Kettle Mag interviews Miranda Dickinson

Interview, Miranda Dickinson, Books, Kettle Mag, Chloe Smith
Written by Chloe Smith

Recently I’ve had the great experience of interviewing author Miranda Dickinson, whose latest book, Searching for a Silver Lining, is out now. Miranda gave really in-depth, amazing answers to my questions, all about writing and her new book.

But what is Searching for a Silver Lining all about?

Well, it's the story of a journey, of love, of music… and so much more. Below is its official synopsis:

It began with a promise…

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything…

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

And here are the questions! Thank you to Miranda and Pan Macmillan.

What inspired you to write Searching for a Silver Lining?

I have wanted to write a book centered around a journey for several years and have long been a fan of 1950s music, so when I realised I could combine the two, the idea for the book arrived very quickly. My Dad always talked with such affection about being a teenager during the Fifties and I wanted to capture the hope and optimism of that in a story. I also wanted to write about second chances and of putting right past wrongs – so Mattie’s promise to her late grandfather and Reenie’s sixty-year rift with her former bandmates grew out of that.

Searching for a Silver Lining is your eighth book – congratulations! Have you learned anything new about writing or editing, or adapted your writing process in any way after writing eight books?

I feel like I’m serving the longest apprenticeship as a writer! With each book I’ve learned how to tell a better story, how much to plan and how to decide what stays and what is discarded during editing. In recent years I’ve learned the importance of proper preparation and of immersing myself in the world I want to create in my books. I’ve also learned how vital it is to love what I’m doing and to constantly pursue joy in my writing. And I’ve finally learned to celebrate everything – from small things like completing another chapter to huge things like recently topping one million books sold worldwide!

Image: Miranda Dickinson

Do you have any advice for someone who’d like to become a writer?

Write. First and foremost, the best way to learn how to write a book is to write one. Courses and ‘how-to’ books are useful, but they can also be perfectly plausible reasons to put off actually writing. So write, whenever and wherever you can. Write the story you’d like to read and keep going until you finish it. So many people embark on a novel but abandon it when the inspiration runs out or the writing gets hard. Pursue the best story you can tell and love everything you write, even if nobody else ever reads it. Lastly, read. See how other writers across genres create story, pace and characters. Be inspired by them and learn from them.

Do you have any particular writing traditions, like listening to a specific music playlist while writing, or writing in a specific place?

I always have a blanket over my knees when I write at home and a lit candle on my desk – I choose a different candle scent for each new book to inspire the feeling I want to create. For Searching for a Silver Lining I chose a Sweet Apple candle to evoke memories of happy times. I also make a new playlist for each new book – for this book I had two: Reenie Silver’s 1950s playlist forms the chapter headings of the book, while Matilda Bell’s modern playlist features some of my favourite artists and is included at the back of the book.

Out of all of the characters in Searching for a Silver Lining which one would you most like to know in real life? Which would you hate to be stuck in a lift with?

I love Mattie but if I can only choose one it *has *to be Reenie Silver. She says what everyone else is thinking, has a wicked sense of humour but has also lived a fascinating life. I have to say I’d hate to be stuck in a lift with her, though, because Reenie can moan for England! Can you sum up the plot of ‘Searching for a Silver Lining’ in a sentence. Distraught after losing her grandfather, Mattie Bell meets former Fifties&rsquo singing star Reenie Silver and together they embark on an incredible journey to uncover secrets and put right a sixty-year wrong.

And finally – what can we expect from you next?

I’m already writing my ninth novel and I’m loving it. I can’t tell you what the story is but I can say it will be a magical, sweet, romantic story set in one of my favourite places in the world!

Searching for a Silver Lining is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now from Amazon UK, and all good bookshops.