Debbie Howells: An Exclusive Interview on The Bones of You

Debbie Howells: An Exclusive Interview on The Bones of You

Hi Debbie. Congratulations on being selected to take part in the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring 2016! How did it feel to find out that The Bones of You had been chosen?

I was amazed actually, because I know I’m up against huge competition. Yes, just so so thrilled.

What inspired the title of your book, The Bones of You?

The title is actually a song title, it’s a song by Elbow. I didn’t have the title when I was writing the book, but when I came across it I just knew that it was the perfect fit for it. It just felt right on many levels. And I know it’s been suggested that I might have chosen it because of The Lovely Bones, but that’s not actually the case at all.

Who was your favourite character to write?

Rosie, without a doubt. Because I felt such compassion for Rosie as I wrote her story, but I also liked how she came across quite unemotionally. It could have been written with a lot more invested emotion, but she almost told her story as if she – well, she was – looking back on her story, and I think that’s how it came across.

There are obviously some quite difficult issues within the narrative. How did you research those and get to the heart of your story?

I read… I read a lot actually. I read a lot about victims of emotional abuse and family environments, and I talked to a lot of people. It was extraordinary in the months leading up to this how many people I talked to who had a story of their own that they kept, that you would never have guessed at. And that’s the whole thing about this subject, that you really wouldn’t know. And I guess it all came together, and I started to educate myself really about the nature of these relationships, and I guess that was why… that was really a trigger for wanting to write about them, to bring them out there really so that people could become aware of them as well.

Is there a message that you’d like readers to take away from the book?

I didn’t set out to write a message as such, but I think the story described in the book is actually – whatever some readers may think – fairly true to life. These kind of things – without giving too much away, and the book takes it to an extreme – but these relationships are very real, they do exist and, you know, they do go on next door, across the road and you really wouldn’t know. There are very vulnerable people out there who hide it very well. So I guess it’s about being aware of that, maybe.

Do you have a favourite moment in the book?

There’s part of Rosie’s childhood where she’s staying with her auntie and she has a taste of normal childhood, and a barrelling surfer’s wave drops her into a summer, and I love that because it’s a respite from the rest of her life – her real life, her home life. And also I love the end, the moment where Kate somehow realises that Rosie has found resolution with what’s happened to her and is at peace – and where Rosie herself finds peace.

Who was your favourite author as a child, and who is your favourite author now?

Oh I totally loved Enid Blyton, I read everything Enid Blyton, you know – the murders, the whodunits, The Famous Five and all of that, and everything that she wrote. And my favourite author? Oh I don’t have a favourite author, I love so many authors – I read a lot of books and I get sent a lot books…I particularly enjoy reading JoJo Moyes and also I love Rosamund Lupton’s writing. It’s hard to pick, I have a huge pile of books but so little time to read at the moment!

Final question, do you have a favourite book of 2015?

Oh gosh, that’s a really tough one. I’ve just read one, and it was the best book I have read in a long time!

Which one was that?

It was called Gone Astray by Michelle Davies – one to look out for, absolutely gripping read.