Paige Toon grew up in Australia, America and England – thanks to her much-travelled Le Mans winner dad, Vern Schuppan. For eight years, Paige worked at “heat” Magazine as Reviews Editor. Her first book “Lucy in the Sky” was published in 2007 and her latest book “One Perfect Summer” was has just been released. Paige is married and has a son and daughter. She lives in Cambridge.
- Your latest book “One Perfect Summer” is released in May. What is the book about?
First love and the one that got away. Alice is 18 when she meets and falls hopelessly in love with Joe during one blissful summer in Dorset. But something terrible happens at the end of her holiday and they’re dramatically torn apart. She goes off to university in Cambridge and picks up the pieces of her broken heart, before one day meeting a gorgeous, gifted student called Lukas. Years later, Joe comes back into Alice’s life in a way that she never could have imagined, but surely there’s no going back, now?
- To the readers of the website, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I can remember. After university and a year out traveling in America and Australia, I came back to the UK and got some work experience at a small film magazine. The editor remembered me when a permanent job came up at another magazine (teenage title “Big!”) and I got the job of editorial assistant. From there came “heat” magazine and eventually Reviews Editor, where I used to edit the entertainment pages, including books. Early on at “Big”, I remember a colleague asking me what I ultimately wanted to do, and I said write books. She said, ‘that is such a journalist cliché, everyone wants to write books.’ She didn’t mean it nastily, but from then on, I stopped talking about it, and as the years went on I began to think it might never happen – I would feature all these books on the reviews pages, and could never believe that I would be able to do what those authors did. I had an idea for a book, but couldn’t imagine how I’d fill out the pages and take the story, not just from A to Z, but from A, B, C, etc, etc to over 100,000 words. Then one day I just started to write it – I only got about a page in, but the idea had formed, and when publicist Nigel Stoneman, from Simon & Schuster, took me out for lunch one day to discuss upcoming titles, he said: ‘You should write a book,’ and I told him the idea. He loved it, and five minutes after getting back to the heat office, there was an email from him saying he’d told his publishing director, Suzanne Baboneau (now my editor) and she wanted to meet me the following week. That weekend I wrote the synopsis and the first three chapters, and my brother came up with the title “Lucy in the Sky”. Two days after our meeting, I was offered a two-book deal. I wrote Lucy in the Sky in two and a half months with a full-time job – and it really did write itself; I loved every minute of it. We published four months later and the momentum carried right through. I’ve written a book a year ever since.
- What part of the writing process, do you find the most difficult?
There is always a point in the story, somewhere, that I struggle with. Usually it’s because I haven’t been to the place where that particular part of the plot is set. I find it so much easier to write when I’ve researched places in person, rather than on the internet. That takes up so much time – time that I don’t have when I only have an hour or two a day to write during baby nap times!!
- Of all the books that you have read which one would you have liked to have said “I wrote that”?
I’m going to stay true to my chick-lit roots and say “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, by Helen Fielding. But Marian Keyes is my ultimate chick-lit hero, and I LOVE Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.
- Of all the books that you have written, which one did you find the most enjoyable and what was it about the book that made it so enjoyable?
I loved writing “Lucy in the Sky” – that’s my No.1 book baby – and I have genuinely loved writing all of my books, but “One Perfect Summer” might even top Lucy. We moved to Cambridge at the point in the story that Alice moves here, and I really felt like I was walking in her shoes, living and breathing her story (without the hot men, apart from my husband, of course…)
- How do you feel about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you feel it is an exciting time for authors?
I keep hearing people say book sales are down, which is a little depressing! I’m lucky I have such devoted and passionate readers!
- I always thought the opening line to “The Lovely Bones” was quite memorable, are there opening lines to books that stuck out to you?
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head – I remember being drawn into Marian Keyes’ “Watermelon” very quickly, when her cheating husband leaves her on the day she gives birth to her baby.
- Many book lovers have a hard time accepting(?) screen adaptations of classic and popular stories. What film has been your favourite book to screen to adaptation? If any?
I’m definitely at the risk of repeating myself, here, but I loved “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and also “Twilight”. I remember seeing BJD ages after reading the book and thinking how true to the novel it was. When I re-read the book I realised that quite a lot of it had been changed, yet it had still managed to capture the essence of the original. That’s a good screen adaptation in my eyes.
- All your books covers have been quite eye-catching over the years. Do you find that you judge a book by its cover?
Yes! And, in my experience, I’ve found that it’s usually a pretty good indication of what the book will be like. If you don’t like chick-lit, don’t buy a pink, pastel-coloured book! If you don’t like crime, steer clear of black, etc etc. Publishers are very careful these days to make sure the cover reflects what’s inside, and so it should. You don’t want to disappoint people by making them think it’s something it’s not.
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Journalism is a good way of getting into publishing. You could always try to do work experience for a local paper as a stepping stone. With the current market being the way it is, you’ll need a strong hook to get publishers interested. Think about that opening line or first page. “Lucy in the Sky” grabbed my publisher’s attention because it’s about a girl who goes on a 24-hour flight to Australia and, as she’s switching off her mobile before take-off, she discovers a text from her boyfriend’s phone which says: ‘I have slept with your boyfriend four times in the last month’ – my publisher was intrigued.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
Baby monitor, so I can hear if my little girl wakes up!
- And finally Paige, do you have any new projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
I’ve just started writing my seventh book – more news on that soon – and I’m also working on the film script for “Chasing Daisy”. Fingers crossed it will make it to the big screen!