I was fortunate enough to chat to the lovely Sophie Hart, author of successful chick lit novel The Naughty Girls Book Club. She’s had great success with her début novel and is releasing her new novel next month, read the interview to find out more.
WMW – Hi Sophie Hart, welcome to Women Make Waves, thank you for agreeing to this interview. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself?
SH – Hi Emma-Jane, thanks so much for asking me! I’m in my thirties and live in London and, as it says in my biography, I live with my boyfriend and my collection of naughty books! My novel, The Naughty Girls Book Club, was published last year by Avon (HarperCollins) and I was thrilled by how well it did. In other random facts, I have a bit of a thing for Daniel Craig, and can’t wait for the next Bond film!
WMW – You have had great success with your début novel The Naughty Girl’s Book Club. I really enjoyed reading it. Could you please tell our readers who haven’t read the novel a little bit about it?
SH – Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! The Naughty Girls Book Club centres around Estelle, a forty-something cafe owner, who’s looking for a way to boost business. She hits upon the idea of starting a book club, which soon turns into an erotic book club, reading everything from Jilly Cooper to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The book club members – including bored newly wed Rebecca, and rockabilly feminist Gracie – find their own inspiration in the novels, and also form unexpected friendships. One review described it as ‘chick lit with a saucy twist’ which sums it up perfectly!
WMW – The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon has created a storm in the literary world. Did E L James’ controversial novel inspire you to write your first novel?
SH – Absolutely! I would be lying if I said it didn’t, and it was a huge inspiration. Fifty Shades was such a massive phenomenon, and undoubtedly inspired The Naughty Girls Book Club. But Naughty Girls itself isn’t erotica – it’s a cheeky, light-hearted look at the effects that reading all these erotic books have on ordinary women (and one man!)
WMW – Your fans are anxiously waiting for another novel, can you tell us what current projects you are working on?
SH – I actually have another novel coming out very soon – The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees will be published by Bookouture on 19th September. It’s set in the slightly unusual world of sex therapy, and follows therapist Annie, who’s an expert at dealing with relationships – except when it comes to her own. We meet three couples who come to her for counselling: Zoe and Simon, who’ve taken a vow of celibacy in the run up to their wedding; Julia and Simon, who are trying for a baby and sex has become more about function than fun; and Ray and Linda, whose love life has ground to a halt. We see their journeys as they build friendships and rebuild their relationships.
WMW – Many writers picture the moment they hold their first book in their hands, what was your experience with this and how did it feel when you saw your book in the shops for the first time?
SH – It really is wonderful to have a finished book in your hands – it seemed much thicker than I was expecting! And the sales team did a great job of getting it in the shops, so I saw it in WHSmith all over the place, and even in Tesco when doing my shopping. It’s very strange – every time I saw a copy I wanted to run up to complete strangers and tell them I wrote it!
WMW – What was the process once you had finished The Naughty Girl’s Book Club, more specifically, how did the book deal with Avon/Harper Collins happen?
SH – It came about through my agent, Madeleine Milburn. Avon had a lot of input with the initial idea, as they wanted something that would put a different spin on the erotica craze. Once the ideas were in place, I had the freedom to run with my imagination, to create all the character detail and the different scenarios.
WMW – Do you have any advice for other writers?
SH – It’s tough, so you really have to persevere. But there are so many more options now than when I was first trying to get a book deal. My second novel is being published by Bookouture, who specialise in ebooks, so there are all kinds of alternatives to traditional publishing. If one route doesn’t work for you, keep trying different ones!
WMW – Do you have a specific writing style?
SH – Interesting question – I’ve never been asked that before, and I’m really not sure! I suppose I try to write in quite an informal, chatty, cosy style, which suits the tone of the book. If I was writing crime or horror, my style might change.
WMW – What book are you reading right now?
SH – I’m actually still making my way through Sunlounger 2, so I’ll include a bit of a plug for that if your readers haven’t heard of it! It’s a compilation of summery short stories, all with a travel and romance theme, organised by the wonderful Belinda Jones. Loads of great authors have contributed stories including Milly Johnson, Holly Martin and Chrissie Manby.
WMW – Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
SH – I’d just like to say thank you so much for all your support! The reaction to Naughty Girls took me completely by surprise and was much bigger than I had expected. I had some really lovely comments and met some wonderful people through Twitter (I’m @Cafe_Crumb if you want to come and chat!) and Facebook. So thank you once again, and I really hope the next book lives up to expectations!
Thank you so much Sophie Hart! I really enjoyed our interview, keep your eyes peeled for The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees which will be available from the 19th of September.