Five minutes with: Rachel Elliott

Author Rachel Elliott

Meet Rachel Elliott, author of the Women’s Prize 2022 longlisted novel Flamingo. Author Julie Cohen said of Flamingo; ‘it is vibrant and glorious, full of life and colour and pain and love.’

This is a novel full of hope, so what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…

Rachel Elliott:

Describe in three words how it feels to be longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Honoured, excited, grateful.

What inspired you to write Flamingo?

The kindness of a stranger I met in a library during a dark hour, and all the kindness I’ve ever been shown, which is why it’s a novel grown from gratitude, a book full of wild hope.

Can you describe Flamingo in one sentence?

Daniel Berry has given away a lifetime of possessions, he’s sleeping rough with a small ceramic sheep and a broken heart, and inspired by a stranger in a public library, he boards a train and travels back to the place where he was happiest, where he once felt like he belonged, but who will be there when he arrives?

Are there any locations that have a special connection for the book?

During the first few years of my childhood, before we started moving around, we lived in a bungalow in Norfolk. My lovely grandmother lived a few doors down, and our next-door neighbours were so warm and welcoming – I was always in and out of their houses, rarely at home. All the Norfolk scenes, called ‘the fearless years’, are based on this.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

As a child I wrote and sketched a story about two charming creatures from outer space called Fuzzfic and Buzzfic, who decided to live in my bedroom.

Why did you become a writer?

It’s a sort of compulsion, really. Writing is the place where I think clearly, where I discover what’s important to me. I just love it.

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