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Sophie Kinsella is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series as well as the novels Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number, Wedding Night, My Not So Perfect Life, and, most recently, Surprise Me. She lives between London and the country.
Fairy Mom and Me
What I’m Reading: Sophie Kinsella (author of I OWE YOU ONE)
Sophie Kinsella’s Christmas Confession My name is Sophie Kinsella and I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to Christmas movies. The cheesier, schmaltzier, more saccharine the better. It’s a secret, shameful addiction that I have to feed when alone, with my remote control at the ready, poised to switch over to something more socially acceptable if anyone walks in.But when I’m alone – and especially when I’m wrapping presents – I find myself scrolling down the TV Guide with one aim only: Christmas movieland. Fairy lights, pets in Santa outfits, eggnog, singsongs, and happy endings. It all began early in the season when I was ill for a couple of days. Searching through my flu-haze for something comforting on TV, I stumbled on a delightful confection involving reindeer, Santa, small children, and a snowy town with a great big Christmas heart. This segued straight into another movie – this time an uplifting story about Santa (again), reindeer (again) and a child who Didn’t Believe. (Christmas has no greater sin.) Since then, I’ve been hooked. I don’t remember any of the films’ names, nor any plot details. The same characters seem to stroll straight from one movie into another: the white-haired twinkly grandfather (Could It Be Him?); the cynical city woman who simply hasn’t learned What Christmas Is All About; the adorable dog; the goofy guy in the handknitted Christmas sweater; the barbershop quartet on the corner; the lisping, huge-eyed, ringleted little girl who just knows the grown-ups won’t let her down this Christmas. In one film, the main character relives Christmas Day over and over. Watching these films I feel the same way – except that unlike him, I don’t mind. I love it. In my opinion, the world cannot hold enough Santas, sleigh-rides, renditions of O Christmas Tree, and tear-stained reunions under the mistletoe. Now I must run. I’ve just seen they’re showing Santa DOES Love you, Molly, And So Does Daddy, Even Though We’ve Confused Him With His Twin Brother This Christmastide. Happy Holidays!
Sophie Kinsella’s fans are legion and it’s no real wonder why. Her novels – from the Shopaholic series to her recent Surprise Me and beyond – are fun and smart and will keep you turning pages like mad. We caught up with Kinsella over email to pry into her writerly life and habits, her thoughts on jealousy, and more.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE:You’ve written so many novels, from the Shopaholic series to standalone books like Surprise Me to the books you’ve written under your real name, Madeleine Wickham. Will you share your writerly secret to getting and keeping yourself sat down and writing? How does one get to that level of diligence as a writer?
SOPHIE KINSELLA: Ha! The secret is to know what makes you tick. For me the vital thing is having an idea that excites me and that I can really visualize as a book. Whenever I’m flagging, I try to remind myself why this idea excited me in the first place. I am also very impatient, which helps. I like to know how the story is going to turn out, and that powers me to keep going. Day to day, I rely on coffee, music and chocolate as energizers.
PRH:Your books often incorporate envy into their plot. It could be argued that envy of other lifestyles is what gets Becky Bloomwood into such a financial hole in the Shopaholic series. What is it about envy that is so interesting to you as a writer?
SK: I would say that feelings of envy, comparisons with other people, and buying into consumer myths drive a lot of people today, and I find it fascinating. I think we’ve always hankered after new clothes or tried to ‘keep up’ with our neighbors – certainly they did in Jane Austen’s time! But today these impulses have been turbo-charged and enabled by various factors: the internet, easy credit, and the whole ‘lifestyle’ industry, which can make anyone feel inadequate! If my books have a message it’s to view yourself as a real, grounded person, not as a consumer or an Instagram image.
PRH:Where do you find inspiration as a writer? Are there other writers whose work you turn to for motivation when you’re faced with a touch of writer’s block?
SK: If I have writer’s block I don’t really read, as I think that would distract me from my main aim. I’m more likely to go out with my husband, order Mojitos, and talk the book over. But for comfort reading I tend to go back to the classics – Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, P. G. Wodehouse.
PRH:Twenty years and more than twenty novels later, what advice would you offer to a soon-to-be debut author about the business of book publishing?
SK: Wow, those twenty years have whizzed by! My advice to a soon-to-be debut author is, first: Congratulations! Enjoy yourself. Be proud of what you’ve achieved. Meeting readers is a real joy, so try to do that. But also, try not to let too many other voices into your head. Listen to wise advice, but don’t be swayed by every comment from friends or online. Stay true to your heart and vision.
PRH:What book are you currently recommending, to help your fans pass the time until your next book?
SK: I can recommend Not Working by Lisa Owens as a sparky comedy with a great deadpan voice. It’s about a girl who quits her job and has to work out her own life from there.
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