What was the inspiration behind The Perfect Happiness? Was there a particular scene you envisioned first?
I’m 40 years old myself, with two small children and a very happy married life. An attractive man flirted with me at a dinner and then found me on email, through my author website – that part is taken from life. It was really a ‘what if’ from there. I wanted to explore two things: is it possible to have a flirtation without it developing into a full blown affair? And two, we belong to a generation that feels happiness is our birthright, at whatever cost. We want something, we buy it on credit, we break something, we don’t mend it as our mother’s did, but chuck it away and buy a new one. Do we treat love in the same way? – and destroy any obstacle in our path, even if that obstacle is our own husband, children or friends? Do we selfishly believe we can and should have everything we want? The first scene I thought of was the robbery and Jack’s confession, so I always knew where I was going, although I wasn’t sure how it would end – and true to character Kate took over the subplot, which was never my intention!
Angelica struggles in The Perfect Happiness to get inspiration for her new book. She believes that “there was nothing more disconcerting than a blank piece of paper with nothing to write on it” (p. 55). What do you do when you get stuck with writer’s block? Does your writing routine mimic that of Angelica’s?
No, fortunately I never get writer’s block. My trouble is finding time to get to my desk with all the domestic chores I have to do!
Shopping, brands and couture are a big part of the ladies’ lifestyle in The Perfect Happiness. Do you consider yourself a “fashionista” like Kate, Candace and the others?
No, but my girlfriends are very fashion conscious. I love clothes and shopping, but I’m not very good at it. If I identify with any of the girls on that front, it would be Angelica.
You created quite the cadre of characters between Angelica, Kate, Candace, Leitzia and Scarlet. Are any of these women based upon people you know? Who do you think you are the most like and why?
I drew inspiration from my group of girlfriends. We meet weekly for lunch at each other’s houses or restaurants, and daily at the school gates. Although I invented their characters, the lifestyle is very much taken from my life. There is a little of me in all of them, barring Kate, who is like no one I know (but would rather like to know as she’s funny!) I’m sure I subconsciously draw on people I know, I’d never do it consciously – basing characters on real people could get me into terrible trouble!!
Your descriptions of
I always write about what I know. So, yes, I live in Kensington, have been on book tour to
Was there ever a draft where Angelica and Jack wound up together? Or was she always meant to go back to Olivier?
Jack and Angelica were never going to end up together. I knew from the start that he was going to die, and that Angelica would return and repair her marriage. I wanted the affair to be the catalyst that drives her to find happiness with Olivier.
Angelica highlights the hardships of maintaining both a happy personal life and a successful professional life. What advice would you offer to women who struggle to balance the two?
I think it’s incredibly hard to juggle being a wife, mother and working woman. There is no secret to making it work. You spread yourself very thinly and feel exhausted at the end of the day after everyone has wanted a piece of you. I meditate, try not to put too much in my diary so I get my sleep, and spend quality time with my husband and children on weekends. I’m lucky, I’m self employed and can run my own timetable, if I get stressed out I can go for a walk in the park! My husband and children come first, no matter what, so I revolve my life around them – but my writing is always there for me. It’s a hobby that I’m lucky enough to have as a job.
Angelica’s marriage is (arguably) saved by the events that transpire in The Perfect Happiness. What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Firstly, I would like my readers to enjoy it. It’s a love story, with a little mystery thrown in. I enjoyed writing it and took great pleasure from the characters I invented. I’d like readers to laugh and cry a little but end up with a warm feeling that carries them through their day. If they want to derive anything further on a spiritual level, then they can read extracts from In Search of the Perfect Happiness at the top of each chapter and try to work them into their lives. I know all the theory, but it’s difficult to live it, but I certainly try.
Your books have consistently been on the top of British and European bestseller lists and now you are starting to take the
Firstly, the U.S. covers are beautiful, so that’s a great start when trying to attract readers. Secondly, love is universal. We all want it, no matter whom we are or what we do. We all want to be loved and to love in return. But we all suffer loss, setbacks, disappointment and hurt – as do my characters. I explore love in every form in my novels because love is the most important thing in my life, and, I believe, why we’re all here on earth. The simple answer is that love appeals to everyone.
What’s next for you? Will we be hearing from Angelica again?
The Perfect Happiness has already come out in the UK and I have had many requests to write a sequel – I rather enjoy the idea of picking another character, say Candice, and focusing on her life – or Kate….watch this space.
Right now, I’m writing my next novel, based in