This bookshop keeps many secrets . . .
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
My Q&A with Stephanie Butland
Please tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.
I started writing a blog when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 – and remembered how much I loved to write. Two memoirs later, I turned to fiction, and here I am – LOST FOR WORDS is my third novel.
Describe yourself using three words?
Creative, grateful, interested
What inspired you to write your first novel?
‘Letters To My Husband’ began as a bit of an impulse-write – I’d completed my second memoir about my dance with cancer and was ready to start on something new. Then NaNoWriMo came up, so I started writing, with only the slightest of ideas, and I’ve never really looked back.
What time of day do you like to write?
Mornings are my favourite, for writing. When it comes to revisions and edits, I tend to be more head-down-and-get-on-with-it, so I’ll work fairly solidly through the day. It’s a dire emergency or deadline that sees me writing after 7pm, though!
What is your favourite book and why?
Oh, heavens! As they used to say in ‘The West Wing’, ‘I do not accept the premise of the question’! My desert island author would probably be Jane Austen, though. I can read her books over and over – have been, for thirty years – and never tire of them. They are exquisite.
How did you pick the title of your book?
With great difficulty! In fact, there’s a whole blog post about this on the blog tour – check out We Heart Writing tomorrow for the full and bloody story…..
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
No. I borrow bits from people I’ve met or known but the characters are definitely creations. Archie in LOST FOR WORDS, for example, took his name from my old English teacher, his looks from a man I saw on the tube, and his ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ approach to life from a former colleague.
What’s your favourite word?
Also – I like LUCULENT, which is the word for clearly expressed speech or writing. That’s on the noticeboard above my desk.
If you were a colour what would it be?
Something bluey-greeny. Sea and sky.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
A little of both. I start with an idea and a character, write a bit, think a bit, plan a bit…. when I get to the end I swear I will plan more next time. We’ll see.
Who is your favourite Author?
See above – Austen. Also – John Updike, who renders the everyday fascinating.
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
Jo March from Little Women – because she is so clever and interesting, and I think she deserves a night out with clever women who aren’t going to make her darn something while she talks.
Emma from Jane Austen – because she is bright and funny and she would enjoy some time with intellectual equals.
Lily Bart from The House Of Mirth – to give her a night off from the constant battling for survival she has to do in Society.
Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture The Castle – because she’s impressionable and sparky, and if Emma took her under her wing, she’d be unstoppable!
What book are you reading at the moment?
‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novak. I’m not far in but I love it! It reminds me of a favourite from a couple of years ago, ‘Bitter Greens’ by Kate Forsyth, which I adored – it’s the story of Rapunzel-like you’ve never read it before.
Where in the world is your happy place?
Beside the sea! Any sea will do, but the North Sea is my favourite – I live in Northumberland and I never, ever tire of the beaches and the water and the space.
If you had one superpower what would it be?
The ability to teleport. I travel a lot and, though airports and trains are always good for reading and knitting, I’d love some of my transit hours back…..
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
Count Fosco from ‘The Woman In White’. I can’t help feeling that there’s a good man in there somewhere. I’d set him up with a lovely little smallholding in some sunny Italian hills, and he could run a restaurant and maybe do a bit of amateur dramatics.
Are you working on a new project?
Yes – having completed another novel since LOST FOR WORDS I’m starting to think about the next. I can’t tell you much about it because I don’t really know much yet! It’s probably going to be something to do with photography.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
I’ll be launching LOST FOR WORDS in York, where it’s set, at Waterstones on 19th April, and appearing at Short Stories Aloud at Blackwells in Oxford on 25th April. and I’ll be at Waterstones in Newcastle on 2 May. More events are in the pipeline – if you keep an eye on my social media I’ll share details there.
Huge thanks to Stephanie Butland and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for the opportunity to be on your tour. Come back soon with the next book, please.
Buy your copy here