Sophie Kinsella Meet the Author


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Sophie Kinsella

Jim Naughtie talks to the bestselling author Sophie Kinsella about her new book My Not So Perfect Life.


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Sophie Kinsella's new novel is called my My Not So Perfect Life,

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It's about a woman in her 20s who leads an apparently

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glamorous life in London, although the truth is much more

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prosaic, and has to move back home to the country when she is sacked,

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But the life she finds there is not quite what she expected.

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Sophie Kinsella has written a string of worldwide bestsellers,

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including the Confessions of a Shopaholic series,

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And if you are wondering - well, she does not mind

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the term "chick-lit", but she much prefers what one book

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You are talking in the book, introducing us

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Do you think that that is the truth about the way that people live these

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I think that all of us are suckered into projecting the perfect life.

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I think that social media has not helped this tendency.

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You know, back in the day you would have your portrait

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But I think my forebears would have aimed to look as rich and prosperous

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and happy and wonderful as they possibly could.

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Then, the portrait would be hung on the wall and you could go

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I think now what we do is constantly throw out portraits of ourselves

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through social media, and also through our professional

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Although we know that it is invented, we sort

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This book seems very much of the moment, in that this

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picture which is built up, say, on Instagram,

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which really is a construction which is quite fake.

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She goes back and lives in a little one room place,

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although when she is out and about, she looks quite glamorous.

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This really is a bit of a problem for us, not for us all,

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I mean, social media has exploded, certainly in my lifetime,

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from not existing to almost being a planet that we have

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We have colonised it and had to make it work for us as humans and I think

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it brings out the best and the worst.

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I love the connection but this measuring and judging is not good.

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You write about women with particular feeling,

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not just women, but particularly for young girls, teenage

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The world that they are introduced to, you talk about measuring,

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Whether it is how you look, your sexual experience, whatever -

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it is the sort of thing where, in your young life and my young

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Absolutely didn't exist, you had your own teenage struggles.

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Perhaps you would tell your diary about them,

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We spent a lot of time with one person, whose

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voice you could hear, by the way.

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As humans, we respond to so many signals.

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And on social media, there is a barrier.

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There is a visual construct and this wretched "liking" which everyone

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becomes addicted to, and a validation that we have

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It can only lead to addictive reliance on it.

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We should not give the idea that the book is a meditation

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When you get an idea like that, does it gnaw

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away at you until you've written the book?

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Yeah, I think that I go around the world with a sort of radar.

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So, when I see people shopping too much, that goes in.

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And when I see people projecting lives and feeling anxious

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because they are not living up to some sort of measure of success,

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But what I try to do, as you say, I try to make people laugh,

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whip over the pages, see what is coming next.

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It's not a thesis, the thesis is sort of there between the jokes.

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What do you think you have got that makes you a good storyteller?

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I think from what my readers say, they relate to my characters.

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They sort of see themselves in the characters, they see

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But what I do is push it to the nth degree,

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whether it is getting into ridiculous situations.

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I love a bit of farce, silly situations, and

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But you start off with somebody that you relate to.

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It is the old story, isn't it, that if the reader doesn't care

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about the character, not necessarily total affection,

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but does not care in the sense that is not interested in...

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You can have an antiheroine, but you need someone

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All of my Sophie Kinsella novels I have written in the first person.

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What is the advantage of writing in the first person?

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I find an instant intimacy with the character.

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I know these characters so well, and I did used to write

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There was a slight level of detachment.

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I live these plots, and actually my husband can tell

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when things are going badly for my character,

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You know, it is quite an emotional journey.

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And when you're in the throes of a story, once you have got

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the idea, you think that you are there as a character who has

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I spend quite a lot of time working things out, turning points

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Also working out what I want to say, because you can have an idea

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for a story but you're not sure what you are trying

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What do you want to say about the world?

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I think all of my books want to say, look at us, we are human!

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Look at the pickles we get ourselves into...

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And, by the way, we are all like this, but never mind.

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Are you one of those writers who goes around either literally

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with a notebook in the pocket, where you scribble down things.

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Or, at least a notebook in your head, and you spot somebody

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in a coffee shop or somewhere and go right, I've got her...?

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I do, and I think I do it all the time.

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I never have the right person for the right chapter.

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If I could go to a coffee shop and find the right character

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and put them in now, that would be very handy.

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But you store them up, or store up a little facet

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of something you've heard, and it comes back to you later.

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Do you think about your readers when you are doing this?

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You have a vast army of readers out there,

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do you ever think about them and what they want?

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I connect with them, and when I meet them,

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interestingly it is the same wherever I go.

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What do they ask you, what kind of questions do they ask?

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They want to know what is happening next with my characters.

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I know that they love to laugh, but to be honest, I don't visualise

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So I write the book that would please me as a reader.

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I love a plot, some comedy and something to think about.

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Well, I sometimes think, you know what?

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No, I haven't, I haven't done the gut-wrenching tragedy

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So far I've not been ballsy enough to do it.

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Sophie Kinsella, thank you very much.

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The winds have caused a bit of a storm. There have been power outages

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on the West of the UK. Tomorrow's developing

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