We’re so excited that Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare has been chosen to be a part of The Reading Agency’s World Book Night 2021, in partnership with Specsavers. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual celebration of books & reading. To celebrate, the theme is ‘Books to Make You Smile’. Ahead of celebrations this Friday 23rd April, we wanted to share this exclusive Q&A with Beth where we discuss all things The Flatshare, the process of writing and authors which have inspired Beth’s books.
What was your writing process like for The Flatshare?
I wrote the novel on the train journey to and from work, so
that pretty much structured my writing process. An hour in
the morning, an hour in the evening. I saved up for in some
noise-cancelling headphones (best decision ever) and used
those to listen to music so I could block out the
background noise (the people who have loud phone
conversations on trains, otherwise known as the devil’s
spawn). I started a playlist of songs that reminded me of
the book, or felt like the right sort of tone, and soon they
became an important part of my writing process – even
now when I listen to them they take me right back to Tiffy
and Leon’s world. I spent about six months splurging a first
draft, then six months editing and reshaping before I tried
sending the story to agents.
What is your favourite scene in the book?
The shower scene! I don’t want to spoiler for anyone who
hasn’t got there yet, but I had That Scene in my head from
so early on in the writing process, which is quite unusual for
me (I tend to figure stuff out as I go, for the most part…) I
was dying to write it, and the thought of getting to that
moment kept me going when I was losing momentum or
considering giving up.
What do you think of the resurgence of uplifting fiction?
I think when times are tough, books can be the most amazing
escape – and have we ever needed escape more than we do
now? It means a huge amount to me when I hear readers
saying that Tiffy and Leon have given them some distraction
and comfort in these difficult times, and if I can make
somebody’s day 1% better right now, I feel like I’m officially
doing a good job.
Which writers are you most inspired or influenced by?
I love and hugely admire Marian Keyes: she is the queen of
writing real, flawed, lovable, hopeful human beings. For the
same reason I love Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, who
were kind of doing that same thing just way back when, really
– it still amazes me that I can pick up Sense and Sensibility
and go, oh, we all know a Willoughby, like that book wasn’t
written 200 years ago. I am also a huge fan of romantic
comedies and romance novels: Helen Hoang, Sophie Kinsella,
Christina Lauren, Lindsey Kelk, Paige Toon, Mhairi McFarlane…
I think all of those writers have an influence on my books.
They’re the writers I reach for when I want to treat myself to
something joyful and comforting, and that’s the sort of author
I aspire to be for other readers.
THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP FIVE BESTSELLER
'You will LOVE it!'
'I adored every page of this super-smart, brilliantly funny romcom'
Rosie Walsh, author of The Man Who Didn't Call
'The new Jojo Moyes... This has all the ingredients of Me Before You'
'Funny and winning... a Richard Curtis rom-com that also has its feet firmly planted in real life. A real treat'
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met...
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they're crazy, but it's the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy's at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven't met yet, they're about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window...
See what everyone is saying about The Flatshare
'I devoured The Flatshare. Original, funny and touching. Read it'
'One of the most talked about books of 2019... Fans of Jojo Moyes's Me Before You will love this UpLit romcom'
'It's fiction to make you feel good - endlessly enjoyable and brilliant fun'
'In the league of Bridget Jones and Marian Keyes' Walsh sister books'
'Funny, emotional and uplifting'
'A quirky, feelgood read, bursting with character and warmth'
'The Flatshare is a huge, heartwarming triumph'
'Uproariously funny with characters you fall for from the first page'
Woman & Home
'Deliciously funny and truly uplifting'
'Touching, funny and skilful, a delightful read'
'It's funny and charming but there are moments of real poignancy, too. Guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face'
'Heartwarming and brilliant'