Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writes & Reads #4: Emma Jane Unsworth

Every week, we speak to one of the writers appearing at this year's Manchester Literature Festival and quiz them on book reading and writing.

Emma Jane Unsworth’s debut novel Hungry, The Stars And Everything is a witty and romantic exploration of love, longing and not getting what you want. It hit the shelves to critical acclaim when it came out through new Manchester independent publishing house the Hidden Gem Press in June. Emma is a columnist for The Big Issue In The North and her short fiction has been published by Comma, Two Ravens, Redbeck, Prospect Magazine and the new flash fiction anthology Quickies: Short Stories For Adults, which launches tonight at Didsbury Arts Festival and is available to buy via the FlashTag website and on Kindle. Emma be reading her work and discussing the contemporary UK literature scene with fellow author John Niven on Saturday 15th October (6pm, Waterstone's Deansgate, £5/£3 concs*). You can read more from Emma here.

MLF: List your top three favourite books…
EJU: This changes regularly but right now it's: Two Lives, especially My House In Umbria, by William Trevor; Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel; and A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

MLF: What are you reading right now?

EJU: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. It's hilarious, and just the right thing to read in a howling gale.

MLF: How did you get to this point in your writing career?
EJU: I've pretty much always written poems and short stories and then I worked as a full-time journalist for a while and only managed to write approximately one short story a year during that time. This summer my first novel, Hungry, The Stars And Everything, was published. I've also started writing something like poetry again as I've just joined a band.

MLF: Who would you cite as your biggest influence, be they another writer, an artist, a musician, a Premier League footballer…
EJU: My friends. Closely followed by the Romantic poets, the Brontes and Conor Oberst.

MLF: Which events in this year’s MLF programme are must-sees for you?

EJU: War Stories on the 15th October with Zoe Lambert and Michelle Green. We're in the same writing workshop group, Northern Lines, and I think they're very talented writers grappling with difficult, important issues. Afternoon tea with Patricia Duncker on 19th October at the Midland also looks great. I loved her novel Hallucinating Foucault. For this event she's written a new short story set in the Midland Hotel. And there will be cake. It all sounds very good to me. Then later that evening I'm going to attempt to event-hop along Oxford Road because I definitely want to hear Socrates Adams reading from his new novel at the Manchester Blog Awards but I'd also like to catch a bit of Antonia Fraser down at the Whitworth later if I can.

MLF: Tell us about what you’re working on at the moment.
EJU: I'm working on my second novel. It's about a girl with a tragic past who meets an obsessive boy at university. I'm interested in exploring how different people deal with trauma. It's a book about resilience and jealousy, set in Manchester and Paris. I'm on the second draft and it feels like a big, unwieldy mess today but I'm hoping I can knock it into shape by the end of the year!

For full details of all events at MLF 2011 and how to book, visit the website at

*If you are part of a reading group or want to arrange a night out with a group of book-loving friends, why not take advantage of our special MLF Reading Group Ticket Offer for this event. Book for four or more people and get all your tickets at the concessionary rate of £3. The offer is available online or by phoning our Box Office on 0843 208 0500 and quoting MLF Reading Group Offer at the time of booking.

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