Unwrap a new debut author this Easter! | Emily Gunnis exclusive Q&A

Unwrap a new debut author this Easter! | Emily Gunnis exclusive Q&A

Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi. The Girl in the Letter is her debut novel.

When you’re on the hunt for a new read, how do you go about discovering one?

I usually ask friends or family if anyone has read anything good lately.  I always find the best seller charts a bit of a mixed bag.  And friends usually have the same tastes.  My sister recently recommended The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson which was incredible – I was so bereft when I finished it. 

Tell us a little bit about how ‘new beginnings’ are celebrated in your book

So the story’s protagonist is Sam Harper, who is the journalist on the hunt for the truth about The Girl in the Letter.  Her career, and personal life, is stalling at the start of the book, and by the end of the book she has overcome some tough hurdles and discovered some bitter sweet truths about herself and her family, which give her the strength to leave some baggage from the past behind, and start the new life which she has always dreamed of. 

If you were to set up a bookish Easter egg hunt, which five books would you choose to hide?

Hmmmm, I’ve been reading a lot about psychosis and the NHS for book two, so I’d say This is going to Hurt by Adam Kay, An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, Asylum by Patrick McGrath, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O’Farrell and I’ve just read Steven King On Writing again which is totally brilliant for any budding writers.

If you were an Easter egg, what kind would you be?

A Lindt Bunny, once you start you can’t stop – hopefully how my readers feel about TGITL!! 😉 

The Girl in the Letter is out now. Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2VxmQkj

Quick-fire Q&A with Victoria Walters

Quick-fire Q&A with Victoria Walters

Bookseller-turned-author, Victoria Walters’ debut novel THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, is set to warm hearts everywhere this spring. We grabbed Victoria for one of our Q&As to see what makes her tick.

The book I’ve read the most times . . .

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The first album I ever bought . . .

Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill

My guilty pleasure . . .

Pretty Little Liars

The item I have more of than anything else . . .

Books, books, books!

If I had to choose between appearing on Strictly or X Factor . . .

X Factor. I love music and find it constantly disappointing I have no musical talent!

My favourite city in the world . . .

New York

If I could go back to any time in history . . .

Early 19th century. What do you mean Mr Darcy wasn’t real?!

The best invention ever . . .

Hair straighteners

The last time I went to the cinema . . .

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Loved it!

The best thing about being a writer . . .

Readers saying they loved my book will never fail to make my day

THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE is published on 7th April in paperback and ebook. Preorder now.

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Tamara McKinley

Sarah Duguid's Favourite Portrayals of Sisterhood – Part 1.

Sarah Duguid's Favourite Portrayals of Sisterhood – Part 1.

To launch Sisterhood Week on Bookends, inspired by Sarah Duguid’s debut LOOK AT ME, which sees protagonist Lizzy’s world unravel when she discovers she has a secret half-sister, Sarah herself has written us a list of her favourite portrayals of sisterhood across books and film. Check back for Part 2 of this list later this week, as well as lots of other sisterly activity throughout the next seven days.

The Children’s Bach by Helen Garner

Like my own novel, Look At Me, The Children’s Bach begins with a damaged woman, turning up at the house of her sister Elizabeth. It begins with all the dread of an uncomfortable, sisterly relationship and yet rather than dismantling each other, it’s their effect on an old friend’s comfortable, suburban marriage that forms the narrative arc of the novel. Garner said the women’s movement liberated her to “write about what happens in people’s houses” and I like the idea that writers don’t necessarily need to open the front door and venture outside in order to find the stuff of ‘proper’ literature. Sisterhood, in all its domestic complexity, is just as capable of being a ‘big’ subject.

Ignorance by Michèle Roberts

Any of Michele’s books could be featured here because she explores sisterhood in all its forms but I’ve chosen Ignorance because of the way she writes about two female friends, growing up in a French village. She takes these two girls into the dangerous territory of the French petit bourgeoisie during the war and yet does it so deftly and beautifully that the rich prose heightens the sense of risk, the sense of the girls’ innocence. One of the girls ends up in bed with the local Jewish hermit; it’s high risk, a little frightening, and yet completely beguiling.

Wise Children by Angela Carter

Angela Carter was one of my first loves and Wise Children, one of my favourites. It tells the story of two twins, former dancing girls, Dora and Nora, written while Carter was dying of cancer. It’s filled with joy and comedy. ‘What a joy it is to dance and sing!’ is the motto of the twins as they use performance to survive, weaving their way through life’s troubles with anarchy and hilarity.

Hannah and her Sisters

My favourite Woody Allen film, following three very different but emotionally dependent sisters as they fall in and out of love with neurotic men, borrow money from one another, drive each other up the wall. It’s structured around three thanksgiving dinners, family set-pieces, that ripple with comedy and tension as the sisters love and lie to one another in equal measure.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

As an undergraduate, it was Winterson’s intensity and wild, anarchic language that drew me in. I can still, even years after reading it, recall the scenes in Written on the Body as the narrator (who I’m assuming is female, although I really shouldn’t because lack of gender is actually the point) describes the cancer invading her lover Louise’s body.

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An extract from Louise O’Neill’s ASKING FOR IT

Books on my bedside table by Sarah Duguid

Books on my bedside table by Sarah Duguid

The 4th Revolution: How The Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality Luciano Floridi

I’ve just started reading The 4Th Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality and am currently reading a chapter on the way the internet can shape our sense of self. I’m interested by performance, the way people reveal and conceal themselves, and it strikes me that the way people present their lives online is a kind of daily performance – we shape, edit and fictionalise ourselves for an audience. We both are, and are not, our Facebook profiles. But also we have a real relationship with something that isn’t at all real. My mum, for example, has asked me in genuine frustration, if I can get in touch with the Postmaster to ask him why he rejected her email, or has told me ‘the man at Amazon has written to tell me he’s sent my order.’ There is a strange disconnect between our ‘real’ lives and this automated, robotic other world that we engage with as if it were real. I do wonder where it’ll all end.

The Daylight And The Dust: Selected Short Stories Janet Frame

I’ve got a copy of Janet Frame’s short stories, introduced by Michèle Roberts, waiting to be read. Michèle was a mentor to me. We met a few times at the Tate café to work on drafts of my novel Look At Me and she helped and influenced me enormously. I love Michele’s fiction, especially her experiments with form, and from what I’ve read so far of Janet Frame, I think she’s going to be right up my street.

Atomised – Michel Houellbecq

I feel as though I shouldn’t be a fan of Michele Houellbecq because women don’t do well in his fiction. Hate seems to be his subject and yet he does it so well, that in spite of myself, I always buy his books. His second, Atomised, I thought was completely brilliant, and even though his later work seems odd and erratic at times, I still find them captivating and so his latest, Submission, is on my pile.

Selected Diaries – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s Selected Diaries is a book I dip in and out of. The small details of her life: who came to lunch, travelling into town, buying typewriter ribbons are addictive and compelling in the way that the details in other people’s diaries can be. In one entry she writes how E.M Forster shrank away from her when she bumped into him in the street – which she interpreted as him being intimidated by a bright and successful woman. Another entry: “Herbert Fisher astounded us by asking himself to lunch tomorrow, and we have been to Kew, and seen the Magnolia trees in blossom.” I could read that kind of stuff all day.

Practicalities Marguerite Duras

I’ve just re-read Practicalities by Marguerite Duras. It’s a series of conversational essays, covering topics such as Home, Men, Writers’ Bodies. At one point she describes a line of ants moving along a wall. Strangely, I’ve noticed that lines of ants are a recurrent theme in contemporary fiction – Cusk, Levy and Ferrante all feature ants. I put a line of ants in my own novel, Look At Me, in a kind of homage to Duras. I read all the time while I’m writing. I like the idea that writing is a conversation with writers who’ve gone before – I don’t aspire to writing in a bubble.


Pre-Order Sarah’s debut book ‘Look At Me’ here  

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