Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.
Jill Mansell’s books have sold over three million copies and her titles include: Rumour Has It, An Offer You Can’t Refuse, Making your Mind up, Fast Friends, Good at Games, Sheer Mischief and Solo, among many others.
Dolls: This week our Passport takes us to England, your books are set in Bath, London, Bristol cities, the countryside and in small villages everywhere in between – do you prefer the city setting or the countryside?
JM: I like to vary it from book to book to keep things interesting, but I did grow up in a small Cotswold village so those secretly are my favourite settings.
Dolls: What makes the English village such a perfect setting for books?
JM: It’s just the fact that everyone knows everyone else and gossip abounds. It’s harder to keep a secret under those circumstances, which makes it that much more fun to write about. In cities, people can live next door to their neighbours for years and never even get to know them.
Dolls: Why did you choose the Chick Lit genre?
JM: When I first began to write, my role models were the super-successful Harlequin romance writers and I had several attempts at writing straight romance. Sadly the publishers complained that my submissions contained too much humour and asked me to cut it out. I discovered I couldn’t! So in the end I decided to write the kind of book I would most enjoy reading myself, and discovered that romantic comedy was my natural metier.
Dolls: Are your characters based in some way, on people you know?
JM: I’ll steal aspects of people’s looks or personalities or snippets of things they’ve got up to, but it would be horrible to base a fictional character entirely on a real person – it would mean I was no longer in control of that character in the story!
Dolls: In your opinion, what makes a love story “work”?
JM: It’s vital that the reader likes the characters, empathises with them and cares what happens to them. If you have no interest in how the story ends, you won’t keep turning the pages. And there has to be a real spark between the main characters. Chemistry has to exist!
Dolls: When you’re stuck with a plot – what helps you work through the problems? how do you keep the plot going?
JM: I’m not a great forward planner, so sometimes I do find myself getting stuck. If all else fails, I introduce a zingy new character to stir things up and galvanise the story back to life.
Dolls: Do you have any favorite characters from your books? Any you wish you had killed off?
JM: I have lots of favourite characters and if I wanted them killed off, I’d do it! I have done it several times and my readers sometimes get cross. There’s one in Miranda’s Big Mistake that they still keep telling me off about, because he was so lovely. A particular favourite in Take a Chance on Me is Ash, the brilliant radio DJ who can chat away on the radio but is overcome with shyness when he meets girls he likes in real life!
*Doll interference* I love Ash too! And all his efforts to arrange a romantic date without making it seem romantic…adorable – go out and get the book!!!
*Doll interference over*
Dolls: Have you ever considered writing a different genre, if so which?
JM: I’ve never considered it. I love my writing style and wouldn’t want to change it even if I could.
Dolls: Something uniquely “English” you wish to share with the world?
JM: Just my sense of humour, really! And maybe a nice cup of tea…
JM: Take a Chance on Me is about a girl who works as a chauffeur and drives fabulous limos. It’s also about a sculptor who creates incredible larger than life size wire sculptures of horses. At school he teased her dreadfully and now, years later, he’s moved back to the village she still lives in…there’s lots of comedy, lots of drama and plenty of shenanigans going on!
Well, now on to the ever enjoyable – Paperback Proust!
Dolls: What are your favorite qualities in a man?
JM: A wicked sense of humour
Dolls: The quality you desire in a man?
JM: To be able to make me laugh. And to have beautiful eyes. And be George Clooney.
Dolls: What is your favorite quality in a woman?
JM: The ability to make fun of herself.
Dolls: Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
JM: Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. Rupert Campbell Black in Jilly Cooper’s Rivals.
Dolls: Who are your favorite heroines in fiction?
JM: I grew up loving Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Dolls: What characters in history do you most dislike?
JM: All the obvious ones.
JM: The members of SOE who were parachuted into occupied France during WW2 and worked with the French Resistance.
Dolls: What is your present state of mind?
Dolls: For what fault have you most toleration?
JM: I don’t know, but I’m very intolerant when people sniff a lot or eat noisily!
Dolls: What is your greatest regret?
JM: I really wish I had a good singing voice. I sound like a tortured cat.
Dolls: When and where were you happiest?
JM: Gosh, anywhere really. As long as the company is good.
Dolls: Which talent would you most like to have?
JM: To write music. And the ability to hula-hoop.
Dolls: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
JM: Cheering people up.
~*~Win a copy of ‘Take a Chance on Me’~*~
Jill’s publisher has very kindly shared one shiny new copy of ‘Take a Chance on Me’ to share with our followers, so – follow Paperback Dolls, and leave a comment about your high school experiences – were you teased? Did you get your chance at payback?
Giveaway winner will be announced on November 7th