Your novels always have a powerful romantic theme at their core and Me Before You especially has an incredibly moving love story its heart. What is it about this subject that inspires you to write such beautiful tales?
I suppose I just love being moved myself. I love music that alters your mood, films that take you somewhere else, or make you cry, and I just try to write books that really take you out of yourself in the same way. I’m also – like half the world – fascinated by love; why it works and why it doesn’t.
Me Before You is receiving very good reviews – how does it make you feel?
Oh it’s an indescribably good feeling. Writing each book is such an act of faith – you never really know until you’ve finished whether it’s any good or whether anyone else will respond to it. Reviews like this are the stuff of a writer’s dreams. I know some writers don’t read them – or say they don’t – but it really matters to me that people enjoy what I do.
How long did it take you to write Me Before You? Do you find some books easier to write than others?
Despite the difficult subject matter, Me Before You was one of the easiest books I’ve written. I ‘knew’ Will and Lou from the very beginning, which meant that I knew how they would react to each other in any given situation. That doesn’t always happen – but when it does, it makes writing positively joyful. I loved writing their banter, and the changes in their relationship. The only problem came with the ending – until the last chapter I honestly wasn’t sure which way I wanted it to go.
Writing is a passion but do you find that sometimes you need to find extra motivation to get writing? If so, what motivates you the most?
My mortgage! No – I do actually love writing, so I’m also motivated by the fear that one day I won’t have a writing career. I think of how long it took me to get published, and how easy it would be to throw it away, and that usually is motivation enough. Just plugging on and keeping the faith is very important for a writer, I think.
How do you come up with ideas, characters, plots? Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Most of my ideas come from snippets of news, or stories I hear from people around me. I never worry about running out of ideas, because if you sit and talk to anyone long enough you will find something in their history that could inspire a novel. Me Before You came from an item on a radio news bulletin. My previous book – The Last Letter From Your Lover – came about after eavesdropping in a pub.
Tell us more about your next book – have you written it yet?
It’s called The Girl You Left Behind. It’s an epic love story, set partly in France in World War One, and partly in the modern day, and it revolves around a portrait of a young woman and two couples whose lives are affected by it. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever written – and halfway through I deleted 70,000 words of it and rewrote them. It’s a very different book to Me Before You, but hopefully still revolves around the same themes – love, and loss – so I’m just hoping people respond to it in the same way.