Briefly tell us about your book.
Little Nothings is a tale of toxic female friendship playing out against the beautiful backdrop of a luxury resort on the Greek island of Corfu. Liv Travers is on a three-week holiday of a lifetime with her husband, her daughter, and her three female friends and their families. Early in the trip, Liv is betrayed by this gang of friends, which sets her on a path of revenge – her main target being manipulative and narcissistic queen bee, Ange.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
I realise this book may be a comfort – even a dark revenge fantasy – for anyone who has suffered at the hands of a queen bee, but I also hope it reads as a warning as to what can happen if you become obsessed with retaliation and winning. It’s hard to write about the perils of female friendship without coming off as negative about women in general, which I absolutely did not want to do. I have some amazing women in my life. What I would want readers to do is take an audit of the people they surround themselves with. If you’re stuck in a group of friends that make you feel less-than, get out, before you end up like Liv! Go spend time with the women who bring you joy.
How did you think of the title of the book?
Originally the book was going to be called ‘Snakes’. That’s still the title of the folder on my computer that holds all my drafts. While hiking in the hills in Corfu on holiday, I almost trod on some basking snakes – which is a particularly frightening experience for a Brit, as we have very few snakes back home and all but one are harmless. Later, I discovered that Corfu is home to a deadly species – the nose-horned viper – which made me wonder if I’d had a close call while out on that hike. The experience became woven into the novel, with the women’s behaviour increasingly becoming like the behaviour of this particular viper. In the end, ‘Little Nothings’ surfaced as a more meaningful title. Liv describes the small acts of aggression that Ange inflicts upon the group as ‘little nothings’, and this also sums up how Ange treats her friends – they are ‘little nothings’ in her big plans. However, the reader might also come away thinking that Liv is overreacting to Ange, that her actions really are ‘little nothings’ that Liv should have simply ignored? I’m intrigued to see how people respond.
Who are some of your favourite authors? Or favourite books?
I have recently got into the habit of doing a yearly reread of ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ by Francoise Sagan. It tells the story of Cecile, a teenage girl who is summering in the south of France with her lothario father, Raymond. Their decadent way of life is threatened when Raymond proposes to refined and sensible Anne, so Cecile embarks on a plot to split them up. I think that novel is pretty much perfect, in part because it’s so short. It’s a real skill to pack so much tension and transformation into around 100 pages. And added to that, Sagan wrote it when she was only 18 – which is mind-blowing. When I sat down to write ‘Little Nothings’, I had the idea to create a story just as dark, and just as bleached white by the sun. Cecile and Liv are heroines in the same literary tradition; we avidly follow their stories but, morally, we have questions about the things they do. As a nod to my influences, ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ is the book that Liv takes to Corfu to read by the pool
Are you able to switch off at the end of a day of writing? If so, how?
If anything, it’s harder to switch off from everyday life and get into the writing flow! I’ve just moved house and there’s lots to do to make it into a home (three electricians are drilling away as I write this); I have two teenage sons, one choosing their exam subjects and another taking them; I have a border terrier who needs a walk; a dad who is nudging me to take my next turn on Scrabble Go and there is ALWAYS a load of washing to do. But I am a great believer in the idea that much writing gets done when you’re not at your desk. Sticky plot points are solved as I yomp across the fields with my dog, and the perfect character description lands when I’m filling the dishwasher. So maybe I’ve contradicted myself there – maybe I never do switch off!