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My First Time...with Fran Cooper

Fran Cooper grew up in London before reading English at Cambridge and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She spent three years living in Paris, and is now based in London with her fiancé and their three-legged cat...who sounds awesome. Her first novel, These Dividing Walls, is out on 4th May.

Here's the blurb for These Dividing Walls...

In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building.

Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else's, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.

Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief.

But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37...

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

In 2014, I applied to The Womentoring Project and was lucky enough to get to work with novelist Lisa O’Donnell. It made such a difference to hear about the world of writing and publishing from someone who was already in it. At that point, I had lots of little vignettes about the people living in an apartment building and Lisa just said, ‘this is a novel. You need to write a novel.’ Her confidence and enthusiasm was infectious, so I thought, ‘Ok, I’m going to write a novel!’

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?

That doing a little, often, does actually work. That one day, the balance tips and you suddenly find yourself looking at an almost-finished novel, a real body of work. You will get there!