Sophie Hart

1.What got you into writing? I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, and as a child I was always making up stories. It took a very long time for me to get a publishing deal, but once I got an agent (Madeleine Milburn) everything happened very quickly.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I work part time (three days a week) so I don’t tend to write on those days, unless I’m up against a tight deadline. On my days off (including the weekend) I’ll usually write every day. I don’t have a particular routine – I always feel that I should be writing, so if I’m way from the laptop then I feel guilty!

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really get writer’s block. I always know where the plot is going, although some days the writing doesn’t flow as easily. Depending on how tight my deadline is, I’ll either write through it (knowing that I can always edit it later, or even delete it if it’s particularly bad) or maybe polish up some earlier chapters, as that can spark off ideas for what will happen later. Failing that, a walk or a bath are always good for working through tricky plotlines.

4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m not a big planner – I’ll work out plotlines in my head, but I’m not the type to create spreadsheets and plan everything in detail chapter by chapter. I know the major plot makers, but enjoy the process of discovering what happens in between.

5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Publishing definitely has its ups and downs, so I’d say develop a thick-skin and persevere.

6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Ooh, so many! I was thrilled when the foreign rights were sold (to Italy, Spain and Germany). Seeing my book in Italian was amazing. I also run an online book club on Facebook which I’ve loved doing. And any time someone sends you a tweet or a message saying they’ve loved your book it’s a real highlight and gives you a huge boost.

7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recent book is The Naughty Girls Book Club, about a varied group of women (and one man!) who join a Bristol-based book group that ends up reading erotica novels! Unexpected friendships are made, as the group help each other to make changes in their own lives, and they even pick up some helpful tips for spicing things up in the bedroom! I’ve included an extract below from the first book club meeting. The group have been discussing Tess of the D’Urbervilles and found it very dull, when a copy of Ten Sweet Lessons, the latest erotica sensation, falls out of Estelle’s handbag… “What’s that?” asked Sue, craning her neck to look around Reggie. “Ten Sweet Lessons!” burst out Gracie, looking shocked. “Wait a minute, isn’t that..?” “Is that what you’re reading, Estelle?” demanded Rebecca. Estelle looked up, her face glowing like a beacon, to see them all staring at her accusingly. Oh, this was so humiliating! Here she was, trying to run a serious book group, and now she’d blown her cover, revealing that all along, she preferred mass market, low-brow erotica. “Sort of…” Estelle began slowly, trying to brazen it out. The next moment, her brain no longer seemed to be connected to the words that were coming out of her mouth, and she heard herself say, “I was actually testing it out in advance of the next meeting. It’s going to be our next read.” Trying to regain her dignity, Estelle bent over and picked the book up off the floor, placing it squarely on the table in front of her. “Yes, that’s right,” she continued more confidently, ignoring their shocked expressions. “Ten Sweet Lessons by C J Jones. I hope there are no objections?” There were horrified gasps from around the table as they stared at her in disbelief, shock written across their faces. “B… But that’s… porn,” Sue burst out, whispering the word under her breath. “Erotica, I’d say,” Estelle replied thoughtfully. “Although it’s a very fine distinction – something we could discuss at the next meeting, perhaps?” “Well I’ve heard that it’s deeply misogynistic,” Gracie began furiously. “And that it sets feminism back fifty years.” “You could always read it and make up your own mind,” Estelle couldn’t resist saying, her eyes sparkling mischievously. “I’d love to hear your opinions next time.” “I wouldn’t mind seeing what all the fuss is about, actually,” Rebecca admitted shyly. “All the mums at the school gates have read it.” Estelle smiled at her, grateful for her support. “Thank you, Rebecca. Reggie?” Reggie said nothing, his cheeks flaming red as he stared at the ground like he wanted it to swallow him up. “Good, then that’s settled,” Estelle said firmly, feeling a remarkable sense of calm now that she’d taken control and made her decision. “The next read for the Cafe Crumb book club will be Ten Sweet Lessons by C J Jones. The meeting will be held two weeks today, and I look forward to seeing you all back here to find out exactly what you thought of it.”

8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Read! I read a lot, especially other female fiction writers. I also watch more TV than I probably should! As it says in my biography, I like to go on nice holidays, so I try and get away whenever I can.

9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Oh wow, interesting question… I think I’ll say Rachel Weisz – she’s stunningly beautiful and very talented, with an amazing career. And (this is the real reason) I would I get to wake up (and more!) with the delicious Daniel Craig!

10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you so much! The reaction to Naughty Girls has been more incredible than I could have imagined, and I’ve had such lovely comments about it. People on Twitter (I’m @Cafe_Crumb ) and Facebook have been so friendly and supportive, and I’m extremely grateful for all their kind words.

sophie hart