Author Q&A - One Moment, One Morning
How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
I was sitting on the train, commuting from my home in Brighton to an office in London, flicking through a magazine, when suddenly, a man on board collapsed, seriously ill. The train was stopped and we all had to get out at a station en route. To get into work, I ended up sharing a taxi with a group of women I’d not met before. A few weeks later, I lay awake unable to sleep, and remembered this event, and thought it would be an interesting premise for a novel. I started writing the very next day, but rather than simply tell the tale of strangers in a taxi, I twisted events to my own ends. The result was the plot of One Moment, One Morning - the story of how one incident on a train impacts on the lives of three different passengers.
What made you want to tell this particular story?
My aim was to write something that I hope is sparklingly readable, yet doesn’t shy from difficult emotional issues. I felt I had something fresh to say about three themes: bereavement, alcoholism and hidden sexuality, in the context of friendship.
What attracts you to telling a story from different points of view?
I like the way each character’s individual experiences of events can illuminate and affect the others, thus increasing our understanding. I guess I’m also impatient, and different perspectives keep a story moving. It means I never get bored whilst writing – and if I’m inspired and excited, hopefully my readers will be, also. Different perspectives is a format I used in my first two novels, The Other Half and Getting Even, too.
Are you a plotter or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
I've written several novels and with each I've learned more about what works for me. When I started out I was more of a 'panster', writing with little idea of my plot by the result was I'd end up floundering and having to start again. These days I'd have to acknowledge that writing without any structure is like trying to build a house without foundations - it might look okay initially but at some point it's extremely likely to fall down. As a result I plan more carefully, and I do it by creating a mind map. I find this allows me to retain more fluidity than a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, and, because I can see the novel clearly as a whole, I am more aware of the entire narrative arc.
This novel feels very different from your first two. What led you down this path?
I finished my second novel, Getting Even, several years before One Moment, One Morning, and my life changed a lot between those years. Then I was single, living in London, now I have a partner, we live in Brighton, and Tom’s son, Sebastian is with us at weekends. With hindsight, my first two novels were somewhat pigeonholed as ‘chick lit’, and although I have reservations about that label, nonetheless I wanted to shake off the association. So I killed someone off on the second page of One Moment, just to insure no publisher could stick a glittery pink cover on it!
I guess I wanted to raise the bar for myself: I’ve also read a lot in those intervening years, and learnt from other writers. I like to be entertained but also touched and gain greater understanding when I read, so that’s what I tried to deliver. I also felt I could push myself style wise: improve my metaphors, kill cliché, and so forth – be a more ‘literary’, perhaps – though I don’t want to pigeonhole myself again. My aim is to be the very best writer that I can be at any one time.