The ex-actress conducts a deep involvement with language
Emily Woof first graced Edinburgh nude and on a trapeze for a trilogy of one-woman Fringe plays, under the Sex umbrella. And throughout The Whole Wide Beauty (the debut novel by The Full Monty and Wondrous Oblivion star), the loss of physical expression is lamented, as former dancer Katherine, enthralled to improvisation but adrift from her vocation, embarks upon an affair with a poet. Retired from acting since 2007, Woof believes she never developed a ‘tough enough skin’ for the film industry and describes the book as ‘drawing on personal experience of losing your creative centre, realising I wasn’t in touch with it anymore and how that made me sad. I always knew I was going to continue writing, but I never thought of myself writing prose. I was truly excited that I had the patience for this deep involvement with language.’
Katherine’s difficult relationship with her charismatic father, an indefatigable fundraiser for a Northumberland poetry foundation, is further strained when she falls for his protégé. The Newcastle-born Woof’s own father, the late Wordsworth Trust Director Dr Robert Woof, died in 2005. ‘I began writing prose quite soon after my father’s death,’ she recalls. ‘Looking back, I think it was a direct response, as I started by writing this character, exploring his thoughts. It was probably a way of keeping him alive in a strange way and continuing a conversation. I didn’t think of it as a novel, but slowly more characters came in and it became a bigger story.’
Writers’ Retreat, 0845 373 5888, 16 Aug (with Sue Peebles), 6pm, £7 (£5).