Books

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father.

My father liked to watch the wrestling. My mother liked to wrestle.

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted by working-class evangelists in the North of England, in the 1960′s.

Brought up to preach the gospel alongside such spiritual giants as Testifying Elsie and Pastor Spratt, Jeanette is destined for the missionary field, but her high success rate of converts turns into a charismatic encounter with one girl in particular. Love and sex were not scheduled into her timetable, but at 16, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Funny and tender, Oranges is a document of the wilder side of religious enthusiasm, and an exploration of the power of love. Is it autobiographical?

Yes and no. All writers draw on their experience but experience isn’t what makes a good book. As the stand-up comics say, ‘It’s the way you tell ‘em’. Oranges is written in the first person, it’s direct and uninhibited, but it isn’t autobiography in the real sense. I have noticed that when women writers put themselves into their fiction, it’s called autobiography. When men do it, such as Paul Auster or Milan Kundera it’s called meta -fiction.

Will you ever write a sequel?

No. Sequels are for when a writer runs out of ideas. If I run out of ideas I’ll stop work. In a section of my most recent novel, The.Powerbook I have gone back into some of the Oranges territory, but that was because there was something left to say. Now it’s done.

Do you think of Oranges as a lesbian novel?

No. It’s for anyone interested in what happens at the frontiers of common-sense. Do you stay safe or do you follow your heart? I’ve never understood why straight fiction is supposed to be for everyone, but anything with a gay character or that includes gay experience is only for queers. That said, I’m really glad the book has made a difference to so many young women.

What about the BBC adaptation?

See the Film and TV section for more details.

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