20 July 2010

Author Interview: Alison Bond

I recently read and loved Alison Bond's new book A Reluctant Cinderella, and was delighted when Alison was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her and her books. If you haven't read A Reluctant Cinderella yet, I would definitely recommend that you do because it's a brilliant book, and don't let the cover fool you because it certainly isn't what you'd expect from that. Without further ado, here is my interview with the lovely Alison Bond.

Q1. Tell us about your book 'A Reluctant Cinderella'.

It's been a huge stretch between books, almost four years, and while I'd like to say I've been busy having children and moving to the Cotswolds (both of which happen to be true) the more honest reason is that my first attempt at a third novel was abysmal.  I tried my hand at romantic comedy that the likes of Sophie Kinsella and Jenny Colgan do so well and it didn't quite work out.  We spent a lot of time (too much time maybe) trying to make it better but in the end I threw up my hands and started all over again with A Reluctant Cinderella.  Obviously it was all terribly frustrating but looking back it was a very valuable lesson in writing what you truly want to write.   A Reluctant Cinderella is the kind of glamorous, twisting tale I feel much happier with.  Samantha Sharp is a powerful woman who encounters scandal at work, in her family life and in her love life.  It’s about how she deals with adversity by facing up to her past.

Q2. What sort of research did you have to do to be able to write this book?

Samantha Sharp is forced out of her high-powered job when evidence suggests that she’s been involved with some dodgy dealings.  She relocates to Krakow in Poland and a lot of the book is set there.  Krakow is one of my favourite cities so it wasn’t so much a case of research as writing about what I know.  We lived in Krakow for a while and I had such an affinity with the place that I think I must have been a Polish princess in a previous life.  Hopefully I managed to capture some of its mysterious charm in this book.   For everything else I used my imagination.

Q3. Samantha is a pretty strong female who doesn't mind being in a male-orientated world or workplace. Is she anything like you, and have you based her on anyone?

There is a lot of me in Samantha, I think most authors would agree that every character will have aspects of self in there somewhere.  Recalling your own experiences and emotions is the only way I can think of to write about other people’s.  Samantha’s experiences are extreme but her insecurities and dreams, the way she feels about her family and the trouble she has distinguishing between vulnerability and weakness – that’s all me.  She manages to be one of the boys while never letting you forget that she’s a woman.  I do that too.

Q4. Are you writing a fourth book? It's been a few years between this book and your last, so will there be a wait for your next book?!

The fourth book is finished and waiting to go and I’m about to embark on the fifth.  I’m over my crisis of identity and ready to tell a lot more stories.
Q5. What do you enjoy doing when you're not busy writing books?

I enjoy cooking big hearty dinners for my extended family.  I enjoy walking in the fields behind my house and taking my little girl to see the horses there.  I enjoy drinking red wine in bed and watching DVD box sets (currently Grey’s Anatomy, next 30 Rock).  I enjoy eating whole bags of Haribo sweets and then feeling a bit sick.  I enjoy driving my car down country lanes with the radio on.  I enjoy visiting new places and buying practical things there that I will use often and so be reminded of the time we went there.  For example, tomorrow we are going to Shipston-on-Stour where I hope to buy some egg cups or a small radio.  I enjoy tequila.  I enjoy people who argue with a smile on their faces.  I enjoy going to Mexico.  I am looking forward to this summer’s final series of Big Brother with bittersweet anticipation.
Q6. Who are some of your own favourite authors and books?

The first books I really fell in love with (post Enid Blyton) were probably those by Jackie Collins or Armistead Maupin.  More recently I consistently enjoy Melissa Bank, Lisa Jewell or Nick Hornby.  My favourite book of last year was American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Q7. Finally, do you think the use of social networking tools are a positive for authors these days to get your book out there in the public eye?

Actually I think social networking sites are what authors have instead of an office.  Twitter is my water cooler, the place where I can gossip about everything from Gordon Brown to Glee.  In that regard they are extremely positive for me, but when I try and use them for self-promotion – and really A Reluctant Cinderella is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do so - I’m never sure that I’m doing it right so I end up talking about The West Wing instead.

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