10 May 2010

Interview: ILANA FOX + WIN a copy of SPOTLIGHT or MIA!

I absolutely loved both of Ilana Fox's novels - her smashing debut THE MAKING OF MIA and her recent bestseller SPOTLIGHT (my review here) so I was thrilled when she not only agreed to be interviewed here, but also provided some fabulous answers, yay!

Furtheremore, those of you who are not familiar with her books yet will also get a chance to WIN either of her novels so scroll down for more info on the giveaway!

Enough rambling for now - let's move on to Ilana's answers! :)

* How would you describe your two novels in five words (per novel)?
THE MAKING OF MIA: Ultimate makeover and revenge story.
SPOTLIGHT: When being famous goes wrong.

* How did you come up with the idea for Spotlight? Were you inspired by any real life events or people? Beau is rather reminiscent of Simon Cowell, methinks ... ;)
I'm really interested in how you can be a celebrity without having any special talent ... and how 'celebs' are turning more and more into brands. Take, for example the Sugababes. Their brand is exactly the same as it's ever been, but the three original members have left and have been replaced. Yet they're still the Sugababes! When Britney Spears had her very public breakdown people weren't just concerned for her, they were concerned about her image, too, and it's becoming less and less about the person and more what brand values they project. I'd love to say Simon Cowell didn't influence Beau at all, but I'd be lying. Simon Cowell is a genius and an expert in building pop brands - but that's where the similarities lie. I doubt very much Cowell would be as ruthless as Beau Silverman ... although they both do have hairy chests and dark hair.

* What kind of reasearch did you have to do? How did you get all the behind the scenes info on reality TV, the lives of the rich & the famous and (most importantly) strippers? ;)
I'm really lucky that most of my friends work in the media, and know famous people. I've interviewed a lot of celebrities, and the good ones are expert in turning their brand on and off - when they're on they're incredibly professional, but when they're off they're just like you and I ... only perhaps more insecure and needy. Their careers are based on wanting to be loved, and they live in fear of not being adored any more, especially if their career is all they have. I couldn't live like that! When I was writing the stripper scenes I asked around, and one of my friends had gone undercover at a strip joint for a national newspaper. She filled me in on how the business worked, and I used the Britney Spears 'Gimme More' video for a setting. I know some girls think it's cool to go to strip clubs so they can pretend to be one of the lads, but they're not for me. I don't have a problem with girls making money that way if they want to, but it can be so dangerous and exploitative.

* Being a Brit, was it challenging for you to write a novel set mostly in the US, or is that like a second home to you?
It's actually a second home for me, as I'm half American! I was born in England but my mother's American, so I've been to America more times than I can count! When I was writing the novel I went to Oklahoma, Boston and Chicago for work, so I set some of the book there. I also love love love Manhattan, so it was a treat to be able to set a lot of Spotlight there. Unfortunately I've not been to California yet, but so many TV shows are set there you get the gist of what it's all about. It's somewhere I definitely want to go.

* How long did it take to write the book and were there any particular scenes you were struggling with? On the flipside, what scene was your favourite to write?
THE MAKING OF MIA took nine months to write (on top of working full time at The Daily Mail), so I naively assumed SPOTLIGHT would take the same. The reality is it took eighteen months - mainly because I had so much going on in my personal life. 2009 was definitely the worst year of my life - although there were some amazing highs, too - and it took a lot of determination to finish SPOTLIGHT. I look at it and I think, yeah, I had a shitty time, but I also managed to write this book and I'm really proud of it. So it wasn't all bad!
I don't think I particularly struggled with any scene, although I'm sure there were times when I would look blankly at my manuscript and wonder what on earth was going on. I remember getting about halfway through and feeling a bit lost, but if I feel that way I know my characters have veered off track a little, so it's about pin-pointing where it starts to go wrong and changing it. When I was writing a bit near the end where Beau's about to get his comeuppance it went really wrong as one of the characters said 'we're going to do this to get back at you!' and Beau simply shrugs it off. I didn't expect that - but then, Beau is really wily.
In terms of my favourite scene, well, the last scene of a book is always my favourite to write as I sob my eyes out. Honestly. I know it's ridiculous, but when you finish writing a book it's like saying goodbye to a whole amazing world filled with people you know intimately, and there's a massive release. My boyfriend came home from work just as I finished SPOTLIGHT and couldn't work out why I was sniveling at my screen. He thought I was quite mad.

* How did the gorgeous cover come about? Would you happen to have any stories to share about it?
I wish there was an amazing story to tell about this, but there isn't! The paperback cover of THE MAKING OF MIA is gorgeous, and I think Orion wanted to have something quite similar. When I saw it I was shocked at how pink it is! I'm not a particularly girlie girl, or very 'pink', but I love the cover. I'd definitely pick it up if I was in a shop. Literally, tens and tens of people have asked me if those are my legs on the cover. They're not! Maybe I'll audition my legs for NO PRINCE CHARMING.

* Did you do anything special on the Spotlight launch date? Was there a party?
I had a massive champagne-fuelled launch party for THE MAKING OF MIA, and even though it was utterly amazing, I wanted to keep the SPOTLIGHT launch a bit more low key. The problem with huge parties is you try to speak to everyone and end up speaking to nobody. So this time round I had a dinner at my favourite restaurant - Roast, in Borough Market in London - for 15 of my best friends and family. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we drank champagne and my favourite wine, and had the best food and service ever. I always go to Roast for special occasions, and the team there made it really magical for me. I can't thank them enough.
And to celebrate on the day itself - a Thursday - I went out and bought a car. On impulse. I got a beat-up, green VW Golf Convertable, and I love it. I've not driven in about nine years though so I'm having a couple of lessons to remind me how to park and reverse. I can drive without a problem, it's just the parallel parking bit that gets me every time!

* The rumour has it that you've recently quit ASOS to become a full-time writer - how has your life been ever since?
Yes, it's true! I was at ASOS for over a year, and I set up all their social media activity, but it was all getting a bit too much. My job at ASOS was really full-on, and I realised that if I stayed there while I wrote NO PRINCE CHARMING I wouldn't be able to give as much as I could to either. I miss working in an office, and I especially miss working in newspapers, but I love working for myself. I do a bit of social media consulting to get me out of the house and for pocket money, but it really feels like I'm living the dream. I feel very lucky.

* Amazon tells me that we'll have to wait for nearly two years for your next novel, No Prince Charming. Why so long? And can you tell us what it's about?
I think Orion are just being cautious, and I'm hoping it will be out Spring 2011 - we'll see how it goes! I'm writing it at the moment and I hope to have the first draft finished in a couple of months. It's so exciting! It's about a girl named Ella who has settled for what seems like the perfect life, but it isn't really. Then she falls in love, and it all falls to pieces. I'm not going to tell you any more as it's still early days, but I'm very very very excited about this book. I have quite a few plans and tricks up my sleeve. It's really good fun, and I'm talking to a lot of people (some quite famous) about things to make sure it's authentic. Would love to tell you more, but you'll just have to wait and see!
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Thanks so much for your fabulous answers, Ilana! I cannot wait to get my hands on No Prince Charming!
Don't forget to visit Ilana's website and follow her on Twitter.
Visit Amazon or Book Depository to purchase her books.
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Lastly, it's GIVEAWAY time!

I have
one (1) copy of THE MAKING OF MIA
and
two (2) copies of SPOTLIGHT
up for grabs
so there will be three winners in total.


Here are the rules:
  • fill in THIS FORM to be entered
  • you don't have to be a follower to enter
  • see the form for how to get extra entries
  • ends May 15 at midnight UK time
  • open to UK only this time, sorry.
Feel free to comment below and at least let me know which book you'd prefer to win, but in order for your entries to be counted, you must fill out this form. This is the first time I've used Google Docs so I hope I'm doing it right, heh?!

4 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Coool contest :)
(not an entry)

Tina said...

Nice contest. I just entered. I couldn't figure out how to get a link to my profile to prove I'm a follower. But I am a follower, I swear :)

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

I believe you, Tina - plus I can see it here: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09041107525187001284 ;) Thanks for entering! :)

Emidy said...

Great interview! I'd love to read Ilana's books. Unfortunately I'm not a UK resident, but it's nice of you to host this giveway all the same!

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