Mon. Nov 30th, 2020

‘The Confession’ author Jessie Burton confesses lockdown guilt

Burton said she felt ‘very guilty” and ‘pointless’ about being a writer, and not being able to help those fighting the virus in the frontlines.

the confession author jessie burton confesses lockdown guilt - ‘The Confession’ author Jessie Burton confesses lockdown guilt

Award-winning author, essay writer and actress Jessie Burton recently discussed her latest bestseller, The Confession, during a recent webinar.

Burton also confessed her guilt on working as a writer during the lockdown when others were risking their lives fighting the coronavirus pandemic.  

The best-selling British author also took online viewers through her writing process, including during the lockdown. 

‘The Confession’ an instant Burton bestseller

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Burton is the author of cult favourites and New York Times bestsellers, such as The Miniaturist (which has been adapted into a BBC miniseries), The Muse, and her most recent work, The Confession, which became an instant Sunday Times bestseller when it was released in 2019.

The author’s books have been translated into 38 languages.

She has received numerous awards, among them the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction and the Waterstones Book of the Year Award for The Miniaturist.

Her essays have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Elle and Vogue. 

Secrets and storytelling

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Image via Facebook @PanMacmillanIndia

The Confession tells the story of Rose Simmons, a desperate daughter looking for answers about her mother’s disappearance when Rose was just a baby.

She learns that the last person to see her mother alive was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the height of her fame. Rose goes to meet this mysterious and captivating author in the hope of finding answers and, possibly, a confession. 

Set in both the present day and Hollywood in the 1980s — a time period Burton says she is particularly interested in — this powerful and moving novel deals with secrets, storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how a person can both lose and find themselves. 

Burton inspired by ‘common, relatable experiences’

She says her book centres on common, relatable experiences and feelings that come together to form a sympathetic portrait of a woman. 

“When I set out writing this, I focused on my hopes, dreams, experiences and the lives of those around me.”

Burton’s work is often based on the “quiet, domestic sphere” with an interest in the “personal and intimate”.

She spent about two years writing The Confession and says her editing process includes reading the novel out aloud three or four times. 

On lockdown: ‘I didn’t write anything for the first three weeks’

On her lockdown writing, she confessed: “I didn’t write anything for the first three weeks”. COVID-19 has also affected her writing. 

She said she felt “very guilty” and “pointless” about being a writer, and not being able to actively help those fighting the virus in the frontlines.

However, throughout the lockdown she received more messages from people who were reading her books in quarantine than before the pandemic.

Those messages, she said, helped her understand her role as a creator and writer in such unprecedented times. 

“I am not going to find the cure for corona, but as an artist I do have a role to play.”

“Entertainment is not to be sniffed at,” she pointed out.  

Fascination with the past inspires her writing

Burton is “fascinated by the past” and has achieved great success in the historical fiction genre. 

During the webinar, she described her love of writing about the past and said she liked to focus on the small details: “What did they eat? What did they wear?” 

The Guardian describes her as “a writer fully in control of her craft as she employs the fundamental co-ordinates of a fairy-tale. Overall, [The Confession] stands as another understated triumph.” 

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