BCC: Hi Jane, so pleased to have you here today. Please tell us about your latest book, The Nearly Weds.
JC: The Nearly Weds follows the story of a jilted bride and what happens in the aftermath of her big day that never was. Zoe, the main protagonist, is understandably distraught and flees to the US to escape. There, she is employed as a nanny for the enigmatic, arrogant single dad Ryan and his children. Despite the fireworks with her boss, she finds love, friendship and fun in America – until, that is, her past comes calling and throws her world into disarray again.
BCC: What was the trigger that gave you the idea for this book?
JC: I’d been an au pair in Philadelphia after I left university so had plenty of material about looking after children in the US – albeit quite a long time ago! After a short break in Boston with my husband last year, I decided to write a book that was partly set there. That brought its own challenges, however; we think we know American culture over here because we see so much on TV. But I found writing the dialogue to be tricky – and had to enlist the help of three American friends to check over everything and make sure it sounded natural.
BCC: You have just finished writing your third novel, My Single Friend. Can you give us a sneak peak at what it’s about and when it will be released?
JC: I’m very excited about My Single Friend, which I believe is my best book to date. It’s out on April 1, 2010 and is about two flatmates, Lucy and Henry, who’ve been friends since primary school. Henry enlists Lucy’s help to embark on an image makeover – which she and her other friends Dominique and Erin approach with relish. He gets the full works: haircut and fashion overhaul, as well as master classes in flirting and seduction. But none of them imagine how successful it’ll be: after a shaky beginning, Henry’s transformation from Lucy’s terminally single friend to an irresistible sex god takes on a life of its own. Problem is, Lucy isn’t sure she likes it – so much so that she wonders if her own feelings for him were as platonic as she’d thought.
BCC: Was it a conscious decision to write ‘chick-lit’ or did it ‘choose you’?
JC: My writing style definitely chose me. I read all sorts of books, from historical fiction to classics, but when it comes to writing I’m firmly in this genre. A lot of the pleasure I get from writing comes from expressing my sense of humour and, as such, my books are very much a reflection of my personality.
BCC: Do you put yourself or things that have happened to you into your books/writing?
JC: Usually, things that happen in my books are entirely made up – the products of my over-active imagination. But very occasionally, I’ll see something that happens in real life and that will provide a grain of an idea for a scene in the book. This is particularly the case with the funny bits, which are often based on something that’s really happened. I’ll ratchet up the drama, of course, but just a touch – enough to bring out the humour.
BCC: Are their any authors or books that have influenced your writing?
JC: There are so many it’s impossible to list them all; and in many ways, every book I’ve ever read has helped shape me as a writer, from Jilly Cooper to Emily Bronte. In a purely practical sense though, I should give a mention to Celia Brayfield, whose book Bestseller genuinely helped me write my first novel, Bridesmaids. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of writing fiction.
BCC: Who are your favourite authors to read?
JC: There are so many! I’ve loved everyone from John Irving to Audrey Niffenegger, Sophie Kinsella to Lionel Shriver, Umberto Eco to Andrea Levy – so as you can see, my reading habits are impossible to pigeonhole! I’ve just started a book club with a group of friends, so I’m sure there’ll be many more to add to that list.
BCC: What are you reading at the moment?
JC: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – and loving it.
BCC: Now that you have finished your third book, what will you be working on next?
JC: Number four! I’m about a third of the way through the first draft and thoroughly enjoying it.
If you would like to know more about Jane Costello or her books, then visit her website: www.janecostello.com