The River Home is a wise and emotionally powerful story of a broken family and the courage it takes to heal. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
The River Home drops the reader into one tense week with the Sorrell family, as they reunite for a last minute wedding. Impetuous, middle daughter, Lucy, has decided to get married in a rush and has called everyone back together to Windfalls, their riverside home in Somerset. But reuniting means facing hurts from the past, and uncovering painful secrets. It’s a week from which none of the Sorrells will emerge unchanged.
What inspired this novel?
Although The River Home is fiction, I was inspired in part by my own experiences of love and loss. Anyone who has read my work before will know that I like to write about relationships between sisters, as well as mother’s and daughters. My own relationships with my sister and mother are close, but I think living in a family and observing others is always fertile territory for a writer. The River Home is also inspired by the Somerset landscape I currently live amidst. The family home, Windfalls, and the village of Mortford are fictional, but the land and the river that runs through the novel are based on locations I know and love. I find nature and the landscape incredibly inspiring, with plot twists and ideas often arising from the areas I am writing about.
What do you hope the reader will take away from this book?
I wanted to write about a fractured but fundamentally loving family, and all the joy and pain that comes with being a part of that. My intention was to write an emotional but life-affirming story that recognises the weight of the pain and trauma we might carry through life, but that also allows the characters to come back together to work towards acceptance and healing. I hope that my story, while fiction, might touch readers in a recognisable and real way.
What is something that has really influenced you as a writer?
I am inspired by all the wonderful novels I’ve read and loved, writers such as Maggie O’Farrell, Jojo Moyes, Tim Winton, Elizabeth Strout, Sarah Winman, Jane Harper, Trent Dalton …to name just a few. I don’t think you can be a writer without also being a reader. But being a writer also means going inside of yourself and finding your own voice, working out what it is that you want to say. My writing is influenced by my own experiences of life, love and loss. This is what informs my stories and helps me to crystalize what it is that I want to express.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I have two school-age children so I write while they are out of the house, or sometimes squeeze it into the cracks of the evenings. I have a desk upstairs in a spare bedroom, but for some reason I always gravitate back to the kitchen table. I’d like to think that’s because it’s the heart of the home and therefore more creatively stimulating, but if I’m honest, it’s probably just because it’s closer to the snacks in the fridge.
I drop the kids at school, return home, make coffee, answer emails or publicity enquiries, then try to focus for at least two to three hours each day on my writing.
I’m currently working on my fifth novel, which delves into the messy relationships within a tight-knit group of forty-something friends who have all reunited for one long, chaotic and super-stressful weekend. One event sees the weekend spiral into uncomfortable territory and shines a light on each of the characters’ life choices. It’s proving to be a lot of fun to write.
You’re a duel citizen of the UK and Australia. Any plans to visit Australia?
Always. Australia was my home for over a decade. Half my family and a lot of my closest friends live there and so I am always planning ways to get back to see everyone. I hope it will be sooner rather than later. England is wonderful in lots of ways, but I really miss vibrancy of Sydney, the sunshine and the great coffee.