To celebrate the publication of his brand new novel, The Frequency of Us, we caught up with Keith Stuart for a chat. Read on to hear more about the inspiration behind The Frequency of Us, his writing journey and his gorgeous dog, Betty!
Give us your elevator pitch for The Frequency of Us
It’s a time-spanning mystery love story about an old man who has a story about his life that no one believes, until a vulnerable young carer comes to look after him and strange things begin to happen in his house. Think Time Traveller’s Wife meets Sliding Doors.
What inspired you to write this book?
I really love the city of Bath and am fascinated by its modern history, and I’m also extremely interested in quantum mechanics and multiverse theory, and somehow, I came up with this weird story that involves all of those, plus my lifelong obsession with technology – and romance.
If your book was a film who would you cast as your leading characters?
Ooh, I’d have to say someone like Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellan for Will, the elderly man, and definitely Florence Pugh or Nicola Coughlan for Laura – they both have that mixture of strength and vulnerability about them.
Where do you write? – do you have an aesthetic workspace, a cramped kitchen table, a cosy bed base?
Before lockdown I did a most of my writing in public places – usually local Frome cafes, and sometimes pubs if I needed the added inspiration provided by red wine. I also wrote a lot in Frome Library because there are a lot of local history books there, which was handy! At home, we’re lucky enough to have a leaky old summer house which is quite nice to write in until autumn arrives.
Tell us about your writing journey – have you always known you wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?
I’ve always loved writing – at junior school, I adored English lessons because we got to write stories. Then at senior school I worked on several school magazines. When I studied English and Drama at Warwick university I took a playwriting course and it was the most enjoyable time of my education. So I’ve always written really – I’m always thinking about stories, whether that’s fiction or journalism – I can’t watch the news or listen music or cook or go for a walk without thinking about stories.
Do you have a favourite book? If so, what is it? If not, is there a genre or style you prefer?
I have a whole bunch of favourite books and it changes all the time! But among them are definitely Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Catch 22. When I was a teenager it was trendy American novelists Brett Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney who got me into modern literary fiction and at the moment, I like offbeat very contemporary stories – things like Luster, Summerwater and My Dark Vanessa.
Here at The Little Book Café we love pets! If you have a pet we’d love you to share a picture and a line about them.
We have a three-year-old cockerpoo named Betty. My wife grew up with dogs in her family home, but I’ve never owned one so I was a bit nervous about it. Betty has been such a revelation, though. She gets me out on walks, which is something I need to do, and she’s such a funny character. Writing can be a lonely business so having Betty around has really helped this year. She’s a treasure.
A BBC2 BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK
'A fascinating, beautiful, heartwarming novel. It kept me gripped from the very first chapter' -- BETH O'LEARY
In Second World War Bath, young, naïve wireless engineer Will meets Austrian refugee Elsa Klein: she is sophisticated, witty and worldly, and at last his life seems to make sense . . . until, soon after, the newly married couple's home is bombed, and Will awakes from the wreckage to find himself alone.
No one has heard of Elsa Klein. They say he was never married.
Seventy years later, social worker Laura is battling her way out of depression and off medication. Her new case is a strange, isolated old man whose house hasn't changed since the war. A man who insists his wife vanished many, many years before. Everyone thinks he's suffering dementia. But Laura begins to suspect otherwise . . .
From Keith Stuart, author of the much-loved Richard & Judy bestseller A Boy Made of Blocks, comes a stunning, emotional novel about an impossible mystery and a true love that refuses to die.
'Enthralling, a real thing of beauty. Dazzling' -- JOSIE SILVER
'The Frequency of Us is a novel with a bit of everything: a sweeping love story, wonderfully complex characters, and a sprinkling of the supernatural. I loved it, and know it'll stay with me for some time' -- CLARE POOLEY
'A complete joy! An intelligent, intricate and emotive mystery' -- LOUISE JENSON