Hello everyone. Hope you are well.
Today we are very excited to introduce our interviewee as none other than the wonderful, talented and beautiful writer Elizabeth Day. What a treat! Her latest novel Home Fires has just been released and is available to buy now!
Elizabeth Day is an author and journalist. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel Scissors Paper Stone won a Betty Trask Award for first novels written by authors under the age of 35. Her second novel Home Fires has just been published by Bloomsbury.
She is a feature writer for the Observer, where she has a wide-ranging brief to write across the paper, incorporating everything from celebrity interviews to crime reportage.
Elizabeth grew up in Northern Ireland and her first job was for The Derry Journal. Since then, she has worked for The Evening Standard, The Sunday Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday. She won a British Press Award in 2004 for Young Journalist of the Year and was Highly Commended in the category of Feature Writer of the Year 2012. She has also written for numerous other publications including Grazia, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, the Lonely Planet Magazine, Saga, She and Red Magazine.
She is a regular contributor to the Sky News paper review and has appeared on Daybreak, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and TalkSport’s Late Show. (photo credit – Suki Dhanda)
How and where are you today?
I’m very well thank you. Oddly not that tired given I’ve had a little over four hours sleep. I’m on a train on the way to Gatwick airport to catch a flight to Dublin and was out late for work last night…
How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And were these the roads you expected to take?
Oh the journey’s been amazing! I love the fact that, as a writer, no experience is ever wasted. Even if you’re going through something difficult or emotional or exhausting, you can think to yourself: well, I’m learning more about life as a result. Getting older is an immense privilege if you look at it like that. As for the roads…they’ve been different from the ones I imagined but they’ve been far more interesting, with far richer scenery along the way than I could ever have dreamed of. You grow up thinking you’re going to be on a high-speed motorway to eventual success. And then you realise that, actually, the B-roads are a bit winding but they take you past things you would never have seen otherwise.
I love a metaphor. Can you tell?
Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?
My process really just comes down to finding a nice cafe and ordering a strong coffee before sitting down to write. That normally does it. I also write while I travel, often on trains – there again, the coffee is key.
How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?
Hugely. I grew up in Northern Ireland but I’m originally from the South of England and I speak with a very English accent. When we moved to a small village outside Derry when I was four, I always felt like an outsider. I didn’t like the fact that I stood out when I opened my mouth so I learned to listen, to observe, to stay quiet and to examine – all of which are crucial skills as a writer. It was a time of political tension and terrorist activity and I realised, at a young age, that often the most important things were left unsaid: that’s something that still interests me deeply in my novels; the tension beneath the surface and the conflict within families.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty means seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and looking at the world in a different way, with a fresh gaze as much as possible. It means remaining un-jaded and open. It means allowing yourself to be moved by the things you see, hear, touch, smell and feel. It means staying alert, because sometimes what everyone else says is beautiful isn’t nearly as affecting as the way the light catches on a pool of petrol in a garage forecourt.
If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?
Ha! I would have told you I wanted to be a journalist and then write books. I was very determined from a horribly precocious age. In fact, at 11, I was already writing a column for the local paper – The Derry Journal. I’ve never had a regular column since, so I don’t know what that tells you.
What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?
Not to be judgmental – of people or of situations. We live in an age of instant response and commentary, but most people are more complex than they initially appear and situations that can, at first, seem daunting are often the ones that reveal the biggest opportunities.
So excited to read Home Fires … Thank you again Elizabeth for taking the time to be with us today, welcome to the Handsome and Pretty family! We love you.
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