Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Author Interview: Sophie King

Sophie King has been a fabulous contributor to my blog having previously written a guest post feature as well as taking part in my Christmas Shorts feature last month. Today I'm glad to welcome Sophie back to talk about her latest book, Divorce for Beginners, amongst other things.

Can you tell us a little bit about Divorce for Beginners?
It’s about a group of people who get together to mend their wounds after separation – and eventually laugh their way back to life.

Where did the inspiration come from to write about people starting over again? 
My first marriage ended after a very long time.  It taught me a lot – including the importance of new friends to help you along.

Which comes first, the characters or the plot?
I get the spark of an idea and then, almost instantly, think of characters who would ‘people’ that idea. But both constantly evolve as I go along. By the end of the novel, I know the characters much better than I did at the beginning so I go back and flesh them out.

Are you able to give us a hint as to what your next novel is about?   
It’s called ‘Happy Families’ and is written under my other pen name Janey Fraser (published by Arrow, Random House).  The story is about a harassed mother whose own mother is going out with a scary child expert; a father whose wife has run off and a young grandmother who suddenly finds herself in charge of her granddaughter. They all meet through a parenting class and find love, friendship and some unexpected twists. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Yes. As a child, I used to tell my dolls stories and then, my sister.

Have you ever had writer’s block?  And how did you overcome it?  
Not really. Writing has been my way of writing through troubles although I did find it hard to concentrate for a bit after my own first marriage ended. I overcame it by making myself sit down and writing what I felt inside.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I’ve always secretly fancied running an antiques shop. I love colours and I paint a bit. But I can’t honestly imagine anything else but being a writer.

Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so do you consider the influence of social Media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hindrance?
Both. I try to do it in the afternoon as I write in the morning. But sometimes social Media can give you ideas for plots.

How long did it take you to get your first book published? 
Ten years although I was earning my living as a magazine journalist at the time.

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
Yes. Start at around 9am after breakfast and a long walk along the beach with my dog. Write until lunchtime. Walk. Chat to husband. Write again until late afternoon. Punctuate with tennis and teaching writing classes.

How hard is it to keep coming up with fresh ideas for new books? 
I don’t find it difficult – touch wood. That’s because life is never static. As a writer, you observe all these changes.

Would you say that any of your characters are like you?  If so, which one(s)?
There’s a bit of Lizzie, Alison and Karen in me.  We’re all mixtures, aren’t we? It’s what makes people interesting.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I’ve already started. Historical time slips. They’re currently being published in Italy and Germany.

Have you got a favourite out of all the books you've written, if so, which one and why?
I like Divorce For Beginners because it shows characters who hit an all time low and then learn to laugh again. But I also like The Wedding Party which was shortlisted for Love Story of The Year in 2010.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Make your characters breathe. In other words, make them so realistic that everyone believes in them – including yourself. Then they’ll tell you what to do in the story.

If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who would you choose and why?
Jane Austen because she was ahead of her time. Fay Weldon, whom I’ve known for years and always makes me laugh. DH Lawrence because I cut my teeth on him in my teens.

Do you have much spare time to read books?  If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?
I read in bed at night. At the moment, it’s a collection of short stories by Alice Munro, a wonderful Canadian writer. It’s called Dear Life.

Do you prefer to read physical copies of books or e-books?
A few months ago, I’d have said physical copies but I’m beginning to see how handy e-books can be.

Are there any books you’ve read that you wish you’d written?
I’m a great admirer of Anne Tyler because she observes character nuances so adeptly. I would have liked to have written An Amateur Marriage. It still makes me cry.

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why?  Who would you cast in the leading roles?
The School Run. It’s crying out to be made into a ‘Love Actually’ film because it has so many twists. I’d like Hugh Grant and Cameron Diaz  to be in it, for starters.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
The Bible because it would give me hope and inspiration as well as some beautiful examples of writing. Palgrave’s Golden Treasury or a large book of poetry about the sea.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, because I adore the location.

Can you describe Divorce for Beginners in 20 words or less?
Lizzie, Alison, Ed and Karen are four strangers, each trying to put their lives back after divorce. Funny. True. Heart-warming.

If you'd like to find out more about Sophie and her books  then why not head over to her website

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