Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Natalie Haynes on her debut novel

This article is from 2014

*4natalie Haynes & Helen Walsh

The comedian turned author promises The Amber Fury is 'not funny. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone'

‘It had to be set in Edinburgh,’ says stand-up comedian turned author, Natalie Haynes, about her debut novel, The Amber Fury, a story of grief, interwoven with the Greek tragedies, published earlier this year. ‘It sets the right tone for a thriller. Edinburgh can feel quite claustrophobic, with the castle and the crags looking down, making you feel watched. It’s also a place where I’ve felt grief-stricken; I found out my grandfather had died while I was performing there one August.’

Haynes will appear at the Book Festival with Lemon Grove author Helen Walsh, and is used to bringing comedy shows to the Fringe. So when describing her book, the first thing she says is, ‘It’s not funny. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone. Not that there aren’t laughs in there, I can’t resist a laugh, however cheap!’ A former classics student at Cambridge, Haynes says she retired from stand-up because, ‘she preferred tragedy to comedy’.

‘As Aristotle would tell you, comedy and tragedy are both very cathartic,’ she says. ‘This is my love letter to Edinburgh, a place that can seem stern and dour, when actually it has an enormously kind heart.’

Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 21 Aug, 10.15am, £10 (£8).

Natalie Haynes & Helen Walsh

Set in Edinburgh, The Amber Fury is the debut novel by broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes. Described by Lionel Shriver as ‘a handsomely structured psychological mystery,’ it vividly portrays the dark side of human relationships. Meanwhile Helen Walsh’s Lemon Grove is a frank portrayal of female desire during a…