"We want the ogre to come into our garden because that’s what excites us. But at the same time we know that maybe it’s going to destroy everything." Leïla Slimani
A writer’s life
Still exploring

Still exploring

Robert Olen Butler’s latest novel Perfume River is a poignant examination of an ageing couple and a wider family fractured by the lingering fallout of the Vietnam War. After three historical novels featuring WWI correspondent Christopher Marlowe Cobb, he returns to contemporary fiction with trademark tenderness and suspense. Here are some notes from his workspace....
After dark

After dark

Chris Whitaker’s debut novel Tall Oaks is a suspenseful, sinister and hilarious story of a small town in the full glare of the world’s media after the mysterious disappearance of a young boy. He gives us the inside track on his writing and reading habits, big influences and favourite writers. Where are you now? At...
Lifting the lid

Lifting the lid

Sophia Khan’s debut novel Dear Yasmeen is the story of Irenie, a young girl in upstate New York whose charismatic mother disappeared five years ago, and her distant, eccentric father James, who refuses to open up about the past. As Irenie digs around for details of her mother’s life, she uncovers love letters written between...
Putting the pieces together

Putting the pieces together

K J Orr’s short fiction has won the Dan Hemingway Prize and a Bridport Prize, been Pushcart Prize nominated, and shortlisted for awards including the BBC National Short Story Award, the Asham Award, the London Short Story Prize and the KWS Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize. Her debut collection Light Box is out now...
Being marvellous

Being marvellous

Sarah Winman’s captivating second novel A Year of Marvellous Ways, now out in paperback, is following the trajectory of her debut bestseller When God Was a Rabbit, with a swift appearance in the Sunday Times Fiction Top Ten and a spring selection for Richard & Judy’s Book Club. She emerges from the duvet to give...
Intrigue and discovery

Intrigue and discovery

Helen Dunmore’s latest novel Exposure is a spellbinding, multilayered tale of love, betrayal, vulnerability and fierce loyalties at the height of the Cold War. As spy fever dominates the news headlines a sensitive government file goes missing and a swift arrest is made, but recent events suggest a cover-up. She lets us in on her...
In service of the voice

In service of the voice

Tim Baker’s debut novel, the much-discussed thriller Fever City, follows the desperate efforts of a disgraced ex-cop and a ruthless mob hitman to rescue the kidnapped son of America’s richest man. But the two men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal intent on seizing power by killing President Kennedy. Where are you now? At...
Lost in story

Lost in story

Peter Swanson’s gripping new thriller The Kind Worth Killing, containing a satisfyingly twisted and murderous plot with nods to Patricia Highsmith, Agatha Christie and James M. Cain, has become an immediate bestseller and is shortlisted for the 2015 Ian Fleming Silver Dagger. He tells us about his influences and reading habits, and about delving into...
On the couch

On the couch

Sebastian Faulks’ sweeping novel Where My Heart Used to Beat tells the story of an English doctor who has lived through the best and worst of the 20th century and, holed up on a small island off the south coast of France, is challenged by his host to confront his past. We ask what makes...
Living with authoritis

Living with authoritis

I’m a bit of a recluse. It comes with the job of writing books. I live with my husband and our two middle-school children in a canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California. Between school drop-off and pick-up I’m a novelist. I sit alone in my pajamas with crazy hair and a mug...