To celebrate 100 years of Good Housekeeping magazine, we’ve launched the Women’s Prize x Good Housekeeping Futures Award.

A panel of judges have been tasked with finding the most promising female authors under the age of 35 and under who are exciting, boundary-changing, and inspirational.

Candice Carty-Williams has been selected as one of the ten Futures authors, here Candice tells us about the journey to publishing her British Book Award winning bestseller Queenie and why she might be running a youth centre if she wasn’t a writer.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your most recent novel?

I think the only inspiration that I can think of for Queenie was being a Black woman in my mid twenties and navigating all that it threw at me and my friends.

Tell us about your journey to publication?

I worked in publishing, so was aware what was floating about the market; what had been published, and what was yet to be published, and there wasn’t anything around or anything on the horizon that spoke to my lived experience. When I decided that I wanted to change that, I applied to Jojo Moyes’s writing retreat; I was very clear about the fact that I worked in publishing, wanted to tell the story I wanted to tell, but didn’t have the time, the space or the money to get away and actually just get anything on the page. Months later, I got an email to say I’d been chosen, and I remember thinking that that was the beginning of something. I borrowed my friend Lydia’s car, drove the two hours to the retreat (which was, amazingly, a cottage by Jojo’s family home) and as soon as I sat down to write, this story just came tumbling out. By the end of the first night I’d written eight thousand words and by the end of the retreat I’d written forty thousand. In the next few weeks I finished writing it, then I sent it to my now agent Jo Unwin, who immediately kept sending me lines from the book — I wasn’t sure if she liked the lines or was telling me to correct them. Turns out she did like the lines, and the whole book, so after a meeting with her the next week, I was represented by her. Next came the process of Jo sending the manuscript out to various publishers; I think it was thirteen in total. Nine rejected Queenie, four put in offers to buy the rights to publish the book, and I chose Orion, the publishing house I thought would publish the book best.

What motivates you as an author?

Hoping that young Black writers can see me and know that their stories are valid too.

What is your favourite book by a woman and why?

My favourite book by a woman is Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, a tale of love, heartbreak, and women doing what they have to do, even if it doesn’t serve them, to look after the people that they love, set in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I read it while in Montego Bay and it felt so connected to the story and to the world it was set in. Reading Here Comes the Sun was a really blissful time that I won’t forget.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

I can’t actually remember any, so I’ll give you the advice I tell myself: just get on with it.

What do you think you’d be if you weren’t a writer?

Even though I worked in book marketing, I don’t think I could have carried on doing that for very long. I really still want to do something that facilitates the needs of young people, like run a youth centre. I used to go to this dilapidated youth centre in Ladywell every summer and it changed my life. I can’t believe they don’t exist anymore, so maybe I’d like to run one of those.

Do you have any writing routines or ticks?

I don’t have any, but what I do know for certain is that I write best in the dead of night when nobody is messaging me, and when I’m the most awake. I’m such a night person.

WP X GH Futures is about celebrating the female voices of the future – what do you hope to have achieved as a writer in ten years’ time?

I hope that I can carry on reaching readers who can find themselves in any of the characters I write. The characters I’ve written and continue to write are complex, they’re far from perfect, but they try their best. And I think that that is all we can do.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams


by Candice Carty-Williams

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