Best friends, heartache, growing up and seeing the world. If you’re looking for a book to satisfy your late summer literature cravings with serious shock and awe, The Girls from Corona del Mar might just be it. Author Rufi Thorpe looked back to her hometown for a book that flings you across the world and into characters from all walks of life. Whether it’s a sleepy coastal town in California, a wild time in India or studying at the leafy Yale University – there’s little time to pause in this fierce debut. Sounds intense, right? Don’t be scared by the pace. We can’t recommend this gorgeous novel enough. We chatted to Rufi about where to read it (in the bath, duh) and some tips for budding writers…

How would you describe the book to someone who hasn’t read it?

It’s a fast, dark little book about trying to love your best friend even when you don’t understand her or the choices she is making.

Was there a place or location that inspired the book?

I grew up in Corona del Mar, the town where the book begins, but which both girls ultimately leave, and something about using details of my own home town really made the book come alive in the first few drafts. All of the street names are flowers names in alphabetical order: Avocado, Begonia, Carnation, Dahlia, etc. You can hear sea lions barking at night. It used to be called a “toy town” because it was built as a vacation village, tiny picturesque houses with no heat or AC. It’s gone through many phases. Maybe that’s what I like best about places: they allow you to feel time passing.

Was there one friendship that inspired the book?
None of the plot of the book is autobiographical, but I am deeply inspired by my best friend, to whom the book is dedicated. My love for her has been one of the through lines of my life, one of those orienting elements helping me find north.
What do you think is the ultimate surroundings to reading the book in?
Oh, definitely in the bathtub. I’m pretty sure all books were meant to be read in the bathtub.
When did you first get into writing?

When I was fifteen. I had been writing poetry before that in the way that all thirteen year old girls write poetry, but at about fifteen I decided to start writing stories and that was it for me.

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
Writers are seldom given career advice since our situation is largely agreed to be hopeless. So I operate solely on a small piece of advice my mother gave me: you can’t control the gifts you were given, how smart or pretty or talented you are, but you can control how hard you work. If you are willing to work twice as hard as everyone else, you will find a place in the world. I was elated by this idea when I first heard it. I was so relieved that all I had to do was work hard– it was so simple. And it was wonderful not to have to bother with worrying about whether I was talented or not, which activity is frankly like looking at a handful of seeds and wondering if they are worth planting instead of just going ahead and planting them and giving it your all.
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Never give up. You will never get good at it without spending years and years being bad at it. So you have to cultivate two things: a profound love for the activity itself, and an inability to listen to all the people telling you to stop.

The Girls From Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe is out now, priced £14.99. Share a picture of you and your best friend on Twitter and Instagram using #GirlsFrom for a chance to win two copies, one containing the dedication plate for a special message for a best friend. There are 20 sets to give away and one overall winner will also receive £250 Topshop vouchers. Competition closes 14 August. For full terms and conditions, click here.