I'm really pleased to welcome the wonderful Emily Benet to Little Northern Soul as part of Harper Impulse Fortnight.
Emily is the brains behind the fantastic book The Temp (which I will be reviewing later in the week) and she kindly agreed to answer some of my burning questions!
So without further ado, here we go!
Q) Hi Emily! Welcome to Little Northern Soul. Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself?
A) I'm a happy, healthy half Welsh, half Spanish Londoner, currently trying to sell all my possessions on eBay as in two weeks I'll be moving to Mallorca with my Colombian husband... Got all that? We've only ever been to Mallorca once, briefly, and separately, but my motto for life is, What's the worst that can happen? I've been addicted to writing since I was 11 and my first bookShop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in my parents' lighting shop. Whenever I go into a place, I instinctively check out the lighting. Please put a shade on that bare bulb, reader. Occasionally I feel excluded from the writing community because I prefer olives over cake, beer over gin, and I don't own a cat. If I ever get some outdoor space I'd like to get some chickens... and maybe a goat.
Q) The Temp started off being shared on Wattpad under the name 'Spray Painted Bananas and from its success you secured a publishing deal with Harper Impulse– were you expecting such a reaction to the story?
A) The reaction to Spray Painted Bananas/ The Temp blew me away. I wrote it as a serialised novel online, so each morning I'd wake up to people asking What happens next?! and really positive comments. Wattpad is such a powerful platform and it the original draft now has over 2 million hits. The deal with Harper Impulse happened 8 months after I signed with an agent, so I'd actually given up hope that it would be picked up by a publisher.
Q) Where were you when you found out you had a 2-book publishing deal?
A) I was working on a new novel in the living room. I'd come to terms with the fact I wasn't going to get a publisher so I was trying to write something new. I saw it was my agent calling and sensed it was significant. I probably held my breath, crossed my fingers and prayed as I answered. It took a while to sink in!
Q) What does it feel like to be able to pick up a book you’ve written?
A) It's like picking up a beautiful baby but not worrying about getting dribbled on. It feels pretty good.
Q) The Temp follows recent graduate Amber as she decides to embark on a new career as an artist. There’s loads of great description of galleries and exhibitions. Is this something you knew a lot about or did you need to do research?
A) The research had been done by the time I started. It gave me the idea for the book. I'd often find myself at gallery openings, with free wine, staring at some random object and thinking...REALLY? I could do this! Maybe I'm a philistine, but I don't think so, there's a lot of rubbish out there calling itself art. It made me think how you could probably be famous for anything if you had enough publicity.
Q) I just have to ask... why bananas?
(FYI- Part of Ambers artwork involves painting bananas and dropping them at various landmarks around London)
A) Because it's the funniest fruit! I associate bananas with comedy and people slipping up! Kiwi is a good word too, but I reckon it might be a little harder to get the spray paint to stick to furry skin...
Q) There are a whole host of funny, fabulous characters in The Temp– who was your favourite and why?
A) I had a lot of fun writing Egg, her flat mate. He is in a re-enactment group and often dressed as a Pharoah. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but let's just say he's actually quite the business man! I also loved writing the minor character, Andrzej, a Polish chef who shouts a lot. Between me and you, I don't have a clue how you're supposed to pronounce his name.
Q)The story is hilarious and silly and had me laughing out loud in parts. Do you have to think through the funny lines or do they happen naturally?
A) The funniest lines happen out of the blue and took me by surprise. When I burst out laughing at my computer, I know it's going to work. It's one of the best feelings in the world. My aim is to make people laugh so knowing you laughed out loud at parts makes me very happy!
Q) Do you have any top tips for aspiring authors?
A) I think probably to stop reading all the million tips and just sit down and write. I have full-length drafts of novels that have never seen the light of the day, but which helped me become a better writer. You have to put the hours in. Write, write, write. How can you get published if you haven't finished writing a novel?
Q) What’s your favourite way to relax?
A) I love hanging out with my family, everyone sitting around the table together, eating good food. I also love a quiet evening curled up with a great book and a glass of red wine. In London, that happens on the sofa, but I'm hoping in Mallorca, I'll be outside lying by a pool... ah, bliss.
Q) Finally, can you tell us a little about your next book?
A) I'm very excited about my new book. It's called #PleaseRetweet and it's about a social media guru called May Sparks, who looks after the Facebook and Twitter accounts of C- list celebrities who put their foot in it every time they go online. It's about our addiction to social media, and the contrast between our real life and what we portray online. It should be out this Summer!
Thanks very much Emily!