‘I’m 51, I can say what I want’: Leone Ross has overcome her fears

More than 15 years in the writing, Ross’ new novel This One Sky Day is a glorious achievement. So why did it take so long?

There is the difficult second novel, but for some writers there is also the far more difficult third novel. And so it was for Leone Ross, who in the 1990s published two well-received works of fiction, All the Blood Is Red and Orange Laughter. The first, a visceral group portrait of four women that moved between London and Jamaica, was longlisted for what is now the Women’s prize for fiction; the second, which tells the story of a man descending into madness in the tunnels of the New York subway as he reckons with the legacy of the civil rights movement and his upbringing, appeared on Wasafiri magazine’s list of its 25 most influential novels.

Then, although their author worked steadily and productively as an editor and as a teacher of creative writing, and although she continued to produce pieces of short fiction, the novels ceased to come. As Leone Ross prepares to publish This One Sky Day, a novel at least 15 years in the writing, I ask her what happened to keep her quiet for so long?

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