Happy Birthday, Frances Spalding, born 16 July 1950
As a writer, I believe you have a responsibility towards your subject, but this responsibility is not that of a historian or biographer. Fiction’s strength is its ability to make people see, hear, feel, taste, smell its subject: as I have suggested, this process frequently involves deviations from or embellishments of any underlying facts. Though I often asked myself: ‘would the real-life Vanessa or Virginia have said or done this’ as I worked, my overriding impetus was whether what my characters said or did felt right within the context of my narrative. Every work of art must have its own integrity: I think you have to be true to the book you are writing.