How Gail Honeyman writes

Gail Honeyman “I thought it was important that Eleanor was never self-pitying, because I think as a reader that is when you lose sympathy for a character. Even if [a character] has been through horrendous experiences, if they are seen as self-pitying, it’s a very distancing thing. She’s broken but she’s not destroyed. She’s a survivor of it all.”
[in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, March 10, 2017]

Gail HoneymanI read this quote by Gail Honeyman in The Bookseller, not knowing either her or her debut novel. But the quote chimed with me. I was making slow progress with the book I was reading at the time and couldn’t pin down why. It was well-written, not overdone or wordy, not rushed, but I wasn’t connecting with the main character. Gail’s comment made me realize I wanted to shout: ‘If things are so bad, do something.’

This is a fine line to tread as an author. You want your characters to be tested, challenged, to face difficulties, and you want to explore their emotions, but the last thing you want to do is turn off the reader. Gail Honeyman again: “I guess what you want is not to notice the plot creaking along. Hopefully, it’s funny in bits and sad in bits, but I think life is like that. Even with the most horrendous things that happen and the tremendous pain that people have to deal with, they still laugh because I think that’s what it means to be human. It’s never all one thing or the other if you are going to survive it.”

Gail Honeyman


‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman [UK: HarperCollins]

See how these other authors write:-
JoJo Moyes
Emma Hooper
Anne Tyler

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How @GailHoneyman creates characters #writing via @SandraDanby