Who is Jill Mansell?
With 27 best-selling novels, Jill Mansell has become a household name especially for anyone that enjoys a romantic comedy alongside the likes of Sophie Kinsella (also known as Madeleine Wickham), Helen Fielding and Katie Fforde.
Breaking into the ‘chick-lit‘ world is no easy achievement but Jill has not only succeeded she has become one of the genres best-known authors, and in doing so has become one of Britain’s top female writers of the 21st century.
Our Interview with Jill Mansell
Jill, you are now a very successful author, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
Well, I’d been working in a neurological hospital for many years and one day I picked up a magazine in the waiting room and read an article about four women who’d transformed their lives by becoming bestselling novelists. That was the life-changing moment for me – I decided to give it a go myself, and joined a local evening class in creative writing. And everything that happened stemmed from there. (So scary to think I could have picked up a different magazine that day! What if I’d read an article about worm-farming instead?)
With 27 novels now published, how do you find the inspiration for new storylines?
I’ve become something of a scavenger! After so many books it does become more difficult to think up new storylines, so any good ideas are always welcome. I scour the Internet, eavesdrop on public transport and especially love taking inspiration from problem pages in magazines. Is it bad to do that? Sorry!
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be a successful author?
Oh crikey, no idea! Having spoken to lots of writers over the years, all I know is that we all have our own ways of working and whatever does the trick is fine by us. We’re all different and we have different methods but somehow at the end of it we manage to produce books that people like to read. Basically, there’s no magic answer – apart from enjoy yourself and don’t give up after the first rejection. Writing, especially when you’re just starting out, should be fun.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like writing the first fifty pages and the last fifty pages of each book. The five hundred pages in between are the tricky ones.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Apart from those tricky five hundred pages? When I suddenly realise I’ve made a hideous mistake with my plot and it needs to be unravelled and corrected. No one else can do it, only me.
When working on a new book, what is the first thing that you do?
I think of a few starting-off ideas and mix them together until they make the beginnings of a plot. I decide on a setting for the book. Then I get out my books of Baby Names and come up with a cast of characters. The names all have to fit together nicely, so this can take a while. I use a beautiful new notebook for each book, and write details and ideas in each one. And then I start to write…
Which writers do you admire and can you name your favourite book?
I admire so many writers, it’s impossible to narrow it down, but when I first started out I was massively inspired by Jilly Cooper, so I shall say she’s the one who inadvertently transformed my life. (And of all hers, Rivals was my favourite).
If you were to start your writing career again, is there anything you would do differently?
Not a thing. It’s all been lovely. Oh, although maybe next time I wouldn’t hand over the only copy of my first ever novel to someone who offered to type it up for me. I never got it back.
What are your plans for the future?
To never run out of ideas for new books!
We would like to thank Jill for taking part in an interview with us. It has been a fantastic way to find out more about the author behind so many popular British novels. Her latest book, You And Me, Always is out now and, take it from us, is well worth a read. (Read our full review here).
Do you have a favourite Jill Mansell novel? Perhaps you have discovered a new Chick-lit author that you would like to share with us.