Jess Kidd: Hoarder explores 'how marginalised voices can move into the centre and be heard again'

This article is from 2018

Jess Kidd: Hoarder explores 'how marginalised voices can move into the centre and be heard again'

credit: Travis McBride

Award-winning writer Jess Kidd delves into the inspirations and aspirations behind her second novel, The Hoarder

'I have a support worker background, and I've worked with some challenging clients,' says author Jess Kidd. 'That was fascinating for me, so I really wanted to explore the relationship between a supported person and a person doing the supporting. And another fascination was hoarding disorder, because I'm at the other end of the spectrum, I'm quite spartan. The more I researched this, the more I discovered there was a link with loss and grief.'

The above life experience informs Kidd's second novel, itself called The Hoarder. Both winner of the Costa Short Story Award in 2016, and the author of the tense and roundly acclaimed debut novel Himself (which was shortlisted by the Irish Book Awards and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award), Kidd has this time told the story of an 'underpaid carer and unintentional psychic' who bonds with her latest client, only to begin to wonder as to the dark secret which might be buried amid his rubbish.

'The book was written in the wake of my father's death, so it explores many of those feelings,' says Kidd. 'But I also wanted to make it a bit of a mystery, so it's set in a kind of gothic, flytipped house – it transplants that gothic tradition into a contemporary setting. The story starts with the characters, though. Maud, the careworker, has been assigned to a belligerent old man, and she's very much his last resort. It explores how we care for each other, and how marginalised voices can move into the centre and be heard again.'

Kidd says this book is one of an increasing number which reconnects with a sense of community, exploring support networks outside of the family; her appearance in Edinburgh has paired her with Joanna Cannon, whose Three Things About Elsie also explores the lives of the elderly. 'A lot of people have come up to me on tour to tell me they're the hoarder, which I wasn't expecting,' says Kidd. 'Yet it's also led some people to look again at the mechanisms which we use for dealing with grief, which can sometimes push people away. It deals with all of this, but it's a mystery and a comedy too – there's a lot going on.'

The Spiegeltent, Charlotte Square Gardens, 15 Aug, 10.15am, £12 (£10).

Joanna Cannon & Jess Kidd

Long-hidden secrets are about to be set free in new novels by Joanna Cannon and Jess Kidd. In Cannon’s Three Things About Elsie, a lady in a home for the elderly is about to have her world rocked when a new resident arrives looking exactly like a man who died 60 years before. Kidd’s The Hoarder has the house of a…