Unwrapped – Q+A with debut author Beth O’Leary

Unwrapped – Q+A with debut author Beth O’Leary

Today we’re chatting to debut novelist extraordinaire Beth O’Leary about new reads, new beginnings and Easter. Her first novel, The Flatshare, is the uplifting story of Tiffy and Leon who share a flat, share a bed but have never met…

The Flat Share

When you’re on the hunt for a new read, how do you go about discovering one?
I get a lot of my book recommendations via Twitter and Instagram – I follow lots of bookish people with similar tastes to mine. If I’m in the mood for something specific, I might look at a Goodreads ‘Top 50’ list for that genre and browse through until a cover and blurb catches my eye. What I should do is go and choose something from my existing bookshelves, which are completely overloaded and have no room left on them for new books!

Easter and Spring are all about new beginnings. Tell us a little bit about how ‘new beginnings’ are discussed in your book.
Oh, The Flatshare is all about new beginnings. One of my main characters, Tiffy, has just left her toxic boyfriend and is trying to figure out what her life looks like without him; the other main character, Leon, is in desperate need of a fresh start. He’s stuck in a rut in his relationship and is dealing with the trauma of his brother being imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. But Leon can’t stay stuck for long once Tiffy moves in to his flat…

If you were to set up a bookish Easter egg hunt, which five books would you choose to hide?
What a phenomenal question! Now I want to set up a bookish Easter egg hunt. I’d pick five fun novels about fresh starts: One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk, The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, The Cactus by Sarah Haywood, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pierce and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

If your characters were Easter eggs, what kind would they be?
Leon would be something very classy and simple, I think. Lindt chocolate, maybe… And it wouldn’t be hollow on the inside, because there’s much more to Leon than there seems, so maybe there’d be lots of truffles in the middle of the egg!

Tiffy would be a homemade Easter egg, for sure, with a really ambitious combination of flavours that shouldn’t work but totally does: ginger and lemon and strawberry chocolate, or something. Hers would come brightly wrapped, too.

How would your main character celebrate Easter?
Leon would be bemused by the idea of celebrating Easter – he’s not religious, so what’s it for? Chocolate? He can eat chocolate whenever he wants anyway? Plus he never gets the bank holiday days off at his work – he’s a hospice nurse – so he sometimes forgets it’s happening at all.

But Tiffy would be all over it. Any excuse to decorate the flat, wear bright colours and do some arts and crafts…

The Flatshare is available now!

You can follow Beth on Twitter @OLearyBeth and on Instagram @betholearyauthor

The Flatshare
This Easter, unwrap a debut author! | A Q&A with Juliet Grames

This Easter, unwrap a debut author! | A Q&A with Juliet Grames

This Easter, we’re introducing you to some of our most exciting debut authors for 2019.

Juliet Grames is the author of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, a captivating and huge-hearted novel spanning rural Calabria and mid-century Connecticut, which follows the life (and deaths) of one exceptional woman.

We asked Juliet to share some details about Stella Fortuna, along with a few recommendations of her own, in a very special Easter-themed Q&A!

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

My favorite way to discover books is passively—basically, if someone tells me to read something because they think I’ll like it, I try to read it, regardless of genre or obscurity. I also want to know as little as possible about the book before I start reading. I don’t like plot (even tiny details!) to be spoiled, so I don’t read synopses or cover copy. I’m a terrible bookstore browser. I either go barging in with a specific request or I just ask the bookseller to pick something out for me.

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

My book is about starting over—and over, and over, etc—not always by choice, but sometimes by sheer force of will. When my main character, Stella Fortuna, emigrates to the United States in 1939 from a very socially conservative village in remote Southern Italy, she and her sister, Tina, decide they want to cement their new identity as Americans by cutting off their long hair and getting trendy American perms. It was something my grandmother did when she first arrived in America, and I have taken inspiration from her and chopped my hair short to celebrate a fresh start on several occasions.

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

I’d pick my 5 favorite intergenerational sagas!

1. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (can’t believe it’s the thirtieth anniversary this year!)
2. Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing
3. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
4. Tea Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

How do you think your main character might celebrate Easter?

With homemade cavatelli and tons and tons and tons of cookies (especially pizzelle)! Probably arrayed in silver trays on a hand-crocheted lace table cloth.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is published on the 7th of May, and is available for pre-order now.

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