Sam Binnie

Sam BinnieSam Binnie was the 2005 winner of the Harper’s/Orange Prize Short Story Competition.’The Wedding Diaries’ was her first book which was followed closely by ‘The Baby Diaries’, which was be published in March 2013. Sam lives in London with her husband and three children.

  1. Both your books, ‘The Wedding Diaries’ and ‘The Baby Diaries’ follow Kiki’s life as she deals with the stress of getting married and being pregnant. Were any of the stories and scenarios in the books based on real life events?
    There are definitely elements of my life in there – I have had a wedding and three pregnancies – but I don’t think it’s as autobiographical as my family assume. I can tell where my mother is in the books by what she accuses me of. I have to explain to her to that this fictional heroine is not, actually, me and that events in the books aren’t necessarily things I’ve experienced. She’s still very suspicious, though. I’m going to blow up the disclaimer the front about the books being ‘entirely works of fiction’ at and frame it for her.
  2. To the readers of the website, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    I’ve always been a writer, from when I was very tiny. I’d come up with strange, fantastical tales about wandering girls, and write them in silver ink on my windows. I can only assume my parents had that blind parental faith in my abilities, because rather than telling me to clean it off and stop being so pretentious, they actually kept the glass for ages when they changed all the windows in the house. Bless them. A few years ago I won the Orange/Harpers short story prize, and was in touch with a couple of agents, but my mind kept wandering all the time from what I’d actually write. Then I was approaching 30 and thought I’d use that date to be the carrot/stick to get a book done, and was lucky enough that my friend, a brilliant agent, agreed to take on the finished book.
  3. What authors do you admire?
    Pretty much everyone but Louise Mensch.
  4. If Kiki and Thom were to be adapted for screen, who do you imagine playing the young couple?
    Me and Ryan Gosling. Obviously. Isn’t that the only reason anyone ever writes a book featuring a romance?
  5. Regarding the phenomenon of “Fifty Shades of Grey “and how well it did. Some people criticised the writing and the books that followed on after the series. Do you think the standards of writing has slipped?
    No, not at all. I read all three for a job I was doing, and although I found some of the relationship politics a bit questionable, it was nowhere near as bad as people seem to want to believe. I’ve also had to read a great deal of modern literary fiction for work, and it’s such a narrow genre that the writing quality can slip wildly and a book can still be hailed as magnificent. We’re so lucky that there’s plenty of great stuff out there, and more being published all the time.
  6. Who is your favourite literary hero/heroine?
    Elizabeth Bennet, Cassandra Mortmain, Tom Ripley, Patroclus, Polly Whittacker, Lyra Belacqua, Humbert Humbert, Miss Marple, Florence Dombey, Lee Fiora, and Adrian Veidt.
  7. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    I’ve never been a big fan of anything I’ve read by Jonathan Safran Foer or Jonathan Franzen. But they hardly need my approval.
  8. Out of the many books that you have read over the years, which one would you have liked to have said “I wrote that”?
    Anything wildly successful, of course, but most recently ‘The Sisters Brothers’. It kept making me stop and pant at how good the writing is. From further back, anything by Dickens, Shirley Jackson or Patricia Highsmith.
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Carter Beats the Devil’, ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Building Stories’. I could always make a tent out of the latter.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Actually getting the words down on the page. Until you’ve done that, everything else – reading for research, getting feedback, making changes – is meaningless.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My notebook. I have pages and pages of comments and notes, dates and plot points, and I’m lost without it.
  12. And finally Sam, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    Book 3 in the series is out next February, so I’m busy writing that. Plus with a new baby, that might take up a bit of time, but I’m also thinking about future projects – something very different perhaps. Who knows. It’s an exciting time.

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