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My First Time...with Laura Kaye

Laura Kaye grew up in a village in Oxfordshire before attending Nottingham University where she studied Spanish and Portuguese, specialising in Brazilian music. After graduating she went to work at the BBC in the music documentaries department where she stayed, on and off for ten years. In 2011 she took a year off work to do the MA in creative writing at Goldsmiths. English Animals is her first book; her second – a mixture of auto-fiction and historical fiction set between Berlin 1912 and 2012 – will hopefully be along soon.

Laura's speaking at The Riff Raff on December 14th in Brixton along with a stellar line-up of debut talent...come one, come all. Let's eat mince pies and talk about the writing journey! Get your tickets here >>

Here's the blurb for the English Animals...

When Mirka gets a job in a country house in rural England, she has no idea of the struggle she faces to make sense of a very English couple, and a way of life that is entirely alien to her. Richard and Sophie are chaotic, drunken, frequently outrageous but also warm, generous and kind to Mirka, despite their turbulent and argumentative marriage.

Mirka is swiftly commandeered by Richard for his latest money-making enterprise, taxidermy, and soon surpasses him in skill. After a traumatic break two years ago with her family in Slovakia, Mirka finds to her surprise that she is happy at Fairmont Hall. But when she tells Sophie that she is gay, everything she values is put in danger and she must learn the hard way what she really believes in.

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

I went on a date with a woman from Slovakia who told me that she had come to the UK to work on a pheasant shooting estate, had helped the man with his taxidermy and had had an affair with the wife…I woke up the next morning and I thought, I want to write that book!

I had already been working on something about a group of characters in a rural setting – William in particular who is a kind of older version of Jacob Rees-Mogg – hates Europe, wants to tell women what to do with their bodies, thinks Golliwogs are acceptable, that kind of thing. When I met the woman, I realised that I wanted to write about this kind of environment as someone from outside it might see it.

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

You need to know the basic plot! Not plot exactly, but purpose. Not everything by any means, but I had started several books before English Animals where I just started writing and thought that I would work it out but it means that the writing isn