Gemme Weekes

In Conversation With

How did you find writing your first novel?
It consumed me. It began in a fury of inspiration, and then the process quickly became as trying as it was rewarding.Everything else became a distraction from the work, but the work itself was usually maddening. Every draft, you gain something and you lose something. I basically stuck a brick on the gas pedal and let the rest of my life crash into a wall! And then, standing amidst the debris of broken relationships, unexplored opportunities, no fixed address, debt and miscellaneous everyday destruction, you get to the point of realising that the damned book is still probably never going to do justice to your initial vision (luckily, a vision no reader is privy to).

What was the process like?
Love Me emerged out of certain fascinating dynamics I had with people in my life, romantic and otherwise, moments that filled me with a dark species of excitement and a sense of the intangible. What binds one person to another? What’s the fabric of obsession? What’s it made of and what are its colours? Love is a ubiquitous topic, that has been almost completely drained of meaning, but still it moves us, robs us, rewards us, inspires us… I was really interested in capturing fresh, real moments, and writing a novel that was dense and that locked the reader into a sensory experience of London and Brooklyn.

Tell me about the characters in Love Me?
Well there’s Eden, the main character, a photographer, living in a mid-20s adolescent fog: afraid, disappointed, emotive, self-absorbed. Marie, her mysterious, beautiful mother. Zed, Eden’s first love, who she hasn’t seen for 10 years and reappears in her life a charismatic but very guarded man. Aunt K, a woman of great spiritual power who hopefully adds a bit of magic. Max, a friend to Eden and lover to Zed, an angelic-looking fashion model with a foul cockney mouth. Spanish, a pure-living, conflicted rocker that Eden meets in Brooklyn. Then there’s Eden’s Bible-bashing father and her hilariously pragmatic best friend, Juliet, a talented single mother called Violet and a transsexual philosophy student called Brandy (when in panties) and Brandon (when in boxers).

Who’s your favourite character and why?
I really don’t know. They’ve all got good bits, or bits I especially enjoyed writing.

Eden and Zed are looking for “real” love so what’s “real” love to you?
Having my son completely expanded the meaning of what love can be. It’s the most massive thing I’ve ever felt. I am everyday overcome by this will to nurture and protect and revel in the alive-ness of another human being. Romantically, “real” love is the kind that you don’t have to trick yourself into, that delights even in the beloved’s flaws. You are overcome by their tiny kindnesses and vulnerabilities. You smile all over when they’re around. You want the world to say “yes” to them. If you won the lottery you’d pay off their mum’s mortgage.

What writers have inspired you and why?
James Baldwin for his wisdom, honesty and economy. Anais Nin for the poetry of her prose. Geoff Dyer for his wizardry at capturing moments. Milan Kundera for his depth… It’s a long list really. There’s something to be learned from everyone. Jimi Hendrix. Oh yeah, and Michael Bhim because he bullies me horribly into being better.

What was the last book /CD you bought?
The Outsider by Albert Camus and a Jimi Hendrix collection.

Have you been to any good exhibitions, gigs or events lately?
I did a reading at this event call Soup Sessions in association with Le Gun. We all ate soup together in a room furnished entirely with cardboard — from the rug to the sofas. That was cool.

How would you spend your perfect Sunday morning?
Anything would be perfect, as long as I spent it with my favourite people. Good weather and cake never hurt either.

What are your future plans?
To write my second novel, which is already underway. And short stories, poems. A musical. I’m also determined to finally release some tracks, start gigging again, raise the munchkin, and be happy (whatever that means).