Nicola Gill is the author of The Neighbours. Her latest novel, We Are Family was published by Avon on 3 September 2020.
Nicola kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about We Are Family.
Laura and Jess may be sisters but that’s just about all they have in common. Laura has a laid-back take on life and, after a tough day, likes to take to her bed with a block of cheese. Jess, meanwhile, is the classic overachiever; the Big Sister and Chief of Chivvying. The sisters see little of each other. But then their mum dies and Laura and Jess are thrown together. At first they argue about everything, from where to scatter the ashes to whether “passed away” is an acceptable term. But gradually they decide that the only way through this is as a team – and that anyway it’s more fun to drink wine as a pair.
2. What inspired the book?
I have always been fascinated by the sibling relationship. Your brothers and sisters are often in your life longer than any other person. There’s a unique bond, but there can also be rivalry. Grief is also a theme in the book. It’s something we all have to deal with and it’s messy and complicated. The mother in We Are Family is what one would politely describe as a character, and her shadow looms large.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I fall somewhere between the two extremes. I plan a little bit but am always itching to get writing! And the only way I can really get to know my characters is by starting to write them.
4. Having been through the publishing process before is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
At the risk of stating the obvious, it still surprises me I can start off with a blank page and end up with a book! I have also been surprised by just how many people are involved in getting a book to publication.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
When I’m not writing, I can usually be found reading or rustling up vast vats of food for friends and family. I am partial to a box set binge too, and recent favourites have been Succession and Little Fires Everywhere (a great adaptation of a great book).
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Gah, please don’t make me answer that! I guess it would definitely have to be something long and complex so maybe Tolstoy? I have so many favourite books though.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Ooh, good question! Maybe if I find it hard to put characters I like in tough situations? The answer to which is yes!
About the Book
You can’t choose your family…
Jess and Laura might be sisters, but they’re very different people. Laura is laid-back, eats cheese in bed, and takes life as it comes. Jess, meanwhile, is the classic overachiever: Chief of Chivvying, Queen of all WhatsApp groups. They’re family, but they’re not exactly friends.
…but you can let them in.
When their mum dies, the sisters struggle to agree on anything, from where to scatter the ashes to whether “passed away” is an acceptable term. But as life forces them together, Laura and Jess realise: the only way through this is as a team. After all, they’re stuck with each other – and drinking wine is more fun as a pair…