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'Don't make it up any more'

24 January 2022

‘There's a whole debate about... whether we're just constrained to write about ourselves. But it's always seemed to me to be an absolute base fundamental that imagining my way into somebody's else's consciousness and what makes them yearn, what makes them happy, what makes them anxious - this kind of projection into another soul's being and, in many cases, into people's consciousness who are very unlike me, a different gender, a different age - has always been what writing has been about. Supposing Dickens had only written about himself?...

It's not just me, it's thousands of us around the world. My (husband) Richard is rather more optimistic than me. He's a biographer and I think it's affected the fiction writers much more. People are saying "Don't make it up any more. We need the real thing." His view is that it may or may not pass, but I'm getting so old now that I think, "Will it pass in my time?"'

Rose Tremain, author of 15 books, including Restoration, Sacred Country, Music and Silence and The Gustav Sonata