Sunday, 20 May 2012

Author Interview: Alice Peterson

I'd been eagerly awaiting the release of Ten Years On by Alice Peterson and having just finished reading it, I can say that it was so worth the wait.  Alice has kindly agreed to answer a few questions... OK maybe a lot of questions!  

Can you tell us a little bit about ‘Ten Years On’?
‘Ten Years On’ is about two characters, Joe and Rebecca, who were flatmates at university, they lose touch, and ten years on they meet again. Through a sequence of flashback chapters the reader learns a little more about their friendship all those years ago, and why it fell apart. 

The novel deals with themes of grief, healing, rebuilding friendships and finding love again. I loved developing Becca and Joe’s friendship. They are two characters who really deserve a happy ending. If you have a past love or old friend that you often think about, or wonder, ‘what if” then I think you might enjoy ‘Ten Years On’.

How long did it take you to get your first book published?
My first book, ‘A Will To Win’, took me approximately 18 months to write, and then a further 3 to 6 to sign a contract with Macmillan. Macmillan was one of the first publishers my agent approached. I did not realize at the time how lucky this was. I was pretty na├»ve about the world of publishing, but I now realize that it’s not just about the writing; a good degree of luck is essential too. Your script needs to lands on the right person’s desk to give you a really good chance.

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
The best piece of advice I was given was to write at least 1000 words a day. When I’m really into a story, I can write more, and I don’t have set hours. I really should have a more disciplined approach! This is the trouble about working from home. My computer is never far away so I’m not very good at turning it off and relaxing! But also the advantage of being a writer is I can take time off during the week and make up for it in the evenings or weekends. I love the fact it’s so flexible.

How hard is it to keep coming up with fresh ideas for new books?
Hard! I have to choose an idea that I want to research, write about and really live with for the next year to eighteen months, so I have to feel passionate about the subject.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I’d love to be able to write thrillers, but sadly don’t have that kind of imagination. I’ve just watched, ‘The Killing’ and kept on thinking, ‘I wish I could write a script like that!’

You've written a book in the past about your grandmother's life in Rhodesia, did you enjoy researching the family history?
Yes, I loved it. I was very close to my granny; she played a huge role in my life. It was incredible to revisit my mother’s old farm in now Zimbabwe. I found it moving and exciting to research too. My grandmother’s generation had so much energy, spirit and sense of adventure. There was never a dull moment…

Have you got a favourite out of all the books you've written, if so, which one and why?
Possibly, ‘A Will to Win’ (now republished as ‘Another Alice’) since it was my first book and it’s my own personal story about my childhood passion for tennis and how it was taken from me when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis aged 18. It was a painful book to write, but also very therapeutic too. Not being able to play tennis is a huge sadness that will always be with me, but the one thing I hold on to is that fact that I would never have found my writing if I hadn’t been diagnosed. My own experiences have without doubt influenced my fiction writing – disability is often a theme, and I believe it gives my books an added depth and poignancy.

Having said all that, I’m always most fond of the book I last wrote too, since it’s fresh in my mind! I love ‘Ten Years On’ and am very proud of it. I think it’s one of my most moving novels. 

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
To write without rules and from the heart.

Do you have much spare time to read books? If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?
Oh yes, I have plenty of time, so I really should read more! One of the last books I read was Jojo Moyes, ‘Me Before You’, and I couldn’t put it down. Before that I read, ‘All that I am,’ by Anna Funder, which I enjoyed too. I am currently reading, ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen.

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why?
‘Monday to Friday Man’. I think it would be a lovely romantic comedy, set in the dog-walking world. I think it would hit a nerve with those 30 something’s who haven’t met ‘the one’ yet, very much like Bridget Jones’s Diary hit a nerve with single women.

Who would you cast in the leading roles?

Emily Blunt and James McAvoy.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry and I’d like to reread ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini.

Are you able to give us a hint about what your next novel is about? And when is it likely to be published?
I hope very much my next novel will be published in year or so. It’s a love story…but I can’t tell you exactly what it’s about, although one little clue: it will have a dog in it! That’s about all I can say right now. But I am passionate about the story so I’ll keep you posted…! 

Thanks Alice for agreeing to the interview.  My review of Ten Years On will be uploaded later so make sure you pop back to read it.

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