'I had never even wanted to be a writer'
“And it makes a real difference. The Bookseller published a list recently of the top 10 prize-winning novels, and I was very proud of the fact that, after Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, the next three were Orange Prize winners.”
The gender-specific prize drew considerably controversy when it was established, dismissed by critics, including female authors such as AS Byatt, as a “sexist prize”. And it remains contentious, with fresh debate every year as the shortlist is published.
Yet, while Mosse acknowledges that “great art is above gender,” she is adamant that the award is both valid and necessary. “If you look at the statistics, it is something like 9-10 per cent of winners in the history of the Booker were women; with the Nobel Prize for Literature there are only nine [female] winners in more than 100 years. And the fact is things don’t automatically improve if you leave them alone.”
This might well be the motto that the irrepressibly energetic Mosse lives by. She has been talking for 90 minutes and has another interview immediately after ours ends, but she seems undaunted. “This is the best part,” she insists, “meeting people, getting feedback, sharing ideas.” But part of her cannot wait to get back to her house in Carcassonne, and the writing.
Citadel is published by Orion
Old flame: 'My love letter to Carcasonne'
“Labyrinth took almost five years to write, between research and the actual writing. Sometimes people call my books historical fiction, but I didn’t want to just be writing from the past. In historical fiction you are where you are, whether that’s Rome in the 1st century BC or France in the middle of the first World War. But I wanted a contemporary voice, because I wanted to be able to say ‘my God! Look at that door!’ Whereas if I was writing a historical novel that is something I would have had to ignore, so in some ways [the trilogy] is my love letter to Carcassonne.”
Thrill seekers: Mosse's favourite adventure writers
H Rider Haggard: “He wrote a lot of rubbish, but She and King Solomon’s Mines are classics.”
Jules Verne: “Around the World in Eighty Days, of course, but even more so Journey to the Centre of the Earth.”
Wilbur Smith: “He is sold as a thriller-writer, but if there were a contemporary adventure genre, he would be there.”
Philip Pullman: “If there is an adventure genre, it probably belongs to children’s writers like Pullman and JK Rowling.”