Episode 208: A Character’s Heart and Soul — Interview with Gail Honeyman

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Gail Honeyman on the show!

Gail is the author of the novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which hit shelves in May of last year and made a huge splash with readers. Gail’s debut novel was the star book at the Frankfurt Book Fair and was selected as an Indie Next Pick by booksellers across the country.

It soon became one of the most beloved novels of 2017, catching the attention of readers worldwide, including Reese Witherspoon, who made it one of her book club picks and bought the film rights.

The love for this book has not let up since its release, and it has been heralded as a must-read for summer by The New York Times, People, and TheSkimm. Independent booksellers were so excited about the book that many of them even participated in an “Eleanor Oliphant Day,” touting this quirky, funny, and heartbreaking novel to their customers both in their stores and across social media.

So listen in as Gail and I unpack this quirky, sometimes difficult, but always lovable character of Eleanor Oliphant, and how to craft a story that really puts readers directly into the heart and soul of a character.

In this episode Gail and I discuss:

  • Crafting a voice driven novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
  • The learning curve of your first book.
  • Creating empathy for an unlikable character through close first person narration.
  • How to “feel” your way through writing and editing your novel.
  • Building a compelling character with multiple layers.

Plus, Gail’s #1 tip for writers.

About Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford, and currently lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, won the Costa First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.

The novel is now available in both hardcover and paperback

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Awkward, naïve, and at times downright peculiar, Eleanor reminds us of those parts of ourselves that we’d rather not, but do all too easily, recognize. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. Eleanor Oliphant isn’t unhappy. Nothing is missing from her life, except, sometimes, everything.

But that changes when Eleanor strikes up a friendship with Raymond, a classically nerdy, unkempt IT guy from her office, who, with one simple act of kindness, shatters the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted–while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Deeply moving yet disarmingly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will make you laugh, cry, squirm in embarrassment, and cheer along with Eleanor as she learns to open her heart and face her troubled past.


If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!


Link to Episode 208

(Right-click to download.)

If you liked this episode…

Head over to iTunes, Stitcher Radio or Google Play and subscribe so you’ll be first to know when new episodes are available.

Also, remember that sharing is caring so if you know anyone who might enjoy this podcast, please tell them about it or leave us a review so other listeners will want to check it out.

Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

Enjoyed this article?