WRITERS are odd creatures to live with, as becomes clear partway through my chat with writer Emma Unsworth, whose debut novel, Hungry the Stars and Everything is published this week.

“I have conversations with myself while I’m walking round the house,” she says. “I talk to my characters, or I rehearse dialogue. Anyone else would think I was mad.”

Luckily for Emma, “Anyone else” wouldn’t be her partner, the songwriter and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey with whom she lives in Prestwich. As it is, it seems she has the perfect situation for writing.

“We do use each other as a sounding board sometimes, but we do keep very separate when we’re working,” says Emma. “We have rooms at opposite ends of the house where we write, we don’t even know each other exists — although we do sometimes meet in the middle for cups of tea.”

As both are writers, no-one takes the hump about being occasionally ignored, she continues.

“It’s good that we both write because we respect each other’s need for lonely time. We understand each other’s need not to talk to anyone for three days, or to bugger off up to the Lake District.”

Hungry the Stars and Everything draws together many of Emma’s passions in life — food, romance, physics, astronomy.

“I think that’s the way a lot of first novels work,” she says. “I wanted to get all the things I love into one book.”

With so many themes to weave together, Emma admits that there were moments when she doubted whether the story would work.

“I’ve started writing a lot of things where I get to chapter six and realise it isn’t going anywhere,” she says. ”With this book I knew what I wanted to write about in terms of characters, then I was looking for metaphors that would illustrate the process they would go through throughout the story.

“All those ideas were in a cloud in my head and all started to gather together.”

I say that must be a wonderful moment, when you realise that it’s all going to make sense.

“Oh it is, it’s a definite ‘click’,” says Emma. “There are times when it’s so hard and you just wonder if you’re trailing off down the wrong path, then suddenly you get a flash in your head and it all comes together.”

Well known already as a journalist around Manchester, Emma, who is now 32, started writing fiction (“and poetry,like everyone, but it wasn’t any good”) when she was a teenager. A supporting teacher at Bury Grammar school, Sherry Ashworth, became a life-long friend, and when Sherry decided to open her own publishing house, Emma was at the top of the list of writers she wanted to approach.

“Sherry really encouraged my creative writing, she would give me ridiculously bi Emma. “She really instilled me with the belief that I could do it and that’s never changed — she’s become my mentor. It’s wonderful to be working with her because we’ve got that history and that trust.”

Emma says that when a writer is starting out the most important thing they need is someone like Sherry who is knowledgeable and who can help and encourage them.

“It’s really hard to find good readers who you can trust, especially when you first start out because you’re so full of self doubt,” she says. “It’s so exposing , you really feel like you’re laying yourself down. Even now there’s only a handful of people who I trust to read my first drafts.”

With the first draft of a second novel now finished, and the beginning of a third taking shape, it seems like those readers — and Emma — will be very busy for some time to come.

• Hungry the Stars and Everything is published on June 16 by The Hidden Gem Press.