Name: Stella Grey*
*Stella Grey is a pseudonym
What’s it about? When her husband fell in love with someone else, Stella Grey thought she’d be unhappy for the rest of her life. But then she realised that she needed to take her future in her own hands. She needed to meet someone wonderful, and find a heartfix for heartbreak.
So, she joined online dating sites and embarked on a mission. What followed were 693 days of encounters, on screen and in person: dates in cafés and over glasses of astringent red wine, short term relationships and awkward sex, but mostly there were phone calls and emails (many, many emails). Her journey was never dull, featuring marriage proposals, invitations to Tangier, badly timed food poisoning and much younger men – but was it ultimately successful?
‘Stella’s search for genuine romance in a virtual world takes her to situations both scary and silly, appalling and appealing. And yet, she carries on, and we’re with her all the way’ Miranda Sawyer
‘The literary equivalent of the When Harry Met Sally line: “Tell me I’ll never be out there again.” Jojo Moyes
‘A Bridget Jones for the internet dating age. This book is like a bathroom gossip with your best friend – stories of terrible men and terrible sex’ Plum Sykes
‘Eye-opening and scary, I could not stop reading this’ Katie Fforde
What I’m reading: I’m reading little at the moment beyond the manuscript of another book I’m writing, because I have a ventriloquistic tendency and fear that I’ll pick up other people’s voices, or plotlines or characters come to that… Non-fiction is safest. On the bedside table the books I’m dipping into include We’ll Always Have Paris by Emma Beddington, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, plus art books that I stare at in the hope of feeling more inspired and less besieged by words.
What I’m listening to: I’m really bad at remembering what music I like, or that I like music at all, and go through rediscoveries of it fairly often. Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, Pat Metheny and John Foxx have been played yesterday and today while working. I like wordless (or in the case of the Icelandic, safely unintelligible) music that I don’t tune into and get distracted by, but that helps with mood and concentration.
What I’m watching: Edward and I like to have some evenings without watching anything – other than maybe an overseas property programme – and on other nights, if too tired to focus on anything else, we rampage through box sets, watching three episodes at a time. Recently we’ve enjoyed Grace and Frankie and The West Wing (and seem to be in a Martin Sheen season.) TV-wise, it’s hard to beat The Sky At Night for excitement. I’m tapping my fingers for a third series of Happy Valley.
Favourite word(s): Kingfisher, nightingale, voyage, expedition, oasis, minaret.
Favourite song: My Funny Valentine, preferably sung by Ella Fitzgerald. That’s today’s answer, but ask me tomorrow.
My hero – literary or otherwise: Generally the real heroes don’t have names that are widely known. But in terms of having a bit of a crush I currently have a thing for Lee Miller, because of her amazing life and the circles she moved in. (I also have a thing for Obama).
The book I wish I’d written: They’re all 19th century and early 20th century books, but I find myself hesitating before naming something, partly because many of my favourite writers came to unhappy ends. I’d like to be Jane Austen for a day, though, and to see her world through her eyes. Perhaps on the day she finished writing Sense & Sensibility.
Writing ritual: Early morning in bed, while the rest of the street is still sleeping. Hard cushion on the lap, my laptop on top – I can’t write at a table. I get a bad attack of exam nerves if I sit to write words at a table.
Best advice ever received: Keep going. Stop when something’s good enough, and move on to the next thing. Keep moving forward because Life Is Short.
If Icould change one thing about the world: It would have to be that we had evolved out of wanting to kill and conquer, wouldn’t it?
Think of something beautiful: The golden hour, when the city lights up for the last time before nightfall, and the swallows swoop, and the hush descends. Particularly if it’s an Italian city square.
The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read: We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
If I wasn’t writing: I’d be painting. I’d have sudden amazing unexpected talent for putting colours together and making abstracts that people stood in front of in awe in a gallery. (And I’d be in 1920s Paris, and I’d know Hemingway and co).
Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of The Heartfix? Well now, that is a question. There is possibly going to be a British film of the book, so if it comes off it will be interesting to see who they come up with! Now that you’ve put me on the spot, and I have ten seconds to choose, I’ll pick Sarah Parish to play me, and Liam Neeson for Edward.
Best place to write? In bed! I’ve already covered this. But there isn’t any doubt that the best place to edit is by a pool, slightly damp from swimming, somewhere in the Mediterranean, with a cold glass of rosé at my side.
The Heartfix by Stella Grey will be published 22nd September 2016.
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