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Waxing on Tussaud

By December 22, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu

Author Edward Carey draws an analogy between Madame Tussaud knowing her wax statues inside out and the sketching he makes before penning details about characters in his books

That gap between knowing Madame Tussaud’s wax museums but not knowing who she was as a person is where Edward Carey has wedged his new novel. “It’s a strange fairy tale, but I feel it is the most extraordinary fairy tale, and it is a fairy tale about this little person and history. A small woman, she fled the French Revolution, arrived in England with the wax heads of many of the famous people who had lost theirs under the guillotine and set up a museum, which became wildly successful,” says Carey. The book is titledLittle.

“It’s a strange way of looking at humanity,” says Carey, who takes the historical truth that Tussaud began her career in wax under Dr. Philippe Curtius, who made body parts of wax for medical students. “Voltaire was a waxwork that she made when she was very young, and it was just amazing. Voltaire’s toothless grin as an old man who looks like a monkey — it’s an incredible face, and they had a different spirit because she was touching history. She knew these people.”

Hand in hand

These strange recreations of human beings captured Carey’s visual imagination. It got him thinking about writing and illustrating a book. In fact, that is Carey’s uniqueness, he draws his characters before he writes the story about them. “All my books are illustrated. I am always getting to know the characters and I do not get to know them until I can actually physically see them. So I draw them, sketch them. I draw my characters for many many months before I know who they are. Drawing and writing go together for me. I recharge my batteries by writing when I have had enough of drawing and drawing when I have enough of writing. Sometimes, the character will appear when I am drawing. I get to know him more by drawing more of him, then I write and go back to drawing. Sometimes, the words come first. Writing and drawing are always arguing with each other and getting them to agree is the hard part. Some characters are really difficult to draw and some I am always drawing. Some characters never make it to the final draft.”

Writers’ ‘wonderful’ moments

“You are with yourself when writing, you expose yourself, find out who you are when you are writing. There are those wonderful moments that every writer would have, they are few and far between. When you just totally forget who you are and you write, you are not in the present somehow, you are somewhere else. Those moments you do not know how they happen,” the novelist says.

Carey is emphatic when he says, “Anybody who sits down to explain some thing is a writer. We are all writers, we are all telling stories and there is no truth. There is no truth in the world ever. We are all telling some versions of some sort of truth.”

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