Natasha Brown: ‘I’m interested in whether language can be neutral’

To celebrate 100 years of Good Housekeeping magazine, we’ve launched the Women’s Prize x Good Housekeeping Futures Award. A panel of judges have been tasked with finding the most promising female authors under the age of 35 and under who are exciting, boundary-changing, and inspirational. Debut novelist Natasha Brown has been selected as one of the ten Futures authors, here she tells us what motivates her to keep writing.

Natasha Brown

What was the inspiration behind your debut novel, Assembly?

I’m deeply interested in the question of whether language can be neutral, and in the ways that narratives can be used — to illuminate, reveal, erase, silence, or even distort. In more concrete terms, I hoped to write a novel that examined the conventions of the “young black woman” fiction genre. 

Tell us about your journey to publication. 

I followed a fairly traditional path; I submitted the manuscript to agents once I’d finished it. My incredible agent Emma Paterson supported me throughout the process, championing the book, and finding the perfect publishers for it. 

What motivates you as an author? 

Every now and then, I read a line in a book or newspaper that gives me pause. These dissonant sentences — some subtle, others bold and ringing — can spoil my morning, or keep me awake at night. Yet they often go unnoticed. With my writing, I hope to draw attention to such lines. Why is noticing so difficult? I think that question is my motivation. 

What do you think you’d be if you weren’t a writer? 

I would still be a reader, the awful kind who underlines books. 

WP X GH Futures is about celebrating the female voices of the future; what do you hope to have achieved as a writer in ten years’ time? 

I’m not one for offering prescriptive solutions. But I am interested in how things are, and in accurately describing things as they are — including how the tools of description (words, in my case) can distort any representation. Careful documentation of our society remains a worthwhile pursuit even today, I think. In ten years’ time, I hope to have contributed as much as I can to that effort.

And don’t forget to discover the full Futures 10 authors, and vote for your ultimate winner, for a chance to win £150 worth of vouchersDiscover them now >

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.

Win our 2022 shortlist!

Join the Women's Prize newsletter for a chance to win a stack of all 6 brilliant 2022 shortlisted books, and get the latest book news, author features and exciting competitions! (You can unsubscribe at any time)*