Where is your favourite place in the world?
Ibiza. For the beautiful beaches, laid-back beach bars and anything-goes attitude. Nothing can quite compare to a long, boozy lunch on an Ibizenco beach with wet hair, sun on your shoulders and sand in your toes. Pure bliss.
How would you spend a perfect weekend?
Perfect? Hmmm, let’s see. Rowdy poker night on Friday with my husband Andy and some close friends at our flat just off Portobello Road. Ideally, of course, I’d win. A lovely lazy long lie-in with papers, tea and breakfast in bed prepared by Andy, who’s a brilliant cook; bike ride to Hyde Park to blow away the cobwebs; and probably a drink or two at the Serpentine café.
It would be fun if there were a party on Saturday night, but staying in reading and vaguely watching telly would probably be more appealing after the poker night. On the other hand, neighbours tend to turn up uninvited so the best intentions for quiet nights in can easily be scuppered!
Sunday would involve another nice lie-in followed by lunch at my parents’ place in Chelsea with my brother, sister-in-law and gorgeous baby niece, Clara. My family is fab!
Did you always know you’d like to be a writer? Was there ever a plan B?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and still have several embarrassing half-finished, half-arsed manuscripts from my schooldays to prove it! There was never an actual Plan B—I wasted years drifting from crappy job to crappy job until my brother, who’s a journalist, took me aside and told me to get writing. Can’t tell you how much I love him for that.
As a novelist, where do you seek inspiration?
Do you ever struggle with the discipline and focus needed to write at home? How do you organise your time?
Oh yes. I’m not what you’d call naturally self-disciplined, and (pretty much like every other writer I’ve ever met) have stupidly high procrastination levels. That’s when you have to remind yourself that you write because you love it and you’re bloody lucky to be paid to do it.
Where is your favourite place to eat in west London?
At home. I love cooking, but my husband really is brilliant at it.
Do you have a favourite watering hole?
The Ground Floor on the corner of Portobello and Talbot Road seems to be where we most frequently end up—generally after buying fruit and veg from Cheryl (absolutely the best on the market). It’s lovely and cosy in winter with darkly decadent baroque furnishings. In summer you can almost always nab a chair outside in the sunshine just within earshot of the steel drum man’s inimitable take on modern classics.
One could describe you as a combination of Barbara from The Good Life and Patsy from Ab Fab. What informs your style?
Thanks for the fantastic comparison—I love it! Not sure I have a style as such, though floaty maxidresses in summer and short skirts with boots and tights in winter are pretty much a staple. I really wish I could look cool in jeans but sadly I just don’t (and they’re horribly uncomfortable).
If money were no object, where would you shop?
For clothes, the same places I do now: Zara, Topshop etc, with the odd bit of the softest cashmere thrown in (I’m not really fussed about designer labels, but cashmere—now you’re talking); a load of bikinis from Aussie brands like Seafolly; the bookshops in Cecil Court for beautiful first editions of my favourite authors; the rest of it would go on travel.
You’ve had a very interesting career trajectory. Could you walk us through journalism, stripping and life in the City?
Let’s get the stripping bit over first! I was a very young and very skint student, and it seemed like an easy way to make money (which it was). It was also quite good fun and the camaraderie with the other girls was great—although some of the customers were utterly horrendous.
A few years later, I was working at the BBC World Service when my fantastic female boss took early retirement, only to be replaced with a bitch from hell. So stupidly I walked out and started temping in the City—which was far more lucrative, especially when I specialised in Powerpoint and Excel. I was kicked out from pretty much every bank, for generally boring reasons like lack of punctuality and ‘dressing like you’re going to the beach’.
Regarding journalism, I did a post-grad course at the London College of Printing, as a result of which I got work experience at Arena, the best, funniest men’s mag (RIP). After a bit they started to pay me and things escalated from there.
What is the most trouble you’ve got yourself into, and how did this come about?
Haha! nice try Liv.
Do you have a secret hang-out?
If I did I wouldn’t reveal it here.
You’ve written several novels – does the creative process differ for each one?
The first one was fairly autobiographical, so yes! But I guess my creative processes for the second and third were pretty much the same (I write about things that I’d like to read about).
How does writing fiction and lifestyle journalism differ in approach?
Getting the facts right!
Do you see yourself living in west London indefinitely?
If possible, absolutely.
What is your most treasured possession?
Currently my new iPad Air – a very generous Christmas present.
Any plans for the future? Or would you rather wait for inspiration to strike?
A new book set in the Sixties. Inspiration has struck!