Freya Sampson Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Freya Sampson

Freya Sampson

An interview with Freya Sampson

A letter from Freya Sampson about her debut novel, The Last Chance Library, a story about unlikely friendships and what a community can achieve when it comes together to fight to save their library from closure.

Dear Reader,

I've always loved libraries. As a young child, I would go to my local library every week to borrow books, and as a student I spent many late nights squirreled away in the university library trying to hit an essay deadline. But it wasn't until my early thirties, and the birth of my first child, that I began to appreciate just how important libraries really are.

Despite living in a bustling city, I found the early months of motherhood isolating. I didn't know many other people in the area with babies, and I was too nervous to go to cafes in case my colicky baby started to cry, disturbing paying customers. When I finally plucked up the courage to leave the house with my daughter on our own, the first place I went to was my local library. There was a children's nursery rhyme session on, and as I sat surrounded by parents and carers from all walks of life, small children running around the place, I felt welcome and unjudged.

The more time I spent in the library, the more I began to recognize the same faces that visited regularly. One particular older gentleman came in to read the newspaper. He would often try and start conversations with other people, but most avoided eye contact and ignored him. One day, I watched as a library worker stopped by his table for a chat. I didn't hear what they talked about and the conversation couldn't have lasted more than two minutes. But when she walked away, I saw the man smile, and I realized that that brief moment of kindness from the librarian was possibly the only conversation he would have all day. That was when the idea for The Last Chance Library was born: a story about the unlikely friendships that can be made and found, and what a community can achieve when it comes together to fight to save their library from closure.

The characters in my novel visit Chalcot Library for many different reasons. For eccentric Mrs. Bransworth it's to escape into books and stories (even though she complains about all of them). For elderly Stanley Phelps it's to use the computers to access email, and for teenager Chantal it's a quiet space to do her homework. But for all the characters, the library is also a place where they can feel safe and find human connection. I hope that all of us – whatever our reasons for visiting – appreciate what a vital role libraries play in our communities: a refuge for some, a lifeline to the world for others, and a place of books and companionship for all of us. Thank you for picking up The Last Chance Library. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Freya

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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Books by Freya Sampson at BookBrowse
The Last Chance Library jacket
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