Louise Candlish's latest book is called The Day You Saved My Life. You can see our review here.
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I don’t really have an average, much as I aspire to one. I’m better at the beginning of a schedule at sticking to my ideal, which is: settle at desk at 10am following school run and dog walk, produce 1,000 really good words in, say, four hours, then take care of admin stuff so inbox and head are clear for the next morning. I probably achieve this twice a year.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I’m less likely to find inspiration in celebrities than in people I’ve known, or have met, or have just glimpsed on the bus or in a restaurant and wondered about. I find celebrities unreal, especially now so few of them resemble normal ageing human beings. I like flaws and idiosyncrasies and marks of experience.
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I have several joint favourites. One is The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy. If you want a contemporary one, I really loved Testimony by Anita Shreve.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I plan first. Because of my restless temperament, I can’t just sit down and see what happens, I would only get up and do something else. I make sure I know what is going to happen in each scene before I write it. I do two or three official drafts, depending on my editor’s notes, but I’m constantly rewriting and refining throughout.
5. What was your journey to being a published author?
London to Sicily and then back to London! I left my job as a copywriter and took two months off to travel around Sicily. While there, I wrote most of the first draft of my first novel, Prickly Heat. Returning to London, I worked part time while finishing it, which took another six months or so. I submitted it to agents and was taken on by Claire Paterson of Janklow & Nesbit, who sold it straight away. That was almost ten years ago – I don’t think this traditional route would be so simple now.
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s very easy, something anyone could do if they only had the time. I’m not complaining, though, because people also make a lot of very generous assumptions, too. You can say or do something quite moronic and people will make allowances, saying, ‘Oh, it’s because she’s creative.’ I love that.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
The initial drive and ambition will have to be your own. You can’t do it for anyone else or only with someone else’s encouragement. It’s daunting, though, the idea of 100,000 words, so a creative writing group could be the answer if you’re ready to leap but still hesitating a bit.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
I am half way through a novel about a girl called Tabby who washes up on a remote French island without a penny to her name and whose skin is saved by a fellow Englishwoman. Tabby becomes curious about the other woman’s reasons for being there and gradually uncovers a disgraceful personal history.