Monday, September 20, 2010
Interview with Lisa Jewell and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Back in 2002, I obtained a copy of "Ralph's Party" from a friend and really enjoyed the story. I couldn't put it down. All the characters were very interesting and it had some fun twists. That's why I was thrilled to find out that Lisa Jewell had written a sequel called "After the Party." It talks about what happens eleven years later.
Her publisher, Louise Campbell from Random House, gave me two copies of "After the Party" to send to some lucky readers in the US and Canada. She also arranged an interview between Lisa Jewell and myself. I really enjoyed reading her answers. Not only do we have a favorite book in common, but I also found out that our birthdays are right next to each other. (I saw that on her Facebook page though.)
What is the biggest challenge to getting a novel off the ground?
I am not a steady 1000 word a day writer. It usually takes me weeks, if not months, to build up any kind of momentum when I start a book, mainly because I'm not really sure what I'm writing about until about thirty thousand words in. I find these early days of writing a novel quite stressful because I'm paying for childcare and not getting anything done. Even now, ten books down the line, I cannot see this part as a normal stage of the process of writing a book and panic every time that I am never going to complete it and that I am finished as a writer!
What did you do to celebrate when "Ralph's Party" was first published?
Well, when I got the phonecall from my agent to tell me that she'd got me a book deal, I ran to the off-license and bought two bottles of champagne. (And so began a now deeply ingrained champagne habit). On the night of publication, I paid for my own book launch at a small art gallery in town and invited pretty much everyone I'd ever known. My publishers projected the book cover onto a number of buildings around the West End of London and afterwards myself and a dozen or so close friends went for dinner to a cosy French restaurant around the corner and took over a private dining room. And to cap it off, after dinner we all went to an upstairs lounge to watch a review of my book on a BBC arts show. The panel of critics loved it and their commendation sent my little book into the stratosphere and turned it into a phenomenon. It was an amazing night, I can remember every moment of it as though it were yesterday
At the time, did you have any intentions of writing a sequel?
At the time I was dizzy with shock and could not even begin to imagine that ten years later I'd be in a position to write a sequel. I was living very much in the moment. And in fact I'd had no intention of writing a sequel until about six months before I started writing it. I'd just thrown the idea out there, casually, to my agent and a couple of friends and they all reacted so positively that I kind of got swept away with the notion.
How do you keep yourself motivated while writing?
What keeps me motivated is a) the fact that I am paying someone to look after my youngest child while I work and I know I will hate myself if I don’t get at least something done and b) that I have a deadline and I do not like to overstep a deadline if I can help it. There is also, of course the creative motivation of having set a world in motion, of having put a fictional character into a situation that needs to be resolved and feeling an overwhelming need to bring it to a conclusion.
If either "Ralph's Party" or "After the Party" could be made into a movie, which would you choose and who would you cast as the leads?
I think Ralph’s Party would make a great movie, not so sure about After the Party though. As for leads, I’m not entirely sure. I've been asked this question a lot over the years and of course the answers change as actors come and go (and get older!). And it also depends if it was to be Brit Flick, in which case I would think of actors that no one in the States has heard of, or a US production. So maybe I’ll just say that if anyone made any of my books into a movie I would be so overwhelmed with joy that I wouldn't really care who they chose!
I saw that you were in the US for a tour in 2002. Any plans of coming back for another tour? Which was your favourite city to visit?
I've only just signed a US contract, having been unpublished in the States for some time, so I don't really know what my US publishers have in store for me. But I would love to do another publicity tour. It was a weird and wonderful experience and a brilliant opportunity to see a lot of a very big place in a very short space of time! I loved New York, obviously, but I think the best place I stopped off at was Louisville in Kentucky. It was very earthy and lively and we had the best meal of the trip there at a restaurant called Jack’s Place. I did love staying at the Chateau Marmont in LA too, and would love to go back there with kids in tow. I think they’d love it.
What was it like working in the fashion industry?
Oh, you know, I found it very hard to take it all seriously. It was just clothes, not cancer research and people did tend to get very worked up about things that weren't really very important. And it was a really stressful time, generally; there was a recession, people kept being made redundant, I was going through a lot too; a rocky relationship with a guy who kept dumping me and then a doomed marriage to a control freak so my view of the experience is a bit tainted by all that personal stuff. But I love clothes and I love fashion and I did meet some great, amazing fantastic girls. We were all young and living the London life and we had a lot of fun in between the angst.
What was the best party you have ever hosted? Attended?
My wedding was the best party I ever hosted. We took eighty friends and family to the Italian Riviera and partied the whole weekend away. Our wedding reception was held in a stunning Italianate abbey on a cliff overlooking the sea near Portofino and we danced the night away, until three in the morning. It was the best night of my life. The best party I've ever been to is quite a hard call to make, but I would say that every time I go to the Groucho Club in Soho I always have the best, most unpredictable nights, whoever I'm with.
I saw that "She's Come Undone" is one of your favourite books. (We have this in common!) In which ways did you feel you could relate to Dolores?
I could relate to Dolores purely because of the way that Wally Lamb, the author, writes about her. I have never been obese, or been depressed, I have been through very little of what Dolores experiences, but because the author writes so well about her inner life, her thoughts and dreams and feelings, it is almost like you are actually being Dolores and experiencing what she experiences. It was very powerful
What is your favorite holiday?
Oh, Christmas, without a doubt. I love the music, and the lights. I could do without all the gifts though. I find gift-shopping quite stressful, when you're doing it for so many people. But the family aspect of it, the eating, drinking, planning, decorating, I love all that, absolutely love it.
Special thanks to Lisa Jewell for her lovely answers to my questions and to Louise Campbell (Random House) for arranging the interview and providing the books for the giveaway.
How to win "After the Party":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted.)
For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: What is the best party you've ever hosted or attended?
2. Please tell us: What character(s) from a novel would you like to see a sequel about in ten years from the time the story took place?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Sunday, September 26th at 12 pm EST.