The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

The Street Charm of the Bourgeoisie

The Diana Redemption – be careful with the myth!

ImageI recently did this interview about The Rachel Redemption with my old friend Commercial Malcolm. Read on if you want to know more about the book, the film, conspiracy theories and more…

CM: Congratulations! It looks like you beat the movie ‘Diana’ to it with ‘The Rachel Redemption’.

SN: Well, strictly speaking RR isn’t the Diana story…

CM: Come on… we all know Rachel is meant to be her. Any regrets about not calling your main character Diana and starting from there?

SN: No, that would have just been too tacky! As we can see from the reaction to the film and other works that have referenced her directly it hits quite a raw nerve with people particularly in this country.

CM: Why do you think that is? Is it cos we’re all royalists – closet or otherwise?

SN: Not at all. The whole relationship between Diana, the British Royal Family and the British public was – and continues to be – a complex one. Say what you like about her – she changed the British royal family forever. They were nowhere when she came along, a complete PR disaster – they probably thought she was going to give them a bit of a boost by being this sweet, shy young thing, good breeding stock who may sell a few frocks for the UK fashion industry. Little did they know that she would become this incendiary device positioned at their very heart!

CM: So you were a fan then?

SN: Again that’s a complex issue. I remember at the time her whole love/hate relationship with the press… wanting their support one minute and then complaining about their intrusion the next. And then that whole Charles and Diana soap opera, trying to get one up on each other with those interviews. It was priceless! I think most people at the time thought it was hugely entertaining – we had never seen the royals like this before… airing their dirty laundry in public. In the end it didn’t really matter whether she had planned it or not – she was bringing the British Royal Family to its knees…

CM: And then the crash…

SN: Yes, the crash. Like the last act in a tragic opera. And at the point of the funeral we all thought that this was the end of the BRF but they pulled it back, they actually pulled it back! And here they are – stronger than ever. Well, not exactly stronger – but their position is pretty unassailable these day, what with the new generation of royals – that’s her legacy I suppose. So hugely ironic that someone who was so close to destroying an institution ended up being its salvation.

CM: So, very different if she had lived…

SN: Well, exactly, that’s why all these conspiracy theories are so popular. People didn’t want the crash to be the final act, they wanted the whole saga to continue. It’s always the same when someone famous goes before – what most people believe – is ‘their time’. From Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson people want to believe that they are happily living their respective lives out somewhere – away from public scrutiny. I guess it makes people feel better, helps them cope with things. Of course with Diana there was the added dimension of her being at the heart of the British ‘establishment’ and being a thorn in its side. Perfect conspiracy theory fodder.

CM: Just like Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys

SN: Exactly!

CM: So, you reckon that most people just ‘can’t handle the truth’ then?

SN: Well… it’s a bit dismissive of most people to paint them like that. Fiction, art generally – and with that – people’s imagination has always been about ‘what if…?’ So while we probably all know that certain people have indeed left the stage for good, it’s nice – and comforting in a way – to let our imaginations run riot…

CM: You take some liberties with the Diana story so it was probably a good idea that you didn’t do the ‘faction’ route.

SN: Absolutely! I liked the freedom of my main character having a twin, being married to the Prime Minister, having political influence, being at the centre of major news events, finding love…

CM: A bit like fan fiction then, but with real people?

SN: Yes, but using real people as inspiration in fiction is not new – I can’t claim that one! But I like the ‘fan fiction’ point – it’s like, well – you had this life but maybe I could have written you a better one…

CM: I got that. Plus, another thing I liked was that you didn’t shy away from the more ‘difficult’ aspects of Rachel/Diana. But the Prime Minister/Tony Blair character comes in for a bit of a pasting.

SN: And so he should! A major inspiration for writing the book was how TB will always be tied up with the whole Diana myth – with the on-the-spot eulogy and the whole ‘people’s princess’ thing, but the huge irony is that she would have been horrified at what he went on to do. I like to think she would have become a thorn in his side as well… getting involved with Middle East politics and becoming more and more vocal in his condemnation…

CM: Maybe it was Tony Blair behind the crash then…

SN: I couldn’t possibly comment…

CM: Well, whatever your beliefs I think The Rachel Redemption is a bloody good read and I’ll bet – more entertaining than the Diana film!

SN: Thanks for that.

CM: Finally, I must ask you – you wouldn’t have cast Naomi Watts, would you?

SN: Well, I must say that I think Naomi Watts is a terrific actress and has an amazing CV up until this point… but taking on a role like this… she was always going to be on a hiding to nothing. It could be the most wonderful film ever made – and I believe there is some doubt on that one – and deliver the best performance ever but she would still be vilified. So I can’t understand why she took it on. It was one big brave – or possibly misguided – decision!

CM: But of course, if anyone wants to check out your ‘fantasy casting’ of The Rachel Redemption they can do so by visiting http://therachelredemption.wordpress.com/

SN: Thanks for the plug. All the best with your current project and maybe I can return the favour by interviewing you soon?

CM: Absolutely! I’ll keep you posted.

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