, that lasts seventy years. Here, I’m looking at the detail of how one relationship works over time. I’m not sure what comes next.