The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors. If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.
Name: Elizabeth Day
What’s it about? A gripping story of obsession and betrayal, privilege and hypocrisy, set in the unassailable heart of the British establishment.
What you’re reading: Elizabeth Jane Howard, a biography by Artemis Cooper. EJH is one of my all-time favourite authors and gave me a blurb for my first novel, Scissors Paper Stone. She wrote me a letter in which said some very kind things and pointed out that dogs don’t sweat (I’d put a sweating dog in my manuscript. The shame!
I was lucky enough to meet her subsequently when I interviewed her for the Observer and I had lunch with her shortly before her death in 2014. She was an inspiration: sharp, clever, funny, interested in others. This biography is fascinating because, in spite of her beauty and her talent, it shows how little self-belief she had. It’s the curse of many female authors. Or many females full stop.
What you’re listening to: You Must Remember This, a brilliant podcast written and presented by Karina Longworth about the secret or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.
What you’re watching: I’ve just finished Big Little Lies which was a beautiful piece of television. So moving and so rare to see a group of women portrayed on screen like that in all their complexity. Also Nicole Kidman was a revelation.
Favourite word(s): Bombastic. Also ‘sesquipedalian’ which means a word containing many syllables.
Favourite song: I’m a huge hip-hop fan. No Vaseline by Ice Cube is up there. And Jump Around by House of Pain always gets me dancing.
Your hero – literary or otherwise: Vera Brittain, who served as a nurse during the First World War, during which her fiance, her brother and her two male best friends were killed. She spent the rest of her life campaigning for pacifism and wrote Testament of Youth, which is an incredible memoir.
The book you wish you’d written: Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe invented a new way of writing and is a wildly entertaining read, at once both tightly plotted and panoramic in scope. So, yeah, I’d be ok with having written that.
Writing ritual: A good cafe and a mug of strong green tea. I make a deal with myself that I have to write 1000 words each time I sit down, no matter how good or bad they are, because I can always go back and edit.
Best advice ever received: Everything happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately apparent.
If you could change one thing about the world: I’d give men the ability to carry children. Can you imagine how much more equal that would make the universe?
Think of something beautiful: The sky. It always helps to look up.
The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read: The last line in The Great Gatsby: ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
If you weren’t writing: I’d be extremely unhappy, probably surrounded by cats.
Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of The Party? Ben Whishaw or Alfie Allen as Martin. I’d love Dominic West from about 10 years ago as Ben but failing the invention of time travel, James Norton with dark hair would be amazing. Lucy is a tricky one but there’s an actress called Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones who I love. Rory Kinnear as Andrew Jarvis. And Serena needs to be icy, blonde and beautiful…Can I have Rosamund Pike?
Best place to write? The outside patio of the Los Feliz Coffee Bean in east LA because you get a tan while you’re typing.