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Rosy Thornton Interview

Posted on 17 April 2007. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Rosy Thornton

Tell us something about your background.

My first novel, More Than Love Letters, was published by Headline Review in November 2006. The paperback will be in the shops (well, maybe some shops, with a bit of luck…) towards the end of next month. I am already getting quite shamelessly and embarrassingly excited about this, because the hardback was not on general release but mainly for the publishers to send out free to their customers and as review copies, as well as internet sales and sales to libraries. The first time I see my book on an actual bookshelf in Waterstone’s is going to be… well, unimaginable.

My second one, Hearts and Minds, is currently with the copy editor and is due out in hardback this November followed by paperback in the spring of 2008. Number three is ‘in development’, you might say (with grateful thanks to my new mates in the WW Women’s Fiction group for their input and encouragement): the characters and rough outline are there and I am about 20,000 words into a first draft.

What do you do besides writing?

For my day job I am a legal academic. Mainly, like any full-time job, it does slightly tend to get in the way of sitting and writing fiction all day. But I suppose twenty years of writing for publication may have had some benefits. I did know what a paragraph was, and had had to come to terms with working on a sustained writing project, alone, and getting the thing finished. I had even published a book (as well as the usual run of casenotes, journal articles, shorter monographs, etc.). Hence I have the weirdest profile of any author I know on Amazon. There’s More Than Love Letters, with its baby blue cover complete with hearts and butterflies, and there’s - I kid you not - Property Disrepair and Dilapidation: A Guide to the Law! (Not so much with the pink hearts, that one.)

Writing fiction came as an utter joy after academic legal writing. For a start, there are no footnotes, and you don’t have to cite three cases for every proposition you state. In fact, with fiction you are not only allowed but, I gather, positively encouraged to make stuff up. (They don’t look on that with so much favour in the law faculty.)

As a supervisor to PhD students, I suppose I have also had experience of editing and critiquing others’ work. Not that it seems to help: I am the world’s worst self-editor, because although I can spot flaws in other people’s writing, my own just stares blankly back up at me from the page, telling me nothing.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

None yet from real people. Only the hardback is out so far, and that’s not on general release. But it means a lot when family and friends enjoy your work. Can’t say that what they have said has influenced how I write. But the fact I know my mum (and my Aunty Sybil) will read anything I publish does stop me from writing lots of sex. There is one joke about anal sex in More Than Love Letters but luckily my mum won’t have understood it. (Good thing that Gaskellian bodice-ripper never saw the light of day, really!)

What was your breakthrough moment?

Getting my contract with Headline. Until they offered, even though I had an agent (even two, for a while!) I never believed it would actually happen.

How did you start writing?

Dunno really. I get a lot of ideas from around me, I guess, not only for settings (Hearts and Minds is all about a Cambridge college) but also about human quirks and funny situations, etc. I had a year of adoption leave from work in 2003/04 when we adopted our two daughters; they were then aged 4 and 7, and with all that free time I went and helped at their school quite a bit. Primary school crazinesses feature large in More Than Love Letters and it’s no coincidence that the two characters who are primary teachers teach Reception and Year 3 respectively.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I am a terrible example, here, because they always say you should write what you like to read and I don’t. I rather shocked my editor when she discovered I had never read any of the people she regards as ‘the competition’ (with the extremely honourable exception, oddly enough of Lammi/Kate!)

I read some literary fiction, some crime, some humour, bit of this, bit of that, but almost no chick lit. My favourite authors (apart from Gaskell and Jane Austen and George Eliot) are Barbara Trapido, Kate Atkinson, Michael Frayn, Jonathan Coe, Donna Leon….. I like funny, I like warm, and I like writing that is clever and sings.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

Steerpike`s sister at 11:01 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Thanks for the entertaining interview Rosy! Made me laugh out loud in places (the right places! :)).

nessiec at 12:23 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
You're a great example of somebody who has got the balance between home life and writing exactly right, I reckon. Plus your attitude is self-effacing, witty and positive, but also realistic. I think Headline are lucky to have you.

JoPo at 12:27 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
I like the idea of writing in an inglenook fireplace. Wish I had one to spare!

Best of luck with the paperback.


Tori Lloyd at 12:41 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Really enjoyed reading the interview Rosie, it also gave me hope to 'keep on at it'.
Best of luck to you.


MF at 12:54 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview! Thanks, Rosy :)

charlottetheduck at 13:11 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Yes, thanks for this Rosy, really interesting! Good luck with the book!

Charlotte :)

Account Closed at 13:21 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview, Rosy. I'm halfway through MTTL, and, have to say, am loving it!


EmmaD at 13:28 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview, and very good luck with the pb, and the new one. You're certainly in good hands with Headline Review, that I do know. ;)


Lammi at 13:33 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
This was an interesting read. I have a 6 and a 9 year old, so have to do a fair bit of time-juggling myself.

And I'm pleased to report my copy of MTLL came a few days ago. Only just started it, but I can see you have a warm and engaging voice!


Account Closed at 13:37 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Very inspiring, Rosy, great interview.

Casey x

snowbell at 13:41 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Ah Rosy! You are such a good interviewee. You are just so entertaining and - as someone else say - self-effacing and relatable to. I'm off to order your book.

RT104 at 13:51 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Thanks v. much, everyone. This is all so weird, this being-published thing. Weirdest two weeks of my life, since the pb came out. But fantastic!

And JoPo, the inglenook isn't excatly 'spare'. (It's full of me.) We just have a rook problem.

Rosy x

CarolineSG at 14:18 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
What a lovely warm and funny interview, Rosy. I think you've just got yourself yet another reader too.
Very best of luck with all the irons in the fire.

rogernmorris at 15:12 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview Rosy. My God, I'm in awe of your time-management skills!

Sharon24 at 15:30 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Rosy, what a great interview, very inspiring. Well done to you. Just as soon as I've cleared the backlog of books on my bedside cabinet I shall be on your reader's list!


Shika at 19:39 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
You inspire me. I am a single mum of a 6 year old working full time in a very demanding job. It's great to hear that someone in a similar position can achieve the dream that I am striving for. Best wishes. S

Luisa at 22:04 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview, Rosy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that. Thank you!


strangefish at 22:10 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Very encouraging interview Rosy. I've have about half a wall of rejections now. best of luck with the pb.


Myrtle at 23:13 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Excellent interview - so funny, real and inspiring. I love your line about productivity/hit rate - that rang a bell with me. Wishing you a great future,


optimist at 08:37 on 18 April 2007  Report this post
Did enjoy the interview!

Look forward to reading.


RT104 at 09:08 on 18 April 2007  Report this post
Thanks very much, again, everyone. Your encouragement and good wishes are most appreciated!

Rosy x

Nik Perring at 12:12 on 18 April 2007  Report this post
Thanks for sharing, Rosy. I enjoyed it too!


SmithBrowne at 14:57 on 20 April 2007  Report this post
I really enjoyed this too, Rosy. Funny and an inspiration... the "Mum/Not now I'm writing" bit I can so relate to!

- Smith

Account Closed at 22:27 on 24 April 2007  Report this post
Great interview, Rosy, very enjoyable. Thanks!


di2 at 19:11 on 04 November 2007  Report this post
Hi Rosy, I've just popped over to this page to read your interview after meeting you in the non-fiction group. I enjoyed it and felt I could hear your voice, light and warm.

Have you seen your book on the shelves yet? I hope so.

Best wishes for your work,

lindy lou at 09:20 on 08 November 2007  Report this post
Glad I looked at your profile, your interview was quite refreshing and your funniness comes through! I look forward to reading the book.
lindy lou!

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