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SCRIBES
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Stella Duffy is a novelist and
playwright, particularly celebrated in
the lesbian community for her Saz
Martin detective novels
g3: You seem to have quite a balance of
lesbian and non-lesbian characters in your
books. Can you tell us about that?
SD: I’ve just finished my 12th novel, so there’s now six
with lesbian protagonists, six without. I’ve never set out
to only write about lesbians, it’s never been my thing.
I’ve always been interested in stories first and foremost.
I know other writers write the characters first and fit
the story around them, but I don’t come at it that way.
g3: We know you object to being described as
a lesbian writer. Why is that?

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SD: I don’t object, it’s just that it seems very reductive o
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to me. There are lots of other things that I am as well.
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ians.

I’m certainly out, and I’ve been out for a very long time
now, so it’s not about being considered gay. It’s just that
I’d rather be allowed to write whatever I want to write,
rather than there be an assumption about A) What my g3: Do you think you enjoy more of a lesbian deal for people that aren’t gay, anymore. However, I
market is, and B) what I can do. And I also wouldn’t following with those books? personally wish a lot more people would get on with it
dream of thinking that lesbians are only interested in SW: I think there was a time, maybe 20 years ago, and come out, and hopefully someone like Carol Ann
reading about other lesbians. I also don’t want people when we were so hungry to read anything that had Duffy being in the public eye will encourage them to.
thinking “Oh, she’s a lesbian, therefore her book’s not lesbian characters in it, so we all really made an effort. Beyond that, I think it’s exciting that she’s going to be
for me,” if they happen to be straight, or male. Now, I think that a lot of people, straight gay, men writing stuff that is relevant to the world, because she’s
women, whatever, are doing much wider writing and a great poet, and we can see in that reflections of
g3: If you’d been a straight writer, do you think that’s great. So while I’m really happy that people ourselves as lesbians. I wouldn’t want to suggest,
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you’d be producing very different work? might want to read some of my books because they however, that that’s what she ought to be writing
SD: I hope not! But I suppose, like most straight have a lesbian protagonist, what I’m interested in is the about, and only that, because I think we should all be
writers, I would have written about fewer gay story rather than the sexuality of my character. If it writing about everything.
characters. I find it quite odd that lots of straight writers feeds the story, that’s brilliant, but I wouldn’t do it just
barely have gay characters at all, whereas I have plenty because some people might read it for that. g3: So what’s in the pipeline for you?
of straight characters as well as gay characters – and SD: My latest novel comes out next year, and it’s my
also black characters, even though I’m white. I want to g3: Even in your other novels, when you touch first historical novel. Two weeks ago I started the sequel
represent the society that we live in, which has all sorts on lesbianism, does it ever cross your mind for that. It was meant to be just one book, but it’s
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of different kinds of people in it. that you might alienate straight readers? turned into two, maybe three. I’ve done an adaptation
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SD: No, absolutely not, I’ve never thought that. What of Euripides’s Medea, which is going to be on the
g3: Your Saz Martin books have a real cult I have done is try to write interesting and different Southbank this summer. Steam Industry are producing
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following among lesbians. How does that lesbian characters, so that they don’t fit into that classic that. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff I’ve got my L
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make you feel? straight stereotype of what we’re like. fingers crossed about, too…
SD: Fine, good, great. The only problem is that people
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CHAR
want you to write more of the Saz Martin books and I g3: What are your thoughts on Carol Ann Stella Duffy’s latest novel,
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feel that I’ve very much finished with those characters. Duffy being appointed Poet Laureate? The Room of Lost Things, is out now, published
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I might come back to it at some point but it certainly SD: I’m delighted, and perhaps people will stop by Virago. To keep up with what Stella is doing,
won’t be for quite a while. thinking I’m her now! I’m not sure that it’s that big a visit stelladuffy.wordpress.com
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