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Interview: Holly Wainwright talks about I Give My Marriage A Year


Holly Wainwright is a writer, editor and broadcaster who lives in Sydney with her young family. She's the Head of Content at women's media company Mamamia and I Give My Marriage A Year is her third novel. Holly talks to NZ Booklovers.


Tell us a little about I Give My Marriage A Year?

So it's a book about a long-term relationship at a crossroads. Lou and Josh have been married for 14 years and after a particularly fraught Christmas, Lou decides it's time to make a decision about their future. So she decides that for 12 months, she'll try something new every month to help her decide whether to stay, or go.


What inspired you to write this book?

Well, as part of my day job at mamamia.com.au I read and listen to women's stories every day. One of the things I was noticing, both via work submissions and in my own social circle, was that overwhelmingly, it was women who were holding their relationships up to the light and deciding if they would be happy if this was truly "it" for them. I found that really interesting.

What research was involved?

Well, a lot of my research was in talking to men and women about their relationships and their lives. And yes, some of the book was inspired by my own life, but don't tell my partner!

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I have a busy job and a family, so my writing routine and process is largely determined by what else is going on so I can carve out time to prioritise writing. Mostly I'm firmly of the belief that you can't wait for inspiration, you just have to get your head down and get on with it. My best ideas come when I'm walking, and I'm often almost sprinting home to try to get them down before they leave me. But I plot in a very old-fashioned way - in post-it notes on my bedroom wall, and they constantly shift as I'm pulling the story together.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include. I would include We're All In This Together, by Ben Lee, as that's the song that the busker is playing on the night Josh and Lou meet. And Josh listens to Radiohead when he's alone and feeling dark, so I would include Black Star, from The Bends.


What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

I became very attached to Lou and Josh and their story. I really enjoyed writing the scenes from their past - I love that whole idea of who we used to be and who we became. And I loved writing the big emotional scenes - Josh and Lou's revelatory conversation under their tree in the middle of the night is possibly my favourite passage.


What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I had a bottle of French champagne with my Mum, who was visiting from England. And thank God I did, because of course now we all have no idea when we'll see each other again!


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Can I have two? One is a book called Below Deck by a young Australian writer called Sophie Hardcastle. It's about a young woman's traumatic experience at sea and it's brilliant. And I also loved Rodham, completely different but entirely compelling. It's by Curtis Sittenfeld, whose writing I love, and it's an imagining of what would have happened to Hilary Clinton if she had turned Bill down. I loved it. So audacious.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

Another book! I'm really excited by the idea I'm playing with for my next novel. But I can't tell you about it yet, because it will change 24 times before I get it all down.


Published by Macmillan Publishers

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