Mostly I write novels about contemporary life; the changing relationships between the sexes in a fast moving society. The Love and Inheritance Trilogy I’ve just finished is my first venture into historical fiction--though in the 70s, and with the help of innumerable BBC researchers I wrote some of the original episodes of Upstairs Downstairs. This time I've had to do my own research; but what fun it's been--thanks to the Internet. All the information one could possibly want--like how many people you could get into a cabriolet and what was Edward VII's favourite dish, at the click of a mouse. And how rich and energetic with new ideas the turn of the previous century was – how luscious the fabrics, glittery the jewels, passionate the illicit love and indigestible the food, how gossipy and dangerous the servants! Anyway it's all here in the three novels – Habits of the House, Long Live the King, and The New Countess. My grandmother had servants in a big house, my mother was a servant in one, so I know what it's like on either side of the class divide.
I've written more than thirty novels in as many years, and am a confessed writeoholic: still writing the novel I want to read, but have never quite found – though the required word, the exact phrase needed, does seem to come much easier with practice. I hope I have not sacrificed quality to quantity. I certainly try not to. When I’m not writing I’m teaching creative writing, currently at Bath Spa University. You can’t teach people what to write, but you can help them express what they want to say clearly and effectively and mostly, how not to be boring.
So many people want to write novels these days that it sometimes seems to me that writers begin to outnumber readers. At least nowadays the opportunities for publication are much greater than they were, thanks to the e-book. We can reckon available readership in millions not just in thousands. And long-established writers like me see their back list (once likely to disappear because of simple shortage of shelf-space in the bookshops) in circulation again and rejoice.
After the trilogy I am back writing short stories again, though their length seems to be creeping up – I am currently writing a novella, and wondering just how the emergence of the Kindle will with time alter the nature of what people write – just as did the switch from the monastery’s illuminated manuscript to Caxton’s printing press. Brevity does seem to suit the Kindle. Short sentences, short paragraphs, lots of action: the novella rather than the novel? We will see.
-- Fay Weldon