Sophie Hart lives in London with her fiancé and her collection of naughty books. Her first novel, The Naughty Girls Book Club, reached number one on the Bookseller Heatseeker’s Chart, and was also published in Italy, Spain, Germany and Turkey.
The Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love was published by Bookouture in 2014 and The Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched will be released in July 2015.
Sophie likes to spend her time going on nice holidays, making half-hearted attempts at exercise, and lusting after Daniel Craig.
1. Can you tell us about your most recent book? It’s called The Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched, and follows Julia (who some readers may recognise from my last book, but it’s an entirely standalone novel) as she juggles marriage and motherhood with her career as an events planner. She ends up organising three different weddings: Aimee’s glamorous, overblown wedding, which is dominated by her nightmare mother-in-law; Gill’s second wedding, bringing together her and her fiancé’s blended family of five children; and a dream day for Debbie, who’s desperate to lose weight and putting pressure on herself to look perfect.
2. What can we expect from this novel that differs from your others? This one doesn’t have the same ‘naughtiness’ factor that my previous novels (The Naughty Girls Book Club and The Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love) did. This is much more in the traditional chick-lit mould, about three women’s journeys to the altar, and the friendships and hiccups they encounter on the way. It doesn’t feature erotic novels or sex therapy, as per my last two books!
3. What audience is this book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? It comes under that always controversial genre of chick-lit! You can label it ‘women’s commercial fiction’ if you like, but it’s essentially a feel-good, funny and romantic read, centred around female characters at various different stages of their lives.
4. What was your publishing journey like for this book? (Are you traditionally or self published? I’m published by digital publishers Bookouture, and this is my second book with them, in a deal which came about through my agent Madeleine Milburn. Obviously the process was much more familiar this time around, and it’s lovely to be working with the same team again.
5. How long on average does it take you to write a book? I’ve had quite tight deadlines for all of my books, so I’d say the whole process is completed within about six months. But if you’re writing a thousand words a day, that means you’ll have a book within three months, then after that there’s time to edit and polish.
6. Can you tell us about your book cover / how the designing came about? The cover design is all organised by my publishers Bookouture, and they do a very good job! We liked the design for this one so much that they actually redesigned the cover for my previous novel (The Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love) to fit into the same style.
7. Where do you find inspiration for your books? That’s such a hard question as it can be a very random process! It’s almost impossible to pin it down to one particular source. I find I get a lot of good ideas when I’m out for a walk, or in the bath – those times when your mind is wandering, coming up with all kinds of weird and (sometimes) wonderful thoughts.
8. Can you give us three good book recommendations? Yes! I can give you lots, so trying to narrow it down to three is hard. For fabulous, glamorous chick-lit, I love The Perfect Present by Karen Swan. Psychological thrillers are currently having a moment, but someone who’s been doing them brilliantly for years is Emily Barr – Stranded is one of my favourites. A quick read and a classic is The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin.
9. Any advice to writers wanting to start a novel of their own? Do it! Jot down some ideas, write snippets of dialogue, or whatever’s going to help you get into it, and get to know your characters. Once you’ve written a bit, write a bit more, and then some more and eventually you’ll have a book! But you’ll need to be disciplined to make sure you set aside time to write, and don’t give up when it starts to get tough.
10. Please feel free to share a excerpt from your most recent book for readers. ‘Oh, doesn’t it look beautiful,’ Aimee breathed, as she gazed round in awe.
The usually staid and traditional Hurlingham Manor had been transformed into a bridal Winter Wonderland. An eight-foot pine tree, beautifully trimmed in white and silver, stood majestically in front of the grand, sweeping staircase, its banisters garlanded with holly, ivy and red berries. On the other side of the marble reception area, a festive snow scene had been created, complete with frolicking deer and other woodland animals, all gathered around a traditional wooden sleigh filled with presents.
‘Maybe I should switch to a winter wedding,’ Aimee wondered, wide-eyed as she pictured herself swathed in white faux-fur, snow falling softly outside as she and Jon said their vows.
Valerie pursed her lips in disapproval, clearly thinking that the idea was tacky.
‘I’m sure we’ll get lots of inspiration here,’ Julia said diplomatically, as she followed Aimee through to the Grand Ballroom.
Hurlingham Manor was holding a wedding fayre, and the space had been transformed, with dozens of stalls showcasing everything from florists to caterers, videographers to DJs. Hordes of young women were dashing around excitedly, chattering loudly to accompanying friends and family who trailed in their wake as they bounced from one booth to the next.
Aimee’s mother, Pauline, was starting to get a little tearful. She was a small, round, woman with ash-blonde hair and a distinct resemblance to her daughter.
‘I can’t believe my baby’s getting married,’ she sniffed, the impending wedding finally becoming real as she gazed around the room. ‘And it’s going to be so grand. When me and your dad got married, we didn’t have anything like this,’ she went on, gesturing to a stall displaying shimmering tiaras and jewelled fascinators. ‘Your granny helped make my dress, then after the ceremony the George and Dragon did a lovely spread for us in their back room.’
‘Yes, well, now Aimee’s marrying a Cunningham, I’m sure we can do better than that,’ Valerie sniffed.
There was an awkward silence, which Valerie didn’t appear to notice.