GC: While the novel is fiction, I have to admit I did take some inspiration from a few events that either happened to me or that I heard about during my 10+ years in the magazine industry. The start of the novel mirrors my experience quite closely but then as the story advances, it becomes pure fiction.
GC: Some characters are purely fictional, while others were loosely based on people close to me. None of them are an exact replica though – it’s not an autobiography by any means!
GC: Given it’s a chick-lit novel, I wrote it purely for entertainment purposes. It’s the perfect plane read or lazing-on-the-beach book, but I hope it also helps anyone who is interested in magazines to get an understanding of what can go on behind those glossy pages.
GC: Nothing goes smoothly all the time, whether you’re a magazine journalist, an accountant or a rocket scientist. Being fiction, some of Nina’s experiences are exaggerated to make them more dramatic while others are true to life. Having said that, there is one particular story arc involving a certain celebrity and her publicist that did actually happen to me a few years ago, so I’ll leave you guys to try to guess who it is!
GC: I can’t speak for everyone in the magazine industry, but I think people would be surprised at how nice and normal 99.9 per cent of the women who work in the industry are. Of course there are times when not everyone gets along but you can say that for any office. I’ve developed amazing friendships with colleagues at every magazine I’ve worked for which have continued well after we’ve all moved on. And remember, every story needs a villain (or two), so I wouldn’t read too much into Lizzie and Romy’s antics!
GC: Yes, to a certain extent. I was lucky enough to score a three-month unpaid internship at an internationally renowned magazine then moved into a paid editorial assistant role with the help of a contact I’d made during the internship – however, unlike Nina, I didn’t leave that role after just three weeks! I also didn’t climb the ladder quite so quickly as Nina, but that’s probably a good thing!
GC: As I was editing CLEO at the same time as writing the book, I had to be strict about setting aside time to write – that meant chaining myself to my laptop for one day every weekend. There were days when it was the last thing I felt like doing after having a stressful week, but a book doesn’t write itself! I started off writing it on the couch, then moved to the dining table, but found I was still getting too distracted (oh look, there’s some washing that needs to be taken off the clothes line…!) so I ended up sitting at a desk in the corner of my bedroom facing a wall! I would write anything from 1,000 to 3,000 words at a time – it just depended on where I was at in the storyline, how tired I was and how easily the words were flowing on that particular day.
GC: I actually submitted the manuscript without a title because I couldn’t think of one I liked! Then my publisher and I threw around a couple of suggestions, but she wasn’t really happy with any of them. I’d jotted down Be Careful What You Wish For in the notes I kept while writing the novel but I wasn’t sold on it – ideally I wanted something clever like The Devil Wears Prada, but I couldn’t think of anything! So eventually I bit the bullet and suggested Be Careful What You Wish For, thinking my publisher wouldn’t rate it but she immediately loved it – she said it felt intriguing, so that’s what we went for. Intriguing is good, right?!
GC: There’s been so many – actually seeing the book on shelves was a big one, as it was originally due to be released in January after I’d moved to London so for a while there, I wasn’t going to see it on shelves at all! But then my publisher decided to bring the release date forward, so the first time I saw it was at the international terminal of Sydney airport while waiting for my flight. That was topped off an hour later by spotting someone buying it while I was sitting at the gate waiting to board! I’d convinced myself that only my friends and family would buy it, so I was pretty happy! Other than that, I’ve really appreciated the readers who have tweeted me saying how much they loved it. Oh, and getting great sales figures hasn’t been terrible either!
GC: Just between you and me (and Frangipani Princess readers!), I’m actually in talks with Allen & Unwin right now about a potential sequel, so watch this space!
GC: There are loads of wannabe writers out there – what will set you apart is developing your own tone. Think about the writers you like and why you like them – chances are, it’s because they have a distinct ‘voice’. That’s what keeps people coming back for more, so it’s an important character to work on.