Blog tour: On The Up by Alice O'Keeffe

Welcome to the blog tour for On The Up by Alice O’Keeffe, published on November 14th by Coronet and bound to be one of my favourite books this month!

Today I am extremely pleased to be able to share with you a Q&A with the author:

Hi Alice! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of On The Up! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: On The Up is about a young mum, Sylvia, who has not quite achieved the vision that she always had of family life. She and her husband Obe are living with their two children on a council estate, and she dreams of a terraced house on a leafy street. But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, Sylvia is forced to reconsider her priorities. The book is about family, relationships, and community, and figuring out what is worth fighting for.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I had a vague shape in my head, but it took 6 years of drafting and redrafting to find a way of creating that shape on the page.

What kind of research, if any, did you have to carry out while you were writing this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a means to an end?

A: The novel is based on my own experiences and my imaginative landscape. I love research, but I didn’t have to do any for this book. 

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the role of Sylvia?

A: Claire Foy would make a great Sylvia. I’ve loved her in everything I’ve seen her in.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: There is a party scene in the middle that I really loved writing. It felt like liberation after a long time stuck in a small flat feeding a baby (liberation for Sylvia, and for her author). 

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: About 90 per cent of what I originally wrote is no longer in the book. Until very late in the edits some of the main characters were completely different people. It’s a strange and mysterious process!

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: Yes I am. It’s a very different book. It’s set in the 1990s, in the anti-capitalist-activist scene.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian. I’ve been reading it for ages. It’s an epic journey around 1980s China: mystical, mysterious, spellbinding.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I don’t know yet! I really like hearing from readers, but I do keep limits around my social media time. I don’t have a smart phone, so when I’m working I can really concentrate.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Get to know yourself. Be your own best friend and biggest supporter. 

Thank you for your time!

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