Monthly Archives: May 2011

On… girl crushes

I’m prone to girl crushes.

Not in the breathless-adoration way (and I would never call anyone a ‘goddess’, what is with people doing that lately? It’s weird), but when I see a woman who seems to have it figured out, I frown thoughtfully and nod in her direction, maybe do an hour or two of background reading on things she’s done in the past, and then keep my eye out to see what she does next.

This probably harks back to the mentor-stalking habits of my mid-20s. These days, I don’t feel the need to tackle women to the ground and force them to tell me their secrets to happiness and success, but I still subconsciously seek them out.

Generally, my girl crushes are writers of some kind – authors, journalists, screenwriters. Sometimes they’re well known, like Caitlin Moran and Kirsten Wiig. Sometimes they’re literary or entertainment types – authors, agents, producers, managers – who have a low profile but are really fucking nailing it. One girlcrush is a friend of my sister; she writes such razor-sharp, hilarious emails that I am forever wondering why she doesn’t give up this law malarkey and become the next, I don’t know, Caitlin Moran.

And sometimes, I girlcrush (yuh, it’s totally a verb) on stylish types. Like Chloe Sevigny (though one has to think ‘Chloe, put the crack pipe down, honeybun’ now and again), Caroline Bieber, Olivia Palermo. And Opening Ceremony designer Kate Foley.

I like the cut of her jib.

Now, I’m not into the Bearbricks that you can see when you click the link (I’ve moved 31 times in my life, my friends, I am ruthless with that sort of knick-kncack-trinkety shit). And I am SO not into the cat. But I would wear (and in several cases, have worn) pretty much anything and everything else in this feature.

In fact, it almost makes me want to dye my hair pale pink. (I won’t. I have only just recovered, emotionally and physically, from going dark blonde at the end of last year. I went back to pale blonde faster than you could say ‘Gem, your hair looks like a hangover’. Yep, pale blonde is expensive to maintain, and makes my hair follicles needier than a thrice-dumped girlfriend with daddy issues. But it’s purdy.)

You can read the entire interview and photos on the brilliant website Refinery29. Check it out, you’ll love it.

On…. Mannerfrei

I have a copy of MANNERFREI, the German translation of The Dating Detox, in my hot little hands! (Actually, they’re not hot, and they’re manicured rather nicely with OPI Pinking Of You, but that’s not the point right now.)

I thought I’d take a photo to share it with you. Cool, huh?

It’s incredibly surreal seeing it in another language. Brilliant, I mean. But surreal.

And here’s a photo of the book open to The Botanist chapter, with – just for the hell of it – a packet of matches from The Botanist, indeed. I was there on Sunday. The burger was absolutely exceptional and may have eclipsed Bar Boulud and Bumpkin in my Best Burger In London list. In case you were wondering.

If you have any German friends who are simply crying out for a bit of Die Dating Detox joy, you can order it here.

On… my next book

10 things I can tell you now about my next book.

1. It’s the first in a series of books called Union Street, about five twenty- something girls sharing a house in Brooklyn, that I’m writing for St Martins Press.

2. The protagonist is stylish, spoilt, sharp – and kind of awesome. I adore her. But I always adore the protagonist till I finish writing about her. Weird, huh?

3. I had the idea for the series as was ruminating on the fact that 21 to 30 is an extraordinarily tough, eventful and hilarious time for women, but I couldn’t think of any modern fiction that dealt with the entire period honestly and – most importantly – with humour.

4. The series was also inspired by The Group by Mary McCarthy, The Best Of Everything by Rona Jaffe and The Babysitters Club by Ann M Martin. (Trust me, it works.)

5. There will be more sex in it than there was my first two books. (Mother, don’t look at me like that.)

6. And wild partying and bad choices and drugs and drama and all kinds of good stuff. (Mutti. Seriously. You are really putting me off.)

7. I’ve just about finished writing it. Just icing the cake now.

8. Oh, the narrator of the first book is called Pia.

9. It’s about 120,000 words, which seems to be my magic number for some reason. (This is irrelevant but I needed it to get 10 facts.)

10.I really, really hope you like it.

PS Alas, I cannot tell you when it’s out just yet… but the moment I find out, you’ll be the first to know, kittenpants.

On… chicklit and humour

I’m trying to write a feature for Novelicious for International Chicklit Month. And I’m having trouble getting started.


Because the topic is Humour And Chicklit.

What right do I have to write about humour and chicklit? Fuck all, honeynuts. I mean, I try to write humorous books, but everyone thinks they have a sense of humour, just like everyone thinks they have good dress sense. So the little voice in my head reminding me that everyone’s idea of humour is different and asking who the sweet hell I think I am to write about this subject is stymieing me, for a start.


For me, for any book – fiction or not – to be humorous, it has to be surprising. And original, smart, irreverent, sharp, confident, quick, honest, compelling, emotionally real, well-written and tightly edited, with characters that I care about and a storyline that has realistic-yet-unexpected twists… it all goes hand-in-hand, because humour needs structure and structure needs a point and that point needs to be emotionally resonant for me to care enough to keep reading. David Sedaris is deeply funny: I laughed so hard reading Me Talk Pretty One Day that I started hitting the seat next to me, and I was on the tube (underground, subway, metro, MTR) at the time. Kingsley Amis is also hilarious: Lucky Jim is one of my favourite books ever (Fox wooed me with a first edition, the smooth bastard). Wodehouse, Stella Gibbons, Nancy Mitford, Nora Ephron… all brilliant and funny. But they’re not modern chicklit.

So what makes a book in the chicklit genre particularly funny? That’s what I’m asking myself. And I don’t know what the answer is. Not all my favourite chicklit books are particularly funny. Or they might make me smile but not chortle, grin but not guffaw. Doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Just means they’re not that funny. I also love Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway, Julian Barnes, Mary McCarthy, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephanie Meyer, yes I said Stephanie Meyer, and they don’t make me laugh out loud either.

Double hmmm.

Recently I read I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crossley, and The Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould. Both are very well-written and very, very funny memoirs from quick, smart, perceptive twentysomething women, and I laughed out loud several times. When I finished, I wondered: why the hell didn’t they turn their razor-sharp gaze away from the mirror and write fiction? There’s something un peu self-absorbed about writing about yourself all the time, isn’t there? (I can’t even bear to write about myself on this terribly neglected blog, and shit, that’s the whole point of a blog, right?) Then I wondered if the reason they wrote memoirs was because any novel about being a female career-and-love-focused twentysomething, with bits about fashion and family and friends and flatmates, would be labelled chicklit and given a cover that looked like a Disney animator had thrown up on it. And Emily and Sloane are both, quite frankly, too cool to fall for that.


You can see how my brain is having trouble processing what should be a very enjoyable feature to write.

Twenty minutes ago I decided, fuck it, write about what makes the funniest chicklit books funny, and choose a book everyone will agree on. The answer is, of course, Bridget Jones’ Diary.

But I can’t just write that, can I? “Read Bridget Jones’ Diary. It is perfect.”