When Emily was offered a new job in London, she was sure that her life was about to change – new friends, a career in the big city and the boyfriend she always wanted.
Her new life turns out to be more complicated than she expected. Her flat mates don’t understand her. Her colleagues mock everything about her. Even her father doesn’t support her. The only person who offers her any encouragement is David.
He’s married. He’s her manager. To Emily it’s clear that they have something special. As their relationship develops, everyone seems to want to sabotage their chances.
But some things are meant to be…
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I like to write outside. Living in London, at present I don’t have a garden but am hopefully moving to a flat with a balcony later this year – and I can’t wait! Writing in the morning when the world still feels relatively peaceful works best for me, as long as it is accompanied by lots of coffee. Beer gardens are a good option too, but for later in the day!
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really – I’ll write pretty much anywhere, but when I’m at home I’ll usually put on some mellow music, light a scented candle or burn some essential oils and make myself some fresh coffee before I sit down at my dining room table to write. It’s by the window and there’s a huge tree outside, so the squirrels and birds keep me company if I get stuck.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Other than the pre-requisite cup of coffee? I’ll sometimes have a glass of wine if I’m writing later in the day. If I’m hungry I’ll snack – some fruit, olives or biscuits probably.
– What is your favourite book?
Very hard question… Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood springs to mind, as does The BFG by Roald Dahl. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller was a real inspiration for Outreach. The film is great too – so beautifully twisted.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I wouldn’t say no to the idea. I’m not sure what though. I quite like ghost stories and horror…
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I’d be lying if I said my characters weren’t influenced by people I’d met. In Outreach, there’s a bit of an old manager in Eric, the Service Manager where Emily works, and Fran her colleague has traits that I have witnessed from a number of people I have worked with. There are probably fragments of a lot of people I have known in my characters, including Emily, but none of them are based exclusively on any one person. I think I can say the same for the series of short stories I am writing now.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No I don’t – but I really should!!! I have an idea for an art project (art is another of my creative outlets) and I really need to write it down and do some sketches before I forget it…
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m not a fan of fantasy… but then I’m watching The Dark Crystal series on Netflix and love it. I suspect it’s the beautiful puppetry that attracts me, but then I enjoyed Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy too. I don’t really go for “Who Dunnits” either, but had a go at The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, and quite enjoyed them.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
There are so many contemporary female writer who I admire and would love to work with, but I think I might go for Marian Keyes. Although perhaps less “literary” than others, I really admire how she writes about serious issues that we all face in life sensitively whilst also being able to be funny! I also think she would be great fun to be around – and someone I think I would learn a lot from personally as well as professionally.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’d be tempted to go to Peru. I visited the Sacred Valley area about 6 years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. That said, I’d be tempted to go to a country I haven’t been to before, maybe India or China. I’d go to soak up the atmosphere and get inspired, rather than with a project in mind. That said, a sequel to Outreach where Emily goes travelling could be interesting…
Thank you, Shelly Berry and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Shelly Berry lives in Waltham Forest, London. Having gained a BA Joint Honours Degree in Visual Art and Sociology at Keele University and a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, she has since worked in the public sector with vulnerable adults and children – including those affected by mental illness, drug and alcohol misuse, disability, criminal behaviour, homelessness and domestic and sexual abuse. During this time, Shelly developed and nurtured her love of writing. As well as writing fiction, she has previously written for a number of blogs and now writes for the Waltham Forest Echo.