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June Book Club Choice

This is the Day by Daniel Blythe

Cover of This is the Day

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To the outside world, Tom and Ella Barclay have everything: two beautiful children, a lovely home, great jobs and, of course, each other. But after fifteen years together the lines of communication have become blurred and with fortieth birthdays not quite as far away as they'd like, both are wondering if life might not have more to offer?

A poignant and often hilarous look at contemporary marriage, This is the Day, raises questions about complacency, mid-life crises, what we think we want from our life, and explores the risks, pitfalls and changing perspectives along the way.

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Suggested Discussion Points:

Author Q&A

Q. I have often thought that books are a means for writers to live vicariously through their characters. Was writing 'This is the Day' in any way an outlet to explore your own questions about adult life?
Ken Gregson, London

A. It was definitely the answer to some questions I had been asking myself about the way my contemporaries' lives were going. I have always been fascinated by the way modern suburban life has a very fragile veneer, and how every thing can change just with, for example, two missed mortgage payments...

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Q. Do you like Tom and Ella as people? Does a writer have to like his characters in some way for it to work?
P. Denny, Bolton

A. I like them as much as I like all my characters! They are flawed, obviously, but ultimately not bad people - just good people who take some bad decisions. I think it's more fun and more satisfying to write about flawed heroes.

Q. How easy do you think it is to become complacent in today’s world?

A. I'm fascinated by the values people attach to things and the face they present to the world. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was 'don't compare your inside to someone else's outside'. I think Tom and Ella are quite shallow and complacent at the start of the book but learn to value what really means most to them.

Q. You write both novels and non-fiction titles. What kind of book do you enjoy writing the most and how different is your writing process for the fiction and non-fiction books?
Jon Clout, Bristol

A. Non-fiction is different in that one can sell it on the basis of an outline, so it has to be carefully-structured and you make sure you stick to that. It is more methodical and less intuitive for me, but can still allow a lot of creativity (e.g. the humour in my 80s book was a conscious decision - I could not have done a 'straight' encyclopaedia). Fiction needs to be written before it is sold - for me, anyway! - so it is more of a gamble. It feels like walking in the dark a lot of the time.

Q. Do you ever get writer’s block? And what do you do when that happens?
Rebecca Leigh, Monmouth

A. There is some debate as to whether it exists, but there are certainly days which are harder than others. I usually go back over something I have written and try to rewrite or edit it.


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