by Emylia Hall
Emylia's writing space in the French Alps.
Emylia's writing space in Scotland.
The Book of Summers began as just a few hastily-tapped paragraphs, saved on a floppy disc and tucked into a drawer when I was still working and living in London. After moving house, and moving countries, the disk went astray but there was something about the idea that stayed with me; the allure of the foreign, the clash of strange and familiar, a coming-of-age story about complex but well-meaning family relations. Several years later, in 2006, I was living in the French Alps - tired of my hectic London job in advertising my boyfriend and I were working in a ski chalet; I was the chef and he was the cleaner. It wasn’t the kind of work we were used to; we rose at dawn and worked until late at night, but we felt so, so free. When I wasn’t cooking in the chalet, or flying on my snowboard, I began to write. I remembered all of my childhood ambitions and knew that this was what I wanted to do more than anything. Inspired by the natural beauty of the mountain landscape, and delighting in the relinquishing of so much responsibility, my creative spirit soared.
I returned to England in 2007 and began to write The Book of Summers. My boyfriend and I rented a small flat in Bristol and lived on a shoestring budget. By day I worked part time in a marketing agency, otherwise I wrote – and with every page I travelled; desk-bound, soul flying. My novel and I also went on real, as well as imagined, journeys – I love the feeling of possibility and infinite freedom that comes with being abroad and it feeds into my writing. Some scenes were written on the shores of Lake Balaton in Hungary, at a terrace table, as I looked out over the shimmering water and remembered childhood days. I spent a rain-soaked week in the Austrian mountains, re-writing and daubing my manuscript with red pen. Even when I wed in Vegas and honeymooned in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, the book came with me; a quick-thought scribbled in a roadside diner or a Santa Fe café. In wildest Scotland I worked for a week staying in a converted freight container at the edge of a loch, and in that bleak but beautiful landscape I wrote pages of background notes that delved deep into the emotions of each character; their battered souls and imperfections. At night it was very dark and very quiet and the story slept with me.
Emylia's writing desk on her home turf.
Thanks for taking the time to share this with us, Emylia! Check out her novel The Book of Summers, which I'll be reviewing next week.