Five minutes with Lauren Owen
The author of The Quick puts an inventive spin on the undead (Hilary Mantel approves)
ELLE: How did the idea for The Quick first come to you?
Lauren Owen: As a child, I lived on the grounds of a boarding school which had once been a private manor. In the holidays, the school would be empty, and my dad would tell me that a scary creature called ‘The Vile’ lived there. This got me thinking about a big old house with a supernatural secret. Later, I began to read a lot of Victorian fiction – writers like Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle definitely helped me develop the idea.
ELLE: Why did you choose to have sibling love be the driving story rather than romantic love?
LO: I think the sibling relationship is a fascinating one to write about. It carries the pull of the past, and also the pull of blood – I think these are both important aspects of the vampire genre.
ELLE: What prompted you to take a largely human story and give it a supernatural twist right at the end?
LO: I love the way in which the gothic genre allows you to explore ideas about character and society without being restricted to the factual and rational. The gothic is a bit like the grotesque shadow cast by an everyday object, exaggerating its features. Real vampires may not exist, but vampiric behaviour can be found in every sphere of human existence.
ELLE: Do you believe in the supernatural?
LO: Under the right circumstances I can convince myself that I do.
The Quick (Jonathan Cape) is out this month