Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Interview with Polly Courtney and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Polly Courtney went from being an investment banker to the author of three published novels. She also plays football (a.k.a. soccer), plays violin in a string quartet, goes snowboarding and works as a consultant for online businesses. We recently got to learn more about what makes Polly tick and we hope you will enjoy getting to know her better.
We'd like to thank Charlotte Allen of Harper Collins (UK) for facilitating this interview and for providing five copies of "The Fame Factor" to some lucky readers worldwide!
MP: What is your usual writing routine?
PC: I find that I can't write creatively until the late afternoon, so in the mornings I work on something that is completely different. I like to lead a 'normal' London life, commuting and working with colleagues etc., so that my novels come across as realistic. At the moment I'm working for online fashion boutique Cocosa.com. I get home at around 3pm and spend the next five or six hours in front of my laptop, lost in the world of my characters. Quite often it's only when my boyfriend comes home that I remember where I am!
MP: Do you ever experience "writer's block"? If so, what do you do to remedy it?
PC: I'm lucky in that I've never encountered writer's block, and I think that might be because I plan out my novels so thoroughly before I start writing. When I sit down to write a chapter, I'm not staring at a blank sheet - I know roughly what my characters need to be doing.
MP: Have you experienced any significant challenges while writing any of your novels?
PC: When I wrote Poles Apart, I had to learn Polish in order to get inside the head of the main protagonist, a young migrant who comes to live in the UK. There were lots of Polish journalists at the book launch, and for some reason I had agreed to give my speech in their language. They were all very encouraging afterwards, but I suspect they were just being polite!
MA: You have written some books about the corporate world, including one coming out this month ("Defying Gravity – Adventures of a Corporate Entrepreneur"). How is the publishing world similar or different from the corporate environments you've experienced?
PC: I have worked in several corporate environments, the most extreme being the investment bank that propelled me to write my first novel. Launching myself into the literary world after that was a massive shock. For a start, people in publishing are nice. They smile and ask how your weekend was, instead of just grunting and burying themselves in their computer screens. I’ve seen some bad cases of ‘face time’ in the corporate world, where people pretend to be working late into the night, just to impress the boss. That doesn’t really work in publishing – you’ve either written the chapters or you haven’t.
MP: You started writing "Golden Handcuffs" while working as a investment banker, how long did the journey of writing to publishing take?
PC: I was naïve when I set out to publish my first novel. I thought that once I’d finished the first draft, it would only be a matter of months before the book would hit the shelves. In fact, the journey took nearly two years and it taught me a lot along the way. I spent a long time battling with my first literary agent, who wanted to ‘lighten up’ the novel and remove all the workplace scenes (thus defeating the whole point of the book), then eventually we parted company (amicably) and I signed with Diane Banks who has represented me ever since. Once I was taken on by Troubador, my first publisher, I thought I was nearly there, but of course there were several months of editing, typesetting and publicising before I could finally say I was a published author. I’ve always been slightly impatient, so this took some getting used to!
MA: Between consulting, playing in a string quartet and playing football (a.k.a. soccer, for those of us in the US), how do you find the time to write?
PC: Conveniently, all my passions seem to fit in around one another. Football (soccer) is on Sundays and weeknights, and our string quartet gigs tend to fall on Saturdays, which leaves the weekdays for consulting (mornings) and writing (afternoons) – and occasionally, an hour here or there to spend time with my long-suffering boyfriend!
MA: For "The Fame Factor," you are working in conjunction with promoting a new singer-songwriter. What was it like for you to work with her?
PC: I met Jade (stage-name Jadylu) just over a year ago, when I was just starting to sit down and write. She read the skeleton drafts of what went on to become The Fame Factor, and it was uncanny – her hopes and dreams were exactly what I had envisaged for Zoë, the main character. Since the release of the book, Jadylu has launched her first single, Defenseless, and there are plans for us to tour music/book shops in the UK. I’m really excited to be working with such a talented artist at such an early stage in her career. I just hope she heeds the warnings in The Fame Factor about the music industry!
MA: Do you have any fictional novels in process for the next year?
PC: I’m just starting to plan my sixth novel, which is about a young female footballer and her team mates. It will come out next summer, in time for the Women’s World Cup. It’s a great book for me to write, as I’m mad about the game and determined to break down some of the stereotypes that people have about women’s football.
MA: If "The Fame Factor" were made into a movie, who would you want to cast in the lead roles?
PC: I have it all planned! Zoë would be played by Emma Watson, Shannon (feisty Irish band mate) would be Willa Holland of Gossip Girls, dreamy guitarist Ellie would be someone like Saoirse Ronan (Lovely Bones) and Kate, the anxious young bassist, would be Dakota Fanning. I haven’t yet cast Louis Castle, the legendary American band manager, so I’m open to suggestions…
MP: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
PC: Japan, in winter. I love snowboarding and I hear they have powder bowls like nowhere else on earth. (If that’s too extravagant then I’ll settle for Milton Keynes Snow Dome!)
Special thanks to Polly for answering our questions and to Charlotte Allen for arranging this interview and giveaway.
How to win "The Fame Factor":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page if you can receive messages there.)
1. Please tell us: What singer or musical group do you feel is great but does not get enough recognition?
2. Please tell us: For which talent or skill would you want to become famous?
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.)
Giveaway ends Monday, October 18th, at 6pm EST.