Jenni Fagan, author of Panopticon - interview

Jenni Fagan, author of Panopticon - interview

Debut features teenage girl trapped in a disturbing social experiment

Give us five words to describe Panopticon?
Gutsy, violent, philosophical, beautiful, sad.

Name one author who should be more famous than they are now?
Breece D’J Pancake, a great short story writer who influenced lots of authors.

What was the first book you read?
The Magic Faraway Tree. I was particularly impressed by jelly land.

Which book makes you cry?
Kieron Smith, Boy. It takes you back into childhood and that painful awareness of what it means to be alive.

Which book makes you laugh?
Hunger by Knut Hamsun makes me really laugh in places; the protagonist is so anti-social and demented.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?
William Burroughs. I would have loved to go for afternoon tea with him.

What one thing would you change about the publishing world?
Writers find it hard to get a look-in unless they have an agent. I think all the big publishers should have an open submissions slot for a few months every year, where they embrace works that are not necessarily obviously commercial. I’m sure they’d find some great writers that way.

What plans do you have for book number two?
I have seven novels outlined, all of them are different. I have started one called Copernicus, based in a small caravan park near a waste-ground outside some un-named Scottish city. It has vast landscapes, odd characters, and set against a backdrop of the aurora borealis. It’s a bit David Lynch, a bit Sigur Rós, but mostly just me. I have no idea where it’s going.

Panopticon is published by Heinemann on Thu 3 May.

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