Jenny Valentish in the Hoopla
What makes up a Cherry Bomb author, asks Meredith Jaffe? Ken Kesey, E Nesbit, Ruth Rendell and John Fowles, it turns out. Here’s a short excerpt:
Meredith Jaffe: As a child, which books did you read time and again?
Jenny Valentish: Uh-oh, I think this may actually be the most revealing question I’ve ever been asked. My mum was quite determined that I be raised wholesomely, so at bath time she would read me Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Black Beauty (we had to abort—too sad), Little Women (et al), Anne of Green Gables and The Story of the Treasure Seekers. In reference to the latter, I nicked one of E Nesbit’s techniques for Cherry Bomb, or for the first few drafts at least. Her narrator, Oswald Bastable, would frequently break flow to pompously address the reader in first person; breaking the fourth wall, to borrow a theatrical term. Originally in Cherry Bomb Nina Dall was relaying the story to a ghostwriter and interrupting the narrative to add her opinions. I decided that this mannered approach can annoy the reader, so I ditched it. Sorry, Oswald.
My grandfather would read me Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, and I feel as though I’ve inherited his humour and Lewis Carroll’s humour combined when it comes to my own style. Sorry, Lewis.