Monday, September 20, 2021

Freya Sampson Interview - The Last Chance Library

Photo Content from Freya Sampson 

Freya Sampson works in TV as an executive producer. Her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series.

She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize.

She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. The Last Chance Library is her debut novel.

The Last Chance Library is about a shy young woman who’s forced to emerge from her shell to save her beloved local library from closure. It’s a celebration of libraries and reading, and the importance of community and friendship.

What was the inspiration behind your novel?
The idea for the book came to me one day when I was in my local library in London. There was an older gentleman who I often saw there, reading the newspaper on his own. On this particular day, I watched as a library worker stopped by his table for a chat. I didn’t hear what they talked about and the conversation couldn’t have lasted more than two minutes. But when she walked away, I saw the man smile, and I realized that that brief moment of kindness from the librarian was possibly the only conversation he would have all day. That was when the idea for THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY was born: a story about the unlikely friendships that can be made and found, and what a community can achieve when it comes together to fight to save their library from closure.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
For me, the power of storytelling is about giving us an insight into other people’s lives and experiences, and a new way of looking at the world. In the past eighteen months, more than ever, I’ve been grateful for novels that have allowed me to step outside my own life and travel around the world through the stories and characters I’ve read.

  • 1. You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.
  • 2. You are never alone when you have a good book.
  • 3. In times of stress, June found she always returned to the same books from her childhood . . . There was something comforting about getting lost in stories she knew so well.
  • 4. I think you need to ask yourself: what would Matilda do?
  • 5. Libraries aren’t made by books, they’re made by librarians.
  • 6. As a child, she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined scent of thousands of different tales.
  • 7. She understood implicitly what it felt like to be more at home with books than people, to prefer the adventures and travel within their pages to those in real life.
  • 8. Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks.
  • 9. Libraries aren’t just about books. They’re places where an eight-year-old boy can have his eyes opened up to the wonders of the world, and where a lonely eighty-year-old woman can come for some vital human contact.
  • 10. It’s never to late to find your voice, to stand up and shout from the top of your lungs about injustice.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having readers contact me to tell me how libraries have helped them in their lives has been a huge privilege. So many people feel a deep connection to their library, and it’s been wonderful to hear these stories.

What are you working on next?
I’m writing a second novel, which is due to be published in 2022. The book is about a group of strangers aboard a London bus, who unite to help an elderly man find his missed love connection.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope that the novel will remind readers just how important libraries are, not simply as places to borrow books but as the heart of our communities. And I also hope it will makes readers smile and feel hopeful about the world.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Mrs Bransworth, who is a grumpy older lady who complains about every book she borrows from the library, but then leads the campaign to save it. I found it great fun writing someone so irascible, but she also allowed me to voice many of my own thoughts about why libraries are worth fighting for.

  • 1. Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
  • 2. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • 3. The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
  • 4. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  • 5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  • 6. Dead, Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
  • 7. Girl A by Abigail Dean
  • 8. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • 9. Meet You in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
  • 10. My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
June, my main character, loves re-reading childhood books that bring her comfort when she’s anxious. One of her absolute favorites is Roald Dahl’s MATILDA, and she becomes inspired by the young heroine in that book to step out of her comfort zone and fight against injustice. So I’d love to put June and Matilda in a room together and let them have a good old chat.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Just keep going. This is a piece of advice I come back to time and again when I’m writing, especially during the painful stages of the first draft when I inevitably lose confidence in what I’m doing. “Just keep going” reminds me that the doubts and fears are a natural part of the process and not to give up, just press on, sentence by sentence, and eventually it will all fall into place!

Where can readers find you? 
I’m @FreyaSampsonAuthor on Facebook and Instagram, and @SampsonF on Twitter. You can also sign up to my newsletter at

A Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Library Reads Pick

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer's feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won't believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she's determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.
You can purchase The Last Chance Library at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. This phone holder on Amazon.

  2. Freya Sampson is new to me, but I love meeting new authors. Thanks to this blog for the introduction.

  3. Targus Portable Lightweight Chill Mat Lap

  4. Light bulbs

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  5. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Frappacino!

  6. pumpkin spice everything lol thank you for a chance to win!

  7. I had chili dogs and fries for lunch

  8. We bought breakfast at a local restaurant this morning.

  9. I had just ordered food delivery which is how we shop now

  10. Ticket to an airshow for this November.

  11. I bought batteries and light bulbs.
    Thanks for the contest.