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Friday, 11 November 2016

#Friday5: 5 Questions with Isabelle Broom

You might know Isabelle Broom as Heat Magazine's Book Reviews Editor… or perhaps from chairing panels at various fabulous book events… or, of course, you might know her as the author of last year’s stand-out debut, My Map of You. Well, next week, her second book hits the shelves. A Year And A Day will whisk you to a cold and wintry Prague to spend time with three unforgettable heroines (you can read my review of A Year And A Day here).

So, with her second book due, I thought that Isabelle would be the perfect candidate for my first #Friday5 interview- and lucky for me- she agreed to have her brain picked!

1. How has the process of writing your second novel differed from your debut last year? 

The main thing is time. When I wrote My Map Of You, I wasn’t contracted to my publisher yet, so essentially I didn’t have a deadline. I was able to spend the best part of a year writing that book, but this time around I had under four months to get the first draft of A Year And A Day in. Luckily, I come from a weekly magazine background, and thrive on tight deadlines. I wrote every single day of those four months, and as such I was incredibly immersed in the story and characters. It was exhausting and emotional, but utterly exhilarating. And there’s something truly magical about writing a book you know people are waiting to read. I didn’t have that with book one, I just wrote it because I couldn’t not.

2. Your books so far have drawn heavily from their settings – Zakynthos for My Map Of You and Prague for A Year And A Day. How much time did you spend ‘on location’ researching? How important is the setting in your writing process?

Well, in the case of Zakynthos, I’d been visiting the island every year since 2000, and had even lived there for a time, so I knew the place inside out. I did go back out for a week in October 2014, when I was about halfway through the first draft, and it was odd because we landed in a huge storm that was exactly the same as the storm Holly gets caught in. I was able to get some very good notes! With Prague, I had visited the city twice before and loved it, but as soon as I decided to set book two there, I did pop over to refresh my memories and do some additional research. I was in the city for four days on my own, and wrote over 20,000 words in that time – it was brilliant! As far as the setting goes, it’s absolutely vital. I honestly believe that a place can change a person, and it’s this that I want to continue to explore through my novels. Luckily for me, the world is a very big place!

3. Which writers have been your inspiration on your journey to becoming an author? 

Oh gosh, so many. Going back into my childhood, I would say Roald Dahl definitely inspired me. What a mind! Then, during my teenage years, it was all about Jilly Cooper. Her characterisation is up there with the very best, and I must have read all her big ‘bonkbusters’ at least four times over. I worship JK Rowling – she got an entire generation back into reading – and in the past few years I’ve been hugely inspired by Rosie Walsh (formerly writing as Lucy Robinson), Cesca Major, Stella Newman, Katie Marsh, David Whitehouse and Jennifer Niven. All authors inspire me, though, to be honest. Writing a novel is an epic achievement.

4. With your ‘reader and reviewer’ hat on, which books are you most looking forward to getting your hands on next? 

Oh, Rosie Walsh’s, without a doubt. Mantle are publishing her new book The Man Who Didn’t Call next summer and I’m SO excited to get my hands on it. Others on my must-read list are Gilly McAllister’s Everything But The Truth, David Whitehouse’s The Long Forgotten (arriving 2018) and Cecelia Ahern’s Perfect, which is the sequel to her brilliant YA book of this year, Flawed.

5. Can you give us any hints about what we can expect from you in the future? Is book 3 in the pipeline? Where will you take us next?

I can do more than give you a hint, I can tell you the title and setting! Book 3 is called Then, Now, Always, and it’s set in a place called Mojacar in Spain. I can’t give away too much about the story, but I can tell you that it’s about sisters, friendship, love and forgiveness. It’s also my first novel written in the first person, which I’m hugely excited about, so look out for that in April. Coming up on my destination list next are Italy, Sri Lanka, Canada, New Zealand and Austria… Like I said, it’s a big old world. I plan to keep travelling and writing books for as long as I can!

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Huge thanks to Isabelle for joining me here on #Friday5! You can follow her on Facebook here, find her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom

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