Sophie Hart spent a long time submitting to agents before her writing dreams came true. Today, she has published several novels – The Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched is her latest – and is adapting The Naughty Girls’ Book Club for screen. Sophie joins us now to talk about her journey and inspirations.
It’s called The Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched (I love a long title!) and follows Julia (an events planner who popped up in my last book, The Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love) as she plans three different weddings for three very different brides. There’s divorcée Gill, who’s trying to blend her unconventional family with her hubby-to-be’s; Aimee, with the mother-in-law from hell who’s trying to take over the wedding; and Debbie, who’s anxious to drop the pounds before her big day. Hopefully it’s funny, heart-warming and relatable!
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
All over the place. Ideas often pop into my head, and then niggle away at me whilst I’m trying to get on with my day. Although I actually got engaged whilst writing my last book, so that was great timing and definitely inspiring for a book about weddings!
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I work full time, so it’s a question of trying to squeeze it in where I can. I have quite a long train journey to work, so can get a lot done then. I write every weekend and try to put down as many words as possible, then the daily commute during the week is great for re-writing and editing what I did at the weekend.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one! Pretty much anything by Sophie Kinsella (especially the Shopaholic series). And I also have a strong love for Bridget Jones (except the last book. I understand why Mark Darcy wasn’t in it, but I wish he had been!)
What female writer has inspired you?
I’m massively inspired by Sophie Kinsella (I wrote a Literary Love Letter to her for Novelicious). It’s an amazing achievement to create a character who appeals to women all over the world, and is so well-loved, as she has done with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood!). And I love the standalone books too. It takes so much work and dedication to consistently produce funny, high-quality, entertaining books, but Sophie Kinsella manages it brilliantly.
What books have you been recommending recently?
Christmas is approaching and Karen Swan is queen of the Christmas book for me! I haven’t read her newest one yet (it’s on my wish-list), but I definitely recommend Christmas at Tiffany’s and The Perfect Present for fabulous festive reads. And I’m always recommending books by other Bookouture authors – they have some wonderful, lovely writers like Holly Martin, Christie Barlow and Jenny Hale.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I’m a diver. For me, too much planning spoils a lot of the fun, as then you’re just going through the motions of writing up what’s in your plan rather than discovering things along the way. I do as many drafts as time allows – it’s difficult to put a number on it, as I’m constantly tinkering and re-writing until deadline day when I have to let go.
It was a long one! I’d been submitting to agents for years, but after I got my agent (Madeleine Milburn) everything happened fairly quickly. I was initially published by HarperCollins, and for the last two books I’ve been with the wonderful Bookouture, who’ve had some amazing successes recently.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Like the Nike slogan, just do it! If you really want to write then you’ll make the time. I find it surprisingly easy to sacrifice things like housework and exercise, and do some writing instead! My other advice would be to keep trying – there are so many more options now than just the traditional publishing route, meaning lots more opportunities for writers.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m actually doing something a little bit different at the moment and am working on a screenplay. The film rights to my novel, The Naughty Girls’ Book Club, have been optioned by Swiss production company Catpics, and incredibly they’ve asked me to be involved in writing the script. So that’s a whole new skill to learn, but I’m lucky enough to be guided through the whole process by Xavier Koller, who won an Oscar for his film Journey of Hope. It’s pretty unbelievable!