WHY I WRITE VOL.13 – Helen E. Mundler (Holland House Books)
BIO: Helen E. Mundler is an academic and novelist. She has published two novels, Homesickness (Dewi Lewis, 2003) and L’Anglaise (Holland House, 2018), as well as several short stories. At present she is revising a third novel, entitled Three Days by the Sea. This is a family-based story full of surprises and revelations, with a good dose of hope and renewal.
She has published critical books on A.S. Byatt (Harmattan, 2003) and Liz Jensen (Boydell and Brewer, 2016). Her current research is on rewritings of the Noah myth in climate change literature, and she recently worked on this in America as a Fulbright research scholar.
Why I Write, by Helen E. Mundler.
Once when looking after a friend’s young daughter I found her reading in the shower. She was so into her book that she didn’t want to waste ten precious minutes washing when she could have been reading instead. This is something I hold onto in our brave new world. When I was younger I read everywhere too. Now, like everyone else, my concentration has been shot by internet but I still agree with D.H. Lawrence that the novel is the one bright book of life. The day Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was published, I polished it off within twelve hours.
I wish I could draw. If I could, I would do strange allegorical-metaphorical illustrations like Quint Buccholz. But I do feel a compulsion to write, and always have. What I love about writing novels is the way they build up so slowly, from almost nothing – something or someone pops into your head one day and stays forever. There’s a far-off, almost unconscious rumbling, like the beginning of an earthquake. And later there’s amazing thrill of something coming through faster than you can type it, of writing things you didn’t known you’d thought or imagined. No other pleasure-pain comes close.
Reading in other languages.
I love the way reading and writing in other languages creates new connections, new circuits in thought and imagination. With French, it’s something that’s been going on for so long that I’ve developed a dual personality. But more recently, with Portuguese, I find that I enjoy the sense of constant surprise at how things are expressed. I wanted to be able to understand the language and one way in seemed to be by reading books Portuguese translations of books I already knew and loved, E.M. Forster, David Lodge, Jonathan Coe. There’s a pleasure and stimulation in this which goes way beyond the sterile “why languages are/are not useful” debate that seems to be going on now.
When Ella offers to look after a stranger’s cat, she is not expecting her life
At 35, Ella is no longer excited by her academic career in France, and has not found love.
This is a book about the need to revisit and make sense of the past in order to move into the future.