Gail Honeyman: ‘I didn’t want Eleanor Oliphant to be portrayed as a victim’
The Costa award-winning debut novelist on the kindness of Glasgow and becoming a full-time writer in her 40s
Gail Honeyman arrives in London trailing a wheelie-case, having travelled from Glasgow on a plane that was supposed to leave at 7am, but was delayed by the freezing weather. As we take the escalator up to liberate her of the case for a photocall, we muse on the peculiarity of a –7C ground frost stranding a plane which regularly flies at air temperatures of –40C.
In ways that only those who have found themselves sucked into her award-winning debut novel will truly understand, this is an Eleanor Oliphant moment: it enfolds a stressful experience, stoically borne, in the beady intelligence of a woman who is rarely seen in public without a trolley-bag. The comparison has less to do with Honeyman herself than with the capacity of her writing to make everything seem a little bit strange, slightly dislocated from its face value.
I think there are a lot of Raymonds in the world – ordinary, kind, decent men who don’t often get featured in fiction