Deborah McKinlay is the author of the new novel That Part Was True. Her other books include the novel The View from Here. Born in New Zealand, she is based in England. She can be found on Twitter @YourAuntLola.
Q: Food plays a big role in the book. Why did you decide on that as a major theme?
A: I set out to write about loneliness and isolation and the way that friendship can be found in surprising places, and I needed some bond that could grow between people who, on the surface, had little in common.
Food, and our relationship with it, is an awfully big part of our lives, I think, so it provided the ideal device for reflecting elements of the characters’ personalities – both within the story and to the reader.
Q: Why did you choose "That Part Was True" as the book's title?
A: Authors don’t always choose their own titles. Editors, agents and marketing departments all have some input and there are lots of other factors - like similarity to existing books - that impact on the final decision.
But, actually, this was the first of my books to go ahead with its original name. That Part Was True is not meant to suggest that any element of the story is literally a 'lie', but alludes, instead to the onion-like peeling back that the characters go through in their correspondence and friendship, till they reach their true selves. I was using the word 'true' in its more poetic sense.
Q: The book alternates between Eve's and Jack's perspectives. Did you feel equally connected to both characters as you wrote the book?
A: Absolutely. I feel just as connected to the minor characters, too.
Q: Do you know the endings of your novels before you start writing, or do you change things around as you work?
A: I start out with the end in mind. The middle bits change around a fair bit in the writing.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A novel, set in New York, about a cross-generational friendship.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My favourite writing advice is from Jack Kerouac: "Something that you feel will find its own form" and, more prosaically, "Try and never get drunk outside your own house."
--Interview with Deborah Kalb