What can you tell us about your new book A Year of Marvellous Ways?

It is about a burgeoning friendship - a love story, in fact - between an old woman and a young man returning from the Second World War. It is about the healing power of storytelling.

Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman

The book has been compared to Snow Child and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, so how does that make you feel?

I haven't read these two books yet but I certainly know how popular they are, so to be compared to books that are well-loved is a wonderful thing.

Why is it important to focus on the everyday and not always look to the future?

Because the everyday - the Now - is all we have.

Why is storytelling so healing?

Because it makes us feel a little less lonely. The stories of those who have gone before us are like markers along the way of life: Showing us how to be better people, kinder people. How to lead good lives. How to forgive ourselves and others.

Please tell us about your inspiration for the story.

A literary inspiration for the story was six lines from T.S Eliot's The Four Quartets, starting with: 'I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope…' This is a very beautiful sentiment and set the tone in my mind. I knew I wanted to write about an old woman who could heal with stories - using the tradition of oral storytelling and its place within community.

Other writers say the second book is the hardest- so how did you find the process?

It was hard because the innocence has gone and you know what's at stake. You are aware, for the first time, of the expectation of others. However, I gave myself the best shot at it by not signing up to a deadline.

Many reviews say this book is poetic, did you intend it to be or is this your natural writing style?

No, I totally intended it to be that way, and it is not a change of writing style. Every book I write is different and I will use what is necessary to tell that story. This was about entering into a magical, poetic world that Old Marvellous has created. It is a world to challenge the mundane and the pain of life. It needed its own language.

Have you ever had an unlikely friendship?

Such friendships never seem unlikely to me but I guess, maybe, they are to others. I love difference and opposites. And I do have a friendship with a 96 year old woman.

What is next for you?

I am going back to the book I wrote before Rabbit, writing the story as I would write it today.