Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writer Spotlight: Jill Mansell

Every now and again on Coffee and Roses I like to highlight published writers worth checking out and not-yet-published writers I think you'll love. This week, I'm thrilled to welcome the very lovely JILL MANSELL.

When did you first decide that you wanted to write? Was it a Damascus-esque flash or a slow-burn?

It was pretty Damascus-esque, actually! I was on the lookout for a way to make money - (yes, I KNOW!) and was keen to write a brilliant song. Sadly this wasn't on the cards, as I couldn't sing in tune or write music or play any instruments. I do get brilliant songs in my head though. I could be the next George Michael, I'm convinced of it...

Anyway, I was working in a hospital and picked up a Sunday Express magazine in the waiting room. Inside was an article about women who had transformed their lives by becoming best-selling authors. Which sounded quite nice, and I was already able to read and write, so that was a good start...

So I joined a local evening class for creative writing and had a go at M&Bs, because in the magazine article Charlotte Lamb said she could write one in a week. Obviously it took me a lot longer...

Long story short, I had seven or eight manuscripts rejected by M&B who said, very nicely, that my work contained far too much humour for them and lacked emotional depth as a result. They were right! So I set out to write the kind of book I would like to read myself, which was a JillyCooper-esque rom com minus the horses. And that book was Fast Friends...

What interests you as a writer?

Absolutely everyone and everything. My brain gets overloaded with questions all day long. If I'm on a train, I can't stop wondering about the lives of the people in the houses we're rattling past. Is everyone like that, or is it just a writerly thing? I have no idea!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I just write during the day now, keeping school hours. But I'm quite slow and easily distracted. A thousand words a day is enough for me. Two thousand makes me feel shaky and sick.

What inspired you to write To The Moon and Back?

I wanted to write something where one of the main characters is dead, kind of like Patrick Swayze in Ghost, or Elvira in Blithe Spirit. But I couldn't suddenly write a ghost story, so Jamie isn't a ghost. He is, though, one of my all time favourite characters.

What are the best things about being a writer?

Writing in bed. Easy access to the fridge.

And the worst?

Having to get out of bed in order to get to the fridge. (I SOOOO need a butler.)

You have inspired so many romantic comedy writers - which writers inspire you?

Gosh, lots! I love to read rom-com. If someone deals with an issue in a clever way, I'll admire and take note of how they've done it. I love to read and learn from other writers and do so constantly. I can be inspired by anyone. But if we're talking about a specific writer, it would have to be Jilly Cooper. She doesn't know it, but she changed my life.

Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?

Every time I start a new book, I want it to be my best yet. I suppose that makes each one a dream project. Otherwise, it would have to be my Oscars acceptance speech...

Anything else you'd like to say?

I really hope I haven't sounded smug. I do know how incredibly lucky I've been. Never in a million years did I think my life would turn out like this, so a massive thank you to anyone who has ever bought one of my books. Also, my bear would like to say hi. He was my birthday present last year and lives in our fireplace. Here he is, in his Christmas outfit...

Huge thanks to Jill for taking the time to do this interview! Her books introduced me to rom-coms and I'm a big fan of her writing. To The Moon and Back is a fabulous book and I'm loving reading it (my treat after all the writing madness of the past couple of months!)

I'm always looking for new and emerging authors to feature in my Writer Spotlights. If you would like to be considered, or if there's a write you think I should feature, email me at:


Keris Stainton said...

Fabulous interview. Thanks, Jill and Miranda. x

Talli Roland said...

Great interview, ladies! I love the story of how Jill came to writing.

Henrietta Bird said...

What an inspiring interview - thank you!

I'm off to Amazon now....!

Janice Horton said...

Great interview, just downloaded To The Moon and Back for my Kindle.

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