An interview with John Lynch
Question: You gave us an interview for Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper and we don’t need to repeat all that here. Tell us about Sharon Wright: Butterfly. How did you come to write it?
JL: I’ve always regarded women as stronger than men. Not physically stronger – not usually – but mentally and spiritually stronger. I don’t know whether that’s because I grew up in the north-east as the son of several generations of coalminers but it’s how I see things. I’d written Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper as the story of a young man who overcomes the drawbacks of an appalling upbringing and I wanted to do the same thing for a young woman. Sharon Wright is that woman.
Q: Is she based on a real person?
JL: Answering questions like that can land you in court being sued for libel.
Q: Would you call Sharon a nice person?
JL: I wasn’t thinking in terms of niceness when I wrote the book. When we watch her wooing Jackie Gough you could say she woos the way a praying mantis might. When her mate has served his purpose he ends up being eaten and poor Jackie doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. But I’d excuse her by asking, “What choice does she have? What options has Life given her? It’s her or the other guy and why should she accept that it has to be her?” And let me say also that if the central character of the book had been male instead of female I don’t believe you would have asked that question. If a man had done the things Sharon does the reaction would simply be that he was giving expression to his masculinity. Why should we expect a young woman to behave differently?
Q: There’s a lot of humour in the book. Do you find it easier to write with comic intent?
JL: I suppose I do. My next book is called When the Darkness Comes. It opens with a man realising that he is on the point of death and it contains this passage: He’s laughing, up here in the corner. And it’s a relief. Because, if being dead doesn’t really mean being dead, he’s not going to like it if he can’t laugh. He’s always been able to laugh. That – that business of always having been able to laugh – is probably about me. The book is not about me – I’m not the character who is dying – but that one character trait is definitely something he gets from me.
Q: Thank you for talking to us.
JL: My pleasure.
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