Everyone has something interesting to say if you take the time to listen.
The Interview Chain is a series of conversations—each interviewee was asked to nominate someone they admire as the next link.
Starting from a casual conversation on a boat on the Thames, the chain wended its way for over 23,000 miles, alighting on three continents and gathering up personal perspectives on issues that really matter in the world today.
The interviewees include a theatre director, a rabbi, a philanthropist, a sculptor, a New York Mayoral candidate, a pioneering documentary maker, and a man who rescues giant trees.
Some have worked in challenging places—Kabul in the time of the Taliban, a Romanian orphanage, immigration detention centres, remote Indian villages—while others have found themselves caught up in extraordinary situations such as the Rwandan genocide, the Ferguson uprising, and the UN Climate Change Negotiations.
When and where do you prefer to write?
It depends what stage I’m at. The first draft is always at my desk. I need that discipline that comes from sitting upright. But when I’m working on a second draft or editing, I often sit in bed. It helps me think a bit more creatively and shift ideas around. I’m definitely a morning person so do most of the harder work before lunch. And every day I walk in the woods behind my house. That’s usually when I solve the tricky problems of what to include and what to take out, how to structure chapters etc. I like swimming, too and find that’s another helpful way to solve problems though it can be very frustrating when I come up with what I think is a great idea and then have to try and hold onto it until I’ve finished my lengths and can get out of the pool and jot it down.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Recently I’ve heard several writers talk about playlists that help them get into the right mindset. I love the idea of listening to music when I’m writing but I just can’t. I need peace. Fortunately I have a room where I can shut myself away and be pretty quiet. There’s just the odd car going past and a blackbird who sometimes sings outside. I can cope with that.
If you had the chance to co-write a book whom would it be with?
I really admire Ann Patchett. I discovered her books a couple of years ago and love them because she’s so good at understanding people’s complexities but most of all because her plots are all so different and unusual. Whether writing about an opera singer caught up in a hostage situation in South America, an American family or the Amazon jungle, she’s always surprising and creates beautiful prose. She would be sure to come up with some inspiring and intriguing ideas that would be fascinating to work on.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Being the ‘good one’ sounds a bit boring so I will have to say I would rather be the ‘bad one.’ Having said that it would be nice if the author could arrange for me to have some kind of redemptive experience by the end of the book.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
The novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard. I went through a period of finding it difficult to read after a traumatic few years and it was her books particularly The Cazalet Chronicles that rekindled my pleasure in fiction. I’d love to have been able to tell her how much they helped when all else failed, and also to ask about her fascinating life. She wrote with such incredible insight into human relationships but had a turbulent romantic life herself, marrying three times and having affairs with a number of famous men.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Pretty much everywhere. Any room in the house, trains, bus stops, cafes, and I listen to audiobooks when I’m driving or sometimes on my walks. The only place I don’t read is in a sauna. I learned my lesson several years ago when I tried but the heat melted the glue in the book and it fell to bits.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Walking and swimming as I’ve already mentioned. I like cooking too and I eat in the garden whenever I can. This morning it was drizzling but it was still lovely to sit there and have breakfast. For the past few years I’ve been walking the South West Coast Path with my husband and we do that when we can manage to get away. We reached the half-way point at Porthallow this week. That gives me mixed feelings—it’s a sense of achievement but it’s such a stunningly beautiful walk (630 miles) that I don’t ever want it to end. I also love travelling but these days I’m mostly trying to choose places that I can get to by train for environmental reasons. In the six months before lockdown I went to Copenhagen and Hamburg by train, and also had a trip taking in Switzerland and Rome. I’m looking forward to getting back to European train travel when things open up more.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Slight disbelief that it’s finished. It took five years to do the interviews for my latest book The Interview Chain. But most of all the hope that readers will find it interesting and thought-provoking.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
I thought of all kinds of fancy ideas that didn’t quite work, but in the end my editor suggested The Interview Chain and it was so straightforward and obvious that it felt like it was meant to be that all along.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
Graphic designer Jo Dalton designed the cover for my first book, 31 Treats And A Marriage. I thought she included so many ideas in such a clever way that I was keen to work with her again. And she didn’t disappoint with the cover for The Interview Chain. I think it communicates the concept behind the book very well.
Thank you, Lynn Farley-Rose and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
It was while she was working on her PhD in developmental psychology that Lynn became fascinated by what people do to cope when things gets tough.
Her first book, 31 Treats And A Marriage, was a personal account of reconnecting with life after years as a wife and mother, when everything was overturned by unforeseen calamities.
This led her to wonder about other people’s stories, particularly on the question of where people find strength and inspiration. In writing The Interview Chain she talked to many remarkable people, each of whom had wise words to share about the human world—about things that help to make it a kinder and more connected place.