So The Versions of Us is a love story about Eva and Jim, and it’s told from each of their points of view and also swaps between the three versions of their lives that we follow from when they first meet in the 50’s through to the present day.
It did take a fair amount of planning, I had to sit down and think quite carefully, not only about who Eva and Jim are but about how each version of their lives – both together and apart – would play out. How they would complement each other, be distinct enough for readers to follow and know which version they’re in, but similar enough that we felt that they were essentially the same people in each life story, in each narrative.
So I can’t say that it felt complicated to me, although it feels a little bit complicated explaining it, but it felt very natural to me to really sit down and plan those things at the same time.
So versions one, two and three are planned in a couple of paragraphs for each one; a synopsis, I did character notes and sketches, sketched out a timeline for each narrative, but I wrote chronologically. So I began at the beginning, and swapped continually between each of the three versions as I went along.
It felt absolutely natural to me to do it that way. I think if I had told each story separately, I might have found myself gravitating emotionally towards one over the other. Whereas plaiting the three together, I didn’t allow myself any leeway to be more involved with one story over the other.
So although it seemed like a complex project when I started it, it immediately became quite instinctive and natural. I wanted each section to complement the one that had gone before and to lead naturally into the one that followed, so it was really like plaiting something.