The ris­ing Ya star tells us why she’s mes­merised by glam­orous peo­ple

SFX - - Contents - Words by Jonathan Wright /// Pho­tog­ra­phy by Joe Branston The Graces is pub­lished by Faber & Faber.

One of the shoot­ing stars of YA on es­cap­ing into lit­er­a­ture.

From a geek per­spec­tive, surfers are scum. Cool, ath­letic and com­fort­able in their own skins, they hang out on beaches, which ev­ery­one knows are just an in­vi­ta­tion to get sand in your iPad. And yet, as Laure Eve re­flects as she looks back on her teenage years grow­ing up in Corn­wall, there’s some­thing cu­ri­ously al­lur­ing about them too. “Ev­ery­one feels like an out­sider, but I was a rock and metal gothy kid who dressed weird and was very abra­sive,” she says. “I al­ways se­cretly wanted to be as chilled and cool as the surfers but I just couldn’t be that way, I was far too emo­tional and weird. I went out with a cou­ple of surfers. I tried to be that girl who hangs out on the beach in shorts and looks re­ally great do­ing it, but I was not that kind of girl, in fact.”

Re­lax, Eve is laugh­ing as she fin­ishes this sen­tence, so the ex­pe­ri­ence can’t have been too trau­matic. In­deed, you could even say it’s been pos­i­tive in that her new novel, The Graces, riffs off our col­lec­tive fas­ci­na­tion with the kinds of glam­orous peo­ple, like cer­tain surfers, who “ev­ery­body loves and hates in equal mea­sure”. The el­e­va­tor pitch, she says, is The Craft meets The Vir­gin Sui­cides.

“Ev­ery­one can re­mem­ber that girl or that small group in school who ev­ery­body wor­shipped,” she says. “I find that’s fas­ci­nat­ing be­cause it’s a very hu­man thing to do, to put peo­ple on a pedestal, and idolise and wor­ship them. That’s very much part of our celebrity cul­ture nowa­days as well.”

But this sets up a ten­sion. The closer we get to those we find al­lur­ing, the more their flaws be­come ev­i­dent. This idea is cen­tral to the nar­ra­tive of The Graces, which fo­cuses on three “very pop­u­lar, very mys­te­ri­ous” and, ru­mour has it, el­dritch sib­lings, and why our (un­re­li­able) nar­ra­tor, River, is so drawn to the trio.

teenage kicks

Eve’s third novel, The Graces, aimed at a YA au­di­ence, caused a bid­ding war last year. As to why, one rea­son lies in that el­e­va­tor pitch. When it went out on sub­mis­sion, says Eve, a re­cur­ring re­ac­tion among ed­i­tors was, “Oh my god, I re­mem­ber The Craft, I love that film so much.” If you’re still con­fused (shame on you), we’re talk­ing the 1996 su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror about out­sider teenagers with mag­i­cal pow­ers they don’t ex­actly use wisely.

“It’s one of those weird lit­tle cult films that seeped into ev­ery girl’s con­scious­ness be­cause it’s not re­ally about witch­craft, al­though it is, it’s more about em­pow­er­ment and toxic friend­ships and the dark­ness of teenagers, which is very at­trac­tive to other teenagers,” says Eve.

Par­tic­u­larly, you’d guess, a teen such as Eve grow­ing up on the Cor­nish coast, close to St Ives, in the 1980s and 1990s. Half French and half English, she was “a child of two cul­tures” who never quite fit­ted in. “In Eng­land I was al­ways the French girl and in France I was al­ways the English cousin,” she says. “It’s a very strange out­sider men­tal­ity that you tend to get.” Then there were the com­pli­ca­tions of the English class sys­tem. Her par­ents didn’t have much cash but she went to a school where peo­ple cer­tainly had money, “bags of the stuff, ly­ing about the place, and they lived in gi­ant houses with horses’ pad­docks round the back”.

the great es­cape

Con­fronted at ev­ery turn by surfers, nas­cent Brexit vot­ers and the well-to-do, Eve did the only sen­si­ble thing. While she loves Corn­wall, her Cor­nish friends and the wild land­scapes when you get close to Land’s End that are “heavy and strange” to walk in, she left. “I was of a very bo­hemian, arty per­sua­sion and de­cided I would ei­ther be a writer or an ac­tor or an artist or some­thing, but I would be some­thing like that, what­ever it took,” she says. More specif­i­cally, she headed for univer­sity in Manch­ester and a con­tem­po­rary arts de­gree that in­volved creative writ­ing and drama.

“You’d just walk through cam­pus and peo­ple would be play­ing the ukulele half naked or cov­ered in choco­late sauce rolling around on the grass, cov­er­ing them­selves in blood or some­thing and scream­ing at the sky, be­cause that’s con­tem­po­rary arts, man,” she says. “It was that kind of cam­pus and it was amaz­ing, full of slightly crazy peo­ple.”

She did her fair share of crazy things her­self, like a per­for­mance of The Vag­ina Mono­logues that in­volved her be­ing “com­pletely naked for 45 min­utes straight on stage”. That sounds ter­ri­fy­ing… “Let me clar­ify, my back was to the au­di­ence.” Did that make a dif­fer­ence? “Yes it did, cos it meant I couldn’t see them.” On an­other oc­ca­sion, she ap­peared in a play where, solo in a flash­back scene, she had to recre­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing raped. Her mother, sis­ter and boyfriend of the time were in the au­di­ence.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she even­tu­ally headed for Lon­don, where she works in pub­lish­ing. Tak­ing her friend, Amer­i­can edi­tor and best­selling writer David Le­vithan, as a “role model”, she has no plans to go full-time as a nov­el­ist. “If he can do it, I fig­ure I can do it,” she says. A se­quel to The Graces is cur­rently with Eve’s edi­tor.

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