Picking up the threads of a book that your aunt Mary Ann hadn’t finished must have been an experience – what made you want to take up the project?
Essentially I took up the project because I wanted to help my aunt Mary Ann. Writers are generally effete, and this was an opportunity to do something for someone I loved.
Why is this period in history particularly fascinating to you or Mary Ann?
Mary Ann was always interested in anything to do with England and later grew obsessed with the second world war, and particularly resistance movements in the second world war. This is a story that combines the history of England, the second world war, and resistance movements; it couldn't help but be fascinating to her.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Writing a book about a place you've never been is pretty tricky! I'm lucky enough to live near a university library where I did a lot of research but there are just some things that you can't research; those things I made up!
How has the book and film been received in Guernsey?
Everyone I talk to in Guernsey is beyond excited about the film. The book has brought major attention to the island and I think that they're very pleased with it.
Have you been involved in the making of the film, and if so, how?
That's easy, no! I had almost nothing to do with the making of the film. I went on set to watch the filming last Spring, which was a lovely experience for me, but I can't call it helpful for them.
Where did you write most of the book?
I wrote most of the book in my office in California with my eyes closed trying to visualise Guernsey.
Which character is the most significant for you, and why?
Juliet is very dear to me because she is the character that sounds most like my aunt Mary Ann. But I'm also very fond of Kit, because I know she was modelled on my youngest daughter.
What were the challenges of writing a novel composed entirely in letters?
Writing a novel in letters is terrific. It's so much fun to get a new first person voice every few pages. The only drawback is that you can't include dialogue.
Have you ever belonged to a “society” or book club like the one described in the novel?
I am in a book club! It's composed of the two guys who exercise on the recumbent bikes behind me in the gym (laughs). We yell recommendations and criticisms of books back and forth to each other when we exercise.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
My next book in the Ivy and Bean series is coming out this fall. I have a couple of picture books coming out next year, which are adorable, and I have a big fat adult novel that is sitting on my editors desk.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is in cinemas now.
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A celebration of literature, love, and the power of the human spirit, this warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining novel is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II and the writing project that will dramatically change her life. An international bestseller.