Welcome to the next in our series of Curtis Brown 120 blog posts, these blogs include exclusive interviews with authors, agents and publishers; writing tips; industry insights – and much more besides.
This week the team caught up with bestselling author Alice Feeney whose second novel, I Know Who You Are, comes out in paperback today. Read on to discover Alice’s writing routine and her stellar advice for aspiring authors …
How did you get your debut published? Did you have an agent?
I still don’t understand how I managed to get the best agent in town. Jonny (Geller) read Sometimes I Lie in June 2016 and agreed to represent me. After almost ten years of rejections, that was a pretty big moment in my life. We worked on the book for a couple of months, then he sent it out to publishers that September. Everything that has happened since is like a dream I didn’t dare dream come true.
Sometimes I Lie was published in the UK in March 2017. It was an international and New York Times bestseller, and has been sold in over twenty countries. Ellen DeGeneres is currently turning it into a TV series with Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and I still have to pinch myself on a regular basis.
It took me a long time to find an agent and become a published author, but I think it just goes to prove that it’s never too late and you’re never too old to follow your dreams, the secret is to never give up.
What’s your favourite debut novel?
My favourite debut in the last couple of years is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It was such an original, brave and brilliant book, and I loved it.
How do you start your writing day?
I function best first thing in the morning. I write in my garden shed with my dog, a giant black Labrador who is scared of feathers. He keeps me company, and takes me for walks when I need a break.
The shed is cosy and warm (once the heater is on) with a desk, a comfy sofa and a few of my favourite things. It’s also quiet. I do not understand people who write in cafes, I think they might be an alien species.
It might not sound like much, but it is where I am most happy, and when I step into the shed each morning, it’s like disappearing inside another world.
If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try not to worry so much, everything is going to be OK.
What tips would you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot
Write a lot. (Ideally a book that you would want to read).
Never give up.
Which book do you always recommend to others?
On Writing by Stephen King. I’ve read it a few times, and there is an audiobook version now too. He narrates it himself, and it’s like listening to your favourite teacher giving you the best advice whenever you need to hear it.
How do you relax when you are not writing?
I read and drink too much wine.
Who is your favourite fictional hero/heroine?
Matilda, Wonder Woman and Hermione Granger.
What was the last book you read?
The Wych Elm by Tana French. It’s also my favourite book so far this year.
What book is totally overrated in your view?
I always think that if you don’t have anything kind to say, it’s best to say nothing at all.
Do you have any writing rituals – and can you tell us what they are?
I never tell anyone about a book until I have finished writing it, not even the title, I think it’s bad luck. I buy a bottle of champagne when I start a new novel, put it in the fridge, and don’t open it until my agent says he likes the book (which can be up to a year later). I wear lucky socks when writing, even in summer, and I always have a Kit Kat at 3pm.
What’s your guilty reading pleasure?
There is no such thing, all reading is good!