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Interview: November 14, 2003

November 14, 2003

In this interview conducted by Co-Founder Carol Fitzgerald, Sophie Kinsella reveals her inspiration for her bestselling Shopaholic series, shares a few of the most memorable letters she has received from readers and talks about her future writing plans --- which include a new stand-alone novel and a fourth Shopaholic book.

BRC: The bio notes on your books assure readers that you always pay your bills on time, barely took an interest in your own wedding and visit New York for purely cultural reasons. So what was your inspiration for the Shopaholic titles?

SK: My bios are more than a little tongue-in-cheek. I do love to shop, although I'm able to keep myself in check a little better than Becky. My initial inspiration was the first Visa bill scene --- that feeling of total amnesia and denial that we all experience once a month. I should also confess I am totally in love with weddings. As "research" for SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT, I went undercover to Vera Wang, posed as a bride and tried on wedding dresses all afternoon. It was heaven!

BRC: Why do you think that readers love Becky?

SK: I think there is a bit of Becky in all of us. People love to laugh at their own flaws --- and who hasn't bought some totally useless item because it was half-price? She is in some ways shallow and silly, but she is also incredibly warm, loving and feisty --- and always resourceful.

BRC: Is there one story in the books that is your particular favorite?

SK: This is an interesting question. Actually, I think the letters are in some ways my favorite strand of the book. In particular, the Finnish letter.

BRC: We laughed while reading these books --- loudly enough to attract attention. Do you do the same as you are writing them?

SK: Yes, I have to confess that I do. And if it doesn't make me laugh out loud then I know it's not funny enough and I write it again. The same goes for the ending, except I have to cry. I've cried writing the endings to all my books.

BRC: You were once a financial journalist. How did you start writing fiction?

SK: I never really felt financial journalism was my true love, partly because I'm just not interested in the subject and partly because I've never been very good at sticking to facts. But I did love to write. I used to read novels avidly on the train --- and one day I just decided to try and write one. As soon as I started, I knew I'd found the thing I wanted to do.

BRC: Did you dare to dream that these books would be this successful? When did you know that the Shopaholic series was a success?

SK: I had no idea these books would be successful. In fact as I was writing CONFESSIONS I can remember thinking to myself, Yes, but does anyone else think like this --- will anyone else get the joke? It turns out the whole world thinks like this! I think I knew the books were a success when I started getting letters from readers, all saying the same thing: "I am Becky Bloomwood."

BRC: Can you share some shopping (or other) stories you have heard from readers?

SK: I have had so many amazing letters from readers --- many of them self-confessed shopaholics! One had, just like Becky, got into debt, lost everything, but turned herself around. Others have written to say that the books have cheered them up after illnesses or bad times --- which is so inspirational for me to hear. Some, though, take the books a little too seriously. One teenager wrote to say she and her friends think "what would Becky do?" when considering their own actions (this is worrying) and I was asked by another reader if I could please send her a picture of Suze's baby!

BRC: We were casting the movie as we read the books. Has the Shopaholic series been optioned for the movies?

SK: Yes! It is in development at the moment, which is very exciting, but I have no idea yet who will play Becky or Luke.

BRC: Will there be another Shopaholic book?

SK: Yes, there will. I had planned for SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT to be the last --- but I started missing Becky and Luke. So I am working on a fourth right now.

BRC: Can you share with us a few thoughts about CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? and your new character, Emma Corrigan? And when will it be in stores?

SK: CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? is about Emma Corrigan who, like every girl in the world, has a few little secrets. She has secrets from her parents, her boyfriend, her boss ... and one day, thinking she's going to die on a turbulent airplane, she spills them all to a total stranger. Of course the stranger comes back into her life --- in fact he owns the company she works for. Now he knows EVERYTHING about her, down to what underwear she wears ... and she's hideously embarrassed! The story is a romantic comedy all about secrets and honesty, and it will be in stores on March 23, 2004.

BRC: Will you be touring in the States to promote your new book?

SK: I'm not sure about that yet. However, I came to New York and Toronto last year and was delighted to meet so many fans of Becky. It means a lot to me to meet readers face to face.

BRC: What are you working on now?

SK: This year I've been writing the screenplay of CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?, which is to be made into a movie starring Kate Hudson --- but now I'm engrossed in the fourth Shopaholic novel, which I'm really enjoying. It's great to be spending time with Becky again.