Anna James on the inspiration for her story ‘How Things Disappear’ from the collection, I am Heathcliff, curated by Kate Mosse
Full disclosure: I’m a Jane, not a Cathy. So when I was asked to write a short story inspired by Wuthering Heights I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to come at it directly. When and where we are in our lives has such a huge impact on our relationships with books and I didn’t read Wuthering Heights until I was in my mid-twenties, and although I found the book interesting in many ways, I found Cathy and Heathcliff hard to root for.
The two strands that came together to inspire my story, How Things Disappear, are two ideas I find fascinating in the book, and in real life. Firstly, thinking about the way that people, especially but not solely women, give away parts of ourselves to the world, and people, around us. How people make sacrifices of their identity, sometimes without even realising that they’re doing it. How do you put yourself back together once this has happened? And secondly, and of course linked, I wanted to think about the title of the collection itself; I am Heathcliff, and Cathy’s speech that those words come from: ‘My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.’
It’s a big subject for a 1000 word short story, but what is love? Should it be a thing of joy and beauty, or something difficult and painful? Is love feeling that you and another person are the same being, and is that something healthy, or romantic? I hope that my story explores the question, without necessarily providing an answer, of whether great, all-consuming love erases you or completes you.
I am Heathcliff is out in paperback 18th April from The Borough Press
Anna James is the author of the Pages & Co series, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. The paperback of the first book, Tilly and the Bookwanderers is out in June, and the second book, Tilly and the Lost Fairytales publishes in September.
I am Heathcliff
Compiled by Kate Mosse
18th April 2019
The Borough Press