We sat down for a chat with Fanny Blake, author of The Secrets Women Keep and Books Editor of WOMAN & HOME magazine to talk book recommendations, dream jobs and writing rituals.
Fanny’s latest novel With a Friend Like You is out in paperback, ebook and audio on the 13th August.
Who is your favourite author?
Anne Tyler. I can’t think of a single novel she has written that I haven’t enjoyed. Perhaps my favourite of all of them is Breathing Lessons – such a beady, understated portrait of a marriage. She has her finger right on the pulse of what makes people tick.
What book do you most often recommend to friends?
At the moment I’m recommending My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Europa), the first of her four Neapolitan Novels that make up an addictive saga that charts the growing and changing friendship of two women friends. In the first volume, their coming-of-age is played out against the backdrop of a teeming 1950s Naples and is told with such empathy and in intricate detail. I loved it.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really. I have a small office just off our kitchen, so unfortunately close to the biscuit tin. I stumble in there after breakfast with a cup of tea in hand and stay there pinned to the keyboard until lunchtime. If I’m in the middle of a novel, I’ll read through what I did the day before then press on. I break for lunch and perhaps a walk, then go back to it until about six trying not to distract myself with Twitter, Facebook and other Internet delights.
The best thing about being a writer? Being able to listen to other people’s overheard conversations and calling it research.
If you weren’t a writer what job would you liked to have gone into?
I was an editor and publisher of fiction for many years. That fulfilled the ambition I’d had at university and gave me years of satisfaction and enjoyment. But a tiny bit of me still would like to have been a tap-dancer. No, I can’t dance to save my life, but a girl can dream …
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to listen to other people’s overheard conversations and calling it research.
What one item could you not live without?
The biscuit in that tin in the kitchen just outside my office.
Tell us something that will shock your readers?
I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time last year.
What makes you happy?
My family. Walking in the country on a sunny day. The smell of mown grass. The sound of toddlers laughing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Better to try and fail than not to try at all.
The members of my dream book club would be . . .
My close friends. And let’s mix it up a bit by throwing in Virginia Woolf and Emily Bronte for good measure.