It is not often I get starstruck, but when it came to interviewing author Sophie Kinsella (born Madeline Wickham) of the Shopaholic series, I was a rambling fool. I’ve been reading her books since ninth grade and identify with the series’ protagonist Becky Bloomwood’s spending issues a little too much. When I sat down with her last week I’d memorized dozens of questions to ask her, but as soon as we were face-to-face I’d completely forgotten what to say. This encounter is similar to what Becky is up to in the latest Shopaholic novel, Shopaholic to the Stars. She and Luke have moved to L.A. and for Becky that means a lot of celebrity stalking and a new career in fashion! Once I collected myself, I was able to ask Sophie a few decent questions, and here’s what she told me:
29Secrets: Tell us about the new book. Becky is in L.A…
Sophie: It’s a natural fit for Becky, really. She’s always been starstruck. I knew when I first wrote the book that Becky would let Hollywood go to her head. She wants to make it as a celebrity stylist. And she goes after this with a series of utter mishaps and disasters. But, then things kind of take a turn, and she does have a chance to get into the inner world of Hollywood. And she has to decide if that’s what she really wants.
29Secrets: We all have these impulses to splurge when we’re shopping. But, our conscience tells us like “don’t do it”, “save money.” This never seems to occur to Becky.
Sophie: Yeah, her conscious is sadly lacking. She has people around her who try to act as her conscience. The trouble is she has a very agile mind. So she will always find a reason why a purchase is essential, necessary, a good idea and an investment. And she’s just the Queen of deluding herself.
29Secrets: Do you sneak your own anecdotes or life experiences into the books?
Sophie: My thought processes go into the book a lot, I mean that was the kind of starting point, was me opening a Visa bill, all the thoughts that I had. The way I justify buying sale items, or if I see something I like I think “well I better buy two, because I’m investing in them.” All these ridiculous fallacies… I fall right into them every time.
29Secrets: With each book, how do you decide what Becky’s new adventure will be?
Sophie: Well it’s been quite a natural progression through the common milestones of life. I always had LA in my sights because I knew it would be a great setting for Becky. I had my own experience of Hollywood, so that was kind of great inspiration. I can kind of see ahead into her life and see different episodes… some of them I write down and some of them I won’t. But there are all sorts of kind of places and adventures in the future, so it’s a question of which one to tell.
29Secrets: I know I get my shopaholic tendencies from my mom. Is this something you and your daughter might be bonding over?
Sophie: We’ll see, she’s so little. We’re already bonding over shoes. She tries to steal all my shoes. So I think she will be interested in fashion. In fact I do exactly what Becky does in the book and when I’m shopping I’ll think, “she has enough clothes…well I’ll buy some for next year then.” So she has clothes in every size, waiting for her to grow into them.
29Secrets: Since this novel is about celebrities, do celebs every approach you about the books?
Sophie: They have. It was very sweet when I was working on the Shopoholic film and Joan Cusack said she was a big fan, and that made my day, because I am the hugest fan of Joan Cusack.
29Secrets: Besides promoting Shopaholic, what are you working on right now?
Sophie: I have a young adult book coming out next year, which is really exciting. And it’s a departure from me; it’s the first time I’ve done young adult. It’s about a teenage girl, and her whole family. It’s quite fun. I hope you like it.
29Secrets: We can’t wait to hear more about it. While you’re in Toronto, did you get a chance to do any shopping?
Sophie: Well, do you know what? I’m in a bit of a makeup phase. I’ll tell you why: when you go on tour you get your makeup done a lot. And I’m always chatting to makeup artists and looking at what they use. So I’m going to go on a bit of spree for makeup.