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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES: 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. 5. If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.

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Book club special: Author Sarah Waters and screen writer Lucinda Coxon join us for a webchat about their writing careers and new film adaptation of The Little Stranger: Wednesday 19 September at 12.30pm
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RachelMumsnet · 17/09/2018 10:23

We’re delighted to welcome author Sarah Waters and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon to Mumsnet on Wednesday 19th September at 12.30pm.

Sarah’s booker shortlisted novel The Little Stranger was Mumsnet book of the month back in 2009 and has since been one of the most discussed books on the forum. The Little Stranger has been adapted by Lucinda as a screenplay which hits the big screen on 21st September, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling and directed by Lenny Abrahamsson.

Join Sarah and Lucinda to ask them questions about their writing and the film. If you’ve got a budding author or screenwriter in your family, now is your chance to get tips and advice from two leading writers in their field.

If you’re unable to join us post questions in advance on this thread and we’ll make sure they are put to Sarah and Lucinda on Wednesday at 12.30.

Sarah Waters has written six novels, novels: Tipping the Velvet (1998), Affinity (1999), Fingersmith (2002), which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize, The Night Watch (2006), which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize; The Little Stranger (2009), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the South Bank Show Literature Award; and The Paying Guests (2014) which was been shortlisted for The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

Lucinda Coxon is a screenwriter whose plays have been performed in theatres across the UK. Her screenplays include Wild Target, The Heart of Me and most recently The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, who won an Academy Award for her performance. Her four-part version of Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White was screened to critical acclaim on BBC2.

will be released in cinemas nationwide in the UK on the 21st September.
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LARLARLAND · 17/09/2018 17:07

I won’t be around for this which is a huge shame.
I would like to ask Lucinda for her views on why is it so difficult for women to break into screenwriting and what she thinks can be done to assess this?

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curlies · 17/09/2018 21:28

I loved tipping the velvet! My question, do you think it's possible to make it as an author these days without agents and publishing companies or is that still the best route to go down? How did you get started?

Screenwriting wise, the same, how did you find getting your break into the industry?

Thanks!

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OlennasWimple · 18/09/2018 03:37

How exciting! I love Sarah's writing!

I had the same question as curlies, so I dont' have to use my one question to ask that...

So instead, how do you go about researching the historical background to the setting of your books? How faithful do you try to be?

Thanks!

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LowlyWorms · 18/09/2018 09:46

Hi Sarah, Am a huge fan of your novels and the Little Stranger is definitely one of my favourites. Without giving away any spoilers, I really love the fact in the novel the ending is quite open-ended and ambiguous (there's been so many discussion threads on Mumsnet about the ending!) and I wondered how this could be managed on screen - and also whether you worried that Lucinda's interpretation would be different from your own?

Really looking forward to seeing the film.

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BarbariansAtTheGates · 18/09/2018 13:40

I love Sarah's novels and they've brought me a huge amount of pleasure since I first started reading them in my teens.

The 'unreliable narrator', by which I mean the flaws and limits of Dr Faraday's point of view, is such a huge part of The Little Stranger. Is it possible to recreate this aspect of the novel on screen?

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Heather2gether · 18/09/2018 20:31

I am unable to join the webchat tomorrow but am another big fan of SW and am looking forward to the film. Hundreds - the Country Estate in the novel plays such a huge part in the book and I am intrigued to see it in the film. Where was the film set? Did you go on set at all and were you pleased with the look and feel of Hundreds Hall?

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Womaningreen · 19/09/2018 10:52

I love The Little Stranger so much, I'm not sure how I feel about a film! The characters are completely set in my head.

I thought Lucinda did a spectacular job on Crimson Petal, it was a delight.

I wonder how Sarah feels about putting this to film and I wonder what changes Lucinda felt had to be made? For example, it might be me, but I feel like Dr Faraday looks a lot younger and slimmer than I imagined?!

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rosemartini · 19/09/2018 11:01

Hi Sarah! I love your novels and it's so cool that you're doing this webchat. My question is, how do you think publishing has changed in the years since you wrote Tipping the Velvet?

Also (if you have time) what did you think of Park Chan-wook's adaptation of Fingersmith and the changes he made? Is it important to you for adaptations of your work to stay true to the novel, or do you find changes interesting/understandable?

Lucinda, did you want to adapt The Little Stranger faithfully to the book, or did that take a step back from making a good film?

Lots of questions, sorry - feel free to pick and choose!

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HarrietMWelsch · 19/09/2018 11:17

Excited for this! Posting a q in advance - Sarah, your back catalogue is pretty impressive. How do you feel your writing/style has changed or evolved over the course of your novels? And what's next - is there a genre or setting that you're desperate to tackle?

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HarrietMWelsch · 19/09/2018 11:19

And a similar one for Lucinda - do you feel your style of writing has changed, and how? And what's on your wishlist of types of book to adapt?

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bettyskitchen · 19/09/2018 11:25

Can't wait for the film - big fan of the book!

I just wondered how you've both found the film making process? Sarah were you nervous handing your book over to another writer, and Lucinda did you feel any sort of pressure adapting a book which is much loved by readers?

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puzzledpandacorn · 19/09/2018 11:26

First off - Lucinda and Sarah I love this partnership, and I'm so excited to see the film!

Sarah, obviously it's so exciting having a book turned into a film, but were you nervous about any parts not looking how you imagined them in your head? If so how do you as the author combat this?

And Lucinda - i guess the same question in reverse - but how do you go about ensuring you preseve all the best and most-loved parts of the book?

Thanks so much for doing this both of you!!

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Satelliteoflove · 19/09/2018 11:28

A question for Sarah - I'm a huge fan of your novels (think I have read them all) and particularly love Affinity and The Little Stranger. I'm interested to know more about your fascination into the supernatural. Do you believe in ghosts and the supernatural and have you had any experience of haunted houses? I'm also interested to hear which house the film uses for Hundreds Hall - would love to visit. Am very much looking forward to seeing the film.

Final question - is it really scary? I'm wondering whether to take my 15 year old dd...

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fashionandbeautylover · 19/09/2018 11:32

Hi Sarah and Lucinda!

I am so excited to see the film and Sarah I love your books.

My question is in terms of casting, did you get any input in this? and if so how did you find the process?

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AlphaMama · 19/09/2018 11:33

I've been tossing the idea for a non-fiction book around in my head for over a year. I know that really you just need to sit down and write - just get started. But this book relies on interviews with people. Any tips for how I could approach people within the specific industry and persuade them too share their stories and advice as part of the book?

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ItscalledaVulva · 19/09/2018 11:38

Hi Sarah, I love your books and The Little Stranger was so absorbing and tense, I had to sleep with the light on for a week after reading it.

My question is how you get to know the language used in the time periods you write about, and how important it is to you to use authentic speech?

A related question to Lucinda is how important is it that people speak with an authentic voice in your films? And how much research do you personally do about the time periods you make films about beyond the source novel?

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SarahWaters · 19/09/2018 12:32

Hello! Great to be here. Thanks for the questions so far.

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LucindaCoxon · 19/09/2018 12:32

Hi - very happy to be here to talk about The Little Stranger.

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SarahWaters · 19/09/2018 12:35

@curlies

I loved tipping the velvet! My question, do you think it's possible to make it as an author these days without agents and publishing companies or is that still the best route to go down? How did you get started?

Screenwriting wise, the same, how did you find getting your break into the industry?

Thanks!


Hi! Glad to hear you enjoyed Tipping the Velvet - thanks.

I started off in publishing over 20 years ago now, so my route in was the traditional one: finding an agent, who then found me a publisher. Things have changed a lot since then, and there are more options for authors these days re self-publishing etc. But I still think my way was a good one. Having an agent is especially useful: my agent, Judith, has been a brilliant supporter over the years, in all sorts of ways. I would feel lost without her.
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SarahWaters · 19/09/2018 12:37

@OlennasWimple

How exciting! I love Sarah's writing!

I had the same question as curlies, so I dont' have to use my one question to ask that...

So instead, how do you go about researching the historical background to the setting of your books? How faithful do you try to be?

Thanks!


Thanks! I love research, and I definitely try to get things right - I don't really see the point of writing historical fiction otherwise (unless you're being deliberately creative and playful with history, in an Angela Carter sort of way). I use diaries, letters, images, maps, newspapers - anything, really. Novels are also very useful for giving you the flavour of a period - it's 'voice', its manners and preoccupations.
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LucindaCoxon · 19/09/2018 12:38

@LARLARLAND

I won’t be around for this which is a huge shame.
I would like to ask Lucinda for her views on why is it so difficult for women to break into screenwriting and what she thinks can be done to assess this?


This is a really good point to raise - and a difficult one to answer. There are many factors in the mix, I think. It's a very competitive industry - hard for women and men to break into. But the primacy of male-led films and male directors makes it much harder for female screenwriters. More female led stories with female directors (also in a minority) would make a difference.

There are also the usual issues around women having confidence and the sheer ego strength to keep going in a field that is 99% rejection.

The current climate gives me a sense of cautious optimism, but the numbers at present are pitiful. If things don't improve soon, I think quotas will be inevitable.
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SarahWaters · 19/09/2018 12:40

@LowlyWorms

Hi Sarah, Am a huge fan of your novels and the Little Stranger is definitely one of my favourites. Without giving away any spoilers, I really love the fact in the novel the ending is quite open-ended and ambiguous (there's been so many discussion threads on Mumsnet about the ending!) and I wondered how this could be managed on screen - and also whether you worried that Lucinda's interpretation would be different from your own?

Really looking forward to seeing the film.


Hello - thank you. Yes, I worked hard to make the novel fairly ambiguous, and I knew this would be an issue for Lucinda and for Lenny, the film's director. But I also trusted them to get it right, having discussed it with them early on, and they really have managed it: the film is subtle and very understated; it leaves you thinking. Hope you enjoy it!
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Lucysgoldenhair · 19/09/2018 12:41

Hi there, what did you think of the casting? Had you any thoughts before the film was cast of who would play the main characters? I was surprised by Domhnall Gleeson as Dr Faraday - had him down as older, larger, fuller somehow!

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LucindaCoxon · 19/09/2018 12:41

@OlennasWimple

How exciting! I love Sarah's writing!

I had the same question as curlies, so I dont' have to use my one question to ask that...

So instead, how do you go about researching the historical background to the setting of your books? How faithful do you try to be?

Thanks!


Hi Curlies -

I started out writing for the theatre. That was my great first love and something I am still very much involved with. All my work for screen proceeded from that. I don't think I could have gone straight into writing for film. The experience of having spent years working with actors and directors in a very collaborative environment was really important for me...
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SarahWaters · 19/09/2018 12:42

@BarbariansAtTheGates

I love Sarah's novels and they've brought me a huge amount of pleasure since I first started reading them in my teens.

The 'unreliable narrator', by which I mean the flaws and limits of Dr Faraday's point of view, is such a huge part of The Little Stranger. Is it possible to recreate this aspect of the novel on screen?


Again, yes, this was an issue for Lucinda and Lenny, but I think they have dealt with it really well. The film sticks close to Dr F at first, and he seems quite endearing; gradually, though, he emerges as a bit sinister and controlling - exactly as in the novel. Ultimately he's quite a poignant figure too - something I really like.
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