Orange nominee who won’t stick to the script
This article is from 2008.
‘Not a bad start,’ comes Londoner Sadie Jones’ modest response when she’s reminded of the remarkable success of her debut novel The Outcast – a nominee for the Orange Prize for Fiction and one of 2008’s best sellers to date. ‘I’m just in a constant state of surprise and pleasure about it all to be honest,’ she beams.
An emotive, ominous tale about the cruel ostracism of middle-class teenager Lewis from polite society in leafy 1950s London suburbia and his gradual descent into alcoholism, criminality and self-harm, The Outcast was originally developed as a script. It evolved into a book as Jones – who had worked in screenwriting for 18 years – became frustrated at the lack of elbow room such a format afforded her to develop what she gradually came to understand was a powerful, affecting story, with an intriguing character at its core. ‘It just didn’t feel told or fully realised,’ she says, ‘so I had to find another way of doing it.’
Reworked as her first novel, the prose is spare but sparklingly detailed, with a strikingly filmic quality in its measured pace and precise use of imagery. Jones has already been courted to produce a screen adaptation, although she’s proceeding with caution and remains tight-lipped about the details. ‘We’re working on that,’ she says, ‘but I don’t want to compromise the story just to sell it on. It’s done now – the story’s told, and that’s a lovely feeling, to finally have something told. So I’m not rushing into anything.’
Sadie Jones and Clare Morrall, 22 Aug, 4.30pm, £6 (£4).