Posted on 8th August 2015

Posted by Sophie

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Q&A with Grace McCleen

How would you describe The Offering to a reading group? 

A novel concerned with sin, repetition and redemption.


What inspired you to write The Offering

A moonlit walk.


The Offering gives the reader a vivid insight into mental health. What research was required to make this complex subject matter authentic? 

None at all. It was all imaginary.


The protagonist, Madeline, seems inspired by the landscape around her. Does the natural world influence your work as a writer and artist? 

Yes very much.


What does it mean to you to be a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize winning author?

A respite from scrabbling around for money for a while!


Do you think there are any characteristics that define British fiction writing?

No, I think it’s hard to distinguish British from American fiction at the moment.


Can you recommend a contemporary British fiction writer? 

Alan Hollingurst, Kazuo Ishiguro


And finally, do you have any works in progress that we should watch out for?

No. I’m not writing fiction anymore. I may be writing some poetry though.



Grace McCleen grew up in a fundamentalist religion, with little contact with the outside world. A teacher’s suggestion that she apply to university changed the course of her life: association with unbelievers and further education were viewed as suspicious by the religion. When a long illness confined her to bed, she started to write songs and fiction.

Interested in sound, in spirituality, in miniature and the natural world, as a child she made elaborate and beautifully crafted miniature figures, ‘little people’ – which find an incarnation in her debut novel, The Land of Decoration, about a young girl growing up in a fundamentalist religion, her struggles with faith and the outside world. The book was awarded the 2012 Desmond Elliott Prize.



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