Have you ever wondered how normal you are? What if you were perfectly average? For Emily – it’s true. Her job, her hair, her favourite food. All of her – plainly, horrifically average. Even her blood group. She decides she wants more. And from now on, Emily is going to be extraordinary.
We had the honour of chatting with Rebecca recently:
This is such an extraordinary story. Congratulations on this wonderful debut! What is your most memorable moment in your author journey so far?
Thank you! I think it’s really very hard to beat seeing your book on a shelf for the first time. Mine was out in Sainsbury’s before it was available elsewhere and so I spotted it during our weekly shop. It was way more overwhelming than I thought it would be. I cried the whole time we were doing our shopping and managed to forget basically everything we needed. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.
You posted a lovely picture of you holding your book in Sainsbury’s. This reminds us of the Sainsbury’s version of Spotify Wrapped. Which product do you think Emily would be the #1 buyer of, in Sainsbury’s Huddersfield?
Emily is definitely a pizza fan, so I think it would likely be a pizza! Or some sort of carbs at any rate. I can say for sure that it wouldn’t be an avocado. She’s not a fan of those.
🎉 Happy official publication day to me! I feel like I should say that this is what dreams are made of, but honestly I felt like getting a book deal was so out of the realms of possibility, it hadn't even made it into my dreams. I know how lucky I am and I'm so so grateful. pic.twitter.com/MH5nqpKJYd
— Rebecca Ryan (@WriteBecsWrite) January 5, 2023
Emily’s very worried about being average, which her family and friends assure it’s not a bad thing (even if true). Tell us something you think you are about the average but you are very pleased about.
I think I’m likely pretty average in lots of respects to be honest! I’m quite happy being average, being extraordinary looks like far too much effort. Like Emily I’m definitely an at best adequate runner. Most of the chapters where she tries to exercise are drawn from my own experiences. With the best will in the world, I’m just not very good at it. It’s quite nice though, being average at sports. It means that if I take part in a race or something like that, people are always just impressed that I managed to finish!
How did you come up with Emily’s Life List in My (extra)ordinary life? Have you attempted anything similar yourself?
I don’t think I’ve ever sat myself down and written a list like Emily does, (though if I did it would definitely be in a new notebook!) I’ve absolutely thought at times that I need to do something more or make myself more exciting somehow. I think a lot of us probably have those thoughts at one point or another. I wrote a first draft of the novel in lockdown so I think a lot of the list is inspired by how I was feeling at the time which is probably why things like be spontaneous and be an explorer made it on there. I always knew that I wanted to have be authentic too, because that’s the message I wanted to send. That being true to yourself is the most important thing.
The parts written from the childhood perspective are so well written! How did you come to the decision of writing from both the adult and the childhood’s perspectives?
Thank you! I felt like we needed to see very clearly Emily’s motivations for wanting to be extraordinary. Without that storyline, the whole thing is just a 400 page vanity project and Claire wouldn’t get to be on the page in her own right either. But I think when we see Emily’s background and the relationship she has with Claire, it makes much more sense as to why she is how she is in the present. We’re all shaped by our past experiences, and this is especially true of Emily.
And would you consider writing books for the younger audience in the future, especially given your experience as a teacher?
Yes absolutely! I love reading YA books so I’d really like to write for that age group too. Watch this space!
You have been a teacher for many years. What do you hope My (extra)ordinary life can teach your past students? And have any students reached out to you about the book?
My former A-level students have an Instagram group that I’m in and a few of them have sent me pictures of selfies with the book. One even came to a book signing which was lovely. I really enjoyed being a teacher and do miss working with young people, so it’s nice to still keep in touch with some of them. I hope they’d take away from the book that we all wonder from time to time whether we’re doing enough, or being enough. That’s a natural part of life. But I also hope they’d see that so long as you’re living the life that you want to live, then don’t worry, you’re doing great!
Get your copy of my (extra)ordinary life here.