Q & A with Rowan Coleman
Rowan Coleman is the internationally bestselling author of an astounding twelve novels, most recently WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS and THE MEMORY BOOK (released in the US as THE DAY WE MET). She’s been compared to Jo Jo Moyes and Nora Ephron. She lives with her husband and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire.
She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. I don’t know how you made time for us, Rowan, but we’re thrilled that you did.
Let’s start from the beginning, your beginning.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire on the edge of the Children Hills, with its very beautiful, rolling luscious green countryside, hills and valleys.
What were you like as a kid? A teen?
As a child I was very happy, I think, I remember that my mum would say I would laugh to see a pudding roll, no I don’t know what it means either. My mum and dad split up when I was twelve and I lost touch with my father. My early teen years were once full of doubt and a sense of extreme awkwardness about everything, but around about seventeen I started to find my feet and my confidence again.
Funny voices during story time with my three year olds.
Best meal you prepare?
I recently discovered the secret to make the best roast potatoes in the world. My children would like them every day.
Do you always finish a book you’ve started or will you put one away you don’t like? Don’t worry, we won’t tell.
I really try to finish everything, because I know how long it takes to write a book, and how much heart and soul goes into it, but some books takes longer than others.
Manolo Blahnik shoes show up a handful of times your novels. Are you a ‘shoe person’? What is your favorite pair?
Ha oh, good spot. I love shoes, as works of art. I have many pairs, but actually you will mostly find me in a pair of Sketchers, they are so comfy!
Book on your nightstand right now?
Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I am supposed to be learning to streamline my life, so that’s going great. Not.
Which writers inspire you?
Lots and lots, but I have a group of friends that are all so brilliant that it makes me want to try harder, Julie Cohen, Lucy Robinson, Jill Mansell, Milly Johnson, Kate Harrison, Miranda Dickinson, Lucy Dillon, Katy Regan….. and so many more!
In your stories, you use tenderness and humor to turn something heartbreaking and into something uplifting. Where do your ideas come from?
Rarely they appear to me almost fully formed, as with The Memory Book. More often than not I have to mine the tricky little gems, from the hard and unforgiving rockface of ‘I have no idea what this books is about.’
What does your writing process look like? How long does it take you to write a book?
My writing process looks like a great big whirlwind of chaos that I have to battle through to find that small still spot of calm at the center. Books can take me between nine and eleven months. I think if I was a man, they would take longer, but we women don’t often have the luxury of sitting around staring at our navels.
Which was your hardest book to write and why?
I think ‘WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS’ is the hardest to date, because although technically THE MEMORY BOOK was hard, I knew that book, or at least the heart of it, from the beginning, although it took me a while to figure how to structure it. With STARS it felt more like 3D printing with each pass, it slowly built up another layer of the story until it actually started to look like a novel. As with many of my novels I didn’t really understand it until I had finished the first draft, and then I was able to shape it the way I wanted it to be.
If you were to ever collaborate with other writers who would be on your dream team?
Ha, all of my BFFs, Julie Cohen, Katy Regan, Kate Harrison, Tamsyn Murray, C.L Taylor, Milly Johnson, Miranda Dickinson, Lucy Robinson, oh and I really love Lindsey Kelk and Paige Toon.
Which actor do you see playing lead character Stella in the film version of WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS?
Tricky… I don’t really have anyone in mind for Stella right now. In my head she is who she is, and I can’t imagine her any other way. I did realise a few weeks ago, I would love Lesley Sharp to play Claire in The Memory Book.
Flats or heels? Heels in bag, flats on feet.
Cake or Ice cream? Both at same time.
Baseball cap or Floppy straw hat? Cowboy Hat.
Summer or Winter? Autumn!
Night owl or Early bird? Neither….
Thank you, Rowan, for allowing us to mine your brilliant mind and for your sponsorship of WWWB! We will be reading and rooting for WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS and waiting with baited breath for whatever wonderful thing you put out into the world next.
‘Fans of Jojo Moyes will love this.’ – GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
‘Oh, what a gorgeous book this is – it gripped me and wouldn’t let me go. So engaging, so beautifully written – I loved every single thing about it.’ – JILL MANSELL
‘A beautiful story of aching sadness and boundless joy, sparkling with love, humour and humanity. It somehow manages to deliver tears, laughter, inspiration and wonder in one compelling, breathless tale that will make you laugh, cry and fight for what you love with everything you have. Stunning. ’ – LUCY ROBINSON
‘The Memory Book is one of my favourite books – but We Are All Made of Stars is even better. Joyful and moving.’ – KATE HARRISON