Elisabeth Russell Taylor’s latest story collection Belated examines unspoken yearnings within couples, the secret lives of the solitary and the menace that lurks in everyday exchanges, brilliantly capturing unnerving cruelties, compromises and contradictions in daily life. She shares her reading and writing routines and love of Proust.
Where are you now?
In my study
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
In the morning, in my study.
If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
I have none.
Full-time or part-time?
Pen or keyboard?
How do you relax when you’re writing?
I am never relaxed when writing.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
The stories in Belated relate a world we immediately recognise as our own, a world in which every daydream contains the plot for a nightmare.
Who do you write for?
Who do you share your work in progress with?
My closest friend and agent.
Which literary character do you wish you created?
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
“The only real voyage of discovery, the only fountain of youth, is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes, in seeing the world with the eyes of another, of a hundred others.” – Marcel Proust.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
The Bible. Never out of print.
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Stoner by John Williams. Light Years by James Salter. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld.
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett.
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
Don Quixote by Cervantes.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
A twelve-volume set of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
What is the last work you read in translation?
Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
William Trevor The Collected Stories.
What will you read next?
A Singer’s Notebook by Ian Bostridge.
What are you working on next?
‘Narcissism: A Warning’.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Proust. Coleridge. George Eliot, Andreï Makine, Emily Dickinson, Sigmund Freud, Jill Foulston.
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Elisabeth Russell Taylor is the author of six novels, including the Virago Modern Classics In a Summer Season and Pillion Riders, and three short-story collections. Her new collection Belated is published by Kimblewood Press. She has also written for children and published numerous articles and reviews. She lives in London.