A celebrity author in my handbag

Carol Cooper

 

 

 

 

Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist, and author who turned to fiction after writing a string of popular health books. Her second novel, Hampstead Fever, was chosen for a prestigious promotion in WH Smith travel bookshops. She lives in Hampstead and Cambridge, and has three grownup sons.

As Dr Cooper, Carol is a frequent face on Five News, Sky News and other TV channels, as well as on radio, where she often comments on a range of topical health matters. I was excited about meeting this celebrity author with such a wealth of experience.

Carol had been invited to speak at Cardiff University, and we managed to grab some time in Cardiff Bay to chat about her second novel.

I waited for her in my favourite coffee shop, Cadawaladers, in Cardiff Bay. Cadawaladers sits above the water, on a jetty, and is accessed via a small bridge. Carol hurried over the bridge and was wearing a red dress. She joined me at a table, located on the balcony, overlooking the water.  We ordered coffee and some muffins.  It was Graduation Day, in Cardiff, and a constant stream of chattering graduates walked past. We took our time to absorb the vibrant atmosphere before beginning the chat about Carol’s new book.

Jessie:  Can you capture the essence of your new novel, Hampstead Fever, in a couple of sentences?

Instantly, she retrieved a copy of her novel from her large blue handbag. 

Carol:  Hampstead Fever is about six Londoners grappling with life’s problems in the sweltering summer of 2013. Emotions are already at boiling point when a mysterious actress arrives on the scene, upsetting those around her and forcing decisions they may later regret.

Jessie:  It sound like another great read.  Read me an extract that will tempt the reader.

Carol flicked through the book and winked as she restrained a mischievous grin.

Carol: “What are you going to do about this?” complained Geoff.

“Do about what?” said Daisy, even though it must have been blindingly obvious.

He threw the sheet back dramatically, hoping to amuse her. “This.”

Carol’s fun manner is infectious.  It was clear that the women on the neighbouring table were straining to catch a glance of the new novel. Carol left the book peeking out of her blue bag, and it was impossible to miss the tempting front cover.  One of the ladies searched for the book on her phone.  

Jessie:  Your first novel, One Night at the Jacaranda received high praise.  What have the reviewers said about Hampstead Fever?

Mischief lit up Carol’s face again as she read out a review so that the ladies could hear.

Carol:  I’ve had some great reviews for Hampstead Fever, but these three are my favourites so far:

“Wow! With its racy storylines, dovetailing plots, fascinating characters and a well-known but equally interesting setting, Hampstead Fever is one of those books you just can’t put down.”

“Fast-paced and sharply observed. I whipped through this in one sitting!”

“Cooper just makes these characters come alive. Why can’t all love stories be like this?”

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Carol: My characters have become very special to me, even the less likeable ones, so I did miss them when I stopped writing. There are six main characters in Hampstead Fever, and I’d like to spend more time with some of them, so I’ll be taking them into another book to have new adventures.

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.  

Carol: As I’m sure most authors say, it would just be nice if lots of people read and enjoyed my novel. Having said that, I’d quite like my English teacher from school to see it as I think she’d be proud of me (and hopefully not too shocked by the racier passages).

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Carol: While Hampstead Fever has some important themes like parental anxiety, ageing relatives, and sick children, it’s also an easy and entertaining read with fairly short chapters. That makes it a good book to pick up while you’re waiting, or whenever you find you have a moment to read.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Carol: It’s for the novel I’m currently writing. The story is set in Egypt, where I grew up, and many scenes are from a child’s viewpoint.

‘Tante Zahra was famed throughout Alexandria for her burping, a habit she blamed on swallowing air with her meals. She wore a towelling turban to hide the fact that she was too old to have any hair left.’

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Carol: I think it’s making your work visible. You could write the most wonderful book ever, but nobody will buy it if they don’t know it exists. There are over two million new books published every year, nearly 200,000 of them in the UK. So, even with the backing of a big publisher, most authors have to work very hard (and need a bit of luck) to get their book noticed.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

The best advice I ever had is to keep my writing simple. When writers start out, they often use flowery words, and far more of them than they need. As Somerset Maugham put it, “The best style is the style you don’t notice.”

Carol’s links

Blog Pills & Pillow-Talk

Twitter @DrCarolCooper

Facebook author page Carol Cooper’s London Novels

Website drcarolcooper.com

Instagram drcarolcooper

Pinterest drcarolcooper

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

‘I’m a Celebrity…’ producer for my designer handbag

Lisa Mary London

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Lisa Mary London, former producer of ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ together with famous Maltipoo pooch Baby-Girl, the canine star of her hilariously witty debut novel Reality Rehab.

My exclusive interview with them is tongue-in-cheek, but Lisa’s answers are honest, fun, fascinating, and at times, gob-smacking. Enjoy!

It was a crisp winter’s morning in upmarket Highgate, North London, as I waited to meet Lisa and Baby-Girl, the world’s first four-legged reality TV star. Word must have hit social media about Baby-Girl’s imminent arrival, as a crowd of eager paw-tograph hunters had gathered – Reality Rehab fans, desperate for a selfie with mutt-of-the-moment.

I checked my phone for messages, then in the distance saw the candy pink stretch limousine approaching. The crowd surged forward as it drew up outside the Village Bistro.  The lady chauffeur, resplendent in a pink uniform that matched the vehicle, shot out to release the door, before Lisa and her famous furry friend Baby-Girl emerged, both wearing designer sunglasses.  My vision was blurred by the snapping of cameras as excited fans strained to catch a glimpse of the cuddly canine star of Reality Rehab.

London’s swanky Highgate is home to A-list celebrities including Kate Moss, Sting, Harry Styles and Reality Rehab’s heroine, soap star Gloria Grayson.  Gloria had generously loaned her beloved pet to Lisa for the day, for our exclusive interview.

Lisa and I escaped the crowd and headed to Highgate’s boutique shops for some retail therapy. Lisa explained that as a celebrity dog, Baby-Girl never walks anywhere. When a human isn’t carrying her, she travels in Gloria’s chauffeur driven pink limo, otherwise known as The Poochmobile.  

Lisa remarked with a wry smile:  “Baby-Girl has legs, but she doesn’t like to use them!”

We popped into one Baby’s favourite pet boutiques, ‘Pooches With Panache’, and listened for her barks of approval as Lisa made various pink purchases. We chatted as if we’d known each other for years. Dressed in a vintage leopard print coat with a fabulous Chanel handbag, Lisa is fun, witty and charming and I was looking forward to our interview.

We bought lunch from a classy deli, (needless to say, Baby-Girl only ever eats human food), and returned to The Poochmobile. The three of us settled on the spacious leather seat and the chauffeur popped in to pour champagne for the ladies, and a bowl of Evian for Baby-Girl. Lisa adjusted the pink bow in Baby’s hair and we started to chat.

Jessie:  Lisa, let’s talk about your book before we eat.  Capture the essence of Reality Rehab in a couple of sentences.

Lisa:  Reality Rehab is a topical laugh-out-loud satire on the cult of modern celebrity, written by myself, a former TV producer on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

A cast of hilarious characters, cliffhangers galore, and an authentic voice that could only come from a TV insider, Reality Rehab is a must-read novel!

Jessie:  The book sounds great fun and is already getting national media attention. What have reviewers said about Reality Rehab?

At the mention of the book title, Baby-Girl threw her head back and howled, jumped off the seat and retrieved a copy of Reality Rehab from Lisa’s handbag. Lisa laughed and took the book from Baby’s mouth – discreetly wiping down the pink cover with a pink handkerchief.

Lisa:  First, here’s an extract from Chapter Two. Gloria and her agent Belinda arrive at a TV station for a meeting with producers about the hit TV show Reality Rehab, and they step into the lift together

I sneaked a sidelong glance at my esteemed agent. She was 70 if she was a day, pumped to the gills with fillers and on her fifteenth facelift – one more procedure and she’d be facing the other way.

Lisa: I’ve been overwhelmed with the response from readers, they are loving the book’s humour and enjoying a revealing peek behind-the-scenes of reality TV! Here are a few of the rave reviews:

“A sharp and skilfully observed satire that lampoons celebrity culture. The author has worked in TV and is clearly writing about what she knows, with authenticity dripping from each very turn-able page. Enjoy!” Ben Ando – BBC News Correspondent and Author

“Even if you have never seen reality TV, you will be tickled by Lisa Mary London’s hilarious novel. Get ready to read it and weep with laughter. A great pick-me-up… a Bloody Mary of cheerful reads!” Deborah Lawrenson – Bestselling Author

“A book that will lift your spirits, bring a tear to your eye and make you belly-laugh when you least expect it. But don’t be fooled by the frivolity, behind the humour there are some very meaningful themes, moving ideas and wonderful wisdom!” Howard Brenner – Amazon Reviewer

Jessie:  How did you feel when you had finished writing your book and did you miss any of the characters?

Lisa:  I couldn’t quite believe I had actually completed a novel, after endless months of writing, proofing, polishing and editing those 86,000 words. When the initial euphoria wore off, I suffered a crisis of confidence – as most writers do – scared that no one out there would want to read it! To my great relief that fear wasn’t realised, and the book is getting rave reviews!

Reality Rehab’s protagonist, feisty former soap siren Gloria Grayson, has a special place in my heart. I based her on the glamorous actresses I looked up to as a child – sassy stars like Diana Dors, Elizabeth Taylor and Pat Phoenix. Women not girls, who dust themselves down and get back in the race, no matter what knocks and shocks life throws at them. Reality Rehab is Gloria’s story, and as I held her hand throughout her many triumphs and disasters, I must admit I was sad to let go after typing The End!

Gloria’s pooch Baby-Girl is one character I didn’t have to say goodbye to, because thankfully she often keeps me company when I write! Baby-Girl would sell her soul for a sausage and when not eating everything in sight, can usually be found fast asleep beside me, gently rumbling from both ends.

Jessie:  Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another friend, someone famous, a friend or member of your family.

Lisa: Without doubt Victoria Wood, who I was so lucky to call a friend for many years. I met her as a teenager through my love of comedy writing, and she was a friend, supporter and confidante for nearly three decades.

Vic read an early draft of Reality Rehab, and loved it.  She said the synopsis was ‘hilarious and exciting’, and enthused that if she read that blurb on the back of a book jacket in WH Smith’s, she would buy it. She described Reality Rehab as ‘…really clever and very ‘now’’, said it deserved to be a hit and could translate well as a TV comedy drama. She was of course a brilliant writer and I like to think, in some small way, her influence and guidance over the years rubbed off on my writing. She generously gave me invaluable pointers which improved the structure and flow of the Reality Rehab plot.

Her death last year at just 62 was a devastating blow. She was immensely wise as well as witty, and a wonderful friend.  I was so excited about giving her a copy of my finished book, and I’m desperately sad that she will never read it. Reality Rehab is dedicated to her.

Over the years Vic and I enjoyed many laughs over a cuppa or a glass of wine, and I know my debut novel would have made her chuckle. I’m hugely thankful for the time we shared. And I hope her comments about the book working on the small screen as a comedy drama could one day come to pass. Who knows? Truth is stranger than fiction.

Jessie:  How incredible to receive such an accolade from a British comedy icon. It is such a shame she never got to read your published book. Why should I keep Reality Rehab in my handbag?

Lisa:  Reality Rehab is that fabulous, funny friend you can always rely on to cheer you up when a red electricity bill’s popped through the door, you’ve broken a fingernail or the dog has weed on your new sofa. Carry a copy of Reality Rehab in your handbag, and you’re never stuck for wonderful company that will put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and bring the feelgood factor to your world!

Jessie:  I am keen to know if you are writing at present?  What’s the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Lisa:  I’m currently working on the sequel to Reality Rehab, and the last sentence in my notebook reads: Get tea bags and sausages! I was running low on both items and had to re-stock as priority – I can’t write a stroke without the company of endless mugs of PG Tips and a well-fed pooch!

Jessie:  What’s the biggest challenge for an author?

Lisa:  Staying off social media – the call of Twitter and Facebook is strong and if you’re too quick to answer it, a five minute browse can easily become several hours of lost writing time!

Jessie:  What’s the best advice you’ve received as a writer?

Lisa:  Be a ruthless editor! The best writers delete as much text as they keep, are their own toughest critic, and are never totally content with their work.  A bit of self-doubt is a healthy thing!

I’ve been privileged to come into contact with some exceptionally talented people in my life, and this rule of thumb applies to all of them. They are hard-working perfectionists to a man – and woman – with no concept of complacency. If a writer is smug and thinks they’re the bees knees, chances are their books will tell a different story!

Baby-Girl started to urgently nudge Lisa’s arm with her nose, fixing her with pleading eyes.

Lisa:  She’s telling me she wants her posh deli sausages, Gloria always feeds her about now. In fact Gloria always feeds her – at all hours of the day!

Baby-Girl devoured her bowl of bespoke bangers and we unpacked our deli delights and shared a glamorous limousine lunch, as befits the hot new celebrity satire everyone’s talking about, Reality Rehab!

It was fabulous to meet Lisa Mary London, she is such a unique character.  I know that her wonderful wit and skilled comedy writing will make Reality Rehab a winner.  I look forward to seeing Baby-Girl’s next appearance on a reality TV show. Who knows, maybe there will be a spin-off series – ‘I’m a Celebrity Dog… Get Me Out of Here!’

I will let Lisa have the final word about herself!

Lisa Mary London is… A total one-off
Lisa Mary London is… A fabulous friend!
Lisa Mary London is… A fearsome foe!

Lisa Mary London went from Chief Reporter on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper to become Celebrity Producer on some of Britain’s best-loved TV shows.  Her TV credits include An Audience with Ken Dodd, A BAFTA Tribute to Julie Walters, The British Comedy Awards and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! She’s worked with stars from Sir Billy Connolly to Ant and Dec, and her debut novel Reality Rehab features around 200 famous names.

‘There’s never a dull moment when you’re working with the stars’, says Lisa. ‘One minute you’re sipping champagne with Pierce Brosnan, the next you’re standing in the Ladies’ minding Barbara Windsor’s handbag.’

Reality Rehab is based on her real life, behind-the-screen experiences as a Celebrity Producer. ‘I’ve met many old school stars like my book’s protagonist Gloria Grayson, who curse reality TV and think the cast of TOWIE should be stacking shelves at Tesco, not walking the red carpet.

‘She’s a cross between Diana Dors, Boadicea and Miss Piggy, a glorious, garrulous anti-heroine with bags of attitude – Gloria puts the real in reality TV!’

A journalist by profession, Lisa has written for the Daily Mail and was briefly a News of the World reporter, but made her excuses and left before anyone was imprisoned for phone hacking.

Gloria Grayson’s petulant pooch Baby-Girl is closely based on the book’s cover star, Lisa’s beloved Maltese Dolly-Dog (says Lisa – ‘You couldn’t make her up’).  Dolly-Dog won fame on ITV’s Loose Women when she married Sherrie Hewson’s Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by John Barrowman (available on YouTube).  The couple split acrimoniously and are currently fighting for custody of a chew toy.

 

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Hello! magazine in my handbag

Pamela Francis

 

 

 

 

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

Email: pam@pamfrancis.co.uk

Twitter: @PammieFrancis

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Meet the author who created a piping hot novel in her Paris kitchen

Ally Bunbury 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a privilege to meet Ally Bunbury, at The Grand Hotel, Brighton, while I was on holiday.  Ally managed to escape from a project in London to chat about her debut novel. She arrived looking very glamorous in her favourite long sleeved, leopard print dress. She also wore her pearl earrings that were a present from her husband, Turtle. I experienced handbag envy when I noted the gold Longchamp clutch bag. Ally was a little self-conscious and shy at first, but she soon relaxed and lit up when she talks about the characters in The Inheritance.

Ally commented that her character, Gilda, would adore the Grand Hotel and we drank some Bolli in her character’s honour.  A man was playing jazz on the piano as we sipped the champagne in the conservatory as we looked at the sea.  Finally, we commenced out chat about Ally’s debut novel, The Inheritance.  The book is a celebration of romance, country houses, inheritance and celebrity. It a perfect book for the readers who like to indulge in Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper.

Jessie: Tell me about your glamorous book

Ally: The Inheritance is about an Irish girl named Anna Rose, who goes to work in London for the fabulous “PR Queen” Gilda Winterbottom. At an absurdly opulent party hosted by the Hollywood actress, Sofia Tamper, Anna meets George Wyndham, a dashing art dealer and heir to his ancestral estate in Scotland. Anna and George very quickly fall in love only to find themselves cornered into an impossible situation involving the ravishing but utterly spoilt Sofia, and with his inheritance under threat, George is forced to make a terrible choice. The story takes place in London, Paris, Ireland, Scotland and LA.

Jessie:  Capture your review with an extract from the novel.

Ally: ‘Turning away, Anna felt deflated at having lost what she thought might have been a chance with George. Then, seeing crystal photograph frames on a sideboard, documenting Sofia’s life, sun- kissed on a super-yacht, looking divine in a slinky dress at some sort of debutante ball, she had a reality check. Sofia was famous for being an IT girl who partied around the world; Anna couldn’t even begin to compete.’

Jessie: Your book is an entertaining peek into another world.  The story narrative sparkles with surprises and mischief.  I enjoyed writing the review but what have the reviewers said about The Inheritance

“Pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones this sparkling debut novels embodies the best of both.”

“A rollicking yarn.”
– RTE Guide

“With threads linking the London party scene, Anglo-Irish family life and a sprawling Scottish estate … there are private jets and Porsches pitted against old money and family tradition. The elite are up to their usual tricks, with sex, booze and back-stabbing aplenty.”
– The Irish Times

“Delicious escapism.”
– The Irish Examiner

“Jane Austin spiked with a dash of Made in Chelsea.”
– The Irish Independent

“This is a perfect indulgence read.”
– Sue Leonard

Jessie: Why should I put your book in my handbag? 

For delicious escapism.

Jessie: Why did you start writing? 

Ally: Sometimes the best moves are sporadic, and stepping off the London treadmill to live in Paris during my late twenties was one of them. My father had been ill for many months and when he died at home in Ireland, I needed head space that I couldn’t possibly have found if I had stayed in my PR job, no matter how much I loved it. A close friend suggested I should move to Paris and rent her apartment and I jumped on the opportunity, even though I had no idea what I would do there. And it’s hard to explain, but when I walked into my pretty Parisian kitchen, bright yellow with tall windows, I was felt utterly compelled to write. I sat down at the rustic wooden table and began writing, and as the days went on, I played the saddest possible music, from La Boheme to soulful jazz, and I can remember tears pouring down my face as characters discussed their lives, made choices, had dramas and found love. It was purely therapy and that was how The Inheritance began.

Jessie: Do you have a special writing place? 

Ally: At the kitchen table in my house, looking out onto the Irish Wicklow Mountains.

Jessie: Do you feel different, now that you are a published author? 

Ally: I feel like the stars aligned, whilst I wrote The Inheritance, and a number of conversations with my close friends (which includes my husband) made my book happen. The feeling of people being behind you, holding you up, really can make good, and even great things happen. I had always known the power of friendship was strong, but before The Inheritance came to be, I hadn’t realised just what a difference self-belief, due to others belief in you, can make. After ten years of marriage, and the arrival of two gorgeous daughters, now that I have started writing again I feel as if a strong flame has been lit inside me and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Jessie: How do you use social media to support you and are you a member of any forums?

Ally: I now Tweet, Facebook and Instragram – and I really enjoy it, though it does take discipline not to get too distracted by the news feeds!

Jessie: How do you manage to find the time to write when you run a PR business? 

Ally: The major difference between writing in Paris, and County Carlow, where we now live, is that I am now a mother, and I also run my own PR business, so writing a book in ‘my own time’ is certainly challenging – especially when a room of one’s own is the kitchen! However, having worked in a large open plan office during my PR agency days held me in good stead, as I find I can sit down and write when the children might play Twister or built an obstacle course for their hamster, Mr Nibbles. And if there is one piece of advice I’d like to pass on about writing a book, it is this – ‘If you want to write a book, don’t watch television.’ And it does require discipline, as sinking into a deep sofa to indulge in Netflix after a long day, can be unbelievably tempting, but once you get into the habit of instead settling in behind your lap top with a glass of wine or a mug of steaming tea, it is another form of relaxation.

Jessie: Where did you get the idea for the new novel and did you plan the entire narrative before commencing? 

Ally: I begin with a central character and build the bricks from there.

Jessie: Do the characters ever surprise you and take over the story? 

Ally Bunbury

Ally: Gilda wrote herself … literally … the works sprang from my fingertips before I could even give them any proper thought. She is such a fast, pacy character. I am currently working on my second novel and really enjoying it. I’m at the delicious stage of creating character detail and as it is a love story, I am feeling quite dreamy on a daily basis. The title is yet to be decided and it will come out in June of next year.

It was a delight to spend a gloriously sunny afternoon with Ally in the beautiful hotel. Ally was completely at ease in the glamorous environment and smiled at me when I insisted on capturing the setting in a photo.  Ally didn’t have time to stay as she had to get back to another celebrity party to rescue one of her clients.

A few words about Ally…

Born in 1976, Ally Bunbury was brought up with her three sisters, and a menagerie of animals, in County Monaghan. Following a serendipitous encounter at a dinner party, Ally landed a dream internship with a PR agency on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which, in turn, led to a flourishing career in London and Dublin. Ally now runs her own PR company and continues to create dynamic media campaigns for her clients. She lives in County Carlow with her husband, the historian, Turtle Bunbury and their two daughters, Jemima and Bay. From their house, overlooking the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, Ally wrote her debut novel, The Inheritance .  She is currently working on her second novel.

 

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.