Strong words from Jeanette Winterson England’s queer literary firebrand speaks out on politics, the backward march of civil rights, and the evil at the heart of her new novel, LighthousekeepingOuttakes from The Advocate June 7, 2005Raised in poverty under the thumb of a fanatically religious foster mother, Jeanette Winterson left home at 16 and burst on the literary scene roughly a decade later with her acclaimed autobiographical novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Follow-up novels like The Passionestablished Winterson as a European-style fabulist with an international fan base. After a period of same-sex high adventure that found its way, little disguised, into her novels of the time, Winterson hit a “dark period” of bad press and poor reviews but rebounded in 2003 with an ambitious new Web site and a popular children’s book, The King of Capri. Now 45 and single, Winterson splits her time between the 18th-century house she restored in London’s East End (with its natural foods market, Verde’s, on the ground floor) and her 18-acre farm in Oxfordshire, where she grows her own food.With her newly published eighth novel, Lighthousekeeping(Harcourt, $23.00), Winterson returns to her storytelling roots in religious fanaticism and fundamentalism. Her protagonist is Silver, a Scottish orphan who becomes apprentice to a blind man tending a lighthouse built by the Stevenson family. Listening to the man’s gothic tales, Silver discovers the dark secrets of the former lighthousekeeper, the religious fanatic Babel Dark—who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.Let’s talk about the frightening man at the heart of your novel—the former lighthousekeeper named Babel Dark. Of his many unpleasant qualities, you write about him that he “had trained himself to think of absolutely nothing.” Any comments relating to contemporary culture?