OBJECTS OF DERISION
AN INTERVIEW WITH KIRSTY LOGAN
NGQ: If you were to introduce yourself as a character in a novel how might you do so?
KIRSTY LOGAN: Loosely, and without mentioning the colour of my eyes.
NGQ: If you had to—and I mean absolutely had to—pick a favourite line from your novel The Gracekeepers what would it be and why?
LOGAN: The first line: “The first Callanish knew of the Circus Excalibur was the striped silk of their sails against the grey sky.”
NGQ: What does your writing process look like? Do you have a certain set of rituals you have to perform before you begin or do you just show up to your desk and try to write?
LOGAN: Every morning, first thing, I make a strong black coffee and sit at my desk and aim to write 100 words. I usually manage more, but some days I just scrape those 100 words. It’s not much, but I prefer a modest goal that I can keep chipping away at every single day no matter how many other commitments I have, than a grand goal that life will snatch away. If I make an excuse to not write on one day, it’s too easy to not write the next day too.
NGQ: When you began writing The Gracekeepers did the story emerge from a particular character, a setting, a scene? What was your launching point for the novel?
LOGAN: My dad died four years ago when I was 27. He died very suddenly, and was only 58. Soon after he died I was out on a boat, and I saw floating buoys with lights inside them. To me they looked like birdcages, and I began to daydream about why there would be birdcages at sea. Grief and mourning for my father were still very much on my mind, so I had the idea that the birds would serve as grave markers, and the lifespan of the bird would mark the mourning for the person who had died – so when the bird died, the family could stop mourning. It appealed to me as I craved some sort of structure to pull me through my grief, which I lacked in my secular life. The whole novel sprang from that image of a dying bird in a cage in the sea.
NGQ: What are you reading right now? What has your brain ticking? And, related to that, what or who do you turn to in your hour of need, when the act of writing feels like pulling teeth?
LOGAN: January is my month of hibernation, where I do very little except read. Lately I’ve immersed myself in a variety of things: Icelandic crime, a young adult series based on Russian folklore, flash fiction about losing a child, classic ghost stories, essays on fairytales, short stories about loneliness. For the novel I’m working on, I’m reading a lot about islands, ballet, mermaids, and changelings. When I need help, I always go back to folklore and fairytales. I recently read a strange and perfect book of Welsh folktales called Dark Tales From the Woods by Daniel Morden. It has a delightfully horrible version of ‘Mr Fox’, one of my favourite fairytales.
NGQ: I understand you use mood boards on Pinterest for your projects. What about these mood boards helps you develop a project?
LOGAN: I’m a visual writer – I think in images, as well as textures and scents and atmospheres. My favourite books are those with a lot of vivid sensory detail, the sort of books you feel like you’re living inside. For me, building up a board of images, sounds and videos is a way to build the specific atmosphere of a book. It has to feel real to me so that I can make it real for the reader.
Kirsty Logan’s The Gracekeepers is out now in hardback, and out in paperback on the 13th March in the UK.