We’re thrilled to have here today Jesmond from Helen Smith’s new dystopian thriller, The Miracle Inspector. Jesmond is a 50-something poet from London, England.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so for this interview, Jesmond. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
I think I was fairly portrayed but there just isn’t enough of me in the book. Other than one scene in an underground poetry venue, and some fragments of letters that are reprinted in the book, you only really get to see me through Lucas and Angela’s eyes. The boy thought I was dangerous to him and his family. He was very disparaging about the lyrics to my famous song, Rise Up, which I co-wrote with his father, Matthew.
Like most of the young people in London, Lucas hadn’t had the benefit of a good education because all the schools had been closed down. Before he married Angela he’d had very little contact with women as they’re kept indoors for their own safety. It meant that he was immature and socially inept. He wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand a man of my generation. Perhaps he felt threatened by my fame, too. Fortunately I think readers will be intelligent enough to read between the lines and get to understand what sort of person I am; they’ll know that I loved Lucas and I loved my country.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
In the scene in the poetry club I think you get a good insight into my feelings and how lonely it is to be on the run. I wouldn’t want to have been portrayed differently but I would have liked more scenes in the book so that readers could understand what happened to England when I was a younger man.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
My passion. I’m very good at inspiring people.
I have lived a long time and that makes me cynical. The kids I meet seem so young. So few people survive past their thirties in London and it makes me feel old, even though I’m only in my fifties.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
I’d love to be played by Anthony Hopkins. He has the voice for it. I’d love to hear him read my poetry.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Yes. I had been planning to leave England for Australia with my great love. We had kept in touch by letter – it was too dangerous to correspond by email, even before Internet communication was banned in our country. Air travel was impossible but I had tickets booked on the last ship from England to Australia. I was desperate for her to join me.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
As soon as Lucas went to visit Maureen and took his wife Angela with him, I knew he was in danger. Lucas had a good job and a Ministry car and a pass, but women aren’t allowed to visit other people unless they’re relatives, so of course he was taking a risk – especially as Maureen had reported a miracle. But, you know, I thought it might end badly from the first page of the book. Didn’t you?
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
I wouldn’t be Lucas. The boy had hardly lived and yet it was likely he’d get hauled off by the authorities sooner or later, and thrown into prison. It happens to just about every man eventually. It’s heart-breaking. I loved the boy, though he couldn’t accept it.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Ah, it’s interesting. It’s a fairly ambiguous ending. Some people think it ends well and some people think it ends badly for everyone. I think you have to make up your own mind about it. I won’t spoil it and tell you what I think.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?
It would be interesting to write the prequel to this book, telling the story of Lucas’s father Matthew, his mother Anna and me. It would explain how England came to be partitioned and the part we played in the revolution. I’d be happy to give my permission for my poetry to be reprinted in the book. Helen, why don’t you write the book, or talk to me and let me write it?
Thank you for this interview, Jesmond. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Alas, no. I doubt it. But my memory will live on in my poetry, I hope. Thank you for the questions. It has been a pleasure to answer them.
Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group). She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.
Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.
Visit her website at http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk.
Friend her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ emperorsclothes
Become a fan at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorhelensmith
Friend her at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2833648.Helen_Smith
Pick up a copy of The Miracle Inspector at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Inspector-Helen-Smith/dp/0956517056
“…this is an absolutely exceptional piece of fiction, a work of art befitting the best in socially-conscious literature.”
– Journal of Always Reviews “.
“..Only occasionally does a piece of fiction leap out and demand immediate cult status. Alison Wonderland is one.”
– The Times
“…Smith is gin-and-tonic funny.”
“Smith has a keen eye for material details, but her prose is lucid and uncluttered by heavy description. Imagine a satire on Cool Britannia made by the Coen Brothers.”
– Times Literary Supplement