Ilana Fox shares some special books from her life.
The book that you’ve just written
It’s called The Glittering Art of Falling Apart, and I put my heart and soul into it over the course of three years and lots of rewrites! It’s about a girl named Cassie who wants to save her family home, Beaufont Hall, and discovers some diaries from a previously unheard of relative while cleaning the former library. Eliza’s diaries chronicle her teenage years in Tottenham to her wild 20s in Soho in the 1980s, and it’s through reading Eliza’s diaries that Cassie discovers herself. The novel is a bit of a tear-jerker, but even my grandfather loved it. And that’s saying something!
The book that defined your childhood
One of my earliest memories is of my father reading me some beautifully illustrated Paddington Bear stories. I especially loved one where Paddington went to the seaside, ate some ice-cream, and captured some sea air in an empty marmalade jar. Whenever I’m on holiday I’m tempted to do the same. I wish we could bottle sea air – it would be life changing!
The book that made you want to be a writer
I don’t think there was any one particular book – I’ve always preferred reading to watching TV … when I was growing up all the library staff knew me quite well! One book that influenced me a lot was Career Girls by Louise Bagshawe. It’s a glitzy, fun read but it’s also about two ambitious girls who work hard and get to the top of their career game. Before I read that book I didn’t realise that anything in life is possible if you want it badly enough.
The book that makes you cry
The Glittering Art of Falling Apart makes me cry buckets. I know the characters so well: they feel very alive to me, and when I’m in Soho on the same streets where their stories take place I always think of them. They feel so realistic. There’s a fair bit of tragedy in the novel, and when sad things happen to the characters I end up crying my eyes out. I know it’s silly, but I’m very attached to the characters and I wish I could save them from the bad things that happen in their lives. Which is silly considering I wrote it that way!
The book that makes you laugh
My friend Lindsey always makes me laugh a LOT so it stands to reason that her novels make me laugh out loud too. I love A Girl’s Best Friend, which came out at the end of last year. If you’ve not read it yet you absolutely should – Tess is incredibly endearing and I loved the book.
The book you’d put in a time capsule for future generations
Gosh – there’s so many books that are important to me and it’s difficult to choose! I’m obviously taking this far too seriously, but if you consider how all books are now digital and therefore immortal, a book you’d put in a time capsule as a hardback would have to be incredibly special. I’ve thought about this for over ten minutes now and I can’t choose just one!
The book you’re planning next.
It’s completely different to anything I’ve written before and I’m not allowed to talk about it just yet! But I’m very excited about it – it’s all I can think about!
Eliza is drawn to the heady pull of 80s Soho with its glamourous night clubs and free-spirited people. She is feels free to be whoever she wants to be, but it comes at a heavy cost.
Cassie is fascinated by the crumbling Beaufort Hall and yearns to know more about her family history, but why won’t her mother talk about it?
Two women a generation apart but connected by a forgotten diary. It’s a gripping read full of family secrets, love affairs and the seductive yet dangerous power of 1980s Soho.
Ilana Fox has previously worked for The Daily Mail and The Sun. She also developed and launched all the social media for ASOS.com and worked as a freelance consultant for Trinity Mirror, Topshop, and several start-ups. She is a supporter of the Save Soho project whose aim is to preserve iconic music and performing arts venues in Soho that are being torn down by developers. Ilana lives in East Dulwich. Her novels include The Making of Mia, All That Glitters and The Glittering Art of Falling Apart.