Author Interview: Lucille Howe

When did you start writing?

I have diaries that I kept between the ages of 11-15 that should be buried in a time capsule for future civilizations. They are hilarious! The beauty of these diaries in that I am writing entirely for myself, and that’s something I haven’t done since. Professionally, I was first published in my last term at University in the since-defunct Premiere Film Magazine. It was a review of a biography of David Lynch and my dad framed it. I got paid £100, which was pretty generous for just 200 words, back in ’92. Since then, I’ve written for everyone from the Times to the Guardian newspaper, OK! to Marie Claire. I was Features Editor on Cosmo, Australia, and edited an in-flight magazine here in London for three years.

Tell us about your debut novel, Bondi Blonde.

The story goes like this: It's Christmas Eve and jobless Emily has just made the biggest impulse buy of her life... Arriving on Bondi Beach, pear shaped, lily-white and clutching a bottle of factor 30, she has two options: 1. Hide out in the Irish pubs 2. Get with the programme. We join Emily as she falls for Sam, the hot barista, and meets her nemesis in Kiki, the Japanese surf siren. Bondified, and bent on perfection, will Emily be saved from the surgeon's scalpel? Can she win Miss Bondi, and does love mean reading between the tan lines? Find out this summer. Bondi Blonde: When it pays to have skinny genes.

What inspired you to write Bondi Blonde?

Five years ago, you would have called me the luckiest lady in Lucky Land. I was living three cartwheels away from the edge of Bondi Beach, with a "right hottie" (quote, unquote) and writing all sorts of sordid nonsense for Cosmo magazine, Down Under, where I worked as their Features Editor. There was only one problem…I felt like I’d had a lobotomy. Starved of culture, good conversation and lively debate on anything other than low carbs v low sugar, I sat down at my computer, determined to keep my brain sharp, and filed 700 words of what would be 92,000 of Bondi Blonde. 

Which of your characters do you identify with the most and why?

As my debut novel, much of the book is based on events that actually happened, so I definitely identify with the leading lady, Emily. However, I put some distance between us by naming her after my sister and constantly asking, "What would she do?" I have a lot of love for Kiki, the kick-ass surf chick, because she is unashamedly flirtatious and defined by her sexuality, as am I. The hoopers are close to my heart too, because aside from the glamour, Bondi has an alternative, spiritual side. How could there not be in such a knockout setting? So, the hula hoopers are very special characters, who remind me of all the times I was awestruck by an electrical storm or a sunset.

How did you get your novel published? Tell us about your journey to publication.

Two-thirds into writing Bondi Blonde, it attracted some film interest, with an option on the table, so summer 2010 was a blur of power-writing, fueled on midnight snacks and encouraging emails from the financiers, Prescience. By the time I delivered the finished manuscript, at the end of the summer, Prescience had taken an axe to their budgets and cooled on the idea, but meanwhile they had hooked me up with the film agent at top agency, Curtis Brown, to potentially broker the deal at a later date. They, in turn, put the book in the hands of legendary literary agent, Sheila Crowley, who offered to represent me. Sheila was, and is, everything an author could dream up in their fervid imagination regarding the kind of glamorous, nurturing, terrifyingly smart expert/friend you long for in this process. Initially, we got half a dozen rejections and some bang-on notes from her A-list of editors at the big publishers. So, I went away and revised my draft to incorporate some of those suggestions, pruned it into a slicker shape, and decided to e-publish myself as a sort of dummy run to show publishers what the public think. I’m very pleased with my first two months of sales figures, and the lovely reviews and reader feedback on Twitter, Goodreads and fab blogs like yours.
Why do you write women’s fiction?

Because women are such complex creatures, the material is endless! Plus, female readers are so sweetly sisterly in their support, it just feels like one big party. I also know that I’m in a position to explore some of the issues that affect us – like body issues – so I’m taking the opportunity.

What are you working on now?

The follow-up to Bondi BlondeParis and the Perfect Dress. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to write in the third-person. What a relief! This time, there are three narrators, who each hire the same couture dress in Paris in the week of La Nuit Blanche (when the city stays open for 24 hours). It’s a sensual overload of food, fashion, sex and love. But, what happens when the three woman each want to relive the magic they felt in that dress…on the same night?

What do you like to do for fun during the summer?

I love cycling around London on my vintage Dutch bike, visiting the flower markets and reading in the park. I play tennis with my boyfriend at the weekend and my sister and I usually catch a few music festivals. Bestival, on the Isle of Wight, is my favourite because there’s always a theme, and I LOVE dress-ups. Londoners head to the rooftops in summer so you’ll find me ending the week with a martini somewhere, overlooking our skyline, and excelling in some Olympic flirting.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your book?

Only that both my brothers still claim to be scarred by the racy bits. Sorry bros!

Thank you, Lucille!