Today is my stop on The Things We Keep blog tour. A big thanks to Pan Macmillan for including me in the tour, and to Sally for answering my questions.
Title: The Things We Keep
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
1. Tell us a bit about The Things We Keep…
The Things We Keep is the product of my desire to tell a story about love defying all odds.
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only 38 years old, knows that her twin, Jack, has chosen Rosalind House because Luke, another young resident is there. As if, Anna muses, a little companionship will soften the unfairness of her fate.
Eve Bennett also comes to Rosalind House reluctantly. Once a pampered wealthy wife she is now cooking and cleaning to make ends meet.
Both women are facing futures they didn’t expect. And with only unreliable memories to guide them, they have no choice but to lean on and trust something more powerful. Something closer to the heart.
2. How long have you been writing?
Well, I learned to write when I was five … so about thirty years! And before I could write, according to my mother, I delivered made-up stories orally to anyone who would listen. But I started writing with a view to publication when on maternity leave with my son (who is now 6). Since then, I have written 5 novels—2 of which have been published, 2 which are contracted to be published.
3. What inspires you?
For me, the goal has always been to entertain. Whether I’m telling a story to friends about what happened to me at the supermarket that morning, or making up words to go in a novel—my goal is to keep people’s attention. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them think. That, to me, is what story telling is all about, and that is what inspires me to do what I do.
4. What did you find most useful in learning to write a novel?
Reading widely, both inside and outside my genre, and studying the craft of writing. Also keeping my ears open. There is a lot to be learned from those who have travelled this path before me.
5. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I knew when I decided to write about Alzheimer’s Disease that the topic had already been done (and done well) in books such as The Notebook and Still Alice, so I had to come up with a fresh take on the subject. What’s different about my book is that it is a love story between two people who BOTH have dementia. What’s more, it is more about humanity than dementia. It is about what people are actually capable of, when it seems they are capable of so little.
6. How do you find or make time to write?
I am lucky enough to have three dedicated days a week to write. This time is wonderful, but at crunch time—when deadlines loom or edits need to be done— I also sneak in writing time on the weekends, or after the kids are in bed.
7. What do you like to read in your free time?
I read a lot of women’s fiction. My favourite authors are Sue Monk Kidd, Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult. Lately I’ve also been partial to a psychological thriller. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica were all fantastic.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Arm yourself with the mechanics of writing (through short courses, or reading some of the many books out there). Some writers believe this can stifle the creative process, but I find it better to know the rules and consciously break them, than to not know the rules at all.