Grace has recently completed a trilogy of novels for teenage girls for G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The books are about Ronnie Ripperton, Fleur Swan and Claude Cassiera, a trio of minxish, pop-obsessed and boy-crazy friends who call themselves “Les Bambinos Dangereuses”, or LBD for short. LBD: IT’S A GIRL THING was published in 2003, followed by LBD: LIVE AND FABULOUS! in 2004. Grace’s new novel LBD: FRIENDS FOREVER is due for release in May 2006. Grace was born in 1973. She grew up in Carlisle, and read English Literature at the University of Stirling. She now lives with her husband in East London.
CHILDHOOD AMBITION?My ambition was to leave Carlisle (northern England) move to London and write for a living. So far, so good with that one. My other ambition was to marry John Taylor from Duran Duran, appear as the ‘glamorous romantic interest’ in one of their pop videos on the TV show ‘Top of The Pops’ on the BBC and then live in John’s beach view mansion in Mystique with lots of servants. That one has proven more difficult to achieve… in fact I ended up marrying a totally different bloke and living in East London and having to do my own laundry. You can’t have everything…
DESERT ISLAND BOOK?What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt is probably my favorite book of the last decade. It’s a tale about a group of artists in New York City spanning over 25 years. I’m so glad my friend Sophie made me read that book.
FAVOURITE CITY?London. I’ve been here ten years now and it feels like home. I’m never short of something to do here. Even just walking somewhere is fun as you’ll always notice a bar, shop, museum or park that you never saw before.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE?I have an office in my house which overlooks my garden. So if I’m stuck, I can always gaze out the window and watch the neighborhood’s numerous cats mooching about or I can daydream about what to plant next in the garden. Sometimes I go away to write, but I always miss home after a few nights alone with just a laptop.
FAVORITE FOOD?I cook a lot of Indian food at home, spicy things and yoghurty things and dishes with pilau rice. The British love Indian food. Or rather taking Indian recipes and giving them a British twist.
FAVORITE ITEM OF CLOTHING?I’ve got an excellent faux-fur Russian hat which always makes a statement when I wear it in Winter. I hope the statement isn’t ‘I do not own a mirror’.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?Writing 3 entire novels that I’m really proud of and can pick up and read now without cringing at any bits.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT?Being sat beside Jacqueline Wilson at a signing event when she had a brand new book out and I was unknown. She sold about 400 books and I sold 2 to a short-sighted person who was in the wrong line. Oh how I laughed on the way home.
SMARTEST THING YOU EVER DID?Didn’t listen to the careers advisor who told me I could be a ‘data-inputer’. Didn’t listen to the people who told me to stop having stupid lofty ambitions and accept that I would end up working at the local truck-stop. Realized that although I hated going to school and hated being told what to do, it was going to be the one way to escape and without some exam passes I’d never leave. Thank God.
GREATEST LOVE?My husband. Living with an author can’t be easy. We’re all mad.
When did you start writing?I wrote lots of depressing poetry and short stories when I was a sixth former, but only showed it to about two (extremely unfortunate) friends. My writing began properly at university. I wrote for fanzines and student newspapers, and entered lots of writing competitions. I tried to get as much experience as I could at college; I was terrified I’d have to get a proper job where I couldn’t wear pyjamas.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?I scribble down things I see and hear all of the time in messy notebooks, then I fiddle about later on, making them funnier, sadder or more revolting. One little idea can turn into pages of text once I sit down with a mug of coffee, I tend to go off on tangents. Many things that happen in my stories have ‘sort of’ happened to me or to people I know. Some characters are ‘sort of’ based on people I’ve met. (Actually, it’s advisable to be on your best behaviour around me, or you just might turn up in my next book as a school bully or toilet cleaner).
Can you give your top 3 tips to becoming a successful author1. Read lots, and write whenever you can. Get used NOW to showing people your work and figuring out how to get it published. There’s no point having a really great short story in a notebook, in a box, under your bed.
2. Friends, family and other spoilsports will probably, at some stage, pooh-pooh your fab plan to be an author. They may even be mean about your work. I find blowing a loud raspberry, then carrying on regardless is the only way forward.
3. Don’t be shy to put a lot of yourself; your own sadness, humour and opinions, into your writing. If people wanted to read stiff, straightforward text, gaining no sense of the author’s personality, they’d read a chemistry text book.
Favourite memoryProbably, one of the New Years Eve’s spent at the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester. Or when I was told that Puffin wanted me to write more than one book for them. I was shocked they wanted the first.
Favourite place in the world and why? Back home visiting my family in Carlisle, lying on the couch with a plate of food and the remote control… for the first forty minutes until we all start rowing with each other.
What are your hobbies?I don’t have any hobbies, maybe I should get one. I go to the gym, but not because I enjoy doing so. Sitting writing all day gives you a bum the size of a trunk freezer.
If you hadn’t been a writer what do you think you would have been?I’d have carried on being a journalist. Deep down, I regret a bit that I didn’t become a tour manager for rock bands. I like organising people. I know that with the right clipboard and loud hailer, I could have got Robbie Williams to all of his tour dates on time.