In an era of social media, fake posts about ‘living our best life’ and pictures with filters that blur out reality, it can be hard to find a real piece of honesty. People can find it difficult to really look at their life and admit what’s going on. It’s easier to plaster on a smile and tell everyone we’re fine. But what would happen if, for once, we were honest with ourselves? What would happen if we were to open up and be honest with someone else about our life?
This is the message that author Clare Pooley explores in her incredible debut novel, The Authenticity Project. In this beautifully written, honest, and emotional story Pooley has crafted a journey of survival, friendship and even love, that gives hope to her readers.
The Authenticity Project is Pooley’s debut novel and was inspired by her experience of telling the truth about her own life. After quitting her job and drinking too much, she created a blog called Mummy was a Secret Drinker, which then became a memoir – The Sober Diaries.
In an exclusive interview, Pooley opened up about her life, her writing and all things The Authenticity Project.
Q: How did you come up with the story for The Authenticity Project?
CP: The Authenticity Project was very much inspired by my own life. Six years ago, my life on social media looked perfect. The truth was very different. I was battling a terrible alcohol addiction. I decided to tell the truth about my own life in a blog, which I called Mummy was a Secret Drinker. That blog really saved my life, and helped transform the lives of thousands of people who read it. That got me thinking: what would happen if other people told the real truth about their lives? Not on the internet, like I did, but in an old fashioned notebook…
Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.
What would happen if they told the truth instead?
Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.
Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.
Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.
Q: The Authenticity Project is your first novel, how was that writing experience for you compared to other books you’ve written? Were you excited to get it out there?
CP: My only other published book was my memoir – The Sober Diaries – the story of the year I quit drinking, and was then diagnosed with breast cancer. I found writing fiction both harder, in that you need to invent all your characters and your plot, but also really freeing. Fiction allows you to explore the world through other people’s eyes, which is much more comfortable and less exposing than writing about your own life!
Q: Did your past experiences help you write a story which was mainly about telling your own truth?
CP: Totally! I know how frightening it is to make yourself vulnerable, but I also know that when you do it can create real magic and incredible connections.
Q: Was that always the intention for the message of The Authenticity Project? To encourage and inspire readers to be brave enough to tell their own story and their truth?
CP: Yes. But there are other themes too – for instance, all the characters (except Riley!) are flawed, but as you get to know them you realise that it’s their flaws that make them loveable and human and unique. I hope that the book will help readers to accept their own flaws and to love themselves regardless.
Q: There are so many incredible and unique characters, is there any you felt that you particularly related to?
CP: To be honest, all of the characters share something with me (except Riley again!). Choosing a favourite is a bit like choosing between your children! Hazard is probably the one I feel closest to, as his battle with addiction was much like my won.
Q: Do you think you’ll write another novel anytime soon?
CP: I’m actually editing my second novel at the moment 🙂 It should be out next year.