Born in London, Dani Akins is the author of five great novels: Fractured, Th Story of Us, Then and Always, Our Song and This Love. While I Was Sleeping– Akins’ new novel- comes out this August.
This Love is such a beautiful novel with heart and a deep emotional thread. What inspired you to write this novel?
The inspiration for many of my books often starts with a simple question. In the case of This Love the question was: What would happen if you fell in love with the very last person you should ever become involved with?
The twists and turns don’t always reveal themselves straight away. One of the major twists in the book occurred to me several days after the initial idea.
What was the easiest/ hardest thing about writing this novel?
I found the latter part of the book the hardest to write. By the time I get to around the halfway point in my books, these people aren’t just characters on a page (or a screen), they are real. You have lived with them for so long, they almost feel like members of your family. And when something bad happens to them – or you know it is about to – you desperately try to find a way to protect them. But of course you can’t, because you’re the one who put them in that situation in the first place!
Now, I don’t want to spoil the ending for readers who are yet to read this novel. If you could go back to past and change the novel’s ending, what would you alter?
I wouldn’t change anything. When I sit down to begin a book there are only two things I am certain of: where it will start and where it will end. It’s the bit in the middle that is a mystery. This can make it quite scary when you first begin, but it also makes the whole process rather exciting, in a driving-too-fast-without-your-headlights-on kind of a way. One of the first things you get to learn as an author is that there is no right or wrong way to write a book. Just your way, and you have to learn to follow your instincts – they are invariably correct.
This Love tackles difficult issues relating to sickness and death in various relationships. Death or illness, especially when it happens to those close to us, is hard to bare. To what extent can someone benefit from these two things?
Grief is always difficult to write about, because the fear of losing a loved one is universal. Many of the situations I write about are incredibly emotional and I put my characters through an awful lot. But I think it is important to retain some balance within the story. One way I try to achieve this is with the occasional injection of humour, usually in the dialogue. Humans are both fragile and incredibly resilient, and I would be doing a disservice to my characters if I had them wallowing in the depths of despair throughout the novel. When life is at its hardest we find the strength to keep on going, and that is what I try to ensure my characters embrace.
Sophie was a complex, brave and supportive character. She had a wonderful relationship with Ben. Do you think her life would have been better without Ben? Why?
I think meeting Ben and falling in love with him saved Sophie, in every sense of the word. To know a love like that can only enhance your life.
Ben and Sophie’s love is sensitive and tangible. I could feel and see it, and I believed it. How did you create such a vivid and realistic relationship?
Once you have created these characters, they have a funny way of taking on a life of their own. Sometimes it feels as though they are in charge of the story and not me. I am just the observer and the narrator. I loved watching Sophie and Ben fall in love, and I hope the readers do too.
In your opinion, what does it mean to truly live and experience life to the full?
To live with no regrets. Leave nothing to chance. Put nothing off. Fill every minute with joy surrounded by the people you love. Nothing else matters.
If Sophie could give one piece of advice to her readers, what would it be?
Let go of the past if it is damaging you. Grieve for those you love and have lost, but then have the courage to carry on as they would have wanted you to do.
You can find my review of Akins’ This Love here: