Alexandra Potter was born in Bradford, Yorkshire. She has lived in Los Angeles and Australia where she worked on Vogue and Cleo. She has also worked as a features writer and sub-editor for women’s glossies in the UK including Elle, More! OK! and Vogue. She now writes full-time and lives in Notting Hill, London.
Her first book “What’s New, Pussycat?” was published in 2000 and her latest book “Don’t You Forget About Me” is her ninth book.
- Your latest book “Don’t You Forget About Me” is a story for every girl, who has loved, lost and dreamt of getting her man back. What inspired you to write this type of story
From personal experience! It was New Year’s Eve 2009. I was at a party, drinking champagne, and feeling pretty miserable. I’d recently broken up with my boyfriend and was nursing a broken a heart. All my friends were telling me to move on but I couldn’t forget about him.
As midnight approached everyone at the party was given a pen and paper and told to write a list of all the things we wanted to leave behind us in the old year and not carry into the new year. The superstition being that if you throw it into the fire, all those things on the list will be erased; be it bad habits, money worries or whatever. On the flipside, anything that you do wish for will be taken into the new year on the sparks from the flames.
Immediately I scribbled down all my feelings for my boyfriend. All the heartache, sadness and regret, and as I threw it into the fire and watched it catch light I couldn’t help wishing I’d never met him.
And I suddenly thought, ‘wow, imagine if that really came true? If I really had never met him.’
It was the spark of an idea, and one that became my new book. Because this is exactly what happens to my character, Tess. Drunk and upset on New Year’s Eve she wishes she’d never met her ex-boyfriend. But when she wakes up to discover this dream has come true, she realises she has a chance. To do it all over again. And to get it right this time…
- To the readers of the website, that may not be familiar with you or your writing. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
I write what I call ‘high concept’ romantic comedies.That is books that usually involve something a little extra from just a straight romantic comedly, something like a magical twist, or historical legend, or a question that asks you ‘What if?’ I graduated from university with a degree in English Literature and my amibition was to work on magazines. I did this for a few years and wrote features for lots of the women’s glossies, before I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. I had my first novel published in 2000 and to date I’ve written nine novels, and I’m currently writing on the tenth.
- When you were growing up, what did you aspire to be?
I always wanted to a writer. I had a very vivid imagination and I would spend hours as a child writing stories, I even wrote a couple of ‘novels’! Well, they were only about 30 pages long, but that’s pretty impressive for a nine year old! Other than that I always loved drawing, so I would have loved to have been artist.
- What was the first story you ever wrote?
Well it’s funny you should mention that, but I was recently clearing out the loft at my parent’s house and I came across the books I wrote as a child. One of them was called ‘The Tenth Step’ and was about a staircase with a magical ‘tenth step’ that would grant you any wish. I wrote it was nine years old. How funny, that I was writing magical romantic comedies even then!
- What authors do you admire?
I absolutely adored Nora Ephron and was very saddened to hear about her recent death. She was a brilliantly funny writer with a knack for those small observations in life that have you nodding your head and saying ‘Yep, I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about!’
- What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy coming up with the idea for the book, and the first few months which are spent plotting it out, creating the characters, the twists, the ‘clues’ as it were, and all the back stories that make a good romantic comedy. I also enjoying the editing process at the end, doing all the fine tuning and little tweaks. The actual writing of the novel I have to say I find very very hard. I seem to spend the whole time in a state of mild panic and fear that this is going to be simply rubbish and no-one will ever want to read it. This goes on right until I get to about the last quarter of the book when the characters seem to write themselves, the plot just moves seamlessly ahead and I start to think ‘oh, this is good’ and have a great time happily careering towards ‘The End.’
- Many book lovers have a hard time excepting screen adaptations of classic and popular stories. What film has been your favourite book to screen to adaptation? If any?
My book ‘You’re The One That I Don’t Want’ is currently being adapted into a screenplay as I sold the movie rights last year. However, I have been very lucky, as a very good screenwriter friend of mine in LA has been hired to write the screenplay, so I know I’m in very safe hands.
As for which film has been my favourite book to screen adaptation…. hmm, that’s actually very hard, as most of them have been pretty dreadful. In fact, I can’t think of one! Let’s hope the film of my book changes all that!
- What has been the highlight of your writing career?
There have been so many! The publication of my very first book, ‘What’s New, Pussycat?’ was a huge achievement. It was a dream come true for me, and it was wonderful to share this with all my friends and family. I had a fabulous book launch at a large book store on Oxford Street, and we drank champagne and I signed lots of book and floated home on cloud nine.
I was also really thrilled to win the 2007 Jane Austen Best New Fiction Award at a ceremony in Bath. Both my parents joined me and I have very happy memories of that evening.
Fingers crossed, the next big highlight will be walking down the red carpet at the premiere of ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’!
- Here on the HandwrittenGirl website, I would like to be able to offer
potential writers like myself advice. Are there any areas you would suggest
a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Writing is very very hard, and I think it’s important for published authors such as myself, to stand up and say “I find it hard too!!” If it was easy everyone would be publishing books left, right and centre. From my personal experience, you have to have masses of determination. A book takes me 18 months, from the idea to handing in the finished manuscript. I have to keep the enthusiasm and the energy going for my characters and story, even when I’ve had writer’s block for weeks and I can’t get a difficult scene to work, or the plot isn’t working out, or an idea isn’t working. You can’t give up. You have to believe in yourself and just keep going.
- If you were put into the unfortunate position of being stranded on a desert island. What three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
Oooh, I love this question. It’s a big like Desert Island Discs, isn’t it? OK, well I’d take Nora Ephron’s, ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’, which is both funny and sad and has some great advice about life and living, Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ as it’s the mother of all chicklit and still just as funny all these years later, and finally I’d take a really good autobiography, like the one by Keith Richards which I’m still only a third of the way through!
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
Until recently I would have said my loyal companion, my ginger tomcat Barney. He was twenty years old when he died last year and I miss him every day when I’m writing. I’m trying to make myself feel better with flowers and scented candles on my desk, but it’s not the same as having a hairy ginger friend purring beside me.
- And finally Alexandra, do you have any new projects or releases on the
horizon, which you would like to share with the readers of the blog?
Well my new book, ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ is out in the UK on Thursday 19th July. Woop! Woop! So I’m very excited about that. And I’m also on chapter two of the new book which is hopefully going to be the first book in a new series I’m writing. As yet I don’t want to give too much away, but check out my Facebook page for further updates…
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