books creating poetry

On characters and shapeshifting

April 19, 2021

The most elaborate character development I undertook for the new novel, The Madness of Sara Mansfield, was with Alex/Crow.

They began life as an hour-long sound/spoken word performance piece, CRØWOMAN. I only performed this twice before realising that this character is Trans and that they need to live in the novel, not on stage.

As I’ve written before, the titular character has my initials because all of the characters in the novel are potential reflections of my Self: I am large, I contain multitudes; and so the psychological exploration – mapping the internal landscapes, has been as essential as the nature writing – immersing in the landscapes of Europe.

However, Alex’s narrative isn’t focussed on their sexuality or gender. Early in the novel they experience a series of spiritual awakenings, or breaks from reality, or psychotic episodes, depending upon your chosen viewpoint.

Alex’s character is an exploration of the magic that exists within Trans people: their ability to shapeshift and hold multiple realities, their capacity for great healing, both of the Self and the wider community. I truly hope I manage to convey this with sensitivity and love.

The Madness of Sara Mansfield is available from my website from 1st May 2021.

Link here to the original CRØWOMAN sound piece on Soundcloud.

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