Thursday 4 June 2015

A Chat With Gill Hornby

Can you tell us about your new book?

It’s called All Together Now and it is about a community choir in a small provincial town. That town is dying slowly, the choir is on its last legs but one last ditch recruitment drive brings in some new blood. The three main characters – Tracey, Annie and Bennett – are all struggling with different sorts of loneliness. This is the story of how they, the choir and the town itself are all brought back to life.

What was your inspiration for All Together Now?

 I belong to a choir! The novel started out as something slightly different. My first book, The Hive, was about a group of mothers in a primary school. The plan was that the next would deal with the next stage, of the empty nest. It is something that I and most of my friends are now facing and it is an interesting, challenging but in many ways positive time. Anyway, one by one all my characters seemed to sign up for a bit of singing, and the choir seemed a good enough metaphor for the process of finding your own voice. I have watched in my own choir how lives have been transformed – just a little bit- and a community has been built through the power of song and I find it extraordinary moving. Also, just as importantly, it’s very funny…..

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?

 Well, all of it is rather astonishing. I have come to this business very late and sometimes have to pinch myself. But it is probably just that moment when you hold the published copy in your hands for the first time – not quite as thrilling as holding your own babies, but it might just be the next best thing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

In the nicest possible way: get on with it. There is no point in thinking you might want to write and want to be published. Nothing can possibly happen unless you create something yourself. So get writing, and when you’ve got writing, keep writing. The whole time you are trying, you are learning and a breakthrough can come at any point.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?

That’s quite hard to answer, because I went to the library every Saturday morning from the age of 4 until about 15 so although I read three or four books a week, I didn’t actually own very many. I do, however, remember saving up for all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. They were my absolute favourite and I read and re read and re re read them all.

What was the last book you read?

The new Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread – absolutely beautiful description of one ordinary family which, like all ordinary families, is extraordinary in its own way.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?

A third novel is cooking away gently. It will be a three generation family saga, from the 1960s to now, but with a narrative twist. I won’t go further than that…..

Gill Hornby is the author of The Hive and All Together Now which is published by Little, Brown on 4th June, £14.99

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