Straight Talking was clearly a story that was itching to get out – I wrote the first thirty thousand words in a week. I hadn’t planned it at all, but had read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and wanted to write a book that reflected the lives of the thirty something women I knew, in a real and honest way.
I remember being utterly overwhelmed by the attention and publicity. I had no idea it would strike such a chord.
Initially a flatmate I had, but she was gorgeous, and very comfortable with her physicality, which was fascinating to me, as I have always struggled with body image and food, but Jemima very quickly became far more reflective of me than of the woman on whom I thought she would be based.
There is a little bit of me in all of them, and so many are reflective of where I was at the time of writing. Particularly, I think, Amber in Swapping Lives, which was written when I was unhappy and unprepared to look at the reason why, and then Holly, in Second Chance, written just after the break-up of my marriage.
I have always loved Bookends, because those characters were so extraordinarily real for me – Lucy was the sister/mother/best friend I always wished I had, and they were all so vivid, I was devastated when I wrote the last line.
In truth I love anything to do with home-making: interior design, flower arranging, cooking for family and friends, gardening and growing my own fruit and veg. I’m sure I would have done something in the field of ‘domestic arts’!
I never go back and read my earlier works, but I do think I have changed tremendously since the early days of my career, motherhood, marriage, divorce, all things that have changed me fundamentally, and I am far softer today than when I started.
My goal is always to write with emotional honesty, so that even if we haven’t experienced it, we feel as if we have.
Ah yes. I was still working through a lot of my ‘stuff’ when I started, and have found that acceptance, rather than blame, is the answer to most of life’s problems.
Initially by a woman I used to see riding along the beach in the middle of the night when my marriage first broke up, but her actual character is an amalgamation of several women I know, with a healthy dose of imagination.
I think my life looks fairly idyllic, but in truth, it is just my life, with the usual trials and tribulations that we all have. I am lucky, though, in the way it has turned out, particularly in finding love post-divorce, and grateful for it every day,
My children are nine, eight, and six-year-old twins, and the two eldest are wonderful writers. My daughter spends hours writing books, so I shall keep my fingers crossed.
I have loved America since I was a Tiny – I rather suspect largely due to Little House on the Prairie. But I have been coming to New York since I was young, and always imagined I would live here at some point.
We are about to sign off on the plans, and hope to break ground in the spring. It is a far longer process than I had imagined, which is excruciating for someone with as little patience as I!
I have been here nine years, and feel very much a half and half. I never think of myself as being British, and am not aware of being treated any differently, although there are tons of Brits around here, so I think we’re just part of the furniture now.
I burst into tears when Obama won, and was shocked at how moved I was, and continue to be. I think it’s extraordinary, how far we have come, and mostly I am grateful that Sarah Palin is nowhere near the White House, although the woman is so desperately ambitious, she will not be disappearing quietly. Sadly.
Cook and garden mostly. I also make jewellery from time to time.
Jonathan Tropper, Sue Miller, Patrick Gale, Dani Shapiro, Ann Patchett, and many others too numerous to mention.
I love it here, and after nine years, it’s very definitely home. I have the beach, the country, and I’m an hour away from Manhattan for those times I need a big city fix – it doesn’t get better!
Discipline is the key, and perseverance. Write what you know, not what you think will sell, and don’t ever let a negative opinion put you off.
Name: Faith Brotherston