In The Lounge

‘I’d like to open up an alcoholic ice cream parlour in Soho’ – Ilana Fox answers our questions

Set partly in  1980s Soho, The Glittering Art of Falling Apart is an enchanting story of parties, love affairs and secrets . We caught up with author Ilana Fox to talk about the joys of writing and reading.

What book do you most often recommend to friends?

My favourite book is The Secret History by Donna Tartt – it’s one I always recommend to people. I’m often incredulous that people haven’t read it. I think it’s genius, and every time I go back to it I discover something new about the characters. The way Tartt writes is so nuanced and so multi-layered.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Like most authors I’m friends with, I can get stuck in a loop of checking my go-to websites and social networks before I properly get going, so I try hard to turn the internet off and to concentrate. I tend to work best in the mornings – I need a coffee, some decent music, and then I’ll read through what I wrote the day before, edit where necessary, and consult the novel plan before I get going. Writing can be quite meditative in way – you lose track of time so you need to be able to find the space to do that.

If you weren’t a writer what job would you liked to have gone into?

When I started The Glittering Art I was writing full time and doing bits of consulting on the side. I was pulling my hair out at the novel, so when audioBoom approached me to do a bit of freelance work for them I happily accepted – I loved what they were planning to do but I also really wanted to get out of the house. Fast forward 18 months on and I’m working full-time with them and leading marketing teams in the UK, USA, Australia and India. It’s exhausting, but also good fun. But if I were to pack it all in I’d like to open up an alcoholic ice cream parlour in Soho. That’s the dream.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

When I was writing my last novel, a friend and former colleague helped me with some research, so I gave him a cameo in the manuscript. Fast forward to this morning and he sent me a message – his mother is in hospital and is recovering from an operation, and she mentioned how she’d been cheered up as she’s reading a novel where one of the characters has the same name and job as him. When he told her that the character was actually him, she was delighted. Knowing that someone has read your book and that it’s touched them in some way, is the best bit about the job. Along with being able to legitimately wear pyjamas all day.

What one item could you not live without?

I know it’s not romantic or glamorous, but I’d be lost without my phone. I accidentally dropped it in a toilet in Texas in the summer and spent several months without one – I hadn’t realised just how much I’d come to depend on it. My whole life is on it and – most importantly – I struggle without my Uber app. I am probably Uber’s best customer.

What makes you happy?

Sunshine. Good music. Kissing. My cat letting me get a decent nights sleep (she loves me so much that she likes to wake me up by sitting on my head). The ocean. My friends. Tequila.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s not so much advice, but whenever things get tough my grandmother used to say “this too will pass.” I hear her saying it in my head whenever things get a little difficult and it’s always true.

The members of my dream book club would be . . .

Hunter S Thompson. My friend Chanda. Harold Pinter. Zelda Fitzgerald. Bill Clinton. Paris Hilton.

The Glittering Art of Falling Apart is out now  in paperback and ebook