In celebration of this year’s Orange Prize, The Times is running a feature article on friendships between female writers, written by Emma Claire Sweeney and me.
For this piece, we had the pleasure of travelling out to Ireland to interview Anne Enright (shortlisted this year for The Forgotten Waltz) and her friend Lia Mills. Back in London, we met with Jill Dawson and Louise Doughty, both former Orange nominees who’ve long been a source of support to each other), and also Emily Pedder and Monique Roffey (shortlisted in 2010). These two signed a co-mentoring agreement to keep themselves on track with the writing of their memoirs.
The inspiration for this article grew out of personal experience. Emma and I have been the best of friends since we met, in Japan, over a decade ago. We were working as English teachers in Japanese schools at the time. Separately, we were writing in secret, although we hadn’t yet found the courage to admit our ambitions, even to each other. Since then, we’ve been able to watch each other’s careers progress and we’ve shared in the successes and also the disappointments we’ve experienced so far. It’s been wonderful to talk with other women who’ve relied on each other in similar ways.
Many thanks to Anne, Emily, Jill, Lia, Louise and Monique. Thanks also to Tim Clare and Joe Dunthorne for your insights on a friendship between two male writers. This story is also featured in our piece.
Finally, thanks to Emma herself. Despite the long hours we’ve put into this, working with you has been just as fun as it always is.
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