A Quickie with Sophie Duffy

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

‘The Generation Game’ is my latest book but was also my debut novel back in 2011. I’m thrilled that it is being re-launched with a fab new cover. If you’re a Gen X-er and survived the 70s as a child and the 80s as a teenager, you should relate to this book. If you’re older, you’ll still remember those days. If you’re younger, this is a slice of social history and an important lesson in the joys of Saturday night telly. From national events such as the Silver Jubliee, the royal wedding, power cuts and Maggie Thatcher to Spangles, Twinkle and, of course, Brucie – it’s all covered in this book.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

‘Don’t do it today if you can put it off till tomorrow: the memoirs of a procrastinator.’

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

Apart from those weird Facebook friend requests from American soldiers, my readers have been lovely and normal.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

David Nicholls because I feel like we have the same world view and write about similar things and I flipping love his books. He has vast experience as a screenwriter and I’d love to write something for telly. I’ve prepared my whole life for writing for the telly but keep putting it off (see above answer). I need you, David.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

I spent the summer holidays of 1979 trainspotting.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

Over the last few months I have been blogging on #100WomenNovelists of the 20th Century so all my reading has been pre-2000. My favourites so far have been ‘Larry’s Party’ from 1997 by Carol Shields. I have a soft spot for Canada and so I do enjoy Shields’ novels. But this one is my favourite, following the life of ordinary man, Larry, over the first 46 years of his life in the second half of the last century. A thoroughly convincing male voice. Nuanced and complex. With the party itself being one of the best set pieces in a novel.

‘The Summer Book’ written in 1972 by Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomins, is a classic in Scandinavia and far beyond, though I only read it for the first time about ten years ago. It was such a treat to revisit it recently. The story of a special relationship between grandmother and young granddaughter, each struggling to find the balance between freedom and safety. A small quiet book but mighty and vast. With the most beautiful setting. I was very close to my nan and so this book resonated deeply.

Finally, ‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’ written by E.M. Delafield in 1930 was a new discovery. The diary is one of my favourite forms of writing. In the footsteps of Pooter and the descendant of Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole, E.M. Delafield’s diary deserves its place as a classic of the 20th Century. Witty and wonderful.

Who is Sophie Duffy? Sophie is the author of three novels. ‘The Generation Game’ was her debut novel, inspired by her childhood growing up in a sweet shop in Torquay. Her second novel, ‘This Holey Life’, is about a reluctant curate’s wife. Her latest novel is ‘Bright Stars’, a modern day Brideshead, the story of students reunited after 25 years.

As part of Creative Writing Matters, Sophie appraises manuscripts, runs workshops and mentors novelists. CWM run the Exeter Novel Prize and the Exeter Story Prize as well as other writing competitions.

She lives by the seaside in Devon.

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