What can you tell our readers about your new novel Summer With My Sister?
Summer With My Sister is about two very different sisters, Polly and Clare. Polly is a high-flier in the city whereas Clare is a single mum in a ramshackle country cottage, and when the book begins, they are barely on speaking terms. But then Polly loses her job, home and dignity, and with nowhere left to turn, is forced to move in with Clare. Tensions simmer and sparks fly!
Why did you decide to write about the relationship between two sisters?
I have two sisters myself and think the relationship between sisters is a unique one. You are united by family history and genes, and can tell a sister things you might not say to a friend, knowing she will still be on your side. I get on really well with both my sisters but what happens when you don’t? The idea of clashing siblings really appealed to me – I could see the potential for a lot of drama.
One sister Polly has it all and then it is suddenly all gone, how important it is to you to remember your roots, even if they are less glamorous than your current lifestyle?
Very important – I think it’s crucial to be true to yourself, even if your roots might be less glamorous than you’d like them to be! The world Polly constructs for herself in London is an extremely shallow one with her life revolving around work and only very superficial friendships. And, as she quickly finds out, this kind of artificial world can fall down all too easily…
How did you go about making the contrast between the lives of the two sisters without being cliche?
I really enjoyed highlighting the differences between the two sisters so that they begin the story poles apart in every way, but I knew that if I resorted to clichés, the characters could easily become unrealistic. I also had to think about how each sister had ended up in such a different place, and make the reasons for this credible. Polly begins as quite an unpleasant character but we all know that nobody is completely horrible, so in order to make her more rounded, I had to give her some likeable qualities too, and hidden vulnerability. As for Clare, she is a much nicer character from the start, but I never wanted her to be bland, so I tried to make her witty and resilient to keep her interesting.
What are your top tips for budding writers who wish to write about family?
Every family has hidden depths – secrets which were hushed-up, betrayals, rivalry… there’s a wealth of drama for any writer to tap into. My tip would be to think up a detailed background for each of your characters – what has made them into the person they are today?
Have you any ideas for your next novel?
Yes! The new novel (out in 2013) has been written and is currently with my editor… It’s also about a family, funnily enough, but has a completely different set of characters and storylines. I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you now (but watch this space!)
What made you want to write women's fiction?
I’d written lots of children’s books before (under a different name) but then had two babies in quick succession, left my job at the BBC and moved out of London… and suddenly my whole life seemed to have changed. Much as I love writing about fairies, wizards and pirates, I had the strong desire to write something about the feelings I was experiencing as a woman, and began a creative writing evening class. The aim of the course was to write a novel in two years but I became so engrossed in my story (about an adulterous affair) that I wrote it in eight months. This became my first novel, Any Way You Want Me, which was published in 2007.
If you like Summer With My Sister, you can find Lucy Diamond's other novels, The Beach Cafe, Hens Reunited, Over You and Any Way You Want Me online now!
Female First Lucy Walton