Graham Norton’s masterful, bestselling debut novel Holding, is now out in paperback. Some lucky reading groups from all over the country were given the chance to ask Graham a question about the novel, and here are his answers!
Did you plan to set your novel in a sleepy Irish village?
B’n’B Book Club, Dudley, West Midlands
Being “Graham Norton off the TV” is bit of a problem when it comes to writing a novel. I didn’t want to get in the way of the reader and the story. I deliberately decided not to set the novel in the world of media or even London. There are no gay characters and the situation isn’t really played for laughs. At the same time it was important to write about what I know and because my life is rather odd it wasn’t long before I realised that growing up in rural Ireland would provide one of the few settings that I knew very well and might have broad appeal.
You are hosting a dinner party in Duneen, which three characters from Holding would you invite and why?
BIG Lottery Book Club, Birmingham, West Midlands
Great question. Brid would have to be there because she’d bring the wine and the laughs. Susan because she has all the stories and gossip and Mrs. O’Driscoll from the shop because I have a feeling she might be very good fun if she let her hair down. She’d also be handy for fact checking Susan’s stories!
The title of the novel Holding: is this to do with clinging to the past or holding onto hope? Are these two sides of the same coin and is the author trying to show the negative and positive aspects of each?
Shadforth WI Book Club, Durham
The title refers to all sorts of holding. A parcel of land is a small holding, waiting is called holding and then of course the more obvious meanings; holding on to things, being held by another person, or being held back. Something that really interests me is how some people get stuck in a moment from their lives. I’m very much of the mindset where you should get over things and yet I fully accept some people can’t. The discovery of the human remains gives the characters a chance to kick stat their lives. Some take it and others don’t.
Are you going to write more fiction in a similar vein?
Hayes End Library Reading Group, Hayes, Middlesex
I always said that I wanted to write a novel but once I actually commited to finish one I was filled with trepadation. What if I couldn’t or what if I could but hated the process? Had I just given myself the longest, most difficult homework assignment I’d ever had? Happily the process of writing Holding was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my working life. I loved the time I spent in Duneen with the people who live there. So much of my life requires meetings and collaboration with other people, so sitting in a room alone making all the decisions by myself was a wonderful release. The next book is a strange, almost gothic love story set in rural Ireland. At the moment I’m just plotting the story and fleshing out the characters so it may end up being something else entirely when I actually start writing it. There are no rules and that is what makes it all so fun and terrifying at the same time.