Tuesday 26 June 2018

Interview: Jennifer L. Cahill

one, jennifer-l-cahill, book, blog-tour

It's my stop on the One? blog tour today and I'm welcoming author Jennifer L. Cahill to The Writing Greyhound!

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
I live in Notting Hill, in West London. I have a couple of business degrees and a BA in Spanish, which is where I really honed my writing skills. I write a lot in my day job, usually change communications for large business transformation programmes. I specialise in the people side of change and helping people work through it. I also coach individual clients to help them navigate and master change.
Tell me about One?
One? is about relationships and finding the one in a world that is changing as fast as technology will allow. I think there is a need for expectations and relationship models to shift as the role of women in modern society changes. Above all, it’s fun and funny, and I try to capture the highs and lows of living in a city like London, and what a delight it is to live in Clapham if you are in your twenties. I absolutely loved living in Clapham, and I was very reluctant to leave when I eventually did, but like life, my story moved on, and I’m living in Notting Hill now, which I also absolutely love.
How did the idea for the book come about?
I was on a project abroad and a confluence of events conspired to make me start the book. I found myself alone in my hotel room. Back then, which wasn’t that long ago, we didn’t have wifi, FaceTime, iPhones etc, so hotel rooms abroad were very lonely indeed. This negative experience provided the exact conditions for me to start writing. One? had a different name first, and then the actual title came to me in a flash of inspiration once the story was well on its way. As soon as I wrote the first sentence the book came out of me like a torrent, it was almost an addictive process, it was fantastic. So it wasn’t planned in advance, it was purely creative flow.
one, jennifer-l-cahill, book

The book is set in London, but what is your favourite part of the city?
This is quite a difficult question for me to answer because I love so much about London. Some of the key things would include the diversity and constant stimulation. Life is never boring in London. The fact that everyone is welcome here and all sorts of people just get on and get on with life is very inspiring. I have very much a ‘live and let live’ attitude, and I like equality, so I fit right in in London. The other thing I really like about London is that it allows people to really be themselves. So many people are held back by their friends’ or family’s expectations and opinions of them. London really allows people to spread their wings and fly as they move here and start afresh. London is also very rewarding if you are good at what you do and want to work hard, there are no limits put on you if you work hard and have a good attitude. 
If you want to know about physical places in London, I wrote about Clapham, so I definitely love that. I now live in Notting Hill, which is one of the most interesting places that I’ve ever lived. My favourite place to visit in London is definitely the V&A, I have been a member there for years and I go as often as I can.
How did you get inspiration?
For this book, in particular, I was inspired, if not annoyed, by the expectations and limitations put on me and women in general in the modern world. Things like having to be married by the time you are thirty, I find that literally ludicrous in this day and age. I was also inspired by the amazing experiences and people that I have met in London. As a writer, everything you see, hear and experience goes in and gets processed in the creative process. The slightest thing can inspire a full plot line or a character from scratch.
What’s your writing process?
It’s an organic process for me. I don’t have a set timetable. I write as the information comes to me. I often get inspiration when I’m in the middle of something else, like while I’m walking the dog, so you’ll often see me typing into my phone, juggling the lead while out and about in Notting Hill. 
What I would say though, is that the two most important things about writing are ‘space’ and ‘time’. So I would say that these are the two essential parts of my writing process. You need to organise your life so that you have time to write, be that a bit each day, or taking a few months off a year. The second essential ingredient is having space. I have a small writing room in my flat, and it would literally have been impossible to get this book out without my writing room. It now looks like a literary bomb has exploded with all of the drafts of the book, notes, post-its etc. everywhere as I’ve just finished the final edit. It’s happy kind of a mess though, even though I normally like a tidy living space.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
The edit for sure. You start going slightly mad as you re-read your own work over and over again. Even though I had an editor, I really wanted to make sure it was perfect. I’ve read the book, word for word about 20 times in the last few months.
jennifer-l-cahill, author

What do you love most about writing?
Writing is like breathing for me, I can’t not do it. I love forming new characters, and I love the fact that, hopefully, people will enjoy my books and learn a little. I love helping people and imparting knowledge, I try to do that in my books. I love learning and sharing what I’ve learned. I want the readers to see themselves and their friends and exes in my books….maybe some of what they see might bring them a bit of closure.
Which authors inspire you?
I have a Spanish degree, so I have real love for Hispano American Fiction. Gabriel García Márquez is one of my favourite authors. I love magic realism and the way he captures the essence of the characters in his books. I find that his characters have stayed with me ever since I started reading his books when I was in University. That is very powerful writing indeed!
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I would recommend that anyone who wants to write gets a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is literally life-changing if you are looking to write or be creative in any way. 
Again, the two key ingredients for aspiring writers are ‘space’ and ‘time’ you need a writing space that works for you, and time to write. I would also add that the writing space should be ideally in your home so that you can write at any time of the day or night. Inspiration strikes when it feels like it and you need to be able to drop everything and go and write it down. 
I also would advise aspiring writers not to worry if they get blocked. Sometimes the timing isn’t right and you just have to go with the process. Once it starts flowing again…don’t worry…it will be unstoppable.
What are you currently working on?
I have three books that I’m working on concurrently. My second book is half written, the third one is begun as is the fourth. I’ll keep working on them all at the same time and the first one to get finished will be my second book.
What are you reading at the moment?
I read a book a month as part of the book club that I’m a member of. This month’s book is Codex 1962.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
100 years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would love to continue to make people laugh and learn a little through my writing. I’m already working on my next books, so I’m hoping to be able to continue doing what I’m doing.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’m a super busy person, and that doubles up as inspiration (thankfully). I rarely have to research books, my life and the experiences I stumble upon are often stranger than fiction. I have lots of different types of friends, and that makes life very interesting. I’m naturally curious and I love learning new things, which also helps with the writing process. 
I like to travel, I speak a few languages, and I go to Spain as often as possible. I like yoga and meditation and any ‘self-improvement’ activities like healthy eating, exercise etc, I also love fashion, art and film.
One? is available to buy now. For more about Jennifer and her writing, follow her on Twitter.

Will you be picking up a copy of One? Let me know in the comments below!

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