Interview with Lauren Beukes (author of The Shining Girls)
Author of the The Shining Girls, today we’re happy to guest on our site Lauren Beukes. We’ve asked her a few questions about her books, but about herself as well. This is what she’s said…
Q. Hi Lauren, welcome. Our first question is very easy: who is Lauren Beukes as a person and as a writer?
A. That’s not easy at all! I write books with a fantastical twist that explore big issues and interrogate who we are in the world. I’m South African – which makes me very aware of how history haunts us. I’m an ex-journalist, which means I’ve been able to engage directly with social issues and get a backstage pass to the world. I’m the mother of a crazy, curious five year old, which makes me aware of how much wonder and delight there is in the world.
Q. Becoming a writer as always been a goal for you, or have you realized you wanted to write in a particular moment in your life?
A. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old and I discovered that you could get paid to make up stories for a living! It blew my mind.
Q. How was your novel The Shining Girls born? Did anything in particular give you the idea?
A. I was messing around on Twitter, as you do, and bantering with a random stranger. I threw out the idea as a joke, that I should write a novel about a time-travelling serial killer and quickly deleted the tweet because I thought I could do something really interesting with that. Recently I was bantering on Twitter with another stranger and I suggested that I write a book about female Bret Easton Ellis character at an air-conditioning conference in Qatar. Not quite as catchy, but there’s something interesting there…
Q. The time travel twist make the book a crossover between thriller and science fiction: has it been a precise choice or did it just happen?
A. I write the stories that occur to me. I don’t ever go in thinking about how to categorize it. It’s a natural evolution.
Q. Are you and the protagonist Kirby similar in any aspect?
A. We both find it very difficult to “let go” of social injustice. We’re not ready to forgive. We want justice. Maybe that’s naïve.
Q. Why readers might like The Shining Girls? Is there anything they might find difficult to accept in the book?
A. If you can wrap your head around the time travel, you’ll be fine. It might take a little getting used to, but everything is very carefully constructed.
Q. Is it true it’s going to become a TV series?
A. It’s been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way and MRC to be made into either a TV series or a movie. But usually these things take years to raise the money, attach the right director. It’s a process, but it’s looking very promising.
Q. Broken Monsters will be your new novel. What can you say about it?
A. It’s a novel about a broken city, broken dreams and broken people trying to put themselves back together again. It follows five characters united around monstrous half-human, half-animal bodies turning up in abandoned places.
Q. A suggestion to wannabe writers. A suggestion to passionate readers.
A. Finish the damn book, nothing else matters. Read promiscuously across genres and authors and kinds of stories.
Q. If you want to say anything, this is the moment…
Anything! No, okay, if you liked Shining Girls, watch out for some fantastic books coming this year like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and Sarah Lotz’s The Three.
Q. Thanks for having accepted our invitation, Lauren: it’s been a pleasure having you!
A. Thank you!