Literary Birthday – 7 July – Zoë Heller

Happy Birthday, Zoë Heller, born 7 July 1965.

Seven Quotes

  1. I don’t write books for people to be friends with the characters. If you want to find friends, go to a cocktail party.
  2. It’s very bad for the soul, all this banging on about yourself, and it induces simultaneously a sort of grotesque narcissism and paranoia and self-loathing. I’ve found that it gives you a tiny glimpse into the world of proper celebrities and why they are so nuts.
  3. You kind of have to begin with a very grand hope for what you’re going to do, and inevitably what you bring out is a sort of burnt offering by comparison. To maintain this metaphor, the thing I remember feeling towards the end of writing this book was this feeling that I didn’t care if it was an excellent cake or excellent batch of cookies; I just wanted people to read it and tell me that it was recognisably in the cake or cookie family.
  4. My hope, at least, is that I write difficult, complicated, but sympathetic characters.
  5. I’m slightly irritated by what I think is a kind of modern demand for characters you can root for, characters you would like to be friends with. Speaking as a reader, I have to say that some of my favourite characters in literature are some of the nasty ones.
  6. One of the things I sometimes feel is that if you’re a writer and you’re going to write criticism, there comes a point when you have to make a choice between continuing to write reviews and whether you want to go out in the evenings and continue to have a social life.
  7. It took me a while to establish the discipline of writing without a deadline. The wonderful thing about journalism is kind of being given your homework and having a deadline and knowing you have to do it.

Zoë Heller is an English journalist and novelist. She has published three novels, Everything You KnowNotes on a Scandal, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize and made into a film in 2006, and The Believers.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 7th July 2014