The Perfect Affair is told from the points of view of three people: Rose, Eve and Myles, and chronicles Rose’s affair with Henry which began in 1959 and Eve’s and Myles’s affair in the present day. The book is about the exhilaration and devastation of falling in love with the wrong person and the different definitions of love and duty. It also investigates how what happened in the past influences what happens now and asks whether there can ever be such a thing as ‘the perfect affair’.
You are a prize winning poet, so do you have a preference between this and poetry?
No, I love fiction and poetry in equal measure. They are different disciplines, but there is quite a bit of crossover. For example, in both I relish telling stories. I also love creating settings and paying especial attention to word choice and structure. I believe that in both forms, my reader and I are in partnership and that drama and meaning should be layered. I particularly enjoy employing the rigours of poetry to my prose and vice versa. It’s like having the best of both worlds!
Until recently you were chairperson of the Reading Writers, so what did this entail?
Reading Writers is the longest-running writers’ group in Reading. Its website describes us as a small and varied group of people of all ages who are united in our love for words. We encompass performance poets and stand-up comedians as well as writers of autobiography, local history, romantic and historical fiction, crime fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, poetry and just plain fiction. Some of us have been published, some are still looking for a publisher, and some of us just write for the sheer joy of it.
It’s very much run collectively by its members, but I guess my main role as Chair was co-ordinate the development and delivery of our annual programme of events, manuscript nights and workshops.
The book has been compared to One Day, so how does this make you feel?
Totally flattered! I loved ‘One Day’ and think it’s awesome that ‘The Moment’ has been compared to it!
This is your second novel, so what can you tell us about your debut?
My debut novel was ‘The Moment’, published by Quercus last September. In it, Fern and Elliott bump into each other one day at Paddington Station after a separation of twenty-five years and, as they go about their day, they each begin to unpick the past and have to decide whether they should or should not arrange to meet again. It is a novel about the mighty and the tiny ‘what if’ moments that can change our lives forever.
You have been praised for having perfect form and pace, so how much has your background in poetry affected this?
I was really chuffed to have this said about my writing and do strive to bring what I’ve learned about the form, rhythm, musicality and conciseness of poetry to bear in my prose.
The book is said to be perfect for fans of Joanna Trollope and Hilary Boyd, so are you fans of their work?
Of course! Joanna Trollope and Hilary Boyd write about real people dealing with the real stuff that gets thrown at us and their stories are always well-paced and deftly written. The writers I particularly admire are those whose work I read and feel that I’m very much in safe story-telling hands!
What is next for you?
Oh, I’m having an amazing time right now. As well as looking forward to the publication of ‘The Perfect Affair’, I’ve just finished the draft of a third novel, am compiling the portfolio of poems I need to submit for my MA in Poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London and am also knee-deep in researching material for my dissertation on the twentieth-century American poet, Elizabeth Bishop. I also have another novel in mind so am starting to bend my mind towards that.