We asked Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days, six questions about being a writer and her favourite books!
1) What was your inspiration for writing this book?
"The inspiration came from a real-life event of a teenager, Robin Van Helsum who appeared in Berlin in 2011 saying that he’d been living in the forest with his father for the previous five years. After his father had supposedly died in an accident, Robin had walked to civilisation. He was believed by the German authorities for eight months until it was discovered that he had made it all up. But the story of two people surviving undiscovered in the forest for years sparked an idea and I took it from there."
2) What were the main challenges that you faced when writing this book?
"The biggest challenge was making the time for writing. I had a full-time job and teenage children at home, so I would write whenever I could – as little as ten minutes at a time if I had to. And then I had to convince myself to keep going when I didn’t know what was going to happen next in the story. With first novels you do have to find some inner confidence to keep writing when you have no idea whether your book will ever be published."
3) As a child or teenager, did you want to be a writer and if so, is it as you expected?
"No, I didn’t. I thought that writers were different from ordinary people like me, and that books came out of their heads fully formed, so it never occurred to me to write, although I had enjoyed it in school. I wanted to be a sculptor and that’s the route I took at first, and then got side-tracked in my twenties by marketing."
4) Who are the writers that have influenced you?
"Oh lots, although often it’s particular books rather than all of a writer’s novels. But thinking about writers I would say, David Vann, who writes very dark books, often set in the Alaskan landscape (my favourite is his debut Legend of a Suicide); also Annie Proulx who wrote The Shipping News; Wallace Stegner, who wrote beautifully about landscape, particularly in his novel Angle of Repose."
5) What's in your reading pile currently?
"I’m currently reading The Mountain can Wait by Sarah Leipciger. It’s a debut novel set in the wilds of Canada, and I love all the description about landscape. I’ll soon be reading Casting Off, the fourth book in the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard, and I’ve just ordered Wilful Disregard about an unrequited love affair, written by Swedish author Lena Andersson."
6) What is your all time favourite book?
"Currently (and has been for a year or two) it’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I re-read this often and always find more in it. It’s a quirky story about two sisters who live in a house with their old uncle, after the rest of their family have been poisoned."
7) How did it feel to be shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015 and which other nominated books did you enjoy reading?
"It was absolutely amazing to be shortlisted – I wasn’t expecting it at all; there were so many great books on the longlist. And then for Our Endless Numbered Days to win was incredible. I have to admit that I still haven’t read all the longlisted books, but I’m making my way through them. The ones I’ve enjoyed the most so far are A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray, and The A to Z of You and Me, by James Hannah."
Our Endless Numbered Days is available in hardback for £14.99. If you'd like to order a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days or of any of the books mentioned by Claire Fuller, click HERE.