I am so excited to be a part of the book review tour for Amy Griffin’s debut novel, Before You Say Yes (released 10th June 2014, click here to get hold of your copy) organised by the fabulous Leah from Girls Love To Read. As part of my stop of the tour I will be reviewing Before You Say Yes later on today AND I also got to grill the lovely Amy about what she enjoys the most about writing romantic comedies, her next novel One Particular Thursday, and why she’d like to become a professional ice skater…
Hi Amy, a huge, warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Thanks so much for having me, it is lovely to be here. I am a 35 year old girl from the UK currently living in sunny Melbourne. I had a 10 year career wearing my suit, doing the office thing but I always knew it wasn’t who I really was. A year and half ago I took a couple of months off and, during that time, I started to write. Then I took a deep breath, hung my suit back in the wardrobe and kept writing . . . and here I am today talking to you :0)
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, Before You Say Yes (released 10th June 2014)?
Before You Say Yes is romantic comedy about three friends navigating three very different stages of love. Marriage, divorce and that awful phase that we have all been through – then one when you are trying to decide if you should stay or go. Here is the back cover snap shot for you:
Ellie always knew that the sex with Adam would die down one day. Sometime in their seventies, she thought, with the memory of their steamy years to look back on. Not sometime in their thirties with only one year that could reliably fit in the steamy category. And Ellie can’t help but feel that she is the only one who is worried. . .
Her best friend is getting divorced – if her husband ever stops sending the papers back unsigned – her sister is planning a wedding and Ellie is coming to terms with her biggest decision yet. Because when it comes to the big decisions in life, you want to be really sure before you say yes.
What made to you decide to write a story about a sexless relationship? Do you feel it’s a topic that’s not really discussed in most other novels in this genre?
I wanted to write about the tough choices we have to make when it comes to love. Before You Say Yes is about a sexless relationship but is also about whether you should accept second best and settle for a relationship that doesn’t give you everything you need. That is a question we have all asked ourselves at some point.
People don’t talk about men not wanting sex and so women can feel like no-one else is going through it, which makes it so much worse. I wanted to write about something people don’t talk about much, but that is very real for the woman who finds herself in the middle of it.
What do you enjoy most about writing romantic comedies?
I think humour makes the crazy stuff that life throws at us more bearable. Laughing with friends, or laughing at how crazy life can be, helps deal with difficult things. In Before You Say yes, I love Ellie’s relationship with her best friend, Jen. Even though they both find themselves dealing with painful and hurtful things they keep their sense of humour intact. When things are dark in life, that’s what gets us through.
And the romance part? I am huge believer in love. It might not always work out the way we hope or expect but it shapes who we are, and it helps us figure out what we want. Or more importantly, what we don’t want. Being brave enough to hold for what you really want is one of my favourite stories. It deserves a happy ending. Or a happy new beginning.
Is Ellie, the lead character in Before You Say Yes, based on anyone in real life?
Ellie and her life and relationship are fictional but the inspiration for writing about being a woman in love with a man who doesn’t want her sexually is based on personal experience. It was a long time ago but it was a very lonely and confusing time, particularly as I knew that he really loved me but just didn’t want me. That is hard thing to deal with and sex is an important part of every relationship. It keeps you close and connected to each other, it is about trust and emotional warmth. Every relationship should have those things, I think.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I had a two-part plan for publishing from the beginning. I wanted to go through the traditional route of literary agents and publishing houses but I was very aware that it takes a very long time, around two years from submission to your book being released. I had great feedback and interest from the traditional publishing route but the waiting periods were very long and I felt that I wanted to be in control of the timescales in my writing career. So I took a deep breath, moved into independent publishing and haven’t looked back. It was a big decision but I think that if you have the freedom to bring your future to you sooner rather than later, then that can only be a good thing.
It’s so exciting. The most exciting moment was my first review from someone I didn’t know! It sounds crazy because the aim of writing is to have people your read your book but there is nothing better than realising that people actually are! It’s so bonkers, but just brilliant too. I had an email from someone who told me that she was experiencing that same thing that Ellie goes through in her relationship and that was a huge moment, knowing that the nights banging my head on the keyboard had turned into a book that was there for someone exactly at the moment they needed it. That was really something.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a writer?
I think a quiet tiny part of me always knew that I would write one day and now I have taken that step I can’t imagine doing anything else. When I am writing, I feel like it is what I am supposed to be doing although I still manage to paint my toenails and water the plants and do everything else I can think of before actually sitting down to write.
Although, if all my fingers got eaten by a lion I would buy myself a lovely pair of sequined gloves and become a professional ice skater. All those spangly dresses and triple toe loops. Love it.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I have just finished re-reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris, which I love and before that I stayed up into the small hours for three nights running reading the Hunger Games Trilogy. I couldn’t put it down. Favourite authors are Maggie O’Farrell, Melissa Banks, Kate Kerrigan. I like books where the main focus is the people rather than the story. Books about relationships, friendships, how we get hurt or let down, how we move on and love again and come out on top.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
My upcoming novel, One Particular Thursday, is about three friends in their thirties in London. It follows what happens when, one particular Thursday, they challenge each other to give up their bad habits for a month.
Lauren has been clinging to her bad habit for years, but maybe she doesn’t need it anymore. Ana is in need of a serious distraction to keep her bad habit under control and Cassie thinks she can quit any time she wants, but when faced with giving it up, her bad habit is something much stronger and darker than any of them knew.
Can Lauren let herself be happy in love. Can Ana let go of her terrible ex. Can Cassie give up the habit that threatens everything she loves. And can their friendship remain intact along the way?
Tune in next June to find out what happens, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy Before You Say Yes. Thanks for having me, I’ve loved being an interviewee. Amy x
Thank you so much for participating in the interview, Amy, it’s greatly appreciated!
Don’t forget to check out the other fantastic blogs reviewing Before You Say Yes…