Thanks Miranda for being on Love Books today. Miranda is the Author of Starlings by Karnac Books.
About Miranda Gold
Miranda tells a little about her publishing journey.
I’ve always been drawn to storytelling in all its forms, initially acting and then writing for the theatre. Inhabiting character laid the foundations for me and transferring this to the written rather than spoken word offered up as many unexpected gifts as challenges. I came to fiction a little later, seeking a space that would allow me to explore a more internal landscape and the elusive, but inescapable way, memory infuses the present. Writing Starlings was a deeply personal as well as artistic process, as such I needed to get some distance after each draft in order to regain clarity (I even went so far as to write another novel in between the last two drafts!) I approached Karnac as are long established and have an excellent reputation. Although they have only been publishing fiction for a few years (their focus had been psychoanalysis) I felt they would be alert to the psychological nuance I wanted to convey. Theatre remains a passion, music is where I get to connect without words, and that flamenco spirit of Andalucia is what I’m usually dreaming of.
Describe yourself using three words?
Curious, hopeful, incorrigible
What inspired you to write your first novel?
Undoubtedly the genesis of Starlings lies within my family history, but it was only once the process of writing had begun than I could really see the patterns emerging. The initial impulse – how those closest to us become strangers and how what we share can become what separates us – led me back to a patchwork of stories and memories, voices and images, many of which related to inherited trauma from The Holocaust. Though this history was woven into my daily life, it wasn’t something I felt I could confront. My grandfather had escaped Nazi Germany and my mother was haunted by his experience, but rather than a consistent narrative, the story shifted, there were gaps – and it was these silences that made them so powerful. But was it my story to tell? Could I trust memories that didn’t seem to be my own, ones that were always hovering, but resisted any fixed shape? The line between fiction and autobiography is slippery, and any attempt to contain experience in the narrative is selective, creative, not least when the source is a tangle of several memories. I had to go backward to go forwards and, once I was able to confront this legacy, a momentum developed that carried Starlings beyond my own history. It was the most challenging piece I’ve written, but it has meant there are layers to the novel which I couldn’t have anticipated – sometimes the process of writing is a matter of listening carefully, looking closely, giving space for it to evolve as much as directing its development.
What time of day do you like to write?
I’ve always liked to write in the evenings, there is less pressure, it’s quiet – the time feels delicious ‘stolen’. However, I do have to write early on because that keeps the momentum going, wakes the characters up so that I’m wandering through the day with them – it’s essential for me to write even when I’m not writing.
What is your favourite book and why?
That’s like asking me to choose to between family members! Context is always an influence – books make an impact at a certain time and alter as we alter – that’s how to know the life of a book if the words aren’t fixed if more reveals itself with each rereading if it leaves you with questions and resists neat endings. Three of my favourites (I know this is cheating, but believe me, this is narrowing it down) are The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and The Ambassadors by Henry James, all, in their own way, meditations on time and loss, all poignant expressions of how our disconnection from others can be a disconnection from ourselves.
How did you pick the title of your book?
The title came when I saw a murmuration of Starlings at sunset. I was captivated by this dance in the sky and the way the shape and rhythm was created by a collective, instinctive intelligence, each bird an essential part of this greater pattern. So many passers-by had stopped to look up and there was a sense of connection between them too – each individual path had been paused and joined in witnessing the same sight together. This captured the core of the novel’s most pervasive theme: the characters are indissolubly bound yet separate.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
The characters contain elements of real people, many of these combinations of several, which then merged with fiction. Now that Starlings has been completed, it is hard for me to distinguish the real from the fictional, and, I hope, they will take on new forms as they are read and interpreted.
What’s your favourite word?
Scribacious – such a wonderfully muscular word which simply means ‘given to writing’ – but the sound quality feels like the delight and urgency that brings be back to the page.
If you were a colour what would it be?
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
I liken it to the way the conductor Daniel Barenboim describes a musician’s need to balance spontaneity with the rigour of practice and understanding of the score in its entirety. It’s as though all the background research and sense of the underlying structures, the exploration of themes and character biography, is the well I draw on and, provided I am always looking at the world through my characters’ eyes, all the preliminary work will emerge to shape the story. My work is always character driven and the plot grows from this.
Who is your favourite Author?
Another impossible question! I’ve always been drawn back to Virginia Woolf’s prose because there is perhaps no other writer who quite captures the multiplicity of a single moment, the rhythm imprints a characters thoughts on a reader’s mind without fixing them, there is the movement of life itself – the fluidity of thought and sensation – the disparate facets experience are held up together.
Are you working on a new project?
I’m editing my second novel, A Small Dark Quiet, which opens shortly before the end of the Second World War when one of Sylvie’s twin boys is still born. I’m also revising a collection of short stories and will be collaborating with an artistic direction on the stage adaption for Starlings later this year.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
I’m really looking forward to taking part in Jewish Book Week. Katy Guest, former literary editor of The Independent on Sunday, now an editor at the wonderful Unbound Books, will be interviewing me on 5th March at 4.30 in The Limehouse Room, Kings Place, York Way, N1.
Your Twitter – @mirandagold999
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012704742484
About The Book ~ Starlings
‘But I suppose Steven and I knew something about broken things–that sometimes you just couldn’t mend them. Never stopped trying, though. Because you can’t-until you do: stop and leave the broken thing behind.’Struggling to bear the legacy of her grandparents’ experience of the Holocaust and her mother’s desperate fragility, Sally seeks to reconnect with her brother Steven. Once close, Steven seems a stranger to her now that he has left London for Brighton. The echoes of their history once bound them–but it is an inheritance Steven can no longer share. Starlings reach back through three generations of inherited trauma, exploring how the impact of untold stories ricochets down the years. As Sally winds her way back to catch the moment when Steven slipped away, she collects the fractured words and sliding memories that might piece together her grandparents’ journeys. Having always looked through the eyes of ghosts she cannot appease, she, at last, comes to hear what speechless mouths might have said: perhaps Before maybe somewhere we can never truly leave behind and After simply the place we must try to make our home.In delicate brushstrokes, this extraordinary first novel captures a family unraveling as the unspeakable finds a voice. It is by turns sad, hopeful, and deeply compelling.
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