Meet Emma Lee-Potter: mother, journalist, book reviewer and novelist

Image I have great pleasure in introducing Emma Lee-Potter; Emma is a journalist, book reviewer and novelist. She lives in Oxford in the UK.

I first met Emma when she had just given birth to her son. I was a community midwife and Emma was on my list of postnatal visits for that day. She lived in Downham, a distinguished untouched village at the foot of Pendle Hill in Lancashire. Emma and I got on so well almost immediately, and I later learned that her mother was Lynda Lee-Potter OBE, a well-known newspaper columnist. Time moved on, and I became connected to Emma again when she contacted me after reading and reviewing my book, Catching Babies. I was delighted, and started following her blog.

I have recommended many of my friends and family to follow her writings too….which they have. Check these out at the end!

This week I asked her a few questions, and this is what she said!

When did you decide to become a journalist, and who influenced your career the most?

I always wanted to be a journalist. My mother was a very successful newspaper columnist and interviewer and I was fascinated by her job. She took me with her to some amazing places while she was working – like backstage at the theatre and on an RNLI rescue off the coast of South Wales – and I desperately wanted to do the same sort of job when I grew up.

How long have you been writing a blog, and what inspired you?

I’ve been writing a blog since 2007. I was inspired by a writer called Josa Young who told me that all journalists should write a blog. She talked me through what to do on the phone and five minutes later I was writing my first post. I started House With No Name in 2011 because I wanted to concentrate on blogging about books, children, life and France.

You review a book every week for your blog, how long on average does it take you?

I’m a very fast reader, which is lucky. How long does it take me? It depends. If I’m really gripped I’ll stay up all night to finish a book.

What was the first book that you read?

One of the very first must have been First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton. I was so obsessed by her books that I used to save up and spend all my pocket money on them.

Which is your favourite book?

That’s a really tricky question. Can I have three? I’d say Germinal by Emile Zola, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

Other than those you love, what would you save in a fire? 

An oil painting of my two children. It’s by Lucy Dickens, who is a wonderful painter. She came to my house when they were about four and six and my son just wouldn’t sit still. In the end she had to bribe him by drawing him for five minutes and then letting him run round the garden.

Which film have you seen several times? 

Manhattan by Woody Allen.

What ambition do you have?

To write a mega bestseller.

What is your favourite colour?

Navy blue.

What temptation do you wish you could resist?

Pinot Grigio.

What, in others, makes you angry?

Meanness – in every sense.

What wisdom would you share with a child?

It sounds trite but I’d say “be happy.”

What is your favourite song?

It changes all the time but at the moment it’s Up to Us by Charles Pasi.

What is your favourite piece of music?

Canon in D Major by Pachelbel

Which four people would you like to invite to dinner and why?

Paul Merton and Ian Hislop because they’d make me laugh, the late Anthony Howard because he was so wise and illuminating about politics and JK Rowling because she’s a literary superstar.

What do your regret from the past?

I wish I’d travelled more and been more adventurous. I’d love to go to South America and the Far East.

What has made you happiest?

My children.

What would you want if you could choose anything?

I’m sure the PC thing to say would be world peace. But if you mean something material I’d love a flat in New York.

Who is the most fascinating person you’ve met?

I haven’t met him but the most fascinating person I’ve ever interviewed is Sugata Mitra. He’s an academic who has done lots of research into how education can be provided to children and young people in parts of the world where educational resources are limited or non-existent. He is often dubbed the “slumdog professor” after his Hole in the Wall experiment in the slums of Delhi inspired the book that became the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

The south of France, although I have a secret hankering for Pendle Hill in Lancashire.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Help! I can’t do anything else. Maybe I’d run an art gallery.

Five things you might not know about Emma Lee-Potter

I hate eggs.

I once met Princess Diana and she told me that her favourite pop group was Supertramp.

I’m a serial mover. My dad was in the RAF and I changed schools eight times. The moving habit has clearly stuck because me and my husband have moved ten times since we got married.

My blog’s called House With No Name because the tumbledown farmhouse in France I bought on a whim doesn’t have a name. “How does the postman know where to deliver letters?” we asked the elderly vendor. “He just does…” she said. She was mystified that we were mystified.

I was once the world’s worst au pair. I couldn’t cook, couldn’t make beds with hospital corners and had never changed a nappy before.


Emma’s blog House With No Name is brilliant, I have learnt so much from reading about her interests, her book reviews (many of which I have then purchased) and her children. –  Her latest ebook is called School Ties and is available for download. She can be found on Twitter at @EmmaLeePotter