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'As if imagination has no part to play'

15 February 2016

‘Novelists are often asked which of their characters is them, as if imagination has no part to play. Most of us will answer that characters develop out of the need of the story itself. So my Cassie and her murderous actions are necessary in The Taxidermist's Daughter for the plot to work. She's not me, any more than is Freddie in The Winter Ghosts or Alais in Labyrinth. By the same measure, an author who has written a story with an unreliable narrator at the heart of things might choose to make their protagonist, say, an alcoholic - as Paula Hawkins does in The Girl on the Train. The reader at first discounts Rachel's impressions as delusional and muddled, which is crucial, before later having to learn to trust her. This is the nature of novel-writing, where individual characters drive forward individual aspects of the novel.

In any revenge narrative, you first have to confront the question of whether revenge is justified, then, how much might be too much? What steps can a woman justifiably take if there is no redress in law or natural justice? And how does the author engage the reader's sympathy without appearing to justify violence or contempt for life?'

Kate Mosse, author of The Taxidermist's Daughter and Labyrinth, in the Sunday Times