We love Poppy Dolan here on Novelicious. Her debut The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp is blummin brilliant!
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I work full-time so my writing day is more like a writing evening/commute/Sunday afternoon. But I find it such a brilliant way to escape normal life that I really look forward to diving back into my WIP at the end of a long day. Besides, I can't get away with smoochy, climatic romantic endings in an open plan office. Mind you, I haven't actually tried.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I take the odd character trait here and there from friends – a funny nickname, a way of laughing, flirtations that sometimes otherwise pass under the radar and I liberally steal from my other half too. Which I must point out he does not condone, and I only get away with it due to super fast document minimising skills. I'll sometimes use a celeb as a basis for a hero, but that can lead to dangerous drooling and getting out the Mad Men box set. And then very little work gets done.
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Ooohhh, that is a pickle of a question. I want to say Bridget Jones' Diary as that had a seismic effect on little 15 year old me. (I even thought I had 'so much in common' with Bridget. At 15. Sheesh.) But another novel that seriously schooled me on how clever and funny and finger-prickingly sharp good rom coms can be is a novel called Lazy Ways to Make a Living by Abigail Bosanko. It's got some of the best flirting you'll ever read, and weirdly also some wicked chess playing.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I have a weird lightbulb moment at the strangest moments, then a whole story lights up before me from there. So, for The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp I was actually doing the washing up and listening to the radio when the Pixie Lott song 'Cry Me Out' came on. I was wailing away as I sponged my egg whisk and the line 'I got your email. You just don't get females, now do you?' suddenly jumped out at me and I thought, God some men are that crap. Why can't we train them? Also, I used to live in East Dulwich where they run scary bootcamp training sessions in the park. It always baffled me that people paid to have themselves broken down and rebuilt, but then I realised if being a pants boyfriend was that ingrained in your brain, you needed a bit of tough love to help build you up from scratch. And maybe some advice on tucking shirts into jeans.
5. What was your journey to being a published author?
A bit of an up and down one! I started writing four years ago. When I finished my first novel, I sent it out to some agents and was lucky enough to start working with a brilliant agent, who was not only incredibly knowledgeable about publishing but was a great editor to boot – she helped shaped my book so much. She actually suggested I put my first novel on the shelf for a bit (polite euphemism for 'it's not really any cop' which was totally right) and steered me towards another idea I had. Together we tried to find a publisher for my new book, but it sadly didn't work out after a few nibbles. It was always my dream to be published but when my weeping and wailing had subsided, I realised there was another way to share my book with readers. Well, technically! Whether any readers actually take the plunge with a self-published ebook is always a gamble… Luckily I have a beeyootiful cover, designed by Kirsty at Novelicious to help me out on that front.
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
I'm not sure I'd really call myself a novelist at this stage in the game, but from what I've picked up myself and from the glorious twitterati the biggest myth is that writers just sit around staring out of windows, sipping chilled white wine and gossiping with writerly mates. I'm sure that does go now and again, on special occasions, but there's the deadlines, the publicity, the social networking, the edits, the proofs to check, the new books to think of while you're promoting old ones… It's a dream job, but that doesn't mean it's not flipping hard.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Well, not that I'm an expert in any way, shape or skinny jeans, but I'd say prepare for some punches and remind yourself to get back up when they've floored you. I've been so lucky to have really supportive friends (yeah, you know who you are) that have helped me through the self-loathing times, otherwise I might still be a blubbing puddle on the floor.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
A new rom com, a little bit more grown up than The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp. It's about getting to that tricky bit in life when you know you're technically old enough to settle down, but inside you still feel young enough not to be trusted with a pair of scissors. At the moment I'm calling it None in the Oven. And now I've committed by talking about it, I'd better get on and finish it!
We can't wait to read it!