The best-selling romance novelist opens up about her inspiration, her writing process, and more.
Josie Silver, One Night on the Island
Josie Silver is the author of 'One Night on the Island'
| Credit: Justine Stoddart; Random House

Josie Silver has cornered the market on literary coziness. She writes immersive love stories that simply must be read in front of a roaring fireplace.

Her 2018 novel One Day in December shot straight to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, and she's poised to attract readers back with her latest, a romance set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. One Night on the Island follows Cleo and Mac, two strangers who accidentally book the same one-room cabin at the same time — high jinks, as one could imagine, ensue.

Below, Silver takes EW's author questionnaire to tell her fans how she crafts her cozy tales.

What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?

I remember keeping a vacation diary when I visited France as a child, probably around the age of 6. It was our first overseas family trip, so a cause for great excitement! I still have it somewhere, a lovely slice of childhood nostalgia.


What is the last book that made you cry?

I'm going to flip this if I may and tell you about the first book that made me cry — Goodnight Mr. Tom, by Michelle Magorian. It's a beautifully told World War II story about Willie Beech, an abused child evacuated from London to the English countryside to live with a gruff old man, Thomas Oakley. Tom treats Willie with a gentle kindness he's never known, and their unlikely friendship blossoms into a father-and-son kind of love. They experience a period of unexpected joy together, until the telegram arrives calling Willie back to London, back to his abusive home life. I cried buckets the first time I read about Mr. Tom traveling to London to rescue Willie, and I cried again more recently reading it to my sons. It really is the most poignant book.

Which book is at the top of your current to-read list?

I'm hanging out for the new Marian Keyes novel, Again, Rachel. Many moons ago I read and adored Rachel's Holiday, so to know there's a sequel coming soon is very exciting!

Where do you write?

I had a writing studio installed at the bottom of my garden a couple of years ago, I love it. I live in a house full of boys — even the dog is male — so my studio was my chance to go full-on feminine! It's become my absolute sanctuary, as soon as I step through the door I feel as if I can breathe more deeply and think more clearly. I head down there most mornings with a big cup of tea after the boys have gone off to school, it's my happy place. And my productive place too — my brain seems to click into work mode once I'm in there in a way it doesn't if I work on the sofa, or in bed with the cat on my feet! That works too, though, especially on snowy days.

Which book made you a forever reader?

I was a big Enid Blyton fan as a child, the Famous Five were my go-to books of choice. We were fortunate to have a gran who instilled an early love of visiting the library into us, the pleasure of our weekly visit to pick out new books has stayed with me. I can still see the heavy old glass double doors, still smell that intoxicating paper and leather scent when you stepped inside, still hear that expectant hush. The children's books were housed in a lovely room at the back with mullioned windows, me and my sister spent many happy hours running our fingers over the spines of the books as we looked for our next read. It's a joy I've lost really as an adult; I still read voraciously, but these days mostly e-books as I'm a nighttime reading fan. I love the convenience, but I definitely miss the weight and smell of a book in my hands.

What is a snack you couldn't write without?

I'm a big coffee-and-biscuits kind of gal! Chocolate digestives are definitely essential writing fuel as far as I'm concerned, especially at about 3 in the afternoon when the slump hits. It's probably really dull to say water, isn't it, but I drink lots of chilled water to help me stay focused. Other than that? Wine gums.

If you could change one thing about any of your books, what would it be?

It isn't so much change as it would just be interesting to see what would happen if things had gone differently for the main characters. So in Lydia Bird, it's no plot spoiler to say that her fiancé dies on page one — but how would her life have panned out if he hadn't?  Freddie's untimely death sparks a journey of grief and self-discovery that takes Lydia to some unexpected places both mentally and physically, fundamentally changing who she is. She certainly knows herself better by the end of the book, in a way she couldn't possibly have if Freddie had lived. But would she have been truly content in the long term as Freddie's wife? I'm not so sure.

What is your favorite part of One Night on the Island?

I think probably the knitting circle scenes. I'm always drawn to write about the bonds between women, whether family or friendships, and the eclectic sisterhood of women on Salvation Island were an especially interesting group to create. They span such a wide age range and have very different personalities and outlooks, but their shared experience of living together in a remote community instils a loyalty and understanding that is pretty special to be a part of.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write?

Definitely Cleo's wedding ceremony for one. On the surface it had the potential to be silly, a lightweight concept — even Cleo herself thought so when her boss first floated the idea. But as it drew closer it became more and more important to her, so I really wanted to make it feel like a meaningful and significant turning point in her life. I love how it happened in the end, it feels entirely right for where she is in her life right at that moment.

Write a movie poster tag line for the book:

Oh, that's a hard one. How about "Sometimes running away feels more like coming home…" Umm, I'm clearly not very good at this. Much as I'd love to see a movie adaptation of One Night on the Island, I'll definitely leave the tagline to the experts!

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