I have been lucky enough to quiz the amazing Sophie Hart, whose second novel, The Beginners Guide To The Birds And The Bees is released tomorrow, 19th September, by Bookouture. (Order your copy here) My review will be posted tomorrow but I don’t mind telling you now that this book is FANTASTIC and I adored The Naughty Girls Book Club so I was delighted to be able to interview Sophie. Here she talks about ‘chick lit with a saucy twist’, what it was like writing her second novel, and the recent erotica phenomenon…
Hello Sophie, a big, warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Hello, and thank you for asking me! What to say about myself… I’m in my thirties and live in London. My novel, The Naughty Girls Book Club, was published last year, and centred around a Bristol book club reading erotica novels – from Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Riders by Jilly Cooper. It was a fun look at the effect the recent erotica phenomenon has had on ordinary women (and men!), and was described as ‘chick lit with a saucy twist’, which sums it up perfectly.
Can you tell us a bit about in your latest book, The Beginner’s Guide to The Birds and The Bees? (Out 19th September)
Yes – it’s being published by Bookouture, who I’m very excited to be working with. The central character, Annie, is a sex therapist (and a huge fan of romance movies!) She’s great at solving everyone else’s relationship problems, but not so good at dealing with her own – despite her blossoming friendship with Jamie, the cute guy who works in the same building. We also see three couples who come to her to deal with various issues – from Zoe and Simon’s pre-marriage vow of celibacy to Julia’s obsession with getting pregnant – and the characters’ journeys as they rebuild their relationships and form new friendships.
I love the storyline of The Beginner’s Guide to The Birds and The Bees. What gave you the idea to make your lead character, Annie Hall, a sex therapist dealing with the problems of regular couple’s sex lives?
Thank you! I found that what readers really seemed to respond to in my first novel was the fact that a potentially graphic subject (erotica) had been made fun and cheeky and relatable, and I wanted something similar for my next book. The idea of sex therapy can sound a bit cringey, but I wanted to put the emphasis on the couples’ relationships, and hopefully make it entertaining and a little bit naughty at the same time.
How did you go about doing the relevant research for Annie’s job?
I didn’t go overboard with the research, as the book is supposed to be fun escapism, not a serious documentary, but I also didn’t want to include anything that obviously wouldn’t happen in therapy. The internet is such a useful research tool these days, so I read up about the subject and common issues in relationships. The website for Relate is really helpful for practical info. And then I also did some much lighter stuff like watching the film Couples Retreat!
The Beginner’s Guide to The Birds and The Bees is your second novel. How did you find writing your second book compared to The Naughty Girls Book Club? Was it easier or more difficult?
It was harder because there was expectation this time around! With the first book, no one knew what to expect, and it was amazing that there was such a positive reaction to it. I wanted readers to enjoy Beginner’s Guide as much as Naughty Girls, so that added a lot of pressure.
I am a huge fan of The Naughty Girls Book Club which was a massive success. Were you expecting the reaction that the novel received when it was released?
Thank you! No, I wasn’t expecting the reaction. Of course you really hope that readers will like what you’ve written, but people were so lovely and really took the book to heart. I was worried before publication that people wouldn’t ‘get’ it – or that they’d expect it be just like Fifty Shades, and be disappointed that it wasn’t – but the mix of chick-lit and naughtiness seemed to go down very well.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication and how you came to be working with the fabulous Bookouture?
My first book, The Naughty Girls Book Club, was published by Avon (HarperCollins) and that deal came about through my agent, Madeleine Milburn. For the next book, Avon and I ultimately couldn’t decide on a direction, but fortunately when Maddy showed my ideas to Oliver Rhodes at Bookouture, he liked them and signed me up!
Do you have a favourite character from any of your books?
That’s like asking me to choose between children! I like all of them in their own way, and they all have different qualities that appeal to me. Sometimes characters who I don’t think are going to be my favourite end up having a really sweet storyline and really endearing themselves to me – like Linda and Ray in Beginner’s Guide.
I really enjoy women’s fiction / chick lit / whatever you want to call it! I like authors with humour, such as Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding. I also enjoy the Richard and Judy book club type reads too, with the occasional psychological thriller – I was gripped reading Gone Girl, and can’t wait for the film.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m bouncing ideas around in my brain for my next novel at the moment! I know there’s going to be some link to The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees, but I’m not sure what form it will take yet. I’m sure there’ll be some familiar characters popping up, and some brand new ones too!
Thank you so much for participating in the interview, Sophie! I’m really grateful for you taking the time to answer my questions.
For more information on Bookouture click here