AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sophie Duffy
Sophie Duffy's novel The Generation Game hit the shelves earlier this month, and is all about forty-something mother Pippa, who decides to retrace the steps of her life. We couldn't wait to put our questions to Sophie and find out just what made her turn this once short story into a wonderful novel!
Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer.
Philippa, 40: new baby, no home, no husband. Tells baby her story, uncovers family secrets.
What inspired you to write The Generation Game?
I spent some of my childhood in a sweet shop in Torquay and this is the setting for The Generation Game. It started life as a short story but the characters stayed with me and I couldn't let Philippa go. So I turned it into a novel.
Where do you do most of your writing?
I write all over the place, wherever I can find some quiet, not easy in a house of teenagers. Sometimes at the kitchen table, sometimes in bed. In the car waiting for music lessons to end etc. As time goes on, the more I understand Virginia Woolf's desire for a room of one's own. What a luxury that would be.
What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is probably Brideshead Revisited for the memories it holds for me. I first read this beautiful novel after watching the amazing Granada series when it was repeated in the summer of 1986. I was about to go to University to study English and I fell in love with the Flytes and Waugh's decadent descriptions.
Which part of The Generation Game was the most enjoyable to write?
I enjoyed writing this book a lot, it was really fun. I especially liked the 70s and 80s chapters as they were formative years for me: childhood and adolescence. I set much of the story against a backdrop of national events such as the Silver Jubilee, miners strike, the great storm, and there are references to popular culture, especially TV shows such as The Generation Game. This book is in part homage to those Saturday nights when we only had 3 channels and families would watch TV together. And I am thrilled that Brucie finally has his knighthood. There aren't many all-round entertainers like him and he should be treasured.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished Graham Swift's Wish You Were Here. Good as ever. About to start Laurie Graham's Perfect Merigues. She makes me laugh.
Who is your favourite heroine?
Favourite heroine: Maggie Tulliver from The Mill on the Floss because she's not a good Victorian heroine. She has a big heart and shows her emotions and this gets her into trouble.
Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?
1. Enter competitions. There are now several good novel competitions, including the Luke Bitmead Bursary which I won this year and which led to the publication of The Generation Game. Competitions give you a deadline, something to head for. If you don't succeed with one, try another.
2. Listen to other people's advice but listen to your instincts too.
3. Be determined. Get back up when you are knocked down. It's a marathon, not a sprint. All cliches, all true.
Are you working on anything else at the moment, and if so can you tell us?
I have another novel just about completed about a reluctant curate's wife whose life is transformed after her plumber husband has a dramatic conversion on the road to Dartford.
You can find out more about Sophie Duffy and her books over at her website.