Francesca Hornak Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Francesca Hornak

Francesca Hornak

An interview with Francesca Hornak

In a brief Q&A, Francesca Hornak discusses her first novel, Seven Days of Us in which a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays.

What is your favorite holiday movie?
It's A Wonderful Life.

Coffee or tea?
If I could only keep one for life it would be tea, because I'm British. But coffee is my writing drink, so I'd need a new job. 

Hardcover or paperback?
Paperback. Hardbacks are annoying in the bath and on the Tube – two prime reading opportunities.

Early bird or night owl?
Both. It's the afternoon that I'd like to fast forward.

Which of your characters would you most want to spend 7 quarantined days with?
I think they'd all be quite grating. Probably Jesse, because he's the least neurotic.

What's the most difficult thing about writing from multiple characters' perspectives?
Keeping their various backstories clear. I discovered that four members of an immediate family can have a lot of private stuff going on.

How has publishing your first fiction book changed your writing?
I'm becoming less inhibited about description. As a journalist you train yourself to be succinct, which is a hard habit to break.

What was your hardest scene to write?
Olivia's collapse – I find high drama harder to convey than simmering tension. Plus there were loads of medical details to get wrong.

How did you choose the names for your characters?
I'm quite pragmatic about this: I look up the most popular baby names for the year the character was born, then pick one that suits their social background. Then I check that it doesn't sound similar to any of the other characters' names. I wouldn't have called Olivia 'Sophie' for example, even though it would have fitted, because Sophie and Phoebe sound (and look) too similar. I never want to inflict that 'Who the hell is Richard?' feeling on the reader.

In Seven Days of Us you hint at the cultural differences between Britons and Americans. What difference stands out most to you?
Jesse's emotional fluency vs British embarrassment around feelings. Although I'm aware this is very stereotyped!

What is your favorite part of your story (without giving away any major spoilers)?
The sisters' row on Boxing Day. It was fun to have Phoebe say the things I wanted Olivia to hear.

What authors inspire you as a writer?
Jennifer Egan, Candace Bushnell, Charlotte Mendelson, Lori Moore, Joshua Ferris

What's next for you? Are you planning another novel?
Yes. I'm writing another multi-perspective novel set around a members-only garden in London.

This interview first ran on and is reproduced with permission.

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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