1. My first novel, Away Weekend, is published at the end of March. It’s been a long time coming, a triumph of experience over hopelessness.  I have boxes of handwritten notebooks and faded typewritten sheets of paper stashed in cupboards and drawers; incomplete files lurk in my laptop.  I am full of ideas that have never stretched beyond a few pages. But finally, I cracked it.  It was like pushing treacle uphill for the first ten thousand words, then it flowed.  I had to finish it: I wanted to find out what happened.    I have an oven-ready second novel in the wings, and a third on the go.   Ain’t no stopping me now…

2. My very first literary attempt was made when I was 6 years old.  The story was called The Wufflie Pufflies, and it was about a family of Yorkshire Terriers who lived in the roots of a tree.  It was inspired by my own Yorkie, Teenie-Weenie, an irascible pup who had been given to me as a birthday present.  Thankfully, the manuscript is lost, but it does reveal my obsession with dogs. My novel features three canines, Bolly, an apricot miniature Poodle, and Otto and Gertie, two ancient Dachshunds.  All my adult life I have had sausage dogs.  I’m slightly miffed that the breed has become so ridiculously popular, but I was there first!

3. I spend time at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, an institution which celebrates two religions equally: football and Catholicism. Away Weekend is partly set in a mythical university, All Saints, in the Midwest of America. Any resemblance between these real and imaginary seats of learning is entirely coincidental.  Hmmm…

4. I’ve never much cared for organised games – either participating in them or watching them.  As a schoolgirl I came up with endless excuses when it was PE. Standing around on a windy hockey field in horribly short culottes never seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon. It’s an irony that I have set some of my novel’s action at an American Football game, especially as I am ashamed to confess I have never even been to one.  But I don’t subscribe to the view that one should only write about what one knows. That would be severely limiting.

5. I am known in my family for my faux pas.  My best happened years ago, when I was sitting next to a man at a dinner who explained he wrote under the name of John Le Carré.  I screeched with delight. “I’ve just finished reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and I adored it.” “That,” he said, “was by John Fowles.” And he turned and talked to the woman on his left for the rest of the evening.

6. There are so many novelists I wish I had met.  E.F. Benson for one – I love his Mapp and Lucia books – and Barbara Pym is another.  I re-read Excellent Women once a year, and it never fails to delight. There’s something very comforting at having a book to return to over and over again.

7. I’ve lived in different parts of the USA on and off for years.  I first went in 1976, on an exchange programme to a university in Boston. Everyone I met was hugely disappointed I didn’t personally know Queen Elizabeth.  But it was a wonderful six months, and I returned energised by my State-side encounters.  America has changed considerably since then, but it never fails to intrigue, surprise and sometimes enchant. My novel is a comedy of manners, a poke at the differences between the Americans and the English.  I wrote it to amuse myself, but I hope it might make any readers laugh, too.  A book should be an escape from the woes of the world. And have a happy ending.

Away Weekend 

Away Weekend by Lesley Fernández-Armesto is published by Quadrant Books on 21st March and available here


cover image of Away Weekend by Lesley Fernandez-Armesto

Geraldine and her apricot poodle are usually reluctant to leave her pretty little mews house in St John’s Wood. But what with her sister moving in with two pugs, and her daughter unexpectedly appearing on her doorstep – both the victims of dumping by their partners – Geraldine and her bijou home can barely take the strain. So it’s hard to resist the invitation from the handsome, enigmatic Ellis to accompany him for the weekend to his old university - All Saints, Indiana. Especially when the trip includes travel on his friend’s private plane.

Of course, she knows nothing about American football, or anything about his friends. She doesn’t even know that much about him. But who cares? With her bag perfectly packed, she’s jet-set ready for a wonderful few days. What can possibly go wrong?

Lesley Fernandez-Armesto
Lesley Fernandez-Armesto

About Lesley Fernadez-Armesto

Lesley Fernández-Armesto read War Studies at King’s College, London. She has written for The Times, ghosted an African president’s auto-biography, and adapted Shakespeare’s As You Like It for an opera. She is never seen without her dachshunds. Away Weekend is her first novel. 

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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