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My First Time...with Emily Critchley

Emily Critchley, The Riff Raff

Emily Critchley was born in Essex in 1986. She studied creative writing at London Metropolitan University gaining a first. Notes on My Family, Emily’s first novel, was long-listed for the 2018 Branford Boase award, shortlisted for the Bristol Teen Book Award, nominated for the Carnegie medal and featured as The Sunday Times children’s book of the week. Emily currently lives in London and is completing an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck.

Emily is also joining us at The Riff Raff on Thursday 13 December so grab your tickets before they're gone!

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

I decided I wanted to write something humorous about a dysfunctional family in present tense. I sat at my desk and wrote ‘It’s seven pm and we’re sitting around the dinner table’, with no idea where the book would go from there.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

That it would be published!

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

Lou’s voice and the way she clumsily but cheerfully navigates her way through life. She was so fun to write.

And the worst part?

When she is bullied at school or when things don’t go right for her. That was heartbreaking.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

I tell myself I cannot get off the chair until I have written three hundred words.

Go-to writing snacks?

Dark chocolate or salted pistachio nuts.

The book that changed you?

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles gave me a deeper understanding of what can be possible in novel writing.

Notes On My Family, The Riff Raff

Your pump up song?

Poor Boy by Belle and Sebastian.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

A.M. Homes or Elizabeth Strout. Or, perhaps Margaret Atwood. She’s fascinating and has a wicked sense of humour.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?

Don’t send it out until it’s ready and make sure you have an excellent first page.

Why do you write?

To make sense of it all.

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