Standing in the garden at the age of seven, Hilary Mantel had an intense encounter with evil. It was, she says, ‘at the very border of sensory experience. I could walk to where it was, could say how high it was and describe the speed at which it moved. But how I got this information, through which sense, I do not know.’ Her novels have repeatedly explored the unspeakable – child abduction in Africa, the tensions between Islam and the liberal West, the hideous psychic damage lurking beneath the jolly exterior of a professional medium. Now, in Bring Up the Bodies, sequel to Wolf Hall, she charts the destruction of Anne Boleyn. Mantel talks to novelist James Runcie about simultaneously inhabiting the sixteenth century and the twenty-first; the lure of the inexplicable; the impact of severe illness; and the solace of very hard work.
Recorded on on Monday 25 June 2012.