A former actress from Forest Hill is setting the literary world alight with her creation of a magical, microscopic world.
Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist is delighting reviewers and readers alike with its tale of hidden love, obsession and betrayal in Amsterdam in 1686.
The Oxford University graduate’s debut novel entered the bestseller lists at number four after being published a few weeks ago and has already been translated into around 30 different languages.
Jessie told Vibe: “It means so much that people are reading it and hopefully enjoying it. It’s a real thrill.
“I started it in 2009 and edited it six times that year in 2012. I put the finishing touches to it earlier this year.
“I was working as an actress and as a PA in the city between jobs and so I’d do work in the evenings, weekends and occasionally in the day if work was quiet.
“I kept thinking it was finished and then re-writing it. People would say, ‘have you thought of doing this or that’.”
She is a huge fan of south east London and told Vibe her favourite spots in SE23.
Jessie told Vibe: “I recently moved to Forest Hill after living in East Dulwich for four years.
“I love living round here – it’s laidback but the community is involved at the same time.
“The artists’ studios along Havelock Walk are often opened up and the cafes are great.
“The Montage in Dartmouth Road is one of my favourites, they do a great Earl Grey cake there.”
She is now working on her second novel interweaves two narratives, one set during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and the other in 1960s London.
Jessie's tips for aspiring writers
- “Read a lot. By some osmosis, you take in how people make up pace and characterisation.
- “Try and write without being too careful or self-editing.
- “All the real work comes with the edit. It’s only when you have the words out you can see what it should look like.
- “Don’t think of it as a novel yet because that is enormous pressure, instead think of it as a piece of work.
- “When you think you have finished - you haven’t. There will be more editing.”