Interview: Nick Brooks, author of Indecent Acts

The novel considers the challenge of expressing adult intelligence with limited language skills

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Interview: Nick Brooks, author of Indecent Acts

Your new novel Indecent Acts explores the daily struggles of Grace, a semi-literate 40-something mother from Drumchapel. What inspired you to write her story?
The germ of the novel came about while I was organising literacy groups around west Glasgow. I found that the way some people wrote was a source of shame or guilt to them, but it could also be highly engaging and original. So I took that idea – of expressing an adult intelligence with a limited linguistic palette – and Grace arose out of the murk. I knew there had to be humour in it – there always is in my writing – and I knew I wanted it to be about love of a different kind from the sort that’s usually portrayed in novels.

Was it a challenge to create Grace’s personality?
She took form very easily from her own language. That language had to be constructed first. I knew if I got that right, I'd be okay. So, once the initial mood of her character emerged from that language, her personality took shape. Her worries, humour, perception of how life had played out for her were like a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece slotting into the next. The real difficulty was in creating her journey.

What do you hope readers will get from reading Grace's story?
I hope they'll look through the initial barrier of her language and see the human being on the other side of it. I want her to be as ‘real’ a person as its possible for her to be. I hope readers will get the idea of ‘linguistic legitimacy’; the idea that if Grace’s actual language improves to meet ‘our’ standards, she might actually be losing something too – an original slant on the world which might be somehow ironed out by improvement.

Indecent Acts is published by Freight on Mon 7 Apr.

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