A CHAT WITH EMILY BELL, AUTHOR OF AUTHOR OF THIS YEAR’S FOR ME AND YOU

Photo Credit: Penguin Michael Joseph

Hannah and Celeste have been best friends since they were eighteen, when they made a pact to spend every New Year’s Eve together. From Dublin to London, the two are inseparable: that is, until tragedy strikes.

When Celeste discovers a list of Hannah’s New Year’s Resolutions, she is determined to make her way through them and honour her friend’s memory. With the help of an old friend, Patrick, Celeste kickstarts her life one adventure at a time.

But the biggest adventure? Falling in love again . . .

We spoke with Emily Bell, author of the wonderful This Year’s For Me and You about the inspirations and ideas behind her heart-warming new novel, and a few New Year’s resolutions of her own…

What gave you the idea for This Year’s For Me and You? 

Like my previous book it started with an image. I saw two young women celebrating New Year’s together in one of their flats, toasting each other with champagne. I knew they always celebrated together, and that one of them wouldn’t be there next year. I also saw a photograph of the two of them, with a man in the background – and I knew he would be the love interest. The story grew from there. 

In terms of themes, I was interested in the idea of how we move on from something tough. A lot of fiction is about characters experiencing loss and disaster, but I wanted to focus on what happens afterwards – once we crawl out of the wreckage, so to speak, and try and build a new life. I was interested in what that new life can look like, and how it could open my character up to new pursuits and relationships.  

In the book, you can see how Hannah’s list of New Year’s Resolutions helps Celeste during a very difficult time in her life. What inspired this list and did you do any of the activities? 

I did all of them except one! It was partly inspired by Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project and her ’20 for 2020’ list of things to do. I like the idea of resolutions being positive things to do or try, rather than just self-improvement. All the things on the list are either things I had done before – like hot yoga, and ceilidhs – or things I did specifically for the book; including indoor climbing and seeing an astrologer. I was lucky that lockdown was lifting as I started to write, or I wouldn’t have been able to do them all. The only one I didn’t actually manage to get to, sadly, was the Christmas market in Ghent, but I’ve booked my tickets and I’m going in December! 

What do you hope people will take away from the book? 

First of all, I hope they’ll enjoy some escapism and romance with engaging characters. I want it to be a cosy read. The message, I suppose, is that no matter what life throws at us, there’s always a road forwards and a new way to be happy. I’d also love to think that some readers might do the resolutions –  that would be so exciting. 

There are a few different types of love explored in the book, the friendship between Celeste and Hannah, Patrick and Celeste and Celeste and Eddie, but which did you feel was the most important to Celeste’s journey in the book? 

The friendship with Hannah was the most formative; she’s the character that Celeste is closest to, and who grew up with her. And her death obviously rocks Celeste’s foundations. All the cards are thrown up in the air, and when they land, Celeste is in a completely new place – which opens her up to a new kind of special relationship. I don’t want to say who with, as it could have gone either way… 

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2023? 

Great question! I’d like to go dancing – I haven’t set foot in a nightclub since 2019 and I think that’s long overdue. I’m also going to get better at getting dressed up more often rather than living in joggers which is the temptation when working from home. Something like the Harlow cord dress would be a good start! 

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