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Louise Welsh Explains Why Being a Castaway is the Making of Some Fictional Characters

11th August 2017

There are so many characters in literature that set our hearts aflutter. But what about the ones that really rile us, that make our skin crawl or have us wanting to throw the book at the wall out of frustration or exasperation? This year, rather than tell us which fictional character they'd like to accompany them to the beach, we asked some of our favourite authors about the ones they'd happily cast out to sea, leave on the beach or drown in a rock pool… you get the idea! Who would you like to leave behind? Today it's the turn of Louise Welsh.

See more of our Castaways here


Louise WelshCover of Breakfast at Tiffany'sBecoming a castaway is the making of some characters. Young Davie Balfour in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped has a grand adventure, Pi in Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi manages not to get eaten by the tiger (one of my personal ambitions). It doesn’t work out so well for others. After being marooned for three years on Treasure Island Ben Gunn develops a craving for cheese. The boys in Lord of the Flies develop a craving for humiliation and violence.

I come from Scotland. The islands I imagine being shipwrecked on are rocky outcrops devoid of palm trees like Mary Shelley’s Hoy, where Victor Frankenstein begins work on a mate for his poor creature.

It is summer though, so I am going to go against type and choose a tropical island to shipwreck Truman Capote’s, Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly on. Holly will step blithely from the waves with barely a thought for the crew and passengers of the liner, sinking into the sea behind her. She will fashion something stylish from palm fronds, orchids and coconut shells (my vision of tropical islands tends towards cartoons and clichés) and then go in search of the makings of a cocktail.

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels, including The Cutting Room. Her latest, No Dominion, is both a thriller and a love story set in a post-acopalyptic world.



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