- Tell us about Why Did You Stay?
‘Why did you stay’ is the question that those of us who’ve had difficult relationships get asked more than anything else. It’s the question I was asked by someone on Twitter after my relationship publicly came to an end in 2018. It’s victim-shaming, but it’s the question that stays with us and has the potential to eat us up. I’m reclaiming it in this book, looking at not only my own experiences but at the idealised relationship dynamics and societal messages that feed the notion of love – and which feed that very question. The book is therefore something of a critical examination of romantic love, but is also a celebration of the myriad forms that love can take and how these enrich and shape your life.
- What inspired you to write a memoir?
In the weeks following my breakup and subsequent Twitter statement in 2018, I received a number of requests to write a memoir, all of which I declined. It was only with the benefit of the work I had done following that relationship, reclaiming my voice and myself, that I felt able to reflect on my experiences in this way and realised what the book was that I really wanted to write: one that would enable conversations and look at difficult topics with nuance. All of the messages I’d been receiving privately since my statement, showed me just how necessary this kind of book was. I felt a strong sense of responsibility for the many who’ve had these experiences but don’t have a platform – I wrote this book for us all.
- What’s your advice to anyone who is currently in a toxic relationship?
Believe and know that the love in your life – the real love in your life – is there and will catch you when you step out into it. And do not discount your ‘worthiness’ in asking for help: when I first spoke to Woman’s Aid I felt like I didn’t have the visible markers of abuse that meant I truly warranted assistance; in fact, the insidious evidence of emotional abuse is often only visible to those closest to you – and these are the people who some toxic partners will deliberately try to isolate you from. Even in the worst times, I often felt like my life in that relationship would still be better than life without it – but of course the moment I left was the moment life truly started.
Why Did You Stay? was an instant Sunday Times bestseller, what’s the reader response been like? And for anyone who hasn’t yet read your memoir, what can they expect?
The reader response has been overwhelming in the best way. I’ve been receiving messages on a daily basis letting me know how reading it has made people feel seen, and feel less alone, which was my hope for this book. For anyone who hasn’t yet read it, expect honesty, numerous pop culture references (both critical and celebratory!), the most amazing group of mates you will ever meet, and a healthy amount of lols too.
- What are you reading this summer?
Ghost Lover by Lisa Taddeo – I absolutely loved Three Women and can’t wait to start this short story collection.