Yeah, that's such a good point. I feel like people are probably surprised when I say this, but I found the most difficult character to write to be Cleo, because on the surface, she's the character that has the most in common with me. She's British; I started the book when I was 25, and she's 24 in the novel, so we were around the same age at least when I began writing. She's a creative, she's an artist, but I actually found her really mysterious as a character, and she's very sublimated emotionally. There's a lot that's happening beneath the surface that other characters don't get access to, and I found that she would slip away from me a lot in scenes, she would often recede into the background and that other characters would come to the forefront.
I had Frank's voice, and I knew Frank's family from the very beginning. I knew what Frank's mother was like, I knew what his sister was like, I knew that his dad was absent, and so he was just very clear to me right from the start, I found it easy to write his dialogue. And Cleo, for a long time I didn't know who her family was. I would force myself to come up with answers and they didn't feel right. And so slowly, slowly, it took me years, truly, truly years - I think it was around year three or four of writing this book, that I wrote the scene with her parents, with her stepmother and her father - and I finally understood her. I understood where she came from, and understood what she was hiding and why she felt the need to hide so much. But it makes me laugh when people are like, oh, well Cleo… It's just you, right? And I'm like, never again am I going to give a character blonde hair, that’s the first thing! I'm so verbal, and I feel like I'm very outgoing and I wear everything on my sleeve. She is really the opposite. She does not do that. She's extremely visual. She's not verbal. Everything for her is through image and art and colour, and I loved doing that, but she was definitely a challenge.
And then the character that I found the easiest to write I think will also surprise people, because it was Anders. And not because I feel akin to him! But I wasn’t planning to write a chapter from Anders perspective, because he's not a massively likeable character in the book, and I disagreed with a lot of how he behaves. And so my own bias was like, oh, I'm just not going to include him, he's kind of just going to be like a toxic male. But I remember this was early in the novel, probably in the first or second year of writing it. I went for a long run down the West Side Highway, and I just had him in me - that sounds wrong [laughs] - I mean his relationship with his stepson, his relationship with his ex, the secret feelings for Cleo, I heard it all so clearly. I just understood him immediately and I went and I wrote the chapter that's from his perspective really quickly, which is quite unusual for me. So his was a dream chapter to write because I sat down and I at least got a first draft done almost in one go, which never happens for me. So he was the easiest for reasons that remain a mystery!