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Win a copy of the new novel by Joanna Glen

We have a fantastic new competition with the opportunity to win a copy of Joanna Glen’s All My Mothers, and to celebrate we have a Q&A from the author – keep reading to find out more and how to enter.

Q&A with Joanna Glen

My books seem to start with a feeling inside me. This is the seed from which the story and the characters grow. The feeling for All My Mothers was longing: a kind of deep yearning for something that may or may not exist and may or may not ever have existed. Saudade, the Portuguese call it. I think a lot of us experience it. For me, after the feeling comes the place to set the novel, and this, when we’re not in London, is Córdoba, my favourite city on earth.

The novel attempts to articulate the challenges we face on the way to finding the things we long for: love and friendship, beauty and laughter, self-understanding and purpose and fulfilment. Eva yearns for all these things, alongside answers to her many pressing questions about who she is and where she’s come from. Because some things she’s been told by her parents – in fact most things she’s been told – don’t seem to add up. And so her quest begins.

What type of person do you hope reads your book?

I’d love anyone to read my book if they’d like to – and I hope their spirits might be lifted as they wander the beguiling streets of Córdoba, searching for the truth of Eva’s story and in it perhaps finding their own.

What’s the most unexpected thing you learnt while writing this book?

The things I learn when I write are mainly about myself: what is hidden rises to the surface and sometimes catches me by surprise. I guess you have to be brave to write, as writing is one way of exposing our own fears and processing our own sorrows. As I wrote All My Mothers, I learnt how much I miss my own mother, who was the most wonderful of women, and who died in 2008.

What’s your favourite first line in literature?

I have so many contenders, and this is the most impossible question! I have chewed on it for days, and today’s answer (which may not be the same as tomorrow’s or yesterday’s) is the first line of Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez:

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

Is there one book you wished you’d written?

Again, so many. When I’m reading a book I love, I often imagine that I might write something like it, but when I sit down to write, what comes out of me is something quite different. I suppose that’s the point of being ourselves. And perhaps we write the books that are ours to write, or something. Of many wonderful books I’ve read in the last year, Hamnet was a glorious, beautiful, perfectly formed book – and deserved every prize and accolade it won.

What are you working on next?

I said at the start that my stories seem to evolve out of feelings, and the feeling for my next novel is wonder, and alongside it, fragility. In this strange locked down year and a half, when we’ve discovered how fragile we are, the natural world has stepped in and given me (and perhaps all of us, wherever we live), on the bleakest of days, a sense of wonder. Books do that too. I’ve been reading and re-reading a book by David Hockney and Martin Gayford called Spring Cannot Be Cancelled, and there’s something liberating, hopeful and timely in that title, and in that book, which I’ve been feeling inside me as I write.

The Competition

To win a copy of All My Mothers,

Tell us why you would like to read the book on twitter using #AllMyMothers and tag @ReadingAgency and @BoroughPress

If you don’t use social media you can email competitions@readingagency.org.uk with the subject line ‘I want to win All My Mothers’. Entries close at 23:59 on Wednesday 15 June. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. Multiple entries will be discounted. This competition is open to UK residents only.

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