On Wednesday, October 22 bestselling author Sophie Kinsella will make an appearance in Traverse City as part of the National Writers Series. She is the author of The Confessions of a Shopaholic series as well as six stand alone novels that have been bestsellers in both the US, UK and throughout the world. She wrote her first book, Tennis Party under her real name, Madeleine Wickham when she was 24 and working as a financial journalist. Since then she has published several novels under her real name and under Sophie Kinsella.

MyNorth’s Eliza Foster had a chat with Maddy about her latest book in the Shopaholic Series, her writing style and of course Downton Abbey. To purchase tickets to this event go to the City Opera House website.

Your main character Becky Bloomwood is quite a complex character and her internal dialogue gives readers a very personal view into her head. How do you write her internal thoughts? Do you have some shopaholic tendencies yourself?

Ha ha! When I write Becky it’s all instinct and it always has been. I can honestly say that some of her thoughts are the exact same thoughts I have. And I definitely have my own Becky-like, shopaholic, carried-away moments. But after the madness has passed I am able to take a step back, examine my own thoughts, think: ‘I was crazy!’ and then write about it.


Everyone has their own writing style, some people can sit and write for an entire day while others write and then have to get up and move around. What is your style? When you sit down to write what is a must have? Hot tea? A nice view?

When I start to think of an idea for a novel, I like to begin with a ‘what if.’ For example, with Becky Bloomwood I started with ‘What if a financial journalist was a shopaholic?’ I then spend weeks sitting in coffee shops planning how the book will develop. I’m very keen on plotting, and finding the humour in the characters and the plot. Then I sit down and start the proper writing and that happens every morning at my computer. I like to write 1,000 words a day – then I feel my day’s work is done. I need a cup of coffee and some loud music as a kind of wall between me and the rest of the world, then away I go!


How do you feel about your books being categorized as “chick lit” do you agree? Disagree?

I’m fairly relaxed about the phrase ‘chick lit.’ I interpret it as meaning ‘contemporary, intelligent writing, with a female heroine, dealing with modern issues’… there’s nothing wrong with that! But I do think it’s a shame to define a readership as all-female. I know some men read my books – even if they hide them behind a thriller! So I personally prefer ‘romantic comedy’ or the brilliant label I saw in a bookshop once: ‘wit lit.’


You’re obviously from the UK and so is Becky, but in this book she has made the move to LA. What kind of homework did you have to do while writing this? Did you have to go to LA to familiarize yourself with the city? (and the shopping of course!)

It’s a tough job…! Actually I have been going to LA for years for my job, and this was especially so when the Confessions film was being made. I saw that whole experience partly as a giant research trip. I was lucky enough to go on a film set, the red carpet, studios… and of course indulge in some shopping in LA… and the whole time I was thinking: ‘What would Becky make of all this?!’


I heard that you’re a Downton Abbey fan, who is your favorite character?

I love Downton Abbey, although I haven’t had time to get into the new series yet. My favourite character has to be Lady Violet, played by Maggie Smith. Her one-liners are fabulous.


To purchase tickets to this event click here. To enter the Relish giveaway you must stop by before the end of the day on October 15!

Limit one entry per person.  Winners will be drawn at random on October 15 and will be notified immediately. Prizes will be awarded at the October 22 event.

Grand Prize

  • $500 Relish Gift Certificate
  • 2 tickets to An Evening with Sophie Kinsella
  • A library of Kinsella’s Shopaholic series

Second Prize

  • Shopaholic Gift Bag from Relish
  • 2 tickets to An Evening with Sophie Kinsella
  • A copy of Kinsella’s most recent book Shopaholic to the Stars

Third Prize

  • $25 Relish Gift Certificate
  • 2 tickets to An Evening with Sophie Kinsella



More Northern Michigan Books

National Writers Series 2014 Fall Lineup

Q&A with Nancy Horan

Northern Michigan Author Kate Bassett

Photo(s) by John Swannell