Esther Freud in conversation with Sharbari Ahmed
British novelist Esther Freud was grateful to be an author and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. She said this during her session at Dhaka Lit Fest 2017 yesterday, held at a packed Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium. Bangladeshi American fiction writer Sharbari Ahmed moderated the session.
Talking about her childhood experience of living with her “hippie” mother, Freud said she deeply cherished her time in Morocco where she had lived for a period and later wrote her first novel, Hideous Kinky, from that experience. The book was turned into a movie starring Kate Winslet.
“I still struggle with life in England,” said Freud, talking about her life in England and how that compared to her experience in Morocco as a child. “People can be so lonely behind their front doors. We used to play in the square with all the other children. We were so free,” she related.
When asked about why she chose to write her latest book, Mr Mac and Me, from the perspective of a child, Thomas Maggs, and not from the point of view of an adult, the author said that she had started writing the book assuming the point of view of an adult. But it felt uninspiring to her and one day suddenly she thought of writing it from a completely different point of view. “I discarded hundreds of pages after the idea of writing in Thomas’s voice,” Freud said.
When asked how long it typically takes her to write a full novel, the author said, “Hideous kinky took me a year but I had no children, no responsibilities then. But Mr Mac and Me took a year and a half after I had abandoned the earlier version.”
Talking about her creative process, Esther Freud told the audience that she spent nearly five hours every day for writing. “After that it’s not much productive. I tend to take breaks. But you can get amazing amount of work done if you put in that time,” said the author.