Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.
After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.
Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.
Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.
But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.
What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.
Q&A Session with Beth O’Leary
Lara: Hello Beth! I’m Lara and I’m super excited to have you on my blog. I really loved reading The Flatshare, I’m such a fangirl for you now. I really can’t wait to read more from you, which makes me want to ask my first question, how did the idea for this story come to you?
Beth: Hi, Lara! Thanks so much for having me on your blog!
The Flatshare was inspired by my own living situation – I had just moved in with my boyfriend, who works as a junior doctor, and does lots of night shifts. So we would have days on end where we lived the way Tiffy and Leon do in The Flatshare, never at home at the same time, passing like ships in the night. It got me wondering… what would happen if two strangers lived this way? I’d notice little clues that would tell me how my boyfriend was – the number of coffee mugs by the sink, whether his trainers were out, whether he’d left his lunch in the fridge. Would strangers start to notice things like this too, and maybe even get to know their flatmate without even meeting them?
Lara: In relation to this book, can you share with us your publishing journey? Like how it felt submitting it and when it finally got accepted etc. the behind the scene process.
Beth: I’ve always wanted to be an author – I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. I’d tried to get an agent multiple times and never had much luck. I was really nervous sending The Flatshare out to agents because it’s always hard getting rejections – and I did get a fair few. Tanera (now my agent) was the only person who asked to see the full manuscript… and then she offered to represent me!
That was such a dream, if that was the only thing that had happened that year, I would still have called it my best year ever. But then she found a publisher for Tiffy and Leon… not just in the UK, but in the US, Germany, and 29 other countries, too! I can’t explain what a wonderful rollercoaster this last year or so has been. I never, ever dreamed when I wrote this little story on the train that it could reach so many readers.
Lara: I find it very interesting the line of publishing Tiffy is into, why was it this line of publishing you decided to showcase and do you read a lot of DIY books?
Beth: I don’t read many DIY books myself, but once I got to know Tiffy as a character – her quirkiness, her colourfulness – it just felt right that she would love those sorts of books! I did work in publishing while I was writing The Flatshare, but a very different sort of publishing from Tiffy (children’s brands, so things like Peppa Pig books). Still, that experience made it easier to write about Tiffy’s work, and I really enjoyed inventing the quirky Butterfingers Press.
Lara: There’s a distinctive style, in which Leon’s actions and thoughts are written/shared, which is very different from the way Tiffy’s chapters are written. Why did you decide to write it in such a way?
Beth: I wanted to reflect the sort of person Leon was in how he spoke: a man of few words, careful and thoughtful. Once I had tried this out he just came to life, which made me think I’d hit on the right method. I really enjoyed writing from two perspectives – there’s lots of humour to be found in switching voices in this way. For instance, we get to see Tiffy ‘re-decorating’ Leon’s flat for him… and then we get to see what Leon thinks of all her strange cushions and ornaments!
Lara: Although this story is a bit light and comedic, it still deals with a lot of heavy subjects, such as emotional abuse and how terrible the justice system can be. Is there a specific reason why you decided to work this bit into your story?
Beth: These serious themes worked their way into the novel via the characters, if that makes sense. I started with the idea that two people were sharing a one-bed flat without meeting, working opposite hours, and then I asked myself who might be willing to agree to that arrangement. It just seemed natural that they would have serious issues to be dealing with, partly because they needed to be in unusual personal situations to sign up to this kind of flatshare, and partly because that’s just… life. I wanted to write a fresh, modern love story with characters who weren’t idealized, and that meant they came with their own serious problems to deal with, just like we all do.
Lara: Are you working on anything new? Would Richie and Rachel be getting their own story? Because the way I see it, they would be a very interesting match. Is it okay for me to hope?
Beth: Aww, I love that you’re rooting for a Richie and Rachel romance! I have no plans for a sequel to The Flatshare at the moment, but I’d never say never…
I am working on my second book at the moment, which is very exciting! It’s another standalone book, this time with two female perspectives, and not one but two love stories (whoop!)
Lara: Last question! What is a book you read and loved, which you also want everyone else to read and why?
Beth: I really loved Ghosted by Rosie Walsh and I haven’t stopped banging on about it since I read it. It’s such a clever book, so tightly written. Even though there’s a love story at the heart of the book, it reads almost like a thriller. She writes beautifully about the English countryside, too, and as a country girl, I love that.
Lara: I really do hope, these questions were fun to answer. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and being featured on my blog!
Beth: Thanks again for having me!
About the Author
Beth O’Leary worked in children’s publishing before becoming a full-time author. THE FLATSHARE is her debut novel. The idea for The Flatshare came to Beth when her doctor boyfriend was doing long night shifts as part of his training and they could go weeks without seeing each other, but she could track his life by how many cups of coffee were left on the counter, by how much he’d eaten and whether the bookmark in his novel had changed locations. It made her wonder – what could you learn about someone if you lived together but never overlapped?