Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 19th July
Beginner’s Pluck Emma Healey
Emma has always had a joint interest in writing and art. She worked in an art gallery before deciding, at 25, to take an MA in Creative Writing.
“I was always writing, but before that I was trying to write about myself, and was never able to concentrate on anything,” she says. “Then I got the idea for Elizabeth is Missing. I worked on that in UEA.”
The character of Maud is based on Emma’s grandmother, whom she adored.
“She told me lots of stories about her life; I picked up her turn of phrase. My other grandmother had dementia, and I could imagine that in some way. It was easier, for me, than imagining a male character.”
Finishing the MA, Emma worked in a library, then returned to Norwich where she worked in the Marketing Department at UEA.
A summer sensation, Elizabeth is Missing has been sold to 18 different territories.
Who is Emma Healey?
Date of birth: 27th February 1985 in London.
Education: Emmanuelle in London; Foundation Course in Art and Design at St Martin’s; London College of Communication, Book Art. University of East Anglia, MA Creative Writing.
Family: Partner Andy. Parents.
The Day Job: Fulltime Writer.
Interests: “I make cards; I love walking and enjoy playing computer games.”
Favourite Writers: Penelope Fitzgerald; Barbara Pym; Michael Frayn; Jane Austen; Graham Greene.
Second Novel: “I have a novel plan, and a deadline as I have a two book deal.”
Top Writing Tip: “Harness your willpower. I’m less good at writing if I’m using my willpower to do something else, like follow a diet.
Web: www.emmahealey.co.uk Twitter: @echealey
The Debut: Elizabeth is Missing. Viking: €15.99 Kindle: €6.26.
Maud’s memory is going. She forgets to eat, and keeps buying tinned peaches. But she’s clear about one thing; her friend Elizabeth is missing. She’s also bothered by memories of her sister, Suki, who disappeared when Maud was a teenager. Will she remember a vital clue that could solve that post second world war crime?
“I hope my book will give people a perspective on older people, and the way they feel that the world is carrying on around them.”
The Verdict: An astonishingly assured portrait of the vagaries of old age. Touching and compulsive.
© Sue Leonard. 2014