Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jill Mansell, author of An Offer You Can't Refuse, to Diary of an Eccentric. If you haven't yet read my review of this entertaining book, please click here, and check back later for a chance to win a copy.
I'd like to thank Jill for taking time to answer my many questions, and I'd also like to thank Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks for setting up the interview.
What inspired you to write An Offer You Can't Refuse?
In old films where parents use bribery to break up a relationship they don’t approve of for their child, the good characters always refuse the money and the bad characters accept it. I wanted to see what would happen when a good character is forced to take the money and run away from the love of her life. And in the story she ends up running a bookstore, because I love bookstores so much. Plus, it’s my book, so I can make her do any job I like!
How long did it take to write the book?
I write one book a year. That’s plenty for me. I write by hand, with a Harley Davidson fountain pen (actually I have several, ordered specially from a shop in New York) and my daughter types my work up for me. Not out of the goodness of her heart – I do have to pay her. I work while my kids are at school and always have the TV on while I’m writing. It’s not distracting – it’s research!
Do you have a special place where you write?
Either on the sofa in the living room, with my feet up on the coffee table in front of me, or upstairs in bed where I have a great view over the sports field behind our house. Having to keep an eye on all those hunky sportsmen out there is a tough job, but somebody has to do it...
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what songs help get the creative juices flowing?
I have the TV on, and that’s fine, but I couldn’t work and listen to music at all. That would be way too distracting for me. We all write differently, don’t we? One of my friends writes historical novels and has to have Meatloaf blaring out!
What's the best book you read recently?
I’m a big fan of Marian Keyes. Rachel’s Holiday was just completely brilliant.
How do you feel about the term "chick lit?"
I don’t get irate about it. It’s just a kind of short-hand really, isn’t it? And in the UK last year one of our top magazines called me The Queen of Chick Lit, which I took as a massive compliment. My only slight quibble is that it might make people think my books are only about young single girls, whereas I like to have a wide age range for my many characters. My fans range in age from fifteen to ninety, so I like to provide something of interest for everyone.
Are you working on another book? If so, any hints as to what it's about?
My next novel out in the USA is called Miranda’s Big Mistake and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It’s about a hairdresser working in a glitzy London hair salon and having an eventful time! This is one that will make you laugh and cry. A lot!
With regard to writing, what's the best piece of advice you've received?
It’s not rocket science, but it makes so much sense to practice writing in different styles until you find your true voice. I tried to write for Harlequin many years ago but they told me my work was too humorous for them. I tried really hard to cut out the comedy aspect but couldn’t do it. In the end, someone told me to just write the kind of book I’d enjoy reading myself. So that’s what I did. I upped the comedy quotient and allowed my characters to say the kind of things my friends and I said in real life. I finally found my natural writing voice and the book I wrote was snapped up. See? A happy ending – my favourite kind!
Thanks again, Jill. I wish you much success with your U.S. releases and look forward to reading more of your work. And I think your writing advice is brilliant!