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Janice Elliott Biography - Janice Elliott Comments:

set time england nile

I have always tried to avoid writing in a way that might invite categorisation in either subject matter or treatment. The result is a body of work ranging from the bizarre and darkly magical (Dr. Gruber's Daughter, Magic, The Sadness of Witches) to the social realism of the England Trilogy and the poignancy of Secret Places—set in the war-time Midlands where I grew up.

I make frequent use of myth, which fascinates me (most overtly in The Singing Head). So does modern history (Angels Falling set in Britain 1901-68; Life on the Nile, Egypt today and in the 1920s). The domestic scene has interested me only when it is set in and interacts with, the larger, outer world (e.g. the menace of the authoritarian state in Necessary Rites). A sense of place is vital to me, even when I have invented a country (The Country of Her Dreams).

I have been consistent only in my aspiration, my attempt each time to try something that will set me a fresh challenge as a writer. I am consistent too, in my conviction that style is not the icing on the cake but an organic and essential element in a good novel. If there is one recurring theme it may be the fall from grace, the image of exile from the garden.

In the last decade I have felt an urge to get out of England (mentally, imaginatively, and physically), and so made use of a number of foreign settings (The Italian Lesson, Life on the Nile).

I have also been more drawn by humour, sometimes to the forefront, more often as a bright, sharp thread in the weave. I believe that as a result, my novels may become more accessible to a wider audience.

Given my inclination to dash off in different directions, I have been lucky in my critical reception. Not that I could have done otherwise. I am an entirely intuitive writer, often astonished to find myself where I am and in what company (e.g. with Hitler in an attic in North Oxford in Dr. Gruber's Daughter).

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