Write side... with novelist Sophie Kinsella
Novelist Sophie Kinsella on her Irish backgrond, planning stories with spreadsheets and coping with pressure.
What is your Irish background?
Kinsella is not my real name. It's my mother's maiden name. Although she grew up in the UK, she had Irish parents. I think I got the Irish storytelling gene from her. She never read to us when we were kids, but made up her own stories.
How did you come up with your best-known character, Becky Bloomwood?
I started writing as a journalist for a magazine, Pensions World. I took my memories of working there and put them straight in my book.
How are you with money yourself?
I was schizophrenic about money. I gave people sound advice, but when it came to it and I saw a piece of clothing on sale, I would feel the siren call to buy it.
Do you have any tips for writers?
Don't sit down at the computer until you have the first line in your head. To me the scariest prospect is to sit down at the screen and then try to think of the first line.
Do you like to plan your stories before you write them?
Yes, I get a germ of an idea and I sit on it for ages. I walk around and think about it. I go to a coffee shop and plan it out using file cards and spreadsheets. I want to be itching to tell the story before I start.
Was it like that with your new novel, Surprise Me?
I always know where I want my characters to be. In the new book, I wanted my characters to start off very smug, and seem pretty perfect. By the end, I wanted them to have been through the mill.
Did you feel under pressure after your first big success?
To a certain extent. I try hard not to focus too much on the numbers and sales. As far as pressure is concerned, you can only do your best. What I try to focus on is telling a good story, making people laugh and connecting with readers.