EMO­TIONAL TIES: LIONEL SHRIVER

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I was an ec­cen­tric child and loved mak­ing up lit­tle projects, pulling things apart and putting them back to­gether. This was my pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther’s watch – it had stopped work­ing, so I re­designed it and added lit­tle mes­sages to my­self in­side the clock face, such as ‘fin­ish poster’, when I was about ten. This is one of many ce­ramic sculp­tures I have made. I call this one The Smoker – I like her sense of cool in­dif­fer­ence. It looks ro­bust, but it’s ex­tremely frag­ile. From child­hood, I was equally di­vided between writ­ing and art. I trea­sure the phys­i­cal­ity of sculpt­ing – it’s some­thing I do just for my­self. A framed copy of The Econ­o­mist, with the cover line ‘We need to talk about Kim’, hangs on the door of my study. It gives me a great sense of achieve­ment in a kooky way. My 2003 novel We Need To Talk About Kevin made my reputation, but my favourite book is So Much For That. It has a lot of feel­ing. This was my elder brother Greg’s wal­let, one of the few things of his I kept af­ter he died in 2009. He made it him­self – he liked things to be heavy and durable. I kept his hard hat and his power drill, too. We shared a great love for tools and mak­ing things. I was in an­other re­la­tion­ship for nine years be­fore I met my hus­band Jeff [Wil­liams, jazz drum­mer] in 2002. These toys were part of a goofy stock­ing I gave my ex one Christ­mas. I’m a lit­tle sad that he left them be­hind, but they’re a warm re­minder that we still care about each other, even if it didn’t last for ever. I have had this old­fash­ioned metal wind-up toy horse called Clip­pity since I was about nine. I keep it on my desk to re­mind me of both my hum­ble be­gin­nings and to stay hum­ble. I picked up this metal ring off the street in Nor­way when I was about 15, on our first fam­ily trip out of the US. I wore it as a ring for al­most 20 years – I’ve now re­tired it to this lit­tle box. This glass ten­nis ball was a present from the edi­tor of my book Dou­ble Fault. Ten­nis is im­por­tant to me as my fa­ther Don­ald taught my broth­ers and me to play. I don’t care much for a proper game – I just like to hit the ball re­ally hard, but within the lines. I was so exasperated with the cov­ers my pub­lisher sug­gested for my novel The Post-Birth­day World that I drew this one in­stead – it helped to move the de­sign on to a cover I re­ally liked. Lionel’s new book Prop­erty: A Col­lec­tion will be pub­lished by Bor­ough Press on Thurs­day, price £14.99*

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