The sparkling debut from Outlander and Victoria actor Nell Hudson, Just For Today is released on the 9th June 2022- so we caught up with her to find out what the novel has in store for readers and how she found harmony between her writing and acting career. 

Nell Hudson (Matt Crossick / Alamy Stock Photo), Just For Today

Nell Hudson (Matt Crossick / Alamy Stock Photo), Just For Today

Please tell us about your new book Just For Today.

The book is a bittersweet, coming-of-age story about love, friendship and loss. It is told by Joni, a nanny-would-be-writer in her early twenties, who is living in London: consequence-free and hedonistic. Over the year of her life that the book takes place, events (both internal and external) force her to reckon with what she really wants to do, and who she really is.

Can you share a little bit about the inspiration behind the book?

It came from all the books I love to read. My idea of utter bliss is being so lost in a novel that you can’t wait to get back to it, wherever you are. Stories and characters that suck you in and make you thirsty to turn each page. I wanted to create a sumptuous, immersive world for the reader. Think the gang of friends from The Secret History, mixed with the romance and innocence of I Capture The Castle - but, I suppose, set in contemporary London with some humour mixed in.

You are an actress first and foremost, so when did your desire to write a book begin and at what point did you decide to start putting pen to paper?

I actually thought I would be a writer before acting occurred to me. My mother is a writer, as was her father before her, so it seemed like a natural calling for me. No one in my family/circle of friends growing up was in, or adjacent to, the acting industry - I had no idea acting was something you could actually do for a living! So, I’ve always written; whether it was short stories, poetry, songs, scripts…

This book began on my train journeys back and forth to Yorkshire whilst I was filming ‘Victoria’ for ITV. It started as scribbles in notebook and went from there.

It can't have been easy writing a book while working so how did you schedule your time to fit it all in?

There were long gaps between filming, so I filled them with writing. I’m very lucky, really. Though I had to delay writing for acting work sometimes, the two tend to complement each other fairly well most of the time!

Does acting inspire your writing in any way?

I definitely see scenes that I write alive in my head as if I were watching them, which probably comes from acting. Sometimes, I even say dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds natural for that character. Plus, my next book is set on a film set, so…lots of acting stories will be involved.

Please tell us about the women in your life and how they have shaped you as a person.

As mentioned, my amazing mum is a writer and has had a huge influence on the way I think – both creatively and philosophically. Both she and my older sister – Violet, who is training to be a psychotherapist - have shaped me a lot. Whether through writing, acting in my case, or psychology in my sister’s case, the women in my family are obsessed with figuring out what makes people tick. I definitely think growing up around broad, free conversation has been a huge influence on how I write, as well as shaping my ideals of feminism.

Which women have you most enjoyed working with both in your acting and writing career?

So many! My first big job out of drama school was Outlander, and Caitriona Balfe was, and has always been, so supportive of younger actors. The actress Eve Jenkins, who played Mrs. Jenkins in ‘Victoria’, was so inspiring to me. She perfectly treads the line between being fun and kind to be around, as well as fantastically talented and professional. She taught me a lot. As did Jenna (Coleman), who played Victoria, who was so focussed and diligent. I’ll also never forget a brief but impactful episode I did of Call The Midwife, working with Linda Bassett. In every single take, she delivered an Oscar-worthy performance, no matter how prosaic the scene.

Writing-wise, I’ve worked with an incredible duo of women, which is very meaningful to me: my wonderful agent, Marina, held my hand every step of the way – what with me being a newbie and all! – and Amy Perkins, my editor for Just For Today, is brilliant and hilarious.

What advice do you have for other women who are both actors and aspiring writers?

It’s not very bumper-sticker friendly, but work hard and keep going! Both acting and writing, whilst creative endeavours, are ultimately long, arduous work. With the unstable nature of a career in acting, it’s definitely useful to have something else to fulfil you creatively. If you’re lucky enough to have the ability to write - fantastic.

This is your debut novel, so can you tell us a little bit about your second?

Yes, excitingly, my second novel is almost finished. It’s been a lot of fun to write. I’ve included a few of my own experiences from working as an actress over the last ten years – stories that were too good not to share!

What is next for you?

My hope is to co-write a T.V adaptation of Just For Today. I think it would make a great series, if I do say so myself. In the meantime, I’m finishing off the second novel, and keeping up with acting work. The next thing you’ll see me in is The Queen Mary – a beautifully shot horror movie in which I play a fortune teller from the 1930’s.

About Just For Today 

The party has to end sometime.

It all starts on New Year’s Eve. A night that has to be a success, whatever the cost. For Joni and her friends, it’ll be a party that promises all the high stakes and glamour of any other, but by sunrise they’ll be dealing with something darker than the usual post-party comedown.

Not that they let this stand in their way. For this is their year to revel in all that the playground of London has to offer: sneaking into places they shouldn’t, breaking every rule, falling in love with the wrong people. All the while avoiding one undeniable truth: it’s not if the party ends, it’s how.

A bittersweet evocation of the end of innocence, and an exhilarating celebration of having nothing to lose - until suddenly, you do.

JUST FOR TODAY pulls you into a world of giddy hedonism, intoxicating love stories and fierce friendships, sharing the magic of living in a glittering, pulsing city for the first time. For readers of Dolly Alderton, Anna Hope and Naoise Dolan.

About Nell Hudson 

Nell Hudson is a professional actor, graduating from the Oxford School of Drama in 2012. She is best known for her recurring roles as Laoghaire in the international TV series Outlander and Nancy Skerrett in the ITV period drama VictoriaJust For Today is her first novel.

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