Gerard Woodward is a prolific and interesting writer and poet. Since his first published collection of poetry in 1991 he has produced three more, the latest in 2005, We Were Pedestrians. In addition to this, he’s written a collection a short stories, Caravan Thieves and trilogy of novels. He won a Somerset Maugham Award for his poetry collection Householder, and two of his books, based on his own family history, have been shortlisted for significant literary awards: August for the Whitbread First Book Award in 2001 and I’ll Go To Bed At Noon for Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2004.
Some of his stories, although describing quite ordinary lives, are quirky with unexpected twists in the plot. For instance his collection of short stories begins with a tale of a couple who’s caravan has been stolen – with the occupants still inside.
Gerard Woodward’s latest novel, Nourishment, is set in London during the 2nd World War. It tells the remarkable and tragic story of Tory, who while trying to survive the Blitz, receives a letter from her POW husband demanding a dirty letter by return. Neither her ageing mother, nor her female workmates at the local gelatine factory are willing – or able – to help Tory in her task, so she’s forced to search for inspiration in the more seedy parts of the city. This quest for sexy vocabulary affects Tory’s life in a way she could never have expected.
I’m a great fan of Woodward’s quirky writing, and his latest novel certainly doesn’t disappoint. After I finished reading it, I had several burning questions for the author, the answers to which I’d like to share with you here (Beware there are spoilers in the interview):
I must first ask where you got your inspiration for this extraordinary book?
The themes you explore in the book are so many: sense of duty, morality, poverty, war and its effects on people, family, love, feminism. Which of these would you say is the most important?