It is often said that authors should “Write what they know.” However, with regards to debut author and former journalist Natalie Young – whose novel Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband (Tinder Press) – it can only be hoped that the former Books and Arts Editor for Prospect Magazine has not taken this advice literally. Her central character, Lizzie Prain, is disillusioned with her lot after thirty years of marriage and wants to live a nice life in Scotland. “She started off glamorous and successful but, the more I wrote into her the more I understood her anxiety and isolation,” Natalie explained. “Once I realised what she was doing with her husband I realised that she couldn’t be a successful, attractive man-eating woman. That would have been a cliché and hideous. She had to be sad, and left out, and sensitive and misunderstood. I was writing to the isolated person in all of us.”
The pace of the novel is kept rolling through a clever use of reminders Lizzie posts herself. Were these eureka moments that occurred within the writing process or did you have a fairly rough idea before the novel was started? “Not at all. The list came to me late on. I had written the killing and dismembering and cooking parts and all I had was a rather solid sticky lump of gore. I stopped working on the book then and took some time away from it. When I went back I got the list and the graphics and the humour. A new voice bubbled through and oxygenated the whole thing.”
Cooking is an integral part of the plot, given that Lizzie is something of a whizz in the kitchen. “Something I definitely don’t profess to be,” Natalie laughed. “I’m neither patient or organised enough and find everything about cooking - from the buying of the food to the putting it on the table - time consuming and dull. I’d rather be reading, walking, playing with my kids and can’t remember the last time I found it enjoyable. I am a single parent: I’ll take and enjoy almost anything cooked by someone else.”
Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young is available now.
Review of Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband by Chris High