Author Interview: Gill Hornby

Today I am delighted to welcome Gill Hornby to my blog. After her success with The Hive, she has just published All Together Now and to celebrate it, she stopped by to answer all my bookish questions: 

Hi Gill and welcome to Alba in Bookland. First of all could you tell us a bit about yourself:

Hello, Alba. Thank you for having me. I’m a writer and journalist, I started out in TV Current Affairs, then after I had my first child I went over to print journalism: reviewing books, writing features and columns. My first novel The Hive, came out two years ago and here comes my second. I’m married to another writer, Robert Harris, and we live in the country and have four children. 

In your book, All Together Now, music takes a main role in bringing a community together. What role does music play in your own life?

A big one. For a start, I belong to a choir and we meet every week – that of course gave me the idea for the novel. I listen to music all the time, while I’m writing and when I’m driving the children about. And I have played the piano since I was eight years old.

Which 3 words would you use to describe the story behind All Together Now? 

Social romantic comedy – is that a genre? It is now!

Who is your favourite character in the novel?

Bennett. I have never written a main male character before, and I was surprised to find myself writing one here. Bennett started off as a very grumpy, recently redundant, high flying female professional; she quickly turned into the more bumbling and very lost Bennett St John Parker. Of whom I am very, very fond…..

How does your writing process go? Do you plan everything first or you just start writing and let your characters talk to you?

Well, I’ve only done it twice of course, but both times the same thing has happened: I plan it all first and then out comes something else entirely. But with both these novels, the ending has been the first and the fixed point of the whole thing. I was always sure how they would both finish, and then all I had to do was draw the characters back a respectable distance and then let go and watch how they got there.

Did you find writing your second novel more difficult than your first, after its success?

There was no pressure on me at all to write The Hive. Nobody knew I was doing it apart from family, friends, and my agent so the only thing at stake was a bit of self-respect. But that turned out to be a bigger motivator than I thought. With this one, it had already been bought in advance in Britain and the US – and that is pressure. I had two years to deliver it. For the first, I was frozen with panic; the second I spent thumping it out as fast as I could. And – phew – I made it.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote and what it was about?

As a child, I was always writing poetry more than stories. I enjoyed doing both, but the poems were the things that I seemed to do a bit better at. And when I was eight years old, a poem of mine was published in The Brownie magazine – that really felt like the big time.

How do you find the time to juggle your day job, your big family and your writing? Do you have a place where you shut yourself to write? 

Well, you just get on with it, don’t you? When I look back now on those years before I had kids all I can think of is how much time I wasted. Apart from at work, I was so lazy! I don’t think I ever even tidied my flat. The thing about having children in the house, though, is that it gives you a very strict timetable, and that has proved invaluable to me. I write in the school day, during the school term and because that is the only time I have I never waste a minute of it.

If you could have a party with your favourite authors, dead or alive, who would you invite? 

Just me and Jane Austen, please – I would hate to have anyone else there getting in the way and distracting us.

And finally, what are you working on now?

A three generational family saga – with a twist.

Thanks so much Gill for answering all my questions. I think I might gate crash your party with Jane Austen!

“Gill Hornby’s novel, All Together Now, is published by Little, Brown on 4th June, £14.99”

A hilarious and heart-warming new novel about a small-town singing group, by Sunday Times bestseller Gill Hornby.

‘Witty and brilliantly observed, with a passion for the pop song and an undertow of real warmth’ – Kirsty Wark 

The small town of Bridgeford is in crisis. The high street is half empty, businesses are closing and the idea of civic pride seems old-fashioned to the commuters rushing home from work. Somehow, it seems to have lost its heart.

But there is one thing that might just bring the town together: music. The Bridgeford Community Choir has a chance of winning the county championship. First though, the small band of singers must find a lot of new members and a whole new sound. Enter Tracey - one of life's soloists, and hiding a secret past; Bennett - a church choir refugee, baffled by the modern world. And Jazzy - who sees her voice as her passport straight out of town to a future of fame and fortune. Can they really fit in with dependable old regulars like Annie? Can they learn to work together, save their singing group and maybe even their community? 

All Together Now is a funny, sharply observed and moving novel about the joys of singing, about living in harmony, about falling in love... and about the importance of finding your own, true voice.

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