Diane Setterfield in conversation
The bestselling novelist made Woodbridge her first stop as she embarked on her nationwide, month-long tour to promote her new book 'Once Upon a River’.
This beautiful, atmospheric and compelling gothic mystery is set along the river Thames. It speaks of love and restoration, Diane says, but there are also themes of death and grief, science and magic, myth and storytelling, the role of women, and the river and all that comes to mean.
This is Diane's third book. Her first, ‘The Thirteenth Tale’, was published in 38 countries and sold more than three million copies. A dark and haunting novel, it was adapted for television, starring Olivia Coleman and Vanessa Redgrave. It was published in 2006 - that's 13 years ago.
Diane explained that she is seeking perfection, and will work on a passage over and over again until she is sure she has it right. She works on a book like a jigsaw, so will follow one character's storyline in entirety and then return to another, and eventually piece everything together. She said she is never quite sure it will work. Once the novel is finished, she still makes changes to the text in the printed copy even though these points will never now be addressed.
She didn't advise any burgeoning writers to follow her approach, and even admitted to approaching a new book in a radically different way - starting at the beginning and following the story through.
Diane spoke powerfully about her attitude to life. She urged us all not to put off fulfilling our dreams to retirement but to seize the day. While her books cover loss and grief, she says she hopes they also show how wonderful life can be, even when it has changed direction. She urged us always to celebrate - don't wait for something better, take pleasure in all things!
Diane was an astonishing speaker and many people told me afterwards that they had to rush away to write notes on what she'd said that spoke to them.
Copies of 'Once Upon a River' were released especially for this lunchtime event, and everyone went away eager to get reading. Tickets included a copy of the book.