By Jessica Duchen

Odette, Swan Lake’s enchanted swan princess, is still trying to break her spell

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Aiming for the stars

It's International Women's Day and I have decided to own up to what I really want MEETING ODETTE to be - and always have, ever since I started it in 1992.

My dream is to make this book a new magical-realism feminist classic. I don't know if I can do it, but I intend to give it my very best shot.

My great literary role-model was Angela Carter (except the bit about dying of cancer in her fifties): her writing whooshed me out of my chair up to a words-woven heaven of imagery and verbal music and there is nothing I would love more than to work in her wake - to whatever extent I can. So that is my pledge for this special day in 2018. I'm going to try. Because if I don't try now, I never will. I started this book in the month that Angela Carter died. I am now the age she was then. (Above: image and quote from angelacarter.co.uk)

In 1992 I didn't have the guts or the perspective I needed for this book. There was another complication, too: the feminist territory in our family was firmly occupied by my sister, Claire, who was a French academic, historian and specialist on the development of feminism in France. For a long time I felt I could not venture onto her ground. She was about to become head of French at Sussex University when she was struck down with ovarian cancer in her early forties.

Today everything I do and write in this direction, I do for her, because she should be here to do it herself, but she passed away in 2000 aged 45 - raging, raging against the dying of the light. 

We don't have forever. We have to act now, write now, right now. If I am to be granted a longer life than both my sister and my favourite writer, I owe it to them to try. 

With your help, with your pledges, I can perhaps do it a little bit faster. Thank you for your support, dear friends!

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