Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Author Interview: Fanny Blake

Today it's my stop on the blog tour for the paperback edition of Fanny Blake's latest book With a Friend Like You, which is published tomorrow, and I'm delighted to welcome Fanny back to the blog to find out a little more.

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book With a Friend Like You? 
Beth and Megan have been friends for years despite being very different woman. Beth’s is a high achiever, her life is ordered, her house is an oasis of calm. Megan is a teacher, her home life chaotic. Their friendship has been built on years of laughter, tears and an understanding of what makes the other tick. 

However when Beth’s daughter makes an announcement, a wedge is driven between the two women. Misunderstanding and resentment develop into a row and then a full-blown feud that affects not just them but their families too. The question is – is there any way back?

Your novels all appear to feature strong women and their friendships/relationships, have you ever considered writing a novel from a male perspective?
Funnily enough, my next novel House of Dreams (out November 5) is about three siblings, a brother and two sisters, returning to their family home in Spain for a long weekend after their mother’s death. Although I haven’t written the whole novel from Tom’s perspective, it is told from both his and his two sisters’ points of view. I loved writing about him, his marriage, how he deals with the world and how he reacts when a face from the past turns up at the villa.

What can we expect from you next?
I’m in the very early stages of my next novel, plotting and planning and trying to breathe life into the characters.

I've read in your bio that you've had a varied career in the book industry, editor, reviewer and now a writer, have you always had a love of books?
Yes, I have. One of my early memories is of being curled up on my bed at home with an orange (with sugar cubes stuffed into it!), biscuits and a good book. I used to raid the shelves outside my room where my parents kept lots of green Penguins – all the crime novelists such as Dorothy Sayers, Michael Innes, Agatha Christie. Margery Allingham and many more. In my final year of university, I would go to a bookshop on the last Thursday of every month and wait for the new Penguins to be delivered (sad but true!). By the time I graduated I was determined to get a job as an editor although I hadn’t much of a clue what that entailed apart from working with books.

What is your all-time favourite book?
That is such a hard question to answer. In fact I don’t think one stands head and shoulders above the rest. I’ve loved so many classics from Dickens to Eliot to the Brontes. And now I love writers such as Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, William Boyd, Anne Tyler, Elena Ferrante. I could go on … and on …

What essentials do you need around you when you are in writing/editing mode? 
I don’t need much, just a laptop or my computer and an endless supply of peppermint tea.

How do you manage to get the right balance between your day job, home life, writing and the social media promotion that is almost expected of authors these days?    
I don’t think I’ve ever managed to achieve the right balance! I work from home, much easier now all our 3 boys have moved out, but I don’t keep very strict barriers between work and free time. Perhaps I should? But, if there’s something I need to read or write, and I’ve got nothing else planned, then I just do it. I find it much harder when it comes to work and social media, which can be such a time suck. I’ve got the Freedom and Self Control apps on my computer so I block my access to the Internet for as long as I can bear to be off it!

Would you ever consider doing a collaboration with another author?  
One of the things I’ve done is be a ghost writer so I have collaborated over various books, and it’s always been a pleasure. If you mean would I collaborate over a novel with another writer – why not? If I thought we could work together and the idea was right, I think it might be fun.

Do you treat yourself to something special when you finish writing/publish your novels? 
I try and treat myself to something every day, even if it’s only a bar of chocolate, a good walk or something I want to watch on TV. Life is short! The only thing I might do when I finish is go somewhere special. For instance, when I finished House of Dreams, we went to Myanmar (Burma) for 3 weeks, which was magical.  

If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
If I could go anywhere in the world, I suspect I wouldn’t want to write when I got there. I’d want to enjoy the place itself. So … I think I’d choose a remote cottage in the English countryside where I wouldn’t be too distracted, and where I could go on inspiring walks by myself. I do occasionally hide away in an empty flat in Edinburgh, which is just perfect.

Beth is a woman in supreme control of all aspects of her life and family, with a stellar career and her house an oasis of calm. Her closest friend, Megan, is very different; somehow she swims through the chaos of her family with ease, the clutter on the stairs, the cat footprints on the kitchen work space. And while they could not be more different, Beth and Megan have a genuine friendship built on years of laugher, tears and true understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses. Because that's what friends do, isn't it?

But when Beth's daughter reveals a surprising secret, a wedge is driven between Beth and Megan. What begins as mild recrimination and misunderstanding develops into a full-blown row and then a simmering feud. As the two women square up to do battle in the London suburbs, there's everything to play for. All's fair in love and war...

Fanny Blake’s novel With a Friend Like You (Orion) is out now.

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