Sophie Weeks recently published her first novel, Outside the Spotlight (Booktrope Editions, 2013). The book tells the story of Isabella, a character from Dickens' A Christmas Carol who embarks on a vacation from the world of eternal Christmas to visit the foreign genre of Mystery. While she is there, an unsettling series of homicides occurs, and Isabella must team together with Sherlock Holmes to find the culprit who is picking off literary characters one by one.
According to Sophie, her work as a Ph.D. student in English exerted a significant influence on Outside the Spotlight. In her words, "it's hard to imagine a more 'bookish' book...[it] asks a lot of questions about ontology; literary characters question the terms of their extratextual existence - so I'm very much looking at the ways that the interplay of extra-canonical works affects characters." In general, Sophie finds that her scholarly interests serve as a source of inspiration for her creative work: "My dissertation focused on girls and reading in Victorian England, and so many of my characters are avid readers, young women developing and learning about themselves through literature as well as through life."
Regarding the role that her work in gender and sexuality studies plays in her creative writing, Sophie reflected, "I rarely intend to address questions of gender, femininity, etc., and yet I rarely find myself free of them." As an example, Sophie pointed to her forthcoming book Our Soured Earth, which features a young character named Jess who practices limited transvestism. According to Sophie, the creation of Jess's character was "strongly influenced...by the CSWGS classes I've taken and what I learned about people like Brandon Teena. I wanted to explore the heartache and horror I felt over Teena's murder in a safe space, and offer hope for children who don't fit into fixed gender roles."
Sophie, who was a participant in the CSWGS Graduate Certificate Program, completed her Ph.D. in English in May. In addition to Outside the Spotlight and Our Soured Earth, she is also author of Unsettled Spirits (Booktrope Editions, 2013). She is currently at work on her next novel, a coming-of-age story about a young girl in WWII Britain.
To read more about Sophie and her work as an author, check out the following links:
Interview with Sophie Weeks
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