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My First Time...with Luiza Sauma

Luiza Sauma was born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in London. After studying English at the University of Leeds, she worked at The Independent on Sunday for several years.

She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths, where she won the Pat Kavanagh Award. She has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Luiza Sauma

Here's the blurb for Flesh and Bone and Water

Brazilian-born doctor André Cabral is living in London when one day he receives a letter from his home country, which he left nearly thirty years ago. A letter he keeps in his pocket for weeks, but tells no one about. The letter prompts André to remember the days of his youth – torrid afternoons on Ipanema beach with his listless teenage friends, parties in elegant Rio apartments, his after-school job at his father's plastic surgery practice – and, above all, his secret infatuation with the daughter of his family's maid, the intoxicating Luana. Unable to resist the pull of the letter, André embarks on a journey back to Brazil to rediscover his past.

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

I initially wrote it as a short story – very quickly, in a kind of fugue state. It felt different to anything I had written before; the characters arrived almost fully formed. When I presented it to my writing group, lots of people said it would make a good novel. So I wrote it!

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

There’s no point trying to be dazzling for the sake of it. My first draft had various pointless subplots and experimental flourishes that did a disservice to the characters and story. But I don’t think I would have learned this without making mistakes – crap writing is all part of the process.

Flesh and Bone and Water

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Despairing over the news, checking social media, looking at pictures of dogs and clothes.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing your book?

I’m not sure I had one. Writing the book was incredibly challenging and I often wondered if it would ever get published, but on the whole, I loved writing it. I saved my tantrums for other things in life, like job-hunting.

Best thing about writing your book?

Creating a world from scratch. It’s lovely to hear people talking about the characters as if they’re real people, because they felt real to me.

And the worst?

When I knew that certain sections weren’t working and I didn’t know how to fix them.

Go-to writing snacks?

Fizzy sweets and popcorn.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Memories, regret, eavesdropping on strangers, my family and friends. Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz, Elizabeth Strout, Edward St Aubyn, David Lynch, Pedro Almodóvar, Pina Bausch and many others.

The book that changed you?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll never forget reading Lolita for the first time when I was a teenager. Nabokov’s prose was unlike anything I had read before.

Your pump up song?

Sky Ferreira’s ‘I Blame Myself’ – a perfect pop song.

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

Truman Capote. Hopefully he’d bring all the gossip.

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

Be kind to yourself in life and hard on yourself in writing.


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