Meet Meg Mason, author of the Women’s Prize 2022 longlisted novel Sorrow and Bliss. The Guardian said ‘even the darkest material is handled lightly, and is all the more powerful for it.’

This is a debut novel with wit and sensitivity, so what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…

Describe in three words how it feels to be longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

I still can’t.

What inspired you to write Sorrow and Bliss?

Fear. Because, before Sorrow and Bliss, I worked for a year on a manuscript that had to be thrown away and although I was terrified to try again, I was more terrified of the alternative; that it would be the end if I didn’t.

Can you describe Sorrow and Bliss in one sentence?

Everything I have seen or felt, thought or read somewhere and found funny or sad, saved up and put into a single story.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Sorrow and Bliss

by Meg Mason

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Are there any locations that have a special connection for the book?

After giving up that manuscript, I went to stay with my family in Oxford and walked the tow path every day, I thought to rehabilitate. But as soon as I started writing again, it presented itself as the setting and it felt so redeeming, as though those walks had all been research.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

My infant-school report said, ‘Meg is interested in stories and books and knows two or three words” so I imagine those, over and over again, for all of 1982.

Why did you become a writer?

Because, in my final year of university, my English professor called me in to talk about my essay and, after cataloguing its faults, she said “and when…” not, “and if you become a writer.”