Friday, April 20, 2018

Alice Sebold won't repeat herself

Alice Sebold

Alice Sebold won't repeat herself

BY SHERRYL CONNELLY
Sunday, October 14, 2007, 4:00 AM

You can tell from the outset how different Alice Sebold's second novel, "The Almost Moon," is from her first, "The Lovely Bones," which almost everyone was reading in 2002.
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973," begins "The Lovely Bones."
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily," starts "The Almost Moon."
In "The Lovely Bones," of which there are 5 million copies in print in the U.S. alone, the narrator is a child victim. The voice of "The Almost Moon" is a middle-aged perpetrator, 49-year-old Helen.
"A lot of my writing has a huge, I think we can call it, learning curve," Sebold says. "If you can hold on in the beginning, then you're fine."
She certainly front-loads the new novel with nasty, provocative incidents. Helen, who has long tended to her aged mother - now in the throes of dementia - first attempts to wash her clean of feces after an accident. When that proves impossible, she smothers her with towels and puts the corpse in the freezer.
Helen escapes the scene of the crime, only to sleep with her best friend's 30-year-old son.
Though the first printing for "The Almost Moon" is a healthy 75,000, Sebold says she sensed "a little nervousness" from her editors at Little, Brown when she first submitted the manuscript.
"Then it was almost like a sea change," she recalls, "when they heard from some early readers out there who they trust. I feel they just decided they were going to go with it."
Sophie Cottrell, associate publisher, says, "I wouldn't say that is completely true.
"I knew from my first reading. And I know colleagues shared real enthusiasm, that yet again Alice was working in territory that I think other authors would possibly shy away from."
It is the case that her work has always been harrowing. Although "The Lovely Bones" is ultimately affirming, the story deals with the brutal murder of a child and the child's lethal revenge from heaven.
True as well is the fact that Sebold broke away from completing that novel to write her memoir "Lucky," a searingly candid account of her rape when she was an 18-year-old virgin attending Syracuse University.
Of "The Almost Moon," Sebold says simply, "I just wrote the book that I had in me."
"I never thought of writing the next book as Alice Sebold. 'Here I am, Alice Sebold, and I am loved and here is my book.'
"When you think about it, 'The Lovely Bones' was a freakish success and I am a freak and I wrote the next book as the freak that I am."
There was definitely method to her characters' madness, though. "I wanted to talk about this idea of the hidden family, particularly a family hiding the devastating effects of mental illness. A family that has something that isn't easily diagnosed tends to hide what the real cost of that is.
"We have this great obsession, particularly in the U.S., with being a normal, happy family. Hey, there aren't that many families who are that normal or that happy. But they would be a lot happier if they didn't have to pretend to be so normal.
"This is very much a post-1950s novel."
Some critics have objected to her "heroine," Helen, as being unlikable. "I think Helen is prickly and I think she is flawed. I think she is broken and in her brokenness I think she is a lot more like us than many fictional characters.
"She has isolated herself over time trying to protect this family secret."
Sebold herself could be accused of a degree of isolation. She and her husband, Glen David Gold ("Carter Beats the Devil"), live quietly out of the way in a community south of Los Angeles. She rises before dawn to work.
"I always like to start before it's light out," says the 45-year-old author. "What I think is that the judges are asleep, particularly my own internal judge."
Now she is to embark on an extended publicity tour and undoubtedly will be asked to defend herself for having written a powerful and gripping, if grim, novel instead of "The Lovely Bones" again.
You can almost hear her shrug as she says: "I have to keep my brain alive, and you do that by doing your work.
"What was I supposed to do, sit around and hope they come, sit around and hope they come out with a line of Susie Salmon figurines?"


Thursday, April 19, 2018

“Lucky” By Alice Sebold / The Dark Tunnel From Where “The Lovely Bones” Comes

Alice Sebold

“Lucky” By Alice Sebold: The Dark Tunnel From Where “The Lovely Bones” Comes





In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheater, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered**. I was told this story by the police. In comparison, they said, I was lucky.
Last night I ended “Lucky” by Alice Sebold. I know that the author’s name is not new to your ears: she wrote the best seller “The Lovely Bones“, from which was taken also a movie. I didn’t read “The Lovely Bones” yet, even if I remember it in the bookshops’ windows some years ago, when the movie came out and it was immediate success. I surely will, but in the while destiny decided that before, for me, are coming the other two works by Sebold, found in a second hand bookshop in Belfast: “Lucky“, indeed, and “The Almost Moon“.
I said destiny for a reason: I think that if I was starting to read Alice Sebold’s works from her best seller, as many did, from that “The Lovely Bones” that talks about an horrible story (the rape and killing of Susan Salmon, a 14yo girl), but made as much acceptable as to be chosen to be a movie, I was probably opening “Lucky” with another spirit. And I’d be ending surprised, hurted, maybe even a bit scared from the story that it tells. Because the story inside “Lucky” is not fantastic horror with a bit of paradise here and there. The story inside “Lucky” is the true story, the detailed and intimate report of the rape the author was victim when she was eighteen and of all the complications and consequences that this happening put later in her life.
A rape changes your life: the day before you are just one of the many girls going to a school, the day after you are – and you will be forever – the student who has been raped. If then you decide to fight for justice, you may find out that, to go ahead, it will be necessary more than you thought: you will be doubted, judged, sometimes humiliated. There will be those who admire you, but always with that bit of annoying compassion. You will try to leave everything behind, and maybe you will think you had, but one day you may find out that the mental healing process you thought was about to end, in reality wasn’t even yet started.
Sebold explains all this with a so clear, direct, sometimes brutal language, that it is impossible to not empathize; if you are a woman even more.

You need strenght and perseverance to avoid the wish of hiding everything under the carpet and continue to go ahead with your life, like nothing ever happened. You need strenght and tenacity to look in the eyes of the one who hurted you, but also of all those who, unbelievably, support a person who made of violence and abuse his strenght, and to fight for a justice that should be assumed but it’s not, for a sentence that judges you for the person you are and not for the gender.
Alice Sebold made it, she won the fight against her raper: she testified at the process and sent him where he deserved. Then she rolled up her sleeves and started rebuilding her broken life. It seemed all ok, but it was not: she discovered what post-traumatic sytress disorder is, and years after the rape it all came back, destroying her life again.
Luckily we are only partly made of what happens to us. The other part is composed of what other people we meet gift us: they can’t change the happenings, still, if they please to help, they can affect the consequences. One of these people, for Sebold, was another writer: Tobias Wolff, at that time her admired and feared professor whom, as came to understand the hard situation his student was struggling with, pronounced some words she was not going to forget and that, years later, made her write her first book: “Lucky”.
“Alice,” he said, “a lot of things are going to happen and this may not make much sense to you right now, but listen. Try, if you can, to remember everything.”
I have to restrain myself from capitalizing the last two words. He meant them to be capitalized. He meant them to resound and to meet me sometime in the future on whatever path I chose. […]
So it was a shout across a great distance. He knew, as I was later to discover when I walked into Doubleday on Fifth Avenue in New York and bought “This Boy’s Life”*, Wolff’s own story, that memory could save, that it had power, that it was often the only recourse of the powerless, the oppressed, or the brutalized.
Notes:
*From Wolff’s book was also made a 1993 movie with the same title: This Boy’s Life
** Susan Salmon, the main character in “The Lovely Bones”, and her story are inspired by the girl who was raped and killed in the same tunnel where “Lucky”‘s story has its start. The author said that she didn’t realize for long that he book was about that story.

BOHEMIAN WANDERER





FICCIONES
Casa de citas / Alice Sebold / Matar a mi madre

DE OTROS MUNDOS
Alice Sebold / Desde mi cielo / Reseña
Alice Sebold / Casi la luna / Citas
Alice Sebold / Casi la luna / Primer capítulo

MESTER DE BREVERÍA
Alice Sebold / Susie Salmón

DRAGON
Alice Sebold / I'm not hammering at it like a nail
Alice Sebold / The Lovely Bones / Reviews
Alice Sebold / Rape and redemption
“Lucky” By Alice Sebold / The Dark Tunnel From Where “The Lovely Bones” Comes




Alice Sebold / Rape and redemption


Alice Sebold: Rape and redemption

Her first novel was a brutal tale of murder, and sold a record two-and-a-half million copies in hardback. But the story of Alice Sebold's own teenage years makes for far more shocking reading. Christina Patterson hears how she survived

Thursday 5 June 2003 23:00 BST
Alice Sebold knows all about arresting first lines. "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie", begins her first novel, The Lovely Bones. "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Her other book, Lucky, also goes straight for the jugular: "In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheatre, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered." These are textbook fiction openings, their unadorned prose designed to maximise the visceral punch. Another American creative writing graduate takes the well-travelled, hard-boiled route to literary success.
But Lucky is not a novel. When she was 18, the woman sitting in front of me, a woman with translucent skin, pink lipstick and extraordinary quadrangular, diamanté-trimmed glasses, was stopped on her way home from a college party. She was beaten, cut and dragged into a tunnel, where she was sodomised and raped. Her assailant thrust his penis into her mouth and urinated on her face, before raping her again and grabbing the loose change from her pockets. " 'You're the worst bitch I ever done this to,' " he told her. Alice Sebold was a virgin. She didn't know how to follow the rapist's instructions: where to put her legs or how to "suck dick". At the trial, months later, the white pants she had worn on the night, now wrapped in plastic and passed around as evidence, were almost entirely red.
"I'm in the dead zone," she announces with a bewitching pink smile, meaning nothing more sinister than that she is extremely tired. She has come straight from the Hay Festival and has just done four interviews, including Breakfast News and Woman's Hour. Twenty-two years on, Alice Sebold spends a great deal of time sitting in hotel rooms, being quizzed about the hour of brutality that turned her life upside down. If she has had enough of discussing the terror, the pleading and, most of all, the shame, she is polite enough not to show it.

It is not Lucky, however, that has shot her into the literary stratosphere, the one that secures the packed publicity schedule of a Hollywood star and suites in the Savoy, such as the one we're sitting in now. Sebold's fame in America is not as a celebrity rape victim. Lucky was published in the States in 1999. It got some good reviews and then "sank into oblivion". She is famous because her first novel, The Lovely Bones, was last year's publishing phenomenon. It sold two-and-a-half million copies in hardback, a record for a first novel. The paperback shot to the number one slot on Amazon six weeks before it came out. It hasn't left the top 10 since.
As the opening lines reveal, the novel is told in the voice of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who has been raped and murdered. Speaking from heaven, a heaven with many of the more comforting accoutrements of an American high school - room-mates, counsellors and swings, but glossy magazines instead of textbooks and no teachers - Susie tells the tale of her vicious abduction and murder in the cornfield near her home and observes the sequence of events that follow. Her elbow is found near a large patch of blood, but there is no other trace of a body. This fosters an agonising false hope in her parents, which is gradually replaced by the raw grief reserved only for relatives of the murdered or disappeared. "Before sleep wore off, he was who he used to be," she says of her father. "Then, as consciousness woke, it was as if poison seeped in."
Sebold's portrayal of a family reeling under the weight of unimaginable loss is extremely moving. Less convincing, perhaps, are the forays between heaven and earth. Susie pops down to the family duplex at frequent intervals and is glimpsed, fleetingly, in the corners of rooms. She even, at one point, enters the body of a school-friend who is making love with her own childhood sweetheart. The message, of course, is that "the line between the living and the dead could be ... murky and blurred".
Post September 11, this went down a storm: not just with the reading public, but with the critics, too. Even The New York Times's fearsome Michiko Kakutani described it as "a deeply affecting meditation on the ways in which terrible pain and loss can be redeemed". In this country, the response was a little more muted. While many continued to hail the book's pacing, elegance and luminous prose, others had unlovely bones to pick. Joan Smith attacked the novel's "apple-pie sentimentality", claiming that it made her queasy. Philip Hensher described the book as "a slick, overpoweringly saccharine and unfeeling exercise in sentiment". On this side of the Atlantic, was the implication, we are less susceptible to such redemptive whimsy.
Lucky is a much better book. It has all the pared-down strength and precision of the best pickings of The Lovely Bones, without the lyrical flights or excesses. Beginning with the graphic description of the rape in the tunnel, it is an account of a life painfully transformed: from oddball student, draping her awkward curves in flowing dresses and dreaming of being a poet, to rape victim and pariah. It is one of the most shocking books I have ever read. It is also a book that Sebold had no intention of writing.
"I never thought about writing a memoir," she declares matter-of-factly, "because I wanted to be a novelist or a poet." It was only after two years of writing The Lovely Bones that she became aware that another story was fighting to come out: "When I felt a sense of polemic entering the novel, I realised that I had to get myself out of there ... It almost felt like Serena or Venus Williams; they lift a lot of weights, they build a lot of muscle, in order that they can play the game they're meant to play... It wasn't necessarily what I wanted to do, but if I wanted to write the novel I had to do it."
The result is profoundly moving, in so many more ways than the obvious. In addition to the central trauma - the rape, the encounter with the rapist in the street six months later, the trial and the long, slow and at times drug-addled years of recovery - there is another, equally complicated, story. This is the story of a lonely child in a middle-class household, where the father, a professor of Spanish literature, retreats to his study and the mother, an alcoholic who suffers from panic attacks, will only show her daughter affection if she is tricked into it.
"I knew, now that I had been raped, I should try to look good for my parents," the narrator confides, after changing into the green-and-red kilt she knows her mother likes. And yet, for much of the book, her parents seem strangely absent. It was only when Sebold was researching it, looking at court files and speaking to her family, that she discovered that neither of them had wanted to come to the trial. "I remember my blood just running cold when I was on the phone with my mother," she recalls. "I think that was probably the most painful thing for me to realise."
Her mother is effusively thanked in the acknowledgments; her father, more coolly, for "being part of the show". How did they respond to an exposure that many would regard as a humiliation? "My father did what he does," Sebold replies with a wry smile. "He sent me a list of grammatical errors." For her mother "it was devastating", but there was no anger. "The good thing with my mom is that she has tried to the extent that she can ... to own up to her inabilities as a parent. There was a typo that I left in which means that my mother was drinking for many fewer years than she actually was," Sebold confides. "And because she was very supportive of me I left that in as a kind of secret gift to her."
There were plenty more shocks in store. Sebold discovered that the police inspector who took her report wrote that he believed, "after interview of the victim, that this case, as presented by the victim, is not completely factual". She learnt that the rapist had made allegations that she had venereal disease, and that she had asked for rough sex. She also saw the police photos of herself for the first time. "It was intense," she says, with a degree of understatement, "to see the palpable absence of myself in the photos straight afterwards and that I had already taken on an intense level of shame."
One of the most shocking moments in the book, one that made me gasp out loud, is the identity parade that follows his arrest. Alice picks the wrong man. She later finds out that the rapist has insisted on being accompanied by a friend who's almost a double and who stares out at her from behind the mirror while the rapist himself looks down. It is one of a range of tactics designed to weaken her. When, after the traumas of the trial and the defence's excruciating cross-examination, Alice is told by the bailiff: "you are the best rape witness I've ever seen on the stand", you just want to break down and cry.
The woman sitting opposite me, whose laugh is hearty and whose smile is broad and warm, is a woman palpably at peace with herself. It has been a long road. After years living in New York's East Village, failing to make it as a writer, snorting heroin and trying to convince herself that she was OK, she finally acknowledged that she wasn't. She had therapy, left New York and, on a creative writing course in California, met her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold. For both of them, finding each other coincided with spectacular literary success. It is, she says, with peals of laughter and a twinkle in those deep, blue eyes, "awesome".
Away from the whirlwind tours, the readings and the dinners, she longs for nothing more than days at home in California, "walking the dog very early, working till around noon or one o'clock and then going out for coffee someplace with Glen".
"You didn't ask me about sex," says Sebold with relief, when I switch off the tape recorder and start gathering up my things. I didn't need to. Alice Sebold has the rare glow of one who has found true love, and whose demons are firmly in the past. The author of Lucky deserves it.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Alice Sebold / The Lovely Bones / Reviews

Alice Sebold
Photo by Neville Elder



MONDAY, 8 JUNE 2015

I don't think I've ever read a book as moving and beautiful as Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. It's not my usual choice of book to read but I am so happy I gave it a go as I was pleasantly surprised by what I found inside (Spoiler: You will be left heartbroken chapter after chapter).

The story is of a young girl named Susie Salmon, who is raped and murdered by a neighbour. The story follows her time in Heaven and it is mainly about how her family survive life after Susie.
I think what has always put me off this book is that it's set in Heaven. I'm not a religious person so I assumed this book would be focused on the importance of Heaven etc and that put me off for a long time. I was so wrong in this thought and, whilst Susie's Heaven is an important aspect of the novel, it is more of a spiritual place that clearly only belongs to Susie. I actually loved the idea of people having their own individual Heaven where they can wait until they are entirely ready to pass on to whatever is next.





I think what I struggled with most with The Lovely Bones is reading the whole book without sobbing. I read mostly on trains so you can imagine the struggle of holding back tears whilst on public transport! Of course a book dealing with topics like rape and murder will be touching and sensitive, however it was the parts where Susie watches her family that got me the most. You can sympathise with every single character and, despite not agreeing with all of their actions, you really feel a warmth towards each one of them. You almost feel like part of the family. I think my favourite characters were Ray, Susie's love interest, and Lindsey, Susie's sister. These characters where complex but loving and they really help keep he family together when everything is falling apart.

Having known the killer from the beginning of the book, it's hard to not get angry at having to watch him get away with the crime and when you think they are close to catching him, he manages to get away. As a reader you are desperate for him to be caught! Sebold does an amazing job of building the character and I love how complicated his back story was. You can't sympathise with a rapist killer but you do understand his motives (making it even more annoying that he is going about his business like a regular guy when he clearly has problems). Sebold's characters in general are beautifully created - I loved the tiny details and traits that I only picked up later in the book that truly define each character and give them their own voice. They are such convincing character's it's almost impossible not to get sucked in to their grief and loss.

I cannot recommend The Lovely Bones enough. I have never felt so attached to a story line and you are kept gripped through the entire book. The characters are people you could come across in real life and you instantly fall in love with the Salmon family. Don't let the books sensitive topics put you off reading - it is a fantastic plot that will keep you stunned, tense and you'll be crying both tears of sorrow and joy right up until the last page.






Alice Sebold / I'm not hammering at it like a nail




ALICE SEBOLD

“I'M NOT HAMMERING AT IT LIKE A NAIL”

NOVEMBER 18, 2015
EMMA ROBERTSON

SHORT PROFILE
Name: Alice Sebold
DOB: 6 September 1963
Place of birth: Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Occupation: Author



Ms. Sebold, were you a misfit growing up?
Oh yeah, sure. But I think almost all writers feel like they were misfits growing up!
Is that what it takes to be creative?
I think it takes desperation! When I teach, I always say that desperation is a great motivator. And a lot of students will judge themselves for how desperate they feel. But I think it’s a great thing, as long as what you’re desperate to do is not to succeed but to express something in a way you feel it really needs to be expressed, or to tell a story that you haven’t seen out there. The desperation has to come from a drive to express something. I want to learn and explore difficult things by writing.
Is that why your novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon explore such dark subject matter?
I have a running joke with my friends that I’m waiting for the day I feel inspired by to write a “fluffy, happy, hippie novel” – which is my kind of fill-in title for a kind of book that I would love to be inspired to write just because it would be really fun to write it – but it just isn’t in my DNA. Those kinds of self-entertaining works don’t hold the interest for me enough.


“I think almost all writers feel like they were misfits growing up.”
What makes violence interesting enough to write about?
I’m interested in the things that separate us, and so the experience of violence or anything that’s taboo in its way is something that separates us. The reality is that so many of us, especially in this day and age, are having these experiences that the culture hasn’t yet caught up with in terms of making room for.
Could you say that you’re fascinated with finding beauty in pain?
I think I’m fascinated with understanding pain. And so ultimately when you’re in that pursuit, you find all the nuances of it. And one of them may indeed be beauty.
Is there a kind of release in finding those nuances?
Sure, I think writing about anything that matters can be cathartic. The hope is that it’s not just self-involved. You can write things that provide a release for you, but they still have to be good books or good writing. So, the motivation should be, in my mind, to create characters and to understand, not necessarily to be searching for release.
What was your motivation for writing Lucky, a memoir that describes your experience of being raped?
Lucky felt like a process done in the service of what I would write in the future. It untangled the knot of me and fiction. I knew that I wanted to write about rape and I’d known that… Even the night I was being raped I knew that. I think a lot of writers feel like they have some kind of mission, and that was definitely one of mine.
To write about that experience?
Initially, yes. There had been so little written in a novel form about rape in what I thought of as a “real way” that I felt I should be writing for everybody who’d ever been raped. I was trying to write to what I refer to as “the universal rape victim.” I felt like that was my responsibility. I think Lucky allowed me to give the specificity of my experience a place to exist within the confines of that book, and therefore remove any of that from whatever I would write in the future.



“Writing about anything that matters can be cathartic.”

Is it difficult to constantly have to relive your past through a work like Lucky?
No. I don’t mind that at all because I feel like I can help people. I think maybe that might have been true ten years ago or when talking too much about that created a wall between my creative process and me. Pain is emotional, but it’s also intellectual. The luxury of the intellect is that it helps you parse the emotion in a way that if it were just purely emotional, you wouldn’t be able to pin it down. That’s another thing about time passing, it makes things easier.
You’ve said that it often takes you a long time to find the voice of your protagonists. How do you go about finding your characters’ voices?
If I knew that answer, I would probably have written many more novels! (Laughs) In my experience, it hasn’t been the same for the three so far that I feel like I’ve found. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you just get a voice or a line or whatever… A big part of my process is really reading a lot of poetry. It’s usually down to three to five poets per each book, and then I read a few of their poems every morning before I sit down to work.
How does that influence your writing?
There’s something about reading the right poets that makes your own drive a little bit more diffuse. When I finally get to the page, I’m not hammering at it like a nail, I’m more available to the subconscious than I would be if it was just all me and my narrative lines. But every novel is so different in its process and in its characters and the writer’s attachment, when it’s written, what stage of life, all that stuff… It feels like I’ve finally reached a point where I’m working in a way that I really enjoy.
What way is that?
(Laughs) Not in the fluffy, happy, hippie way but in an editing kind of way; to deepen and understand. For the first time, I would say I’m just really enjoying the writing. And to that degree, it feels like such a wonderful time that I don’t want this part to end. But of course, at the same time… You do ultimately end the book.








Alfie Allen / It`s a form of torture every night



ALFIE ALLEN

“IT’S A FORM OF TORTURE EVERY NIGHT”

JULY 19, 2017
KALEEM AFTAB

SHORT PROFILE
Name: Alfie Evan James Allen
DOB: 12 September 1986
Place of birth: Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
Occupation: Actor




Mr. Allen, what is it like getting naked for an audience?
(Laughs) Getting naked in theater, I think, is different than doing so on film. I know a lot of people say the other way around — but I’m actually more comfortable undressing in the theater, on the stage.
How come? 
I don’t know. I guess because — although in a theater like the Trafalgar Studios it would be a bit different because the audience is right there, but on most stages I performed on when I was in Equus, you just couldn’t see anyone in the audience. I think it was totally relevant to the play; it was needed in order to show how vulnerable my character was at that point in the play… So overall, it was actually kind of liberating.
Plus it probably won’t turn up on the Internet. 
Oh no, it did! No, no, it definitely did. You know, I don’t really care if it does turn up on the Internet either… I have a tough exterior. The stuff I did for Equus definitely turned up on the Internet, the stuff on Game of Thronesobviously turns up on the Internet but I always knew that was going to happen because it had a massive audience even just from the books. So with those kinds of things, I don’t really care, it’s more about me feeling comfortable in the moment I’m doing it. If people want to troll the Internet and look at pictures of my nob so be it — that’s what people like to do, I guess.


“I like when you get hit with this nervous energy… It sort of pours into your veins and you can really use it.”
Is that what you did after Equus?
No! (Laughs) I fucking didn’t! I definitely have Googled myself, I’m not going to lie about that but I haven’t gone and searched for that type of stuff. No way. But yeah, I love being on stage because I like things to be spontaneous, without a doubt. Last year I played a character in a play who was just oblivious to some of the more silly things that he did, and it got me thinking that that’s kind of bliss, in a way, isn’t it? You can just be that way the whole time and not care what anybody else thinks. I like it when I’m acting and people just throw things at me that are completely unexpected. I like when you get hit with this nervous energy… It sort of pours into your veins and you can really use it.
I read that the moment you realized you wanted to be an actor actually occurred in theater, right? 
Yeah, it was when I saw Doubt in New York. When I saw that it was definitely the first piece of theater that had me like, “Wow.” I was amazed by it! It was at a really small theater, so it felt quite intimate and I think that’s probably why the performance had that impact on me, because it was just so…
Up close and personal?
Yeah, I felt like it was right there, you know? And I’ll be honest with you I kind of got dragged along to it and I didn’t really want to go, so I guess that’s what had an impact on me as well. I kind of went begrudgingly to this thing and actually was amazed by the performances. I just thought they were incredible. The only other things I’d seen before that was stuff that my dad [Keith Allen] was in; I’d seen something at The Almeida, I saw him do Celebration and The Room I think, then he did The Homecoming, which was amazing. But when I saw Doubt, that was definitely a big push for me. It didn’t make my mind up — it’s something that I wanted to do. It was either a footballer or an actor, you know what I mean?
Footballer? Really?
I’m kidding, I would never have been a footballer! No, I mean, my family was an inspiration to me as well, and even before I went to see Doubt, I always wanted to be an actor. I love being on stage; I did Jesse Eisenberg’s play called The Spoils and that was great. I’ll sound like a soundbite but it’s inspiring to see somebody like Jesse who just never ever goes half-arsed with anything. He would get off the plane from Cannes and come straight to rehearsals. He never seemed jet-lagged, he was just going head first into everything and I really admire that. Being on stage every night can be quite tiresome, it’s kind of like a form of torture every night — but it was great.
You like to torture yourself? 
I just mean that taking the easy way out is something I try not to do! For example, playing characters like Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones… I don’t know, I’d like to say they’re more fun, but they’re not fun exactly, it’s more like you can immerse yourself in something like that, so it feels harder. It’s been a joy to play Theon.
“Taking the easy way out is something I try not to do.”
Even though he has seen some pretty dark times on the show?
There’s obviously been dark moments, yeah, and as an actor, if they were going to make it any darker I’d like to see how. But as a person, I think I’d like to see some light at the end of the tunnel for Theon Greyjoy. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. I don’t know though, I actually don’t have a clue! The thing with Theon is he’s not really a dark character, he is just kind of tragic. He’s done dark things but inevitably he’s just trying to prove himself to the world and to his family. And then once he loses that piece of his anatomy he’s of no use to his family anymore. The arc that he goes through is pretty special… During the second season, I trended on Twitter, that’s when I realized that things were going to be quite big for Theon.
Why did you trend on Twitter?
Because I cut off some guy’s head! (Laughs) They liked that, Twitter! And then after the third season, I think that’s when it really got mental. Game of Thrones is an American take on English history, even though it’s loosely based on the War of the Roses and that’s what inspired the story, so I always had an inkling it would be big in America. But it wasn’t until the Red Wedding that it kind of it hit home just how huge it would get. That scene is what David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] were gearing up to, you know? I think they have an endgame. They’ve always had a blueprint from the beginning of what they’re going to do. But now I think George RR Martin is probably frantically trying to finish the books!