Alexandra Potter, a real Thunderbolt of a writer!
June 30, 2012
By: Lauranne Heres
If you’re a chick-lit fan like me, chances are you might have read at least one Alexandra Potter book. I’ve read them all (well ok, I’m halfway through one now). With every book, Potter manages to create a new character so likeable that you’re dying to know what will happen to them next, and you often recognise yourself in them! Within the space of nine novels published to this day, Alexandra Potter has explored many love stories, including a new twist on Romeo and Juliet and another chance meeting with Mr Darcy. She’s often using some form of “time travel” so her heroines can get a chance of a do-over and her male leads range from the absolutely gorgeous to the most amazingly nice.
In her latest book Don’t You Forget About Me, Tess is dumped by her “perfect” boyfriend Seb and can’t help feeling like it’s all her fault. Constantly rewinding their relationship in her head, she keeps wishing that she’d done things differently, liked the things he liked and shared more with him. Drunk and alone on New Year’s Eve, Tess decides she’d be better off without this pain, and wishes she’d never met Seb.
When Tesswakes up to find that no one knows Seb and that she’s the only one who remembers their relationship, she realises she has a chance to get it all right this time, no matter what it takes…
To celebrate the release of the book, I’ve asked Alexandra Potter to answer a few questions for us!
1) Your latest book, Don’t You Forget About Me offers the main character a do-over of her failed relationship. Would you have liked a similar chance for yourself? Or do you believe that things in love, good or bad, happen for a reason?
I’d love to have had a chance to do-over a couple of my relationships! In fact, the idea for Don’t You Forget About Me came about after I’d broken up with a boyfriend and was nursing a broken heart and wishing I’d done things differently. However, would the outcome have been different? I’m not sure. I’m fascinated by the idea of fate and destiny, but I can’t decide whether WE make our own fate…
2) In Who’s That Girl your character has a chance to meet her old self and to try to fix past mistakes. This seems to be a recurrent theme in your work now, why do you think this fascinates you?
Many times in our lives we reach a crossroads and we have to make a decision. These decisions affect our life, by taking us on a certain path. I often wonder, ‘what would have happened if I had made a different choice?’ I’m fascinated by how just a simple choice – like randomly choosing a certain café for lunch – can completely change your life, as it did with me when I met my boyfriend sitting at the table next to me.
3) In Be Careful What You Wish For you discuss this idea of wishing for things to be better/different. Do you believe that we want to change things like bad hair days because we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves or do you think there’s something else behind it?
I think it’s human nature to wish for things. We do it all day, without even thinking about it. I wish I could get a seat on the tube… I wish there wasn’t a queue in Starbucks…. I wish I could stay in bed for another five minutes…. A lot of the time we are not even conscious we are doing it! In Be Careful What You Wish For, I wanted to explore what would happen if all these wishes actually came true – if you could change all these things – would it be a blessing? Or a curse?
4) I’ve read all of your books (except for Going La La which I’m reading right now) and I really love your characters: they’re so likeable and real! Do you base them on yourself or people you know?
All my characters are figments of my imagination – however, I do go on my experience and that of my friends – so sometimes I will use certain habits that friends have, or particular sayings, or maybe even incorporate a funny incident they have told me (or which has happened to me). I want my characters to be likeable because I want them to be people who I would want to be friends with.
5) Your book Me and Mr Darcy was the fantasy a lot of us entertain (as has been shown in recent years by TV shows like ‘Lost in Austen’ as well). Are you personally a Mr Darcy groupie? Did Jane Austen’s work inspire you in some way?
I read Pride & Prejudice as a school girl and, like most women, fell in love with Mr Darcy. As I grew older, I realised that none of the modern-day men measured up to him, so I had the idea to write a book about what it would be like to date the REAL Mr Darcy. Of course, my heroine finds that it’s not quite like she expected, as Mr Darcy is wonderful in the pages of a novel, but in real-life he’s really quite different… As for Jane Austen, I really do think she was the first writer of chick-lit, and paved the way for all the other female authors that have followed.
6) In You’re The One That I Don’t Want you challenge the idea of soul-mates, and of ‘love that lasts forever’. Is this something you believe in or are you more of a realist?
Now this is a tricky one! I can never decide! One part of me is a hopeless romantic, believes in soul-mates, and adores nothing more than watching a movie, or reading a novel that involves destiny and fate and finding The One. Yet the other rational, realistic, dare I say it – cynical – part of me thinks the idea of The One is nonsense and there are lots of people you can fall in love with, it’s just down to circumstance, timing and a bit of luck.
7) In Calling Romeo you give the classic Shakespeare play a modern twist. It seems everyone is always trying to update that story, what was your thinking behind it?
I love the story of the star-crossed lovers, and I wanted to use this famous story as a back drop to a story about two modern day lovers, Juliet and Will. I also wanted to draw attention to the fact that I think many people confuse romance with real love, and this is a lesson that my heroine Juliet learns, with some pretty spectacular consequences…
8 ) What’s New Pussycat is your first novel, but it was released after the others. How come?
What’s New Pussycat? was actually published in 2000, but my UK publishers, Hodder, re-released a new updated version of it last year. I was thrilled as it meant a whole new set of readers got to meet Delilah, Vivienne, Sam and Charlie… and Tom Jones of course!
9) A lot of your books’ titles are inspired either by movie titles, songs or expressions. Do you come up with those, or do you work on them with your editor/publisher?
I come up with all my titles – it’s one of the most fun parts – and I usually have a title in my head before I even start writing…
10) At what age did you start writing? Did you study something relating to literature and writing or not at all?
I started writing from a very young age. In fact, I didn’t realise how young until recently when I was at my mum’s house and was clearing out the loft and found all these books I had written as a child. Would you believe it but I wrote my first novel AGED NINE!
11) How do you start a novel? Do you have a time line of the plot, do the characters ‘speak to you’ like J.K. Rowling says of hers, or do you have an idea then write and see what happens?
I always have an idea for a novel, and then I spend a few months thinking about characters and fleshing out the plot and structuring it. This is really important to me. I could never just start writing without knowing where I’m going, so I have to draw a map of sorts.
12) I know you’ve only just released a new novel, but do you already have something else planned?
Absolutely! I’ve just started my new book – hopefully it’s going to be the first in a new series and I’m very excited about it. Watch this space!
A big thanks to Alexandra Potter for answering all of my questions, and also to Lucy Zilberkweit from Hodder who passed them on.
Now girls, get shopping and reading!
Pictures: alexandrapotter.com and author’s own.