Elizabeth Day

How did you become a writer?

Years of practise.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

My UK editor, Helen Garnons-Williams is an incredible mentor and dear friend. I value her opinion above all. I started out as a journalist and learned a lot about how to write clear, concise and lyrical copy from Dominic Lawson, who was then editor of The Sunday Telegraph. I read other authors voraciously and have learned a lot from them, namely Elizabeth Jane Howard, Anne Tyler, Rosamond Lehman, Tom Wolfe, Edward St Aubyn, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Patricia Highsmith, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Patrick Hamilton and R. C. Sheriff. 

When and where do you write? 

Anywhere and any time. I don't have a strict schedule. I'm also a working journalist so am often juggling several different deadlines at once. I tend to write journalism at my desk and then decamp to a nearby cafe for fiction. I like being around the murmur of other people. Writing can be an isolating profession and sometimes it's good to remember how people actually talk to each other! I also love writing on long train journeys and generally, at the beginning and end of each novel, I'll take myself off to an Airbnb or a friend's house for a few weeks to be able to concentrate fully on the task in hand.

What are you working on now?

I'm ghosting a memoir and mulling over ideas for novel number five.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

No, but I have written several thousand words of something only to discard them and realise they don't reflect the book I want to write. That's happened to me twice - the first time I ditched 40,000 words; the second it was 20,000. Sometimes you need to strip things back to be able to see clearly.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Take the adjective out and see how the sentence works without it. That came courtesy of my friend Sebastian Faulks.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Just do it. Writing is as much of a craft as an art, and the most important thing when you're starting out is to get words on a page. You can always go back and edit them, but they need to exist for you to call yourself a writer. Also, don't worry too much about having to write in a unique way: your story and your set of experiences are what make you unique. No-one else will think quite like you do. That's your power.

Elizabeth Day is an award-winning author and journalist. Her critically-acclaimed fourth novel, The Party is out now, published by 4th Estate in the UK, Little Brown in America, Belfond in France and Dumont in Germany. The New York Times called it, “a smart, irresistible romp” and it was an Observer and Irish Times ‘Book of the Year’.

Her debut novel Scissors, Paper, Stone won a Betty Trask Award. Her follow-up, Home Fires was an Observer Book of the Year. Her third, Paradise City was named one of the best novels of 2015 in the Observer, Paste Magazine and the Evening Standard, and was People magazine's Book of the Week.

She is a feature writer for numerous publications in the UK and US including The Telegraph, The Times, the Guardian, the Observer, Vogue, Grazia, the Radio Times, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, InStyle, the Lonely Planet Magazine, The Pool and Cosmopolitan. She is a contributing editor for Harper's Bazaar. A versatile and wide-ranging writer, her work incorporates everything from celebrity interviews to crime reportage.

Elizabeth grew up in Northern Ireland and her first job was for The Derry Journal. Since then, she has worked for The Evening Standard, The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and the Observer where she was staff feature writer for eight years. She won a British Press Award in 2004 for Young Journalist of the Year and was Highly Commended as Feature Writer of the Year in 2013. She is the co-founder of Pin Drop, a live performance short story studio, and a regular contributor to Sky News and BBC Radio 4.