Where is your favourite spot to read at home? What makes it such a good reading corner?
It has to be my office. It’s a tiny space that used to be a single bedroom but I put a skylight in and painted it floor to ceiling blue and it now feels like such a calming and cosy environment, which I think is key for a good reading spot.
What time of day is sacred reading time for you?
It varies but before bed is always a good opportunity to wind down and either read or listen to an audio book.
Can you tell us a bit about your newsletter The Feels?
I really wanted to have a space to connect with my community in a way that felt more intimate than social media and where I could be free to share my thoughts and feelings without overthinking it. There’s something special about writing a newsletter in which things don’t have to be perfectly polished and the emphasis falls more upon sharing something from your heart.
It’s also been really wonderful because I’ve commissioned a few of my friends who are writers (or sometimes not!) to share bits of themselves as part of The Feels- recently my friend wrote a lovely piece about dating whilst sober, and another friend who was the first in our group to have a baby wrote about her experiences around entering the chapter of parenthood.
We’d love to know any rituals you have around writing?
I think one thing that I’ve found particularly useful is creating playlists- it’s a great way to get into the headspace and world of your characters, which was a key part of the process for writing my book.
Your first novel is coming out in April! What inspired the book and can you tell us a bit about the protagonist? How did she begin to take shape?
At its core Rosewater is about the different ways we show up for love based on the ways we have been shown love in the past. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a love story in which queer women are at its heart. There’s also an intergenerational component which is something that’s always been an important part of my work too. The protagonist of Rosewater is sexy, chaotic at times, resilient, deeply talented but tired and complex, much like many of us.
How do you display books at home? Do you have an order or process for them?
My other half has organised our bookshelves downstairs, whereas I’m in charge of the books in my office. We have a shelf for spiritual books which are mainly hers, and the rest are loosely organised into categories, which I cannot take any credit for.
The elusive question- how do you decide which book to read next?
I think recently I’ve been steering away from content which is traumatic- I experienced a lot of trauma last year with my dad passing, so I’ve enjoyed getting lost in fiction completely. I tend to feel more absorbed by fiction than non fiction, which I think naturally led me to writing both my own book and drama and TV work over the years- I feel really free in that space.
It definitely depends what kind of mood I’m in, but I also use other people’s recommendations to inform my next read too. There are certain people who’s taste I always know will align with mine, so that can definitely steer the direction of my next read too.
What is the reason for putting reading at the centre of your life?
I think when you write naturally reading becomes a key part of that- I find I can’t write without reading, watching or listening alongside it. I have to be engaging in content of all forms to be writing, which is particularly important when battling writer's block and allowing yourself the space to get lost in someone else’s words.
The book you’d most like to pass on to everyone you know:
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis–Benn. I always talk about it- it’s one of my all time favourite books.
A book you’ll be tucking into this winter:
The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams, she’s a good friend and this is her debut novel (released 11th May this year) so it’s top of my list.
A poem that made you feel less alone:
There's a beautiful poem called Mothers by Cecilia Knapp. It's one of my favourite poems ever, it’s so gorgeous.
Dog ear pages or bookmarks:
Dog ear pages-I’m not afraid of bending a page.
The most hopeful book you’ve read:
That’s such an interesting question. Recently my close friend Charlie edited and put together a collection of non-fiction stories about black joy, and I think tapping into that space of joy is really important. I also recently read None of the Above by my friend Travis Albanza which is beautiful and deeply philosophical in many ways. It interrogates how structures, systems and binaries have been created, and focuses on imagining a different kind of future- it’s a creative memoir in many ways. So definitely those two.
The book you feel most understood by:
I have to mention Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis–Benn again, because that was the first time that I as a queer, black woman (especially one of Jamaican heritage) read something I could even remotely see myself reflected in. The dialogue is beautiful, the characters are complex and the weaving of three different women within one family across generations felt so special.
Reparations Club in LA, it’s queer, black owned and a beautifully put together space. I went there for the first time in 2022 and spent so many hours talking, reading books and sharing- it’s a beautiful community space.
A scent that makes you think of home:
Probably sage or Nag Champa incense being burned by my girlfriend.
If you could spend a day reading in any house in the world, where would you go:
Interestingly I would probably choose somewhere outdoors, somewhere gorgeous and in nature- anywhere with fresh air is where I most like to sit and read. During the winter months I’d say anywhere by a crackling fire.
Pre-order Rosewater by Liv Little