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News > Alumni News > Day One: Abigail Dean (OS 2007) Returns To School Ahead Of New Book Launch

Day One: Abigail Dean (OS 2007) Returns To School Ahead Of New Book Launch

An insightful Q&A with the Sunday Times & New York Times bestselling author
28 Mar 2024
Alumni News

"You can't be a writer if you don't write anything."

                 

Author Abigail Dean (OS 2007) returned to SGS this week ahead of the release of her second novel, Day One. Already the author of the hugely successful Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, Girl A, Abigail also delivered an inspiring ‘Spotlight On’ talk about the power of perseverance and not giving up on your goals. Day One is released today (March 28th) and centres around a community who are rocked by a school shooting, and the ‘conspiracy theorists’ who attempt to deny it ever happened.

We caught up with Abigail to find out where she draws her inspiration from, how her second book differs from her first, and how her time at school helped inspire her to succeed.

You’ve just released your second book, Day One, - how was your second book release different to your first?

A: Its really daunting. My first book did really well and now I have readers waiting for my new book so I was thinking about the readers and their expectations.

When I produced Girl A, it was during lockdown so I didn’t do the talks and events I’m doing now. But this time I am doing a lot more which is exciting, and I even got to go to the printing factory and got to sign 1,000 copies of my book!

I have to remind myself that my goal has always been to see my book published and to be happy with the contents. This really helped me when I was deep in the editing process which can be tough.

After working as a lawyer for Google, you have now transitioned into being a full-time author, what was that transition like and are you enjoying it?

A: I gave up my job about a year ago now. I did really enjoy my work and the people I worked with but once I returned from my maternity leave, I felt a shift and I knew that balancing being a first-time mum, my corporate job and writing wasn’t something I would be able to, or want to, do.

I think having that time with my son, and to have more time to write has been hugely beneficial, especially now I am expecting my second child in June. My second book took about three years to write, whereas my third has taken me a year.

How would you describe your writing process?

A: Every day, from Monday to Thursday I spend seven or eight hours writing. I think if you only write when inspiration strikes you are in danger of inspiration failing to arrive. That won’t happen if you work at it. I try and write 1,000 words per day – obviously there are days where I write more, or where I write less, but I really think consistency is key when it comes to writing.

How do you feel when is comes to book release day?

A. I feel a real sense of liberation when I get to hand my books over to the reader! I am very open to hear about how each individual interprets the story and indeed the characters within. That’s always so interesting for me.

You mentioned that you have written your third book – can you tell us a little bit about it?

A: Yes, the first draft of my third book is complete! It’s a crime thriller with a love story included. It’ll be my first book that features a romantic love story so I am quite excited because of that. It’s been a bit different to write, but in a good way – everybody loves a good romance, but it’s been interesting to frame it against a backdrop of tragedy.

The topics in your books are quite dark. Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: Mostly from real-life news cases. Day One centres around how people react when a violent crime happens in their small town. I’ve always been intrigued by the people who believe conspiracy theories and I really wanted to delve into their psyche and see what made them think that certain events such as terror attacks hadn’t happened. I really love morally grey characters and I enjoy figuring out what makes them tick, but also trying to make sure they’re still somewhat relatable to the reader so they don’t become this sort of pantomime villain.

Tell us about your time at SGS

A: I really enjoyed my time at school. I joined the Junior School in Year 5 and left after completing Upper Sixth. Everyone in the English Department has been so supportive, not just now, but also while I was at school. I remember studying Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath which I think has really influenced my writing and choice of genre.

In your ‘Spotlight On’ talk you spoke about resilience, why did you choose this topic for our pupils?

A: I feel that it’s massively important for young people to understand that you don’t have to get things right immediately and that when you get knocked down you can pick yourself up again. You also hear a lot of talks from people who have had success in their fields and it’s easy to focus on where they are now, but not how they got there. I think that people can have a lot of beliefs about what an author is and can be concerned they don’t fit into that standard – I want to pass on the message that the only way you will not be considered a writer is if you don’t write anything.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in becoming a writer?

A: My advice is to read as much as you can! In my experience, it is only through enveloping yourself in all those other voices that you eventually find your own. I would also say avoid worrying about an end reader when going through the writing process as they differ so much. Focus on what you enjoy writing about because you will never be in the position of being the end reader and you will certainly never please everyone.

It was wonderful to welcome Abigail back in to school and we are very grateful for her time in inspiring current pupils and budding writers amongst us! Abigail’s new novel, Day One, is now available to buy here.

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