Can you tell us a little bit about ‘Shopaholic to the Stars’, what can we expect?
Well it features Becky Bloomwood, who is my shopaholic heroine. You don’t need to have read the previous books in order to enjoy this one, but if you have I think it will add to the resonances that come up in the book. But it’s basically Becky hits Hollywood. It was a lot of fun to write because I’ve obviously had a bit of experience with Hollywood, having had a film out, and when I was on the set and every time that I was involved in the film world or Hollywood or LA I kept thinking “Wow I can imagine Becky here”. And so it’s been a real treat to put Becky in Hollywood and give her an adventure there and see what she would do and give her some crazy adventures.
Are there any new characters that were particularly fun to write?
There are quite a lot of L.A. characters from movie stars to management, and they were all tremendous fun to write. I can’t really think of a more fun environment to write about than L.A. because it’s so extreme. And I think everyone has got their own perception of it as well. When you talk about L.A. everybody knows what you mean, everybody’s seen the images, and so everyone is quite interested in what goes on behind the scenes.
How do you think your own experience of Hollywood influenced your writing for this book?
It was just at the back of my mind the whole time during filming. ‘I’ve got to do a Becky book in Hollywood, it’s just got to happen’. And now that a few years have gone by, I can actually look back and have a bit of perspective on what went on. The difficulty was not putting everything in and restraining myself [laughs].
Did you enjoy your time in Hollywood or were you glad to get home again?
Well I loved it because it was so different and it was so exciting, it was so interesting. It’s always difficult when you’re away from home. Of course I wanted to be with my family and I missed them, so that’s always a struggle wherever you are travelling but I have to say for an experience you can’t really beat Hollywood.
What are your own shopping habits like now? Would you class yourself a shopaholic?
I definitely have shopaholic moments, I can definitely relate to Becky. Sometimes I feel like I’m channelling her and I’m thinking exactly like she does and I’m succumbing to the same madness, but luckily that doesn’t happen all the time and then I have my sane moments where I can reign it in. So, although I relate to her, I’m certainly not as bad as her… thankfully! [laughs] I don’t think anyone is quite as bad as her.
Becky often tries to justify her spending habits to herself to make her feel better. Is that a habit you share with her?
Totally. Absolutely. And ever since I wrote the first Shopaholic book, I’ve just written the way I think. I fall for all of it. And I still do it, even though I’ve been writing these books for years and you’d think I would’ve learned, I’m still such a sucker for a sale sign. I come home and I say “guess how much I saved today” not ‘how much I spent’. And I’m always stocking up. My real weakness is buying things and thinking “oh I’ll give this as a present” so then I get these present stock piles, but then when it comes to the person’s actual birthday, I’m bored with the things I’ve stockpiled so I go and buy something new.
How did you come up with your pseudonym? It seems quite different from your real name.
Well I didn’t want to make up a name. In fact, Sophie is my middle name and I was very nearly called Sophie, so I’ve always had an affinity with the name. And Kinsella is my mother’s maiden name, so it’s a family name and I’ve got relations called Kinsella. So it’s not at all random, it feels like a family name. I don’t feel it’s too alien, it feel likes just another version of me really, which is nice.
Was it fun keeping your identity secret from your publishers for a little while or was it hard work?
Oh it was so much fun! We did all this cloak and dagger stuff, and I had my pictures taken with me from behind and with dark glasses and it was all this great mystery. I can remember once doing a signing as Sophie, and this was a few books on when we were sort of edging the secret out, and a book seller actually (very cleverly) looked at me and put two and two together. They found a Madeline Wickham book and brought it to the front like ‘explain this’ [laughs].
Oh really, so was that how the secret came out then?
No, I mean he knew, a few people knew. It became a sort of open secret in the trade. And then I went completely public, there was a Mail on Sunday interview that I did. And in fact that was around the time of the release of ‘Can You Keep a Secret’ which was quite appropriate.
Very fitting! If you could write a book using any existing literary character, which would it be?
If I had the brain for it, I would write another Alice in Wonderland. I love Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I think to come up with that wit and humour and all the riddles is just phenomenal, and if I was able to write just a third and do it justice then that would make me very happy.
Who are you reading at the moment?
Ooh, the honest truth? Agatha Christie. [laughs] I’m going through a real Agatha Christie comfort reading phase and I just find that I enjoy them and I can read them over and over again. I’m very lucky, I get books amnesia so I’ll read the book that I’ve read before and I’ll think “Ooh it’s you, ooh no maybe it’s you, oh I can’t remember!” So luckily I can enjoy them again and again. I just switch off when I read them, they’re really relaxing.
If you had to choose between shopping and writing, which would you pick?
I would write as I shopped! That’s pretty much what I do [laughs]
Or shop as you write?
Shop as I write, oh no don’t, that’s worrying! That is internet shopping exactly. Either I’m out at the shops, tapping on my blackberry as I go around the shops, or I’m at my desk shopping on the internet as I write [laughs]. They do tend to blend, the two activities.
Lastly, if you could ask your fans one question, what would it be?
Ooh…what should Becky do next?