#countdownYA Author Interview: Lisa Glass

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I’m really excited to welcome Lisa Glass for my stop on the Countdown to 5th June blog tour.

Lisa’s new book, Blue – a summer surfing romance – sounds right up my street. I can’t wait to read it. But first, some questions…

lisaglass7Can you tell us about your writing day?

I have two little kids, one a tiny baby, so whenever the eldest is being looked after by someone else and the youngest is asleep, I rush over to the computer and tap out a few hundred words.

What’s been the best moment of your writing career so far? And the worst?

The best moment was being offered the three-book deal with Quercus. The worst was finding out that interest in my previous novel, which I thought was going to get a publishing deal, had ebbed away.

Have you got any abandoned manuscripts no one will ever see?

Loads. About a million words of abandoned manuscript, more’s the pity.

Have you ever experienced writers’ block and, if so, how did you get past it?

Yes. When I’m pregnant I find it really difficult to write. I just can’t make myself care about the characters. I become really intolerant of them, and have to fight the urge to kill them all off in the next chapter. The way I got past it was by giving birth. Once the babies were out, I was able to write again. I don’t know why pregnancy makes me so hostile to my own imagination, but it does.

blueHow is being a writer different from what you imagined?

I thought it would be a more serene endeavour. I didn’t realise how hard it would be to get published, and paid. Also, I thought I would be prouder of my job. By which I mean: I have always admired writers, but now that I am one, I feel almost embarrassed to admit it, or acknowledge that it is even a job, even though I work very hard at it. But, I am from a line of bricklayers, cleaners, lorry drivers, seamstresses, and saying ‘I’m an author’ makes me feel as if I am betraying my working class roots, which is ridiculous, but there we are.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

This is a great question. I think I’d go for It Chooses You by Miranda July. It’s not a novel. It’s about the author’s experiences of interviewing people who advertise stuff they want to sell in a weekly circular. The people she interviews are all really interesting, and I think I’d enjoy hanging out with Miranda July. She seems like a lot of fun and I think she’d be great in arguments, really quick-witted and fiery.

Which three books would you take to a desert island?Friday-Gospels

London is the Best City in America by Laura Dave, because she has the most beautiful prose and I’m still trying to figure out how she manages that. The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth because she has incredible insight into human behaviour and Very British Problems by Rob Temple, just for the lolz.

If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?

I had this conversation with my friend Rosy once and she answered Jack Black. So now I naturally want Jack Black to play me. We have the same glint of crazy in our eyes and we both have extremely mobile eyebrows. But can he do a Westcountry accent? I just don’t know.

Thanks, Lisa. (That’s a film I’d want to see!)

Author interview: Jojo Moyes

I’ve only read Jojo Moyes’s last three books, but I adored them all. I plan to read the rest – starting with the first, Sheltering Rain – this year. I’ve been thrilled and fascinated to watch the enormous success she’s been enjoying with Me Before You (it’s just been announced that MGM have bought the film rights), particularly since it came after she’d had eight books published. Jojo’s story is one to bring hope to many authors, I think. So I asked her on Twitter if she’d answer some questions for me and she very graciously did. 

You mentioned on Twitter that the success of Me Before You has changed the way you look at life, not just publishing, can you tell me more about that?

Unknown-1For want of a better word, I think I’d just got used to feeling a bit stoic. I’d had eight books published, put my heart and soul into each, yet none ever seemed to achieve quite the success that everyone around me predicted they would. And I think I felt a bit that way about life too – that it was a matter of knuckling down and hoping for enough to go right so that you could just keep going. I counted my blessings – don’t get me wrong – but I didn’t have high expectations of anything really good happening.

And then it did. It started with Me Before You getting picked by Richard and Judy, and then it just kept going. The book kept selling. People wrote wonderful things about it. Creative people I admired wanted to talk to me. Readers started to pick up my backlist. In the early months I just kept waiting for it all to fizzle out. But it didn’t. And without wanting to sound like the most awful Smugger, life has just got better and better. I’ve had more lovely reviews, doors have opened, I’ve had amazing foreign trips, and I’ve been able to stop worrying about certain financial issues. It made me believe that sometimes, if you’re lucky, life can take the most wonderful and unexpected turns.

You had eight novels published before Me Before You. They were all successful, but then Me Before You has really taken you to another level. Did you know you had something special when you were writing it? At what point did you think this may be the book to change everything?

imagesNo! I wrote it without a definite home for it, and part of me wondered if, given the subject matter, I was about to kill off my career. And yet it was such a weirdly easy book to write, mostly because I felt really passionately about the storyline and had such a clear picture in my head of the lead characters. Which rarely happens.

The only real clue I had that I was writing something special was my husband. He reads all my books first, and usually we argue horribly and then I sulk like a child at his suggestions. But with this book he simply read it and said: “I love it.” No suggestions, no criticisms. (It made me wonder if he was actually ill.)

All your books are very different – did you feel a lot of pressure to follow up Me Before You with something similar?

No. When I moved to Penguin the whole team was very clear that I could carry on writing really diverse books. They said the thing they felt linked them was the emotional kick they delivered. So I followed MBY with a book set in 1916 Occupied France…

What’s been the best moment of your writing career so far? And the worst?

The best moment of my writing career was probably hearing that MBY had gone straight into the Top Ten at number 3. It was the first time in 10 years that I had hit the Top Ten. The worst was feeling, shortly before I moved to Penguin, like I couldn’t get arrested.

Do you ever feel like giving up and, if so, how do you convince yourself to keep going?

I never feel like giving up writing. I can’t. It’s how I translate my world. This doesn’t always mean that I find writing books easy. Often I find the easiest way to keep going is just to read a few pages of inspirational writing. Or I read The Bookseller and remind myself how many other people out there would be desperate to do this job…

Can you tell me anything about your next book?

It’s very different to The Girl You Left Behind. It’s a book about a cleaner who has a prodigal daughter, and what she does in her attempts to better her children’s futures. It’s about love, and bad decisions, and the apparent impossibility in today’s society of breaking out of your social stratum.

Have you got any abandoned manuscripts no one will ever see?

Three! I wrote three books before I got one published. Now, of course, I can see that they simply weren’t good enough.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

Oh – interesting question! The first that pops into mind is National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. That lovely, quirky ,realistic family. And that gorgeous horse.

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

It would probably change month to month. But today, Behind The Scenes at the Museum. Gone Girl. The Complete Works of Shakespeare (I realise this is a terrible cheat).

If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?

Who would I want? Naomi Watts. Who would be more suitable? I don’t know. Bagpuss.

Thanks so much, Jojo.

Author interview: Clara Vulliamy

I’ve been chatting with Clara Vulliamy on Twitter for a while now, after I was sent a copy of her gorgeous book Martha and the Bunny Brothers. Joe and I love the book so much – and Clara is so lovely – that I had to bother her for an interview.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been writing and illustrating picture books for more than twenty years now – there’s nothing else I’ve ever wanted to do, which is as well because there isn’t much else I CAN do!

I live with my husband who is an artist, our two grown-up children and two elderly spinster guinea pigs.

I’m a fairly cheerful sort of person, and even if the big things in life are sometimes burdensome I get a lot of pleasure from the small things.

What’s an average day for you?

I’m early to my drawing board, and (if I manage to resist the more-ish delights of twitter!) work without interruption until tea. Though I do always make time for a highly unhealthy lunch – a half-eaten bag of crisps, or leftovers straight from the fridge.

When the workers get back from work / college, needing some peace and quiet, I down tools and bother them with constant chat and questions about their day.

images-2Writing can be a lonely occupation – how do you cope with the solitary nature of being a writer/illustrator?

I’m okay with it because I know I will have some company in the evenings. In the day, I LOVE solitude – and silence! No radio, music or background noise for me.

There’s also lots of communication with all the many people who work on our books with us – agent, editors, designers, publicity people – and there’s usually someone free for a chat online if it all gets a little TOO quiet.

How long does it take to illustrate your books? 

It takes loads longer than you might think! I need three or four months to do the illustrations. And before that a lot of mulling, scribbling, rubbing-out, wondering, chewing the end of my pencil, staring out of the window…

But the writing, even a short picture book text, takes me a very long time too.

51tvu-eShDL._SL500_AA300_What advice would you give someone who wants to write a picture book?

Have a look at what’s out there already – what do people seem to like? What do YOU like? Take it in, mull it over, then ignore it all completely and write to please yourself.

You don’t have to strive after originality – its all been done before, but not by you.

Keep it SHORT – cut, cut and cut again.

Remember the pictures will be telling the story too.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

I would choose The House at Pooh Corner. What more could one need than the Hundred Acre Wood to stroll in or a game of Pooh-sticks to play. Christopher Robin would probably be a bit of a pain and Eeyore could get you down, but I admire Owl enormously and I love Rabbit and his friends and relations – and oh I could meet PIGLET, what an honour that would be!

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

some T S Eliot poetry

my Wacky Races annual from 1970.

When I first got to know you on Twitter, I had no idea your mum is Shirley Hughes. I was quite nervous about mentioning it, but you were lovely about it. Can you tell us what it’s like to have a national treasure for a parent? 🙂 And can you tell us about the book you’re writing together?

I’m enormously proud of my Mum, and puff up with pride when people realise that I’m her daughter and tell me how much they love her books. She doesn’t completely know quite how cherished she is, and how much her stories are an essential part of so many families’ lives, so I always pass these kind comments on to her.

It’s been on the cards for YEARS that we would collaborate, and now – at last! – is the perfect moment. She wrote the thrilling tales of Dixie O’Day especially for me to illustrate: the first in the series, Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane, comes out next year. It’s so much fun working together, coming up with new ideas, laughing a lot. I will look back on these days and be so glad of them.

More on Dixie here.

images-3Thanks so much, Clara. 

Clara’s lovely book Lucky Wish Mouse Sweet Dreams is the bedtime book on CBeebies today, between 6 and 7pm. Tune in!

Author interview: Stephanie Butland

I’m honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Stephanie Butland’s second book, Thrive. I read Stephanie’s first book – How I said Bah! To Cancer – recently, after a family member was diagnosed, and it’s just wonderful: practical, comforting, encouraging and warm. But I didn’t ask Stephanie about cancer, I asked her about writing and books.

Can you tell us about your writing day?

My writing day varies according to whether I’m writing or editing. When I’m writing, I like to write 1000-1500 words in the morning, then let what I’ve written ‘cook’ for the rest of the day while I do other things – research, emails, tomorrow’s blog post. (Knitting, walking on the beach, going out for lunch….) Next morning, I will go back over those 1500 words, then add the next lot. If I’m editing it’s a much more intensive process – I will probably have 3 sessions a day, and do the edit fairly quickly, and ignore as much of the rest of my life as I can.

Writing can be a lonely occupation – how do you cope with the solitary nature of being an writer?

I embrace it. I write in the studio at the bottom of the garden, and I think as I make the very small walk from house to studio something shifts in me as I know that what I’m walking towards is space and time to write. Anyone who has ever tried to write while helping with homework at a dining table will know what a luxury that is!

Have you ever experienced writers’ block and, if so, how did you get past it?

Not really. I’ve got a bit stuck on manuscripts once or twice, and what I’ve done then is gone back to an earlier draft to see whether I’ve taken a wrong turn in the latest one. That’s always been enough to kick start things.

How is being a writer different from what you imagined?

It’s much more collaborative. I’m working with two brilliant editors (one for my fiction, one for my non-fiction) and every time I implement suggestions from either of them I see my work get so much better. And I had no idea of how much goes on between submitting a manuscript and having a book in your hand.

Have you got any abandoned manuscripts no one will ever see?

There’s a first novel on floppy discs somewhere, that I wrote about 10 years ago. An agent at the time said ‘I’d quite like to see your next thing’ which is, I think, a reasonable assessment of it: if it had been a school essay it would have come back with ‘shows promise, must try harder’ written across it.

What has been your proudest writing moment (so far)?

Holding the first book in my hands. For me, that was the point at which I was really a writer.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

This is a fantastic question and I am a little bit sad that it isn’t a real option! I think it would have to be ‘Sense And Sensibility’. Elinor Dashwood is one of my favourite characters in fiction and I think she and I would get on really well. I’d have access to a big library, and would be able to sew and read and spend whole days buying ribbons for a bonnet. I would have a slightly contradictory reputation as an expert needlewoman and outrageous flirt. And, when Marianne died of some reckless thing or other, Alan Rickman would fall in love with me. (I’d be living in the Ang Lee version).

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

This, on the other hand, is an EVIL question and I’m going to cheat. The complete works of Jane Austen, the complete works of John Updike (a Jane Austen for 20th century America), the complete book of all poetry EVER.

If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?

Hmmm. Kate Winslet, probably. If she had forgiven me for pushing her off a cliff in Sense and Sensibility.

Thanks so much, Stephanie. You can read more about Stephanie at her blog or follower her on Twitter. Her first novel, Surrounded by Water, will be published in Spring 2014. 

Author interview: Catherine Ryan Howard

I got to know Catherine Ryan Howard via Twitter and I’ve been so impressed by her self-printing adventures. She’s incredibly creative and resourceful and I’m in awe of what she’s accomplished in such a short time. So I’m honoured to take part in the blog tour for her new book, Results Not Typical

I have to ask you about Disney, obviously [Catherine’s first book, Mousetrapped, was about working at Disney]. What’s your favourite Disney ride? And what’s your one top tip (your Toppest Tip, if you like) for visiting Disney? 

My favourite ride would probably have to be Soarin’, which is in Epcot, and it’s supposed to be a kind of legs-dangling glide over California. My absolutely favourite thing to do in Walt Disney World though is not a ride, it’s to stand and watch Wishes, the fireworks display that closes the park at night. I could watch it every night for a year and never tire of it, it’s so amazing.

As for my toppest tip, I would have to say that if I was planning a vacation in Walt Disney World, this is how I’d do it: I’d book a hotel that is on Disney property but that isn’t owned by Disney, e.g. Swan and Dolphin in Epcot Resorts or the Hilton on Hotel Plaza Boulevard (across from Downtown Disney). After I’d booked that I’d get hopper passes, which allow me in and out of the parks and into more than one park each day if I like. Then I would be at the park first thing in the morning (for what they call “rope drop”), stick around until about 11am, leave and go back to my hotel for a relaxing lunch, swim in the pool, etc. and then head back into the park from about 4pm until closing. That is hands down the best way to do the parks. You can’t do it if you’re staying in a hotel outside WDW (because it wouldn’t be worth your while going out and getting back) but if you pick a non-Disney-but-on-property, you don’t pay through the nose for your accommodation. (And never book through Disney, who act like a travel agent for those other hotels and resorts. Book direct!) You miss the busiest time of the day in the parks (and for most of the year, the hottest) but you still have plenty of time to do everything without driving you and your family nuts. Simples!

I’m totally in awe of everything you’re doing with self-printing – it’s so exciting! What’s been your proudest moment (so far)?

I remember back at the start of this year, I was invited to do something that was part of the Dublin Book Festival. It was a Pecha Kucha presentation – where you present an idea in only 20 slides, each slide moving on automatically after 20 seconds – and it was just for fun, and the first time I was speaking somewhere as an author, really, and not just The Girl Who Self-Published. There was lots of publishing types there and while I was chatting to one of them she said, “Well, from what I hear, you’re doing extremely well.” I was so taken aback by the fact that this Publishing Person had not only heard of me, but had heard that I was “doing well”, I nearly keeled over. That was a really great moment because it was the first time I realised that people other than my blog readers and Twitter friends had heard of me. Of course even then I’d sold more books than the people I knew + Twitter friends + blog readers so intellectually I must have known that a wider net of people were aware of my existence, but that was the first moment I really thought about what that meant. It might sound like a strange thing to pick out of this whole experience but that’s my proudest moment so far!

Can you tell us anything about your next project? 

No, not really! What I’m working on now is a new novel I hope to get published, as opposed to self-publishing it. It’s very different from Results Not Typical and it’s all totally top secret at the moment but I’ve been plot-planning all week and am really excited to get started on actually writing it.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

Keris, where do you come up with these?! What a difficult question! Hmm… [Goes away and thinks for hours with finger thoughtfully poised on chin.] I know I’m going to pick a book, send you back these answers and then think of a better choice immediately, but let’s go with… A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Paris is my favourite city and I think I would’ve loved to live the life of a starving artist in the city back in the 1920s. Although they didn’t seem to do all that much starving – all they seem to do in that book is drink and eat and write, which would suit me down to the ground!

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

That’s actually a really easy question for me to answer but I have a little re-reading habit with a group of books – I seem to re-read them annually and get as much pleasure out of them then as I did the first time. (So I’d have to leave them in the sand for a while in between reads but they’d still keep me entertained!) Anyone who has read Mousetrapped will not be surprised by my choices: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin. I know: I am oh SO predictable.

What’s the last book that made you cry? And the funniest book you’ve ever read? 

The last book that made me cry was Far To Go by Alison Pick. I was absolutely devastated by the ending of it. I finished it in the early hours of the morning and I then proceeded to cry (and sob, wail, etc.) myself to sleep. It was fantastic book, but heart-wrenching to say the least!

As for the funniest book I’ve ever read I’d have to say in terms of actual out-loud laughs it would be How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. If you have any writerly aspirations and/or if you know anything about publishing, READ THIS BOOK. Trust me – you won’t regret it!

If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?

Drew Barrymore, I think. She’s probably the closest thing to me a Hollywood actress can get, although she’d have to eat a few ice-cream sandwiches in preparation for the role…!

Thanks so much, Catherine!

Results Not Typical on Amazon.co.uk

Results Not Typical on Amazon.com

If you visit GoodReads you can enter a giveaway to win one of five paperback copies of Results Not Typical. Open for entries from September 30th-October 31st. Open to all countries.

About Catherine:

Catherine Ryan Howard is a 29-year-old writer, blogger and enthusiastic coffee-drinker. She currently lives in Cork, Ireland, where she divides her time between her desk and the sofa. She blogs at www.catherineryanhoward.com.

About Results Not Typical:

The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers and chick-lit meets corporate satire in the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard, author of the bestselling memoir Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida. Through their Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Solution Zone System, Slimmit International Global Incorporated claim they’re making the world a more attractive place one fatty at a time. Their slogans “Where You’re Fat and We Know It!” and “Where the Fat IS Your Fault!” are recognised around the globe, the counter in the lobby says five million slimmed and their share price is as high as their energy levels. But today the theft of their latest revolutionary product, Lipid Loser, will threaten to expose the real secret behind Slimmit’s success…The race is on to retrieve Lipid Loser and save Slimmit from total disaster. If their secrets get out, their competitors will put them out of business. If the government finds out, they’ll all go to jail. And if their clients find out… Well, as Slimmit’s Slimming Specialists know all too well, there’s only one thing worse than a hungry, sugar-crazed, carb addict – and that’s an angry one. Will the secret behind Slimmit’s success survive the day, or will their long-suffering slimmers finally discover the truth? Available now in paperback and e-book editions.

Dorothy Koomson interview

I am so thrilled to welcome the lovely author Dorothy Koomson to my blog and to ask her some of the questions suggested by you (remember when I asked you to suggest questions, ages ago? Thanks!).

Can you tell us about your writing day?

I don’t have a writing day as such. I spend most days trying to play catch up and dealing with the most urgent matters that come up in life. If there was ever a time I’m most likely to write it’ll be late at night, when nearly everyone who can distract me has gone to bed. Right now, it’s gone midnight and I’m sitting in bed with the television muted in the background, typing on my laptop.

Writing can be a lonely occupation – how do you cope with the solitary nature of being an author?

I was single for a significant proportion of my writing career (and adult life) so I really was alone a lot of the time – sometimes I’d go days without seeing people, but I didn’t mind too much. If I needed company I would go to the local post office just to practice conversation. It is easier to write when you don’t have another person at home who – rightfully – wants you to engage with them. I find having the television on in the background – sometimes on mute, other times not – helps alleviate any loneliness. A lot has changed in the world since the invention of Twitter and Facebook, though. Now you can find conversation and ‘company’ whenever you want it, virtually.

Have you ever experienced writers’ block and, if so, how did you get past it?

I’ve never had writers’ block. I don’t think that’s luck, it’s more the way I write: I don’t write in sequence, so if something’s not flowing, I’ll write another part of the book. That stops me from feeling ‘stuck’. Also, having been a journalist and editor for many years, I’ve never had the time to be blocked, I suppose, I’ve always needed to produce the words. Obviously it helps that there are always at least two different story ideas running in my head at any given time.

How is being an author different from what you imagined?

When I first got my publishing deal with a small independent publisher – they’re not independent any more – I genuinely thought I would be able to give up full-time work. I thought I’d be at least making enough to write books full-time. Ha-ha! That was a lesson learned. I didn’t actually give up my full-time job until after I’d finished my fourth book, Marshmallows For Breakfast. Even then I only did that because the magazine I was working on in Australia folded and my hand was forced – I had to make the leap of faith to try living even more frugally than I already did and give being a novelist a proper go. The other way being an author is different is that I thought authors had more say in covers, book titles, etc. Thankfully I’ve always been involved in deciding on my titles and covers, but I know other authors aren’t as lucky.

Have you got any abandoned manuscripts no one will ever see?

I have loads of them! Some dating back to when I was in school – my first ‘book’ was written in my exercise books when I was 13. Sometimes I will start a book and will quickly realise that it’s not ready to be a full-length novel yet so I’ll put it to one side. Then years later I’ll come back to it and know the time is right. That happened with some of the story of Goodnight, Beautiful – it began life in a very different way.

Who is the favourite character you’ve created and why?

My favourite male character is Greg from The Chocolate Run. I am so in love with him, even though I know he’s not real and everything. Favourite female character is probably Ceri from The Cupid Effect. Why? She’s my ‘first-born’ (first published main character).

What was your proudest writing moment (so far)?

Not sure if you mean from physically writing a book or part of the whole ‘thing’ of being a writer. If it’s the former, then it’s writing/editing the final words to The Cupid Effect, knowing it would be on the shelves of a bookshop; if it’s the latter then it’s walking into Borders on Oxford Street, London, and seeing The Cupid Effect on the shelves for the first time. The Cupid Effect features in both of my proudest writing moments because it is the book that changed my life.

If you had to live within the confines of one book, and only interact with its characters (but you would still be yourself), which book would you choose?

Now there’s a question! Do I choose a fun-loving book that would eventually drive me crazy to be trapped in, or a more meaty tome that would have me depressed over a long period of time? At a push I’d go for Hollywood Wives – for the glamour and the celebs.

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

The largest single volume available of The Oxford English Dictionary because I can learn lots of new words; The Chocolate Run so I could adapt it into a screenplay; and a single volume of all J G Ballard’s short stories because they are excellent reading – even if you’ve read them before.

If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?

Everyone always says Whoopi Goldberg should play me, but since she’s older than me I don’t think that’d work. I’m going to be completely self-indulgent and go for Naomi Harris. I’m sure she’d love leaning over the bath to wash her hair and sitting in her pyjamas in bed writing with the deadline for the next book hanging over her head. I can see it as clear as day!

Thank you so much, Dorothy.

Dorothy’s latest book, The Woman He Loved Before, is out in paperback later this week (and it’s gripping!).

Author interview: Claire Allan

I’ve just read and loved Claire Allan’s fourth novel, It’s Got to be Perfect. I met Claire (only virtually, so far) when we were both in an online writing group. She’s lovely and I’m so impressed with everything she’s achieved. Four books! All with pride of place on my “special” book shelf (shelf for books written by friends). So she’s the perfect person to feature in my first author interview! (Hopefully the first of many).

What three books would you take to a desert island?

Very predictable but Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which is one a very select number of novels which I can read again and again still enjoy almost as much as the first time. It’s brilliant – funny, sad, uses the word feck alot, has great leather trousers in it. Pretty much everything you could look for in a book. I’d also bring Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because I adored it as a teenager and keep meaning to re-read it just to see if I still love it just as much and whether I still fancy Hareton or will Heathcliff win me over. I think I’d also bring a biography – not sure which one but I know I’m dying to read Portia De Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness.

If It’s Got to be Perfect was made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?

Ooooh! Not that I’ve thought about this too much but Colin Farrell would be the hairy Anton (although I don’t think Colin has a hairy back… but I’m sure they could whip something prosthetic up). I think Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) would make a good Annie, but perhaps she is a bit young and Scottish? Someone very thin and tall and glam would have to be Darcy – a bit Keira Knightly-ish but less annoying.

Your next book – tell us all about it please!

It has a working title of The 30 Something Crisis Club and it does what it says on the tin. It focuses on three friends, all mid 30s, all at a crossroads in their lives. They decide to have a girly holiday to France and their secrets unravel one by one. There is a very hunky French man to drool over too. And no, he has no excess body hair.

How do you write? Are you a plotter or a panster? Do you write in silence or in front of the TV? Do you have special writing pants? Tell us everything!

I completely fly by the seat of my very large pants. I tend to write more character led books, and have a notion of a plot but it is all very fluid as the characters take over and develop their own personalities. I do generally have a start point, and end point and a rough idea of how I’m going to get there but I’m open to change – which is very unusual for me as I do not do change well! I write, generally, in front of the TV in the evenings, with the sound down low. I always had to do my homework with the radio on while I was at school and this is my modern equivalent. I dream of a nice office, but generally it’s me on the far end of my sofa glass of wine or Diet Coke close at hand and the laptop balanced on a cushion on my knee. I spend a lot of my writing time in my pyjamas – comfort is very important.

What book do you wish you’d written?

Probably Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes although I think no one but Marian could have written it – she took so much of her personal experience and put it in there with crippling honesty. I do get writer’s jealousy over it though. Similarly, Designer Genes by Emma Hannigan is a brilliantly written book which really, really touched me but it is also based, loosely, on Emma’s own experience of cancer so no one but her could have written it.

Bonus question! Is there an abandoned book, hidden in a drawer and, if so, what’s it about and why is it abandoned.

There are starts of books, abandoned – maybe hitting 10,000 words mark. There is an aborted attempt to write Daisy from Rainy Days and Tuesdays‘ story but it was abandoned when Grace (the main character from RD&T) became too involved in it. I also think that book is done, best leave it alone and not revist the past.

Thanks, Claire. Find out more about Claire at her website.