Stephanie Butland Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Stephanie Butland

Stephanie Butland

An interview with Stephanie Butland

Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost For Words Bookshop talks about how she became an author and offers tips for becoming a writer.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background, and when you decided that you wanted to lead a literary life?

I grew up in the northeast of England, where I now live, though I did spend twenty years in London, too. I always loved reading and writing, and studied it, but didn't start to write professionally until I was in my late thirties.

My home is close to the sea, and I find walking on the beach restful and inspiring. It's where I always go when I need some thinking time!

Is there a book that most influenced your life? Or inspired you to become a writer?

I think the simple act of reading—which has been, for as long as I can remember, the thing I love to do best—is the most influential thing in my life. I literally cannot imagine my life without reading. On the odd occasion when I've accidentally left the house without a book, I have to go back. I even get panicky when I've almost finished one book and am not sure what I'm going to read next!

How did you become a writer? Would you care to share any writing tips?

I always wanted to be a writer, but it wasn't until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 at the age of thirty-seven that I found my way to blogging. I wrote two memoirs about my dance with cancer, then turned to fiction.

Writing tips? Don't try to write well. Just write. Write every day, whether you have an idea or not, whether you feel like it or not. Sooner or later something will emerge that you want to invest in. Keep at it.

And when you're not writing—read! Read everything—classics, bestsellers, literature in translation, things you think you'll hate, and old favorites. Reading tells you what excites you as a writer.

What was the inspiration for The Lost For Words Bookshop?

There's a wonderful secondhand bookshop near where I live, and I found an old postcard of California seashells in a book I bought there. It's in a frame above my desk now. Every time I look at it, I think about how much it brought with it, and I wonder, all over again, about the person who left it there.

Can you tell us about what research, if any, you did before writing this novel?

I talked to people who had experienced some of the things I was writing about, either as professionals or through their family lives. I drew on my experience as a bookseller. And I learned to be a performance poet! And the sheer terrifying thrill of competing in poetry slams or taking the stage became addictive—I still do it whenever I can. I think it's important to get the technical details of a novel right, so I spoke to bookshop owners, foster parents, and people who live in York, and had a long weekend in Whitby, visiting Loveday's haunts.

Are you currently working on another book? And if so, can you tell us what it's about?

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is about a young woman who has received the heart transplant she needs to save her life—and now has to find out how to navigate the normal life she has always wished for. It's set in Edinburgh and has blogging, tango dancing, and a production of Romeo and Juliet. It was a lot of fun to research!

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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