6 Questions with Maggie O'Farrell

We asked Maggie O'Farrell, Costa Award winning author of This Must Be The Place, six questions about being a writer and her favourite books!

Maggie's new novel The Must Be The Place will be published on 17 May by Tinder Press. Also, we have selected it as our Random Reading Group choice for June!

1. What was your inspiration for writing this book?
So the inspiration for writing this book was lots of different things. I had always thought and planned for a while to write about a recluse. Then the idea of Daniel arrived because I was listening to the radio and I heard someone being interviewed and at the end of the interview they said the woman died shortly afterwards. I was driving to school and I started imagining what it would be like if you’d known that woman a long time ago when she’d recorded that interview and if you hadn’t known she’d died. So the two stories sort of collided in my head, the recluse story and also this person who discovers this about somebody in their past. 

2. What were the main challenges that you faced when writing this book?
The structure was quite complicated and the plot goes all over the world and back and forth in time, so keeping those strands together I think was the biggest challenge, but it was one that I really relished.

3. As a child or teenager, did you want to be a writer and if so, is it as you expected?
Yes, I did want to be a writer as a child and a teenager. I think it’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do passionately. I remember even at a really young age of five or six having the urge to write and I always spent all my pocket money on stationary and I still do. I don’t even think as a child I thought of writers as alive people, I think I just thought of them as dead people who used to write books. I’ve no idea if it’s as expected, but I love it. 

4. Who are the writers that have influenced you?
That’s a really, really long list. I think the Brontës have influenced me and as a child I loved the Moomin books by Tove Jansson, The Secret Garden and also Albert Camus who I read a lot as a teenager. Lately I read, I don’t know, I’m kind of omnivorous, I read whatever I can lay my hands on; I think that’s a very important thing. You should read as much as you can if you want to write, and these days I love Ann Patchett, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munroe, Jonathan Franzen. A huge, huge array of lots of different things. 

5. What's on your reading pile currently?
I have a book which I just started by Vivienne Godnick called Fierce Attachments. It’s a memoir about a woman and her mother and the only way they can find they can get on is to take long walks in Manhattan. Each chapter is a walk they take and they talk about the 1940s apartment block they grew up in. It’s absolutely brilliant. 

6. What is your all time favourite book?
Really hard to answer, I’ve got so many. I would say Jane Eyre is something that I re-read over and over again but I also love a book called Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. 

This Must Be The Place
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