10 Minutes with… Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O’Porter’s new book, Paper Aeroplanes, hits the shelves today. The TV presenter, and now author, took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for Cuckoo Review.

When did you first realise that you wanted to write a novel, and why?
When I was at school I read Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and I loved it so much I wanted to write stories about people who were a bit awkward. But then I lost sight of fiction for a while because the prospect of it was so terrifying. So I switched to journalism and non fiction, but I got back to the good stuff eventually!

How long did it take you? How much time did you spend writing per day and was it difficult?
I wrote it over the course of a year, but I didn’t write every day until the end. A year is too long though, I don’t think the luxury of time is a good thing. Personally I work best under pressure so I am always working right up until a deadline, but I rarely miss them.

What was the most enjoyable part of the writing process?
Being on my own with my cat and dog for hours and hours. When my husband is at work the three of us sit at my desk and get the writing done. I really love being around people but I also love the solitude of writing.

The novel is loosely based on your childhood: as a teenager, were you more like Flo or Renee?
Renée for sure. I got to write the things I liked and didn’t like about myself though her and it’s quite cathartic.

Are you planning on writing any more novels in the future? Will we hear more from Flo and Renee?
Yes, I am currently writing the sequel, Goose. It’s Renee and Flo a year later in their last year of school.

What’s the last book you read and enjoyed? Do you take inspiration from other writers and the books you read?
I read The L Shaped Room and loved it. I like books about women in the 60’s before the Pill came into place. I take huge inspiration from writers who capture a moment in a woman’s life. Whether it’s an old book or a new book the sentiment is often exactly the same.

Do you have a favourite author? Why are they your favourite?
I do love Lionel Shriver. We Need To Talk About Kevin, for me, was the best written book for characters that will never leave you. And I am currently reading her new novel, Big Brother, which is less menacing but again, the characters are very strong.

Have you got any tips for aspiring teen writers?
Just keep writing. Honestly, you just have to keep on going. Write about anything and practise and practise. And of course, read. If you plan to be a writer then reading is half the job. x

Paper Aeroplanes is published today by Hot Key Books. Buy it here.

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