AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Emma Burstall

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We recently posted about The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall, author of 2008 novel Gym and Slimline. The Darling Girls is available to download now, and this week we put our questions to Emma, to find out more about the novel and what inspired her to write it. You can find out more about Emma over at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer.  
A gripping love story about three very different women brought together in extraordinary circumstances.

What inspired you to write The Darling Girls? 
A conversation I had years ago with a woman who had got herself into this weird situation, living with a man who was having affairs with two other women at the same time. The woman I met was lively, feisty and likeable and I couldn't help wondering what it was about this man that had her in his thrall. How on earth she could cope with the knowledge that he was seeing other women even though he said he was in love with her?

Where do you do most of your writing? 
At my desk in my little study overlooking the front garden. My parents bought me the desk for my birthday some years ago. It's a beautiful old Arts and Crafts desk with lots of deep marks in the yellowy brown oak. I like trying to imagine how many other people must have sat here once, what clothes they were wearing and what they were like.

What is your favourite book? 
It has to be Bleak House by Charles Dickens because it's full of so many brilliant, funny, sad and extraordinary people. It makes you laugh and cry. He was such a genius.

Which part of The Darling Girls was the most enjoyable to write? 
Probably the second half,  once I'd set up the characters and their situations and the action was really hotting up! I love it when I start to feel as if I know my characters so well, they're like friends. That's when I can start to veer from my original plot a bit because I think: actually, so-and-so wouldn't do that, and: she's obviously a vegetarian or something. I can surprise myself!

What are you currently reading? 
Monday to Friday man by Alice Peterson. I met her at a talk recently and she was so nice I thought I'd buy one of her books. I'm enjoying it very much so far.

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Who is your favourite heroine? 
That's hard. Maybe Emma in Jane Austen's Emma because she's clever and spirited but also flawed, like the best of us! My favourite modern heroine has to be Rachel in Marian Keyes' Rachel's Holiday. She's such a mess to start with, but still enormously funny and likeable. The way you see her gradual transformation through her own eyes is brilliant.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers? 
The best tip anyone ever gave me was - write! I spent quite a long time telling all my friends I wanted to write a novel and getting nothing down. Once I'd written the first few chapters of Gym and Slimline, my first book, and then the first draft I was off - though of course they needed an awful lot of re-writing and polishing later on.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us? 
I'm still in the very early stages of my fourth book at the moment so I don't want to say too much right now. All I can say is that it's going to be a BIG love story!

Thanks, Emma!

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