I am delighted to welcome debut author Sophie Cousens to my blog, today. Sophie published her first novel, How to Get Ahead in Television, on the 3rd September after winning Corvus and LoveReading’s #LoveAtFirstWrite competition. How to Get Ahead in Television is a corker of a debut which is set in the completely crazy world of TV broadcasting. I loved this novel – it is one of those genuinely laugh-out-loud books with great characters and a brilliant storyline. My full review will be published later today and for now it’s over to Sophie…
Hi Sophie, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! I’m thrilled to have you on the site, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Hello and thank you for having me on your blog! Well, I’m Sophie and I have just released my debut novel, How To Get Ahead in Television. When I’m not writing I’m a TV producer (hence the subject of my book!) I’ve worked on shows like The Graham Norton Show, Russell Howard’s Good News, Ant & Dec and Big Brother. When I’m not at work, I can probably be found scouring Netflix, baking cakes, or musing on when I will be able to own a miniature dachshund.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, How to Get Ahead in Television (released 3rd September with Corvus)?
It’s a romantic comedy about a girl called Poppy who is desperate to work in TV. She finally gets her big break as a runner at one of the UK’s top production companies – RealiTV, but finds herself up against stiff competition in the form of fellow runner Rhidian – immensely confident and infuriatingly good looking…
The book is about Poppy’s experiences of moving to London and trying to be a grown up, her tumultuous love life and the crazy, mad world of TV production. If you’ve ever had a first job, fancied someone at work, or you simply want to know how TV works behind the scenes, then this is the book for you.
After working in television for twelve years what made you decide to try your hand at writing fiction? Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?
I have always wanted to write, and in my day-to-day life I am always filing away various book ideas in a section of my brain called ‘books I should write’. Unfortunately this section of my brain is very badly organised with a rather outmoded filing system so the ideas usually get lost as soon as they’re put there, but sometimes one manages to hang on long enough for me to put pen to paper. When Corvus’ Love at First Write competition came along it felt like the perfect time to dust off one of those ideas and attempt to turn it into a fully-fledged novel.
Are any parts of the novel based on any real life experiences that you’ve had working in television?
Er, unfortunately yes. I took inspiration from the shows I have worked on, and the eclectic characters I have worked with. Poppy’s experiences working on shows such as Last Clan Standing (where she has to deal with a drunk celebrity guest) or the daytime TV show Les and Kel (coping with diva celebrity strops) are exactly the kind of day to day dramas that happen behind the scenes of TV. There are a few incidents in the book that did actually happen to me, pretty much as they happened to Poppy… like a certain grande dame of television asking me to stop the car because she wasn’t confident in my driving ability – whoops!
Are any of the characters based on anyone in real life or are they entirely fictional?
Ha ha, well Poppy is certainly a bit like me at twenty-two, though perhaps a little bit clumsier and a touch more naïve. Poppy’s colleagues at RealiTV are a combination of people I have worked with in the past and as for the celebrities, well that would be telling… but put it this way, a few of the names are not that well disguised.
How does it feel to have your debut novel released into the big, wide world?
Amazing! It was so exciting to see the first reader reviews come through on Lovereading.co.uk. Until it went live I’d only had a few friends and the lovely people at Corvus read the book, so to suddenly have reviews from real readers was very exciting, especially as all the feedback has been so nice. However, I am now having to stop myself from obsessively checking the Amazon reviews page!
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
My journey to publication has been all down to winning the Love at First Write competition run by Corvus and Lovereading.co.uk. I wrote the first few chapters of the book plus a summary of the plot to enter the competition, then after winning I had the daunting task of finishing a first draft in a relatively short amount of time. Winning the competition was fantastic as I got a great deal of support from my editor at Corvus. I think when you are writing alone it can sometimes be hard to see the wood for the trees in terms of what’s important to the story, or which characters might not be adding anything. It was great to have an experienced editor give honest feedback on what could be improved. Once the second draft was done, we then had a couple of proof reads, then the excitement of finally going on sale at the start of September.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers out there?
I would definitely recommend entering any competitions you can. Even if you don’t win, just preparing your entry can give you the impetus you need to get an idea off the ground. If you do win you’ll have all that support to help you get your writing to the next level. My other tips would be – de-plug from social media, stop seeing the biscuit tin as a source of inspiration and stop experimenting with fonts as a form of procrastination (so far I have failed on all of the above).
Which types of books do you like reading and who would you class as your favourite authors?
I love Sophie Kinsella’s books – her characters are so funny and loveable. Caitlin Moran, Tina Fey and Lena Dunham are also firm favourites, as well as quirkier authors such as Jasper Fforde. I’m part of a reading club that send me a randomly selected book each month and through this I’ve enjoyed finding authors I might never have otherwise discovered. Most recently I have loved ‘All the Light We Can Not See’ and ‘We are Completely Besides Ourselves.’
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I am attempting to write a book about dating in London in your twenties, but it is taking me a little longer than I had hoped. I think this is down to the fact that the main thing I am working on at the moment is growing a person (I am seven months pregnant!) and the baby is stealing all the words from my brain before I have a chance to think them – I think this is more commonly known as ‘baby brain’. I also have plenty of ideas for a Poppy sequel, if there is demand for one!
A huge thank you to Sophie (I hope you get your Miniature Dachshund soon!) and Alison at Corvus. ♥
Click here to get hold of your copy of How to Get Ahead in Television published on the 3rd September with Corvus.
♥Sophie Cousens♥ | Twitter | Goodreads |