From the Author
It's the story of a radical poet and political activist called LucyForrester, who's a cross between Edith Sitwell and Vivienne Westwood. Havingbeen anti-establishment all of her life, she's horrified to find that she'sbeen featured on the New Year's Honours list. (This is list prepared by theQueen for people who have made a considerable contribution to British life insome substantial way - arts, culture, business, charitable works and so on). Tobe honest, the idea of writing about the life of a poet came directly fromreader reviews. Several comments that my prose was like poetry. I had no ideaif I could actually write poetry but this gave me confidence that I might beable to convince readers that I could see the world as a poet does.
The impact of childhood illness interestsyou, doesn't it?
Very much so. The child is set apart, both literally and figuratively.They're looked at differently by family and friends. And, of course, they haveto draw on tremendous inner reserves. I saw a documentary about Jim Marshall,inventor of the Marshall amp. He suffered from tubercular bones and spent hischildhood in and out of hospital. At the time, with no effective antibiotic,his condition was potentially fatal. The disease starts in the lungs, spreadsthrough the bloodstream and attacks the spine and weight-bearing joints. Cocoonedin plaster casts, he missed out on formal education. It was his father who suggested he tried tap dancing as part of his physical recovery. That gave him an incredibleear for rhythm, and the rest is history. It's impossible to say how differentJim's story would have been if he hadn't contracted the disease, but it's fairto assume it changed him.
When I started researching the polio, I was surprised by just how manypeople in the public eye have suffered. Martin Sheen, Donald Sutherland, JoniMitchell, GwenVerdon - and like Jim Marshall, Gwen was encouraged by her motherto dance as therapy for her polio-afflicted legs.
In Lucy's case, I also wanted to give the idea of physical separation, alife lived on the attic floor of her parents' home, her sense of abandonment,which leads to a fear of abandonment in later life. She calls herself the Outof Sight Out of Mind Child.
My Counterfeit Self is an intriguing title. What does it meanto you?
Lucy's parents behave so appallingly that she is freed from any feelingof obligation to live up to their expectations. She moves out of the familyhome, decamping to bohemian Soho. In distancing herself from her parents Lucyadopts a new personality that she hides behind. Although she insists that shelays herself bare in her poetry, it's keeping secrets from those who love hermost that is her undoing.