Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Interview with Gemma Burgess and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Gemma Burgess is the author of "The Dating Detox" (Avon, January 2010) and "A Girl Like You," (Avon) which is being released in the UK this week (and can be ordered from BookDepository.com with free shipping)! She currently resides in Notting Hill, but grew up all over the place (mainly in Hong Kong). She enjoys writing anti-romantic comedies for girls who like chick lit that comforts and charms without the silly fluffy bits. Her inspiration for her novels is "Sixteen Candles," which is one of her favorite movies.
Charlotte Allen (Harper Collins) kindly arranged an interview with this dynamic author and has also offered to give away three copies of "A Girl Like You" to some lucky readers anywhere in the world!
If you like what you've read today, you can check out her blog, friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
MP: What's your usual writing routine?
GB: Wake up early. Write, read, edit, repeat. Have occasional breaks for coffee, food, exercise and jaunts to topshop.com, nymag.com and Twitter. Take a long late-afternoon break and go for a walk, take a bath or read a book. Then maybe reread what I wrote that day and write some more.
MP: Do you ever let friends or family read your work as you write or do you make them wait until you are finished?
GB: Not until I’ve finished the first draft. I edit and re-edit as I write the first draft, so things are always changing. When I’m done, I ask a few friends if they’d like to read it. Mostly I want to know when/if they get bored… I want the book to be entertaining, fast and furiously readable above all else.
I always make sure they know that reading it is optional; I know from experience that reading someone else’s manuscript can be kind of difficult. It’s just not as nice as reading an actual book.
MP: What is the best vacation you have ever taken?
GB: Tough question! Hmm… I got married in April 2010 in New York, so we had a few weeks there and a huge party with 150 of our nearest and dearest, and then we spent another two weeks in Anguilla for a honeymoon… That was pretty perfect; I hadn’t had such a long vacation since university. It was also my first break in quite a long time as the previous year I’d been freelance copywriting, editing THE DATING DETOX and writing A GIRL LIKE YOU, as well as planning the wedding…
I hadn’t had a day off for 18 months, so that made it all the sweeter. It took a while to remember how to do nothing. For the first day of so of honeymoon I was still writing to-do lists and constantly checking the time, then on the third day I had breakfast, got back into bed and slept till lunch. I was like ‘ahh, that’s what doing nothing feels like’.
MP: What is the biggest challenge you faced while writing your last book?
GB: Self-doubt! Always self-doubt. I have hand-wringing moments when I gnash my teeth and wail and scream at the sky and think I should stop bothering with this writing thing and do something else. I’m like a little Greek tragedy heroine. Only with a laptop.
MP: Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you remedy it?
GB: Not really, thank God. I did once – after my first attempt at a second book drove itself into a ditch. I had to abandon it and start again. For a few weeks I was overcome by panic and an empty brain. I lay on the floor a lot, stared at the ceiling and said ‘this is FUCKED’ very loudly.
Getting over it was, in the end, pretty simple: I forced myself to open the laptop and type. I started to write conversations that I thought sounded funny and real, and characters grew out of that. Then I started thinking about how I, and a lot of my friends, left a long-term boyfriend at the end of our 20s and had to start being single from scratch. And I thought about Roxanne, which is one of my favourite films. And A GIRL LIKE YOU came out of that.
If I get a bit tired of working on a particular manuscript – which isn’t exactly writer’s block, but can be just as irritating - I just work on another project for awhile. I wrote a sitcom pilot with a screenwriter buddy that’s currently doing the rounds, and I’ve almost finished a film script. It’s fun: flexing another writing muscle.
MA: Which of your main characters can you relate to the most?
GB: Sass in THE DATING DETOX. Her personality and attitude to most things in life is basically me. None of the things that happened to her, happened to me, however – it is not autobiographical! - and of course a lot of aspects of her personality are exaggerated to make it more interesting to read…
Abigail in A GIRL LIKE YOU is very much like I used to be, though it took me about nine years to figure out the stuff she finds out in six months. Ah, the joy of fiction…
MA: If you could make a movie of either of your books, which would you choose and who would you cast as the lead characters?
GB: Oh yikes. I have no idea… hmm. Mila Kunis is pretty damn funny and sparky. So is Kristen Bell. She’d need to have the right attitude and humour. Emma Stone is funny, too… There’s a bit of a dearth of non-teen female-driven comedies, right now, have you noticed? There are some really funny movies being made, but the women are either harpies or whores (see: Hangover, The). "Whip It" was awesome, so was "Going The Distance." Drew Barrymore seems like a very funny woman. Where was I? Oh yes, movies. I don’t know, who do you think?
MA: What was it like living in Hong Kong vs. living in London? What cultural difference sticks out the most for you?
GB: I love them both! They’re similar in many obvious ways, particularly in that very international, and full of people from all over the world who want to work and play as hard as they can. There’s an energy that’s addictive. They’re very international, and culturally, they’re more similar than you might think. Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997.
The main difference is – and no one ever believes me about this – that Hong Kong is really cosy and compact… London is HUGE. You can drive for hours and not reach the edges. Hong Kong just isn’t that big. I like a city you can cuddle.
Out of interest, I just looked it up: Hong Kong is 1,092 square kilometres, and only 25% of that is the city and the rest is undeveloped, and London is 8,382 square kilometres, almost all developed. So there you go. (Wow. What a fascinating interview I am, huh? You must be so glad you’re reading this.)
MA: If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the one piece of entertainment you'd want to have with you?
GB: A laptop with an eternal battery, so I could write... Or my husband, Fox. Does he count as entertainment? He is very loud and charming.
MA: What new years resolution do you plan to keep this year? Did you keep any last year?
GB: Nope. I never make resolutions, as I always know I won’t keep them... That sounds horrifically self-indulgent, doesn’t it? Well. I fear it is true. I am.
Special thanks to Gemma for answering our questions and to Charlotte Allen for arranging the interview and providing the books for the giveaway.
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Giveaway ends Sunday, January 9th at midnight EST.