Nobody does sassy quite like Rebecca Chance. She puts Fifty Shades in the dark…and in much better shoes. Rebecca lives the glamorous life in London and Italy and knows how to mix a mean cocktail (and spin a saucy story)…
Can you tell us a little about your latest novel Killer Heels? Where did you get your inspiration from this novel?
It’s about a very ambitious young woman, Jodie Raeburn, who is desperate to become a famous fashion editor, and the journey she takes to achieve her goal. I loved setting the book in the fashion world, as it’s so obsessed with image and identity, and it’s also very sexy! Jodie apprentices herself to Victoria Glossop, the editor of STYLE magazine, who has her own driving ambitions, and the two women’s stories are interlinked. Jodie starves herself from a UK size twelve to a size zero (UK size 4), and embarks on a torrid affair with the Svengali Jacob Dupleix, her boss, to try to walk in Victoria’s footsteps – but though the two women have the same goals, their paths are very different. Victoria thinks she’s got everything she ever wanted – but during the course of Killer Heels, she discovers a whole new sexual side to herself she never thought possible, and starts to crave something completely new…
Your interests range from gymnastics and trapeze to pole-dancing, and apparently you make a mean cocktail. Can you take us through a normal day in the life of Rebecca Chance if there is such a thing?
Well, right now I’m in Tuscany, where I used to live full-time – I still share a place there with friends and go back (from London, where I’m now based) about four times a year. I’m here for a month, writing and seeing friends and tanning – my husband’s coming back and forth a couple of times. So I get up, make myself a cappuccino, let in the neighbour’s dog Whisky, who waits outside for me to open the front door, pet him, fire up the computer and check emails/do some writing. Then I’ll go for a hike – I have Nordic poles here, given to me by my GBF, who we share with. I met him doing gymnastics in NYC, and he was my trapeze partner for a while, so we share a love of exercise. I’ve really taken to the poles – you can definitely feel your upper body working well.
Whisky will come on the walk, and also another neighbour’s dog Oliver, a big plump Golden Retriever who really needs the exercise. And my friend Laura Lippman, a crime writer who’s renting a villa near us with her family, will come for the walk as well. It’s such a treat to have a regular exercise buddy visiting. We work out together most days. We’ll gossip about our husbands and fellow crime writers up and down the hills, then come back, shower and go down to the village for lunch – a restaurant in the piazza has tarted itself up very chicly and does a bresaola salad with goat’s cheese and grapefruit vinaigrette which is perfect for Ladies who Lunch. Washed down with some Vermentino wine, of course.
Then we might go back to Laura’s, swim in the pool of her villa and do a Pure Barre DVD. Or I might meet up with my friend Andrea at the local pool, or go with him to a gay nudist lake about twenty minutes drive away for a sunbathe. In the evening, I’ll have dinner with friends, either at theirs or one of our lovely local restaurants. I’ve been in Chianti on and off for 15 years, so I know the people who run all the great, well-priced places and avoid the tourist traps. Or I might drive into Florence for dinner with girlfriends – one has an apartment with a little terrace overlooking the Arno, and another is a collector of new restaurants and loves to introduce us to her latest find.
Or I might have a quiet evening in at home, drinking prosecco or Chianti, eating beef tartare from the butcher with artichokes, reading, Facebooking, and thinking about what I’m going to write the next day. Whisky will probably visit, and I’ll kick him out before going to bed, pulling the mosquito net around the bed firmly closed and hoping I didn’t get bitten too much this evening…
How long does it take you to write each of your novels and what is the process you go through?
It does go faster with time, mainly because I have got a lot better at outlining in advance before I start to write. My editor and I meet up, drink rose wine on the rooftop terrace of my London club (that’s become a tradition of ours), and plan the next book – often we’ve already knocked around ideas and have a good sense of what it will be about. We brainstorm together, then I go off and outline and send it to her; it can be up to 11 pages. The more detail the better, as if a plot point doesn’t work in an outline, it’s glaringly obvious, so you can fix most glitches at this stage. She approves the outline, making suggestions if necessary, and then I start writing. I try to do about 2,000 words a day, and my first draft is usually 95% of what will be the final book. I hate editing so try to get almost everything right the first time!
What do you think of the recent success of books like “50 Shades of Grey” and the rise of so-called “mummy porn”?
I think it’s brilliant that women can be so unembarrassed now about reading smutty, sexy books – that’s very feminist. Shame that the ethos of “50 Shades” seems a bit old-fashioned, though, with the heroine being a young virgin and the hero a multi-millionaire – it sounds a bit romance novel. However, I think the term ‘mummy porn’ is hugely sexist! No-one says ‘daddy porn’, do they?
What is the best thing about being an author?
Not having to get up early in the morning and struggle through a miserable commute to work.
What books have inspired you?
For the bonkbusters: Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series, Judith Krantz.
What books would we find on your bedside right now?
PG Wodehouse’s The Little Nugget, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, Dorothy L Sayers’s ‘Striding Folly’, Laurell K Hamilton’s ‘Guilty Pleasures’, Georgette Heyer’s ‘A Blunt Instrument’, Katherine Webb’s ‘The Unseen’, Julian Fellowes’s ‘Snobs’, Tanith Lee’s ‘Sound and Furies’, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Shuttle’.
10.How do you see technology impacting on our reading habits? Do you have an ipad, e-reader etc?
I have no e-anythings, but I’m a terrible Luddite and have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. The important thing is that people read books, not how. I’ve heard that people are actually buying more books now that e-readers have come in, which is fantastic!
We’re giving away 10 copies of Killer Heels – enter here!