10 Questions: Jennifer Clement

10 Questions: Jennifer Clement

1. Sum up your novel in three words
Enchanting. Terrible. Love.
 
2. Where did the initial idea come from?
The novel is based on the distressing stories of the girls and women stolen by drug cartels to be trafficked for sex. Mothers have to hide their daughters – especially the pretty ones – in holes that they dig in their cornfields. It made me realize that Mexico was a kind of rabbit warren with women hiding everywhere.
 
3. How was the title chosen?
The book was originally called Prayers for the Unusual but my editors and I eventually felt the title needed to be more specific.
 
4. What's your writing routine?
I like to write early in the morning, before sunrise. The quiet and the certainty that I will not be interrupted make me feel free. I set up the coffee the night before and, if it is a cold day, I go back to bed and write there on my laptop or in a notebook. I only work for two to three hours. Gabriel Garcia Marquez once told me that he only wrote three hours a day. If I am working on a novel, I try and produce eight hundred words. Much of this will be cut later when I edit, but the word count helps give me velocity and stops me from daydreaming.   Daydreaming, however, is an important part of my writing process.  
 
5.  Which book do you wish you'd written?
Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo.
 
6. What's your favourite word in the English language?  
Black - the word fills my mouth.
 
7. Who's your favourite fictional character?  
Ladydi García Martínez from Prayers for the Stolen.
 
8. What was your favourite book as a child?  
The Little Prince. I still love the dialogue between the Prince and the Fox about what it means to be tamed:
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..." 
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..." 
 
9. What book are you recommending to everyone at the moment?
Kirsty Gunn’s Infidelities
 
10. What do books and reading mean to you?
In my the home of my childhood, books were the most sacred objects in the house. We were always shocked to go to houses where there were no books. It still shocks me to this day. Therefore, reading and owning books is essential to me - an act of reverence. 
 
Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement is out this week in paperback from Quercus for £7.99.