Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Heather Child

Heather Child's experience in digital marketing has brought her into close contact with the automation and personalization technologies that herald the "big data" age.

Her debut novel is Everything About You.

Recently I asked Child about what she was reading. Her reply:
I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, the latter often as research for whatever I’m writing.

This is what brought me to Selfie by Will Storr. It’s ostensibly about our current selfie-taking celebrity culture, but I was surprised to find it a far-reaching study that chronicles how the concept of ‘the individual’ came to be revered, from ancient Greece through to American neoliberalism.

Putting the self first is a western - rather than universal - cultural tendency, and it’s fascinating to read about how research was wilfully misused to argue that high self-esteem would solve all social ills – violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy etc – so that the majority of US primary schools put programmes in place to boost it. Of course, low self-esteem isn’t great either, but we seem to have overshot the happy medium of people having a realistic view of their abilities, resulting in the narcissistic ‘selfie’ culture we have today.

Fiction-wise, I’m part way through My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, about two girls growing up in Naples. It was my turn to pick something for a local book club, and my ulterior motive for choosing this novel was to see a stylish depiction of close female friendship, something I’m trying to write about currently. Reading is the best way to learn about writing, after all.

My Brilliant Friend is beautifully narrated, but it took me a while to get into the story - probably because it is realism and I’ve been reading a lot of speculative fiction recently (so I kept expecting something strange and unnatural to happen!)
Visit Heather Child's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything About You.

--Marshal Zeringue