A working relationship

EDP2; authors DJ Taylor and Rachel Hore at their home in Norwich; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP2 K

EDP2; authors DJ Taylor and Rachel Hore at their home in Norwich; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP2 Keiron Pim - Credit: Archant

Sitting their studies next door to one another at the top of their Norwich home, authors D J Taylor and Rachel Hore are busy writing their latest books.

But as the married couple prepare for the launch of their new novels this month, they reveal that despite the close proximity, their working methods couldn’t be more different.

“Rachel is hugely patient and methodical, sits there carefully finessing and deliberating over her work, whereas I blaze away at the rate of 1000 words an hour, finish my stint in a couple of hours and then annoy her by asking futile questions,” laughs David.

The couple moved to Norwich 10 years ago from London, returning to the city where D J was born and brought up. Rachel was working in publishing, but after settling in her new home city, she followed in her husband’s footsteps and began writing in earnest – her latest book The Silent Tide – is her sixth.

David’s latest book The Windsor Faction follows on from this hugely successful novel Derby Day, which was long listed for the Booker Prize. As well as being a novelist and critic, he is also an acclaimed biographer and his book Orwell: The Life won the Whitbread Biography Prize in 2003.

Their different approaches to working, is, says David, a source of much amusement.

“Rachel writes straight onto the computer whereas I, as an unreconstructed technophobe, write in longhand and then type it up later. As for each using the other as a sounding board, she quite often shows me work of hers whereas I, being secretive, never show anyone anything - not even my agent - until the manuscript is finished.

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“I really admire her ability to carve out a new career for herself in writing having previously had one in publishing. After our youngest son was old enough to go to nursery school she simply sat down in front of a computer screen and got on with it, and the result has been six novels in seven years,” says David, who is an ardent Norwich City fan.

Rachel – whose previous books The Glass Painter’s Daughter and A Gathering Storm have both been short-listed for prestigious Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards – also teaches publishing at UEA and she and D J have three sons, Felix, Benjy and Leo. Her latest book flits between the present day and the 1940s and Rachel says she has to really get into the mind of her characters before she begins writing.

“Something that fascinates me about our different approaches to writing is that David sits down to write with words ready formed into sentences and paragraphs in his head, whereas I feel I’m experiencing a scene through the senses of my characters and my challenge is to convey this in words.

“I like occasionally to show him something I’ve written for him merely to say ‘yes, it’s working’. We have such different styles and concerns in our writing that we could never attempt a collaboration,” she laughs.

The Windsor Faction – by D J Taylor

It’s autumn 1939, in a parallel world where Edward VIII never abdicated and the Second World War might have taken a very different course. As the storm clouds gather over Europe and German troops are amassing, a clandestine ‘King’s Party’ of fascist peace campaigners is stealthily undermining the war-effort. Back from Ceylon to work in the offices of Duration, the newly-founded literary magazine, Cynthia Kirkpatrick finds herself at the centre of a web of intrigue. Country house parties are full of conspiring Tory MPs and a clerk from the American Embassy is busy pilfering Presidential telegrams. Everyone is under suspicion as MI5 are widening their net; and journalist Beverley Nichols is engaged on the most important commission of his life - a secret King’s Speech to shock the nation.

The Silent Tide – by Rachel Hore

Emily Gordon has found her dream job, as an editor at a small publishing house. When the biography of a late great English novelist crosses her desk, she discovers, buried beneath the history, a story that simply has to be told. London, 1948, and Isabel Barber has barely arrived in the city when a chance meeting leads to a job offer, and a fascinating career beckons. But as she develops a close working relationship with a charismatic young debut novelist the professional soon becomes personal, and she finds herself fighting for her very survival.

The Rachel Hore and D. J. Taylor Book Launch is on Thursday, September 12 at Jarrold in The Pantry Restaurant at 6.30pm. Jarrold, 1-11 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1JF. Tickets are £5.