In conversation with... Kate Eberlen

Hi Kate! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Only You! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: It’s about two young people, Letty and Alf, who meet at language class in Rome. They speak English, they are learning Italian, but they discover that the way they communicate best is through dance. Letty was a ballet student, Alf was a junior ballroom champion. When they waltz in the Piazza Navona, the connection between them becomes electric. But why are they both in Rome? What have they left behind in England? When the unthinkable happens, Letty returns to London, Alf to Blackpool. Are the secrets they have kept from each other too disturbing for them to contemplate a future together?

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 always have a strong idea of where the book is heading, and what themes I want to explore. My preparation for writing involves thinking a lot about the characters, rather than working out a plot. I never know what’s going to happen when I sit down at my computer each day, only whose point of view I am writing from and where they are. So the plot is an organic process for me and how it is going to unfold becomes clearer as I write.  

Your novel opens in Rome. What made you choose Italy? How important is location for you?

A: I have loved Italy since I first went there as a ten-year-old child. I have written a blog about my life-long love of Italy and you can find it on my website www.kateeberlen.com.

Location is very important indeed. I lived in Rome to research the novel, but wrote it when I returned to the UK. I loved going back there in my imagination and I hope my readers will feel transported there too.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Letty and Alf?

A: I have some ideas, but I don’t want to jinx any possibilities by revealing them!

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: Letty is a very contained character, so I found it quite challenging to write her opening scenes. I wanted the reader to stay with her and yet she’s quite difficult to get to know at first.  

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

A: There are always things you change after the first draft.

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: In my next novel, provisionally entitled MISS YOU TOO, I catch up with Tess and Gus, the characters from MISS YOU.  

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I’ve just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney which has absolutely blown me away.  

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: Everyone knows that social media can become a little addictive, so I have to be strict about not having my phone in the room when I’m writing. However, the benefits of being able to communicate directly with readers far outweigh the disadvantages. It really is the best feeling to hear from people who are enjoying your writing!

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

A: Write what you want to write. Believe in your characters.

Thank you for your time!

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