This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Editor of HELLO! magazine Rosie Nixon joins us to share how her experiences covering major awards ceremonies including the Oscars and BAFTAs helped shape her exciting and fun-filled new novel, The Stylist.
The Stylist is a fashion-packed, fun-filled romp through red carpet awards season as we follow former London shop assistant Amber Green as she lands what she thinks is her dream job assisting infamous ‘stylist to the stars’ Mona Armstrong. But Mona is unravelling faster than a hemline and Amber finds herself in the centre of a confusing love triangle. The Stylist is like having a rummage through the ultimate dressing up box.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
When I came to write The Stylist, I found that I had already done most of my research during the course of my career. I have worked for many glossy magazines including HELLO!, Grazia, Glamour and Red and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Los Angeles many times during my career and have covered the major awards ceremonies including the Oscars and BAFTAs. I’ve always been fascinated by the people behind the amazing gowns we see paraded so seemingly effortlessly on the red carpet and thought it would be a fun premise for a novel. There is a showbiz wedding in The Stylist and of course I’ve had a lot of experience of those during my role at HELLO! Without a doubt, I drew on some of my experiences to inspire some of the characters and situations in my book, and had great fun fictionalising it all. I am extremely protective about the stars I have worked with and would never betray their trust.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
At the moment a whole ‘writing day’ would be a dream come true! There is no fixed pattern as I’m on maternity leave from my day job editing HELLO!, juggling two children under the age of two alongside my writing. I will try to snatch an hour at lunchtime if they both sleep at the same time (rare), otherwise I write mostly in the evenings when they are tucked up in bed. When I have childcare, I’ll take myself off to a local cafe and write for a couple of hours, fuelled by coffee and peppermint tea – it is bliss!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I’ve been thinking about To Kill A Mockingbird a lot recently, following the death of Harper Lee – it was such a stunning piece of writing and blew me away the first time I read it at school. I’m have a strong urge to read it again because it was one of the first books to make me fall in love with reading.
What female writer has inspired you?
I’ve been inspired by so many female writers, to name a few: Dawn French, Jill Dawson, Jojo Moyes, Jackie Collins, Adele Parks, Nora Ephron, Helen Fielding, Judy Blume.
What books have you been recommending recently?
I loved Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty and recently read According to Yes by Dawn French. I love the versatility of both those authors. I’m reading Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon at the moment.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I write a detailed synopsis so I have my story arc and then I start at the beginning and finish at the end. Occasionally I’ll dive about and write a bit if it’s been really on my mind and I’m desperate to get it out of my head and onto the page, but generally I’ll write chronologically. I love watching my characters grow and take me on their journey – sometimes an unexpected twist might occur and that is part of the fun. I do one complete draft before going back to the start and endlessly tweaking. Being an editor, it’s difficult not to be constantly going back and editing my own copy, so I have to be firm with myself.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I’m very fortunate to have a literary agent in my family and she was the person who encouraged me to complete my novel – although not before she had tactfully told me that the first idea I had wasn’t really working and that I should, perhaps, concentrate on fictionalising a world that was closer to my own. The idea for The Stylist was born over lunch with my agent and it immediately felt right. I started developing my characters on the tube home that day and it all flowed so easily. The Editor at Mira Books was the first person I saw with regards to a publishing deal and we just clicked, she shared my enthusiasm for the book and loved my central character Amber Green as much as I do. I nearly fainted when she offered me a two book deal. It really is a dream come true.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just do it. There’s no time like the present – write whenever you can and complete it. I wrote much of The Stylist on my iPhone – on the tube, in bed, even in the loo at parties! – whenever and wherever an idea or a bit of prose came to me. Even if it is never published, or you decide to self-publish, you will have written a novel and that is a wonderful achievement. I think you’ve got to want to do it for yourself.
What are you working on at the moment?
The sequel to The Stylist. I’m having a ball writing it at the moment, it’s set in New York and involves more fashion dramas, parties, hangovers and matters of the heart as Amber relocates to the city that never sleeps and navigates her first relationship.