Recently I was lucky enough (Thanks Ben Willis) to get a copy of this quirky and wonderful book from Natalie Young – I’m sure it is going to be much talked about this year in the world of books and everyone will read it and form an opinion – this readers opinion is that its a brilliant read, something unique to sink your teeth into – so I tracked Natalie down and asked her a few questions and here is what she had to tell me.
Tell us a little about how the idea for the story started forming in your mind
For a long time I had in my mind an image of a woman living alone in the woods. She was in my head for about two years before I started writing the book. There was nothing violent or barbarous about it, at that time. I just kept seeing her. It was more like a feeling-state. There was something playful but also sad about her. She was profoundly isolated. I started to write about her and around her, bringing new characters in, and approaching her from different angles. Then the other characters just dropped away and I was left with Lizzie by herself again. At that point I knew what she had done. I wrote in a notebook: ‘The woman in the woods has killed her husband. Now she is eating him. That’s what I have to write about.
Its an intriguing drama with an almost fairytale quality to it – were you influenced by any particular authors or stories?
I love novels that can be summed up in just a few words. Man turns into bug, or man goes up Congo, woman turns into pig. I knew I wanted to write something short and intense about a central character and their psychological journey. I was inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis; and a wonderful book by Marie Darrieussecq called Pig Tales or ‘Truisms’ in French; and also Greek myths. The novel is about far more than violence and cannibalism – it’s about metamorphosis – Lizzie transforms herself from downtrodden spouse to a woman firmly in control of her own destiny. It is graphic in its depictions – there are recipes provided as she squeamishly prepares the meat – and the novel has been compared to Albert Camus’ existential tale L’Etranger for the way it is written.
I loved Lizzie despite what she was up to – was she fun to bring to life?
Not fun, no. Certainly not to start with. It felt like an act of desperation. Writing Lizzie’s story was unbelievably difficult and painful. The more I worked on her the sadder and more helpless she became. In the first few months I can’t remember having fun with any of it. It felt like very serious, very difficult, almost unbearable work. But I didn’t want to do anything else, and every time I walked away from the novel everything felt worse and so it pulled me back in. Quite late on in the process I began to see the light coming in. Suddenly there was humour, and i introduced the graphics and the bullet points for the inner voice. It was as if oxygen began to bubble through the text and bit by bit it opened up becoming something light and fresh and new feeling. That was very exciting. Then I started to have lots of fun. I wrote the rest very quickly and enjoyed it very much. It’s fascinating to me that the process itself went from being so dark to so light. Throughout the book there is this preoccupation with the interplay between dark and light, dark and funny, sunlight in the dark wood. But to experience that quite so dramatically in the shape of the book so that Lizzie and her book had a metamorphosis, as I was writing, was awesome.
Can you tell us anything about your next project?
(Ah well it was worth a try!)
Favourite author and/or comfort read
At the moment I can’t get enough of Doris Lessing. I’m reading Volume 1 of her autobiography. Comfort reads: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCuller; Runaway by Alice Munro; To The Lighthouse byVirginia Woolf, Kafka’s diaries; the letters of John Keats;The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland and The Twits by Roald Dahl.
Any writing habits?
Move, breathe, caffeinate.
In an ideal world I would live in a hot country and swim for twenty minutes in my own outdoor pool. Then I would sauna and shower in one of those huge bathrooms with everything in it, and then sit down to meditate. Then I would go to a desk and find an enormous mug of steaming coffee put there for me by a helpful kitchen elf in pointed green shoes. In reality, I muddle though. Best just to get up really early, sit at a table, and go for it.
Favourite comfort food
Anything cooked by someone else.
Thank you so much Natalie!
Coming January 16th From Tinder Press.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
Jacob has not been seen for a few days. That’s because Lizzie snapped last Monday and killed him. Over the course of the following month, with no other option at hand and no income, Lizzie will use her best skill–cooking–to dispose of Jacob. When she finds unexpected kinship with an isolated misfit, she will be tested: Will Lizzie confess or will her new friend be an unwitting accessory to her crime?
Funny and disturbing, SEASON TO TASTE is a novel about the definitive end of a marriage, and its very strange aftermath.
So, here we go – I don’t think I have ever read a novel QUITE like this one before but oh I loved it – be warned though it is probably not for the squeamish! At turns darkly ironic, humerous and endlessly fascinating, this is a compelling and devilish look into one woman’s psyche and her rather odd and violent, yet effective way of ending her unhappy marriage.
On impulse one day Lizzie kills her husband – having then to come up with a plan for body disposal she chops him into handy joints, pops him in the Freezer and over the course of the novel uses her culinary skill to make a meal of him, quite literally. Yuck I hear you cry. And yes I suppose so – but in the intelligently creative hands of Natalie Young it is less yuck and more yum…in the reading sense of course.
As we follow Lizzie on her quest, with her lists to keep her on track and her growing relationships outside of the family home making her reconsider her future plans this is a captivating and often enchanting tale despite the subject matter, or perhaps even because of it. It is certainly a unique take on things and Lizzie has a crazy but appealing side to her character. Written in a snappy and matter of fact style, it has perfect pacing and witty prose that will keep you on the journey with Lizzie from start to finish. Will she get away with it? Well, you will have to see..
Its possible this book spoke to me on a deeper level because I am currently in the midst of a separation and Divorce myself – who knew that it was not a Lawyer that I needed but simply a giant stock pot? And in a marketing twist of pure genius, along with the review copy I received a handy wooden spoon….
Terrific. Give it a go!
Follow Natalie on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/natalieyyoung
Happy Reading Folks!