On today's blog tour stop I am delighted to welcome the author
|Photo credit:Holly Smith|
Hi Sophie, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thanks for spending time with us today
Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for This Time, Next Year?
I lived in Primrose Hill when I first moved to London at twenty-two. I saw these huge, beautiful houses across the road from the tiny bedsit where I stayed, and it made me wonder if the people who lived in those beautiful homes had perfect lives. That was the seed of an idea. Often people can seem to have it all from the outside, but no one really knows what’s going on behind closed doors.
My editor Sonny and I worked closely on many other ingredients in the book. We liked lots of ideas: a book set around New Year’s Eve, babies born one minutes apart whose lives take very different paths, a sense of ‘missed connections’, fate and luck. I chucked all these ingredients into a big pot (my laptop) and out popped This Time Next Year, baked and ready to eat.
Tell us three fascinating facts about This Time, Next Year?
The airport scene pretty much happened to me. If you’ve read it… you know. Cringe.
The book started off being called The First of January Club. I’m glad we changed it, as This Time Next Year is so much better, but in all the first drafts on my laptop it’s still called The First of January Club.
All my siblings get a name check in the book; I have a Polly, Lucy, Rupert and Edward and they all feature somewhere within the pages.
Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they the people you expected them to be?
It’s funny how your characters develop and change as you write a book. I am not a particularly superstitious person, but Minnie, my heroine is deeply superstitious when the book begins. Bad things seem to happen to her at New Year’s Eve and she is convinced she is jinxed and shouldn’t leave the house. By the time I’d written all the awful things that happen to Minnie over the years, I think I had a lot more sympathy for her belief in ‘the jinx’ – because, well, I was jinxing her!
There are so many minor characters in this book who I loved creating. Fleur, Clive and Minnie’s Dad are all favourites of mine, and I almost wish that there had been more time to spend with them or see where their lives went to next.
Which character in the story did you identify with the most?
I feel a bit like Bev at the moment. Bev is concerned about the environment and about her place in the world, but she doesn’t know what to do about it. She’s watched too much Brian Cox on BBC4 which results her existential life crisis. I think all of us can feel overwhelmed by the world outside sometimes, by all the things we should be doing in order to be a good person; saving the planet, recycling, making a difference. Sometimes you just want to hide under your duvet because you don’t know how you can even begin to make the change you want to see in the world.
This Time Next Year is your debut novel, have you always wanted to write and how did you get started?
I have always wanted to write and have written short stories from a young age. I think I wrote my first romantic novel when I was thirteen and read it out to my friends at school. There was a hero called Troy and lots of dramatic lightning storms. I think I’d just discovered the film Reality Bites and was basically writing fan fiction about Ethan Hawke.
The dream of being published started to become a reality a few years ago when I won a competition called Love at First Write. That lead me to get an agent, which in turn set me on course to being published and seeing my name on a printed novel for the very first time.
Tell us about your writing day- are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of tea and think about it sort of writer?
I actually wrote This Time Next Year in the evenings around a full-time job and two small children so I had to be very disciplined with my time and could only write between 8-11pm. Now I’m lucky enough to be a full-time writer and do it as my day job, but I fear I just use that extra time to procrastinate. My working day consists of 5% writing time, 95% Instagram, making coffee, eating biscuits and looking out of the window ponderously. I wish I could be more efficient, but some of the best ideas only seem to come when you allow them time to percolate.
And finally for fun! 😊
Tell us four essential things every writer needs!
Other writer friends. I have only just discovered a few, and they are mainly online, but they are essential to have, especially when you need to celebrate or commiserate about something!
If you are in a relationship, an understanding partner. Being a writer means sitting in your room, alone for many many hours and evenings. It can be a very antisocial job than consumes a lot of your brain, time and energy. You need to be with someone tolerant of you being married to your laptop.
Strawberry laces. The best sweets ever.
An amazing agent. Not everyone needs an agent, but I definitely do. Not only does my agent Clare give me fantastic advice, edit notes and do all the hard work of negotiating book deals for me, but she’s also a friend and someone I can call and just rant to about everything from word counts to Amazon Ranking and ‘why did I drink all the wine and now I’m too drunk to write?’
If your life was a book, what would be its title?
Revenge of The Strawberry Laces
Or The Big Badger Bonanza.
Thank you x
Paperback out 15 October 2020