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Dorothy Koomson Talks Writing, Friendship & Black Women In Books

Dorothy Koomson is a novelist and journalist who grew up in London. She spent two years living in Australia and returned to England to eventually move to the south coast, where some of her books are set. In 2006, her third novel, My Best Friend’s Girl was published. The book was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club and has sold over 500,000 copies. Dorothy’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

BB: Dorothy, how did you get into writing? Did you write as a child?

DK: As a child, I used to love reading, and would regularly daydream. This sort of led on to writing. When I was 13 I wrote my first book – I wrote a chapter a night then passed it around my school friends in the morning. I kept writing short stories and novels for years until eventually, I got a publishing deal. 

BB: Where do you get your inspiration from? Are any elements of your stories autobiographical? 

DK: I get my inspiration from all sorts of places: a lot of my stories come from thinking about a scenario and then going ‘what if’ – what if this happened? What if that happened? about it. I also eavesdrop a lot, which is easy because people talking on mobiles seem to forget they’re not in the privacy of their own home. A couple of my novels are based on news stories. The Rose Petal Beach, for example, was inspired by the press stories of women whose powerful husbands have been accused of terrible things, and how their lives have been devastated by their husband’s choices.