Pam Francis is a freelance journalist who over the years has interviewed hundreds of celebrities for Hello! Sunday Express Magazine, and many other women’s magazines. She thought it was about time she wrote a novel set in that very world, and used her experiences to create characters and storylines.
It was time to put on my glad rags and sparkle all the way to a venue fit for a celebrity. I was chauffeur driven, in a Mercedes, by my husband. I couldn’t fit our red stairs carpet in the boot, but was delighted to see that the management had rolled out the red carpet at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath. It was the perfect setting to meet celebrity guru, Pam Francis. Pam has interviewed a crowd of celebrities for prestigious magazines.
I waited in the hotel lounge for Pamela to arrive. I sipped the champagne, as I made final adjustments to my questions. She arrived in style in a taxi, wearing black jeans, heels and a floral French Connection jacket, and showcasing a black Chloe handbag.
Pam is the sort of person you imagine making her famous interviewees feel at ease whether it’s in a greasy spoon café or the Ritz.
Pamela: I love it here but we could have met at the lovely café in Bath Market.
Placing her champagne on the table, she sat down in the elegant setting. She opened her handbag to reveal her book.
Jessie: I love the front cover of your book.
Pamela: I take Lottie with me for company. She laughed.
Jessie: What is ‘Someone Like Me’ about?
Pamela: ‘Someone Like Me’ is a modern love story which tells the story of Lottie, 39, a chef in a vintage cafe whose life changes when superstar Daniel French walks in one day for lunch. It asks the question, what happens when your secret affair becomes front page news.
Jessie: How has ‘Someone Like Me’ been received by reviewers?
Pamela: I am delighted with the positive reviews. I’m thrilled that everyone seems to like the story.
‘Funny, intriguing and page-turning. Ideal for a rainy day or holiday read as you won’t want to put it down.’
‘I ended up sitting up to 2am to finish it in one sitting.’
‘A well-written, intriguing and believable storyline, with people I cared about, and an important plot twist I really didn’t see coming.’
Jessie: The reviews highlight the humour and the compelling narrative. In a nutshell, what’s ‘Someone Like Me’ about?
Pam: It’s about an ordinary small town girl who falls in love with a big time star and discovers that life and love in the spotlight of fame is a more dangerous and painful path to happiness and love than she could ever have imagined. She ends up shamed on the front page of every tabloid in the land, stalked by the paparazzi, and threatened with the most gruesome forms of torture by Twitter trolls.
Jessie: Presumably you got your inspiration from your line of work. Are you afraid that celebrities will recognise themselves?
Pam: The characters are all compilations of people I’ve met. So no, there’s no danger of that.
Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
Pam: Lost, but pleased with the result. And yes, I did miss my characters. Especially the main character Lottie who made me laugh.
Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
Pam: My mum, who is sadly not alive. She was the one who read to me as a child and inspired my love of books, and I know she would be so proud.
Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
Pam: Lots of us think that exciting life-changing events would never happen to someone like us. This book will give you hope that they do.
Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
Pam: Help! What is my next book going to be about?
Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?
Pam: Writing every day when life gets in the way.
Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
Pam: Don’t outline and plan too far ahead. You are the first reader of your book and you need to be surprised about what happens.
Jessie: I have to ask about your life as a journalist. What was it like writing for Hello? Did you meet the celebrities in person? Did you have a favourite interview?
Pam: Writing for Hello! Usually meant going on a photo shoot. So yes, you get to meet them in person. It was usually features to celebrate engagements, pregnancies, new babies and weddings. But not necessarily in that order! One of my favourite features involved travelling to Ireland to meet dancer Michael Flatley who showed us round his stately home. I also loved covering Russell Watson’s engagement and wedding. One of my favourite interviewees is Joanna Lumley. She always makes you feel as though you are the most special person in the room. And I’ve also had the opportunity to interview Fergie the Duchess of York a couple of times, and some legends such as Joan Collins and Barbara Windsor and Sir Bruce Forsyth.
My barrage of questions had been fuelled by the lovely champagne. Pam smiled and called the waiter to bring more champagne. Out of her bag, she pulled a few magazines to show me the kind of thing she writes.
Pam: Well, here’s a random example of an interview with Patsy Kensit which has nothing to do with the book. I was interviewing her for the ITV drama Tina and Bobby. Viewers expect celebs to be full of confidence, and rarely nervous when they are being interviewed. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many actors I’ve interviewed suffer with low self-esteem, which vanishes when they become someone else in a drama. As you will discover in the book, it doesn’t matter how famous they may be, everyone has their insecurities.
It sounds as if Pam’s novel is fast paced, and her characters even shocked the author.
Best of luck to Pam with, ‘Someone Like Me’. This page-turning novel, by the showbiz journalist, sounds like a blast.
For more about Pam go to Pamfrancis.co.uk