November 2011


Carmen Reid’s latest novel The Jewels of Manhattan is out this month. She is best-known for her Personal Shopper series starring Annie Valentine and also writes the teen series Secrets at St Jude’s. A former newspaper reporter, she lives in Scotland with her family. (Interview by Anna Bell)

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  1. 1. Can you tell our readers what they can expect from your new novel The Jewels of Manhattan?

    It's a romantic comedy with a criminal twist. One sparkly, snowy December in New York, three 20-something sisters are lured into committing a jewel theft but... there's a very cute detective on their trail. I hope you'll be glued to the pages to find out what happens.

  2. 2. What was your inspiration for the story?

    It was a single line in a story my daughter wrote with her friends: 'And then the three girls decided to rob a jewellery shop.' That line provoked so many questions and sent my imagination into overdrive. Why did they rob the shop? How did they do it? Did they get away with it? Were they scared? Did they feel guilty? I was desperate to know!

  3. 3.The main characters of the Jewels of Manhattan were from Texas, was it more difficult for you to write having to be conscious of their phrases and customs?

    I have a good friend from Texas and I just love the way she talks and the phrases she comes out with: 'You can put your boots in the oven but it don't make 'em biscuits.' She recommended some excellent books for research. But I don't worry about being perfect because the sisters are living in New York now, their way of talking is changing. English is always on the move, I know plenty of Scottish teens who sprinkle their talk with US style: 'kinda' and 'like, you know', so I don't get too uptight about it.

  4. 4. The novel is your second book to be set in New York, why is that you think so many British chick lit authors set their books in New York?

    I love New York!! I went on holiday there not intending to write about it at all, but I felt as if I bumped into a great story idea on every corner. There are two wonderful elderly Upper East Side ladies in The Jewels who I would never have come up with if I hadn't been roaming that part of the city, people-watching.

  5. 5. You’re well known for your character Annie Valentine from the Personal Shopper series - was it strange writing a non-Annie book?

    It was lovely to have a change and very hard work having to start with brand-new characters from scratch, but Annie will definitely be back!

  6. 6. Tell us more about Annie’s return.

    Oh yes, Annie returns for Autumn 2012! I'm writing Shopping With The Enemy right now and it is fabulous to be back with her, Svetlana, Ed, Lana, Owen and the gang. Think: Italian spa... hijacking a vintage Bentley... mothers and daughters at war... and (quelle horreur!) could Annie be losing her feeling for fashion?!

  7. 7. Can you tell us what a typical writing day is like for you?

    Some days are incredibly productive and focused: I rattle through 2-3000 words, I totally nail the chapter that was driving me mad, I come across a gem piece of research which opens up a brilliant new idea - these are the dream days. But other days are a disaster: I update Facebook for too long, I answer four emails and another five arrive, I hang up the washing, my Mum calls, I stare at the screen without any great clue... eeeek it's time to collect the children! The trick is to make sure there are more dream days than disaster days... I think!

  8. 8. Did you always want to be a writer?

    Yes, ever since I read Watership Down at the age of eight, the idea of creating a fantasy world which gripped other people was totally appealing.

  9. 9. Can you ever see yourself in any of your characters?

    Many of the characters have some of my characteristics (I'm a touch Amber, in The Jewels, Dinah in the Annie stories) but I don't think of any one of them being me. They are all quite themselves, my imaginary friends!

  10. 10. You also write young adult books too – is it harder to write for teenagers?

    No! I have a lovely time writing the Secrets at St Jude's series for teens. I get to totally channel my inner teen and all sorts of long repressed, embarrassing, cringe-worthy moments have surfaced and I've put them pretty much all into the stories.

  11. 11. What’s your favourite book you’ve read this year?

    I read my first Janet Evanovich: One For The Money, starring Stephanie Plum. Hugely enjoyable!

  12. 12. Lastly can you tell us what you think makes a great chick lit novel?

    Central characters readers warm to and root for, a story which is fast-paced and keeps readers hooked, an ending which is wonderfully happy but gets there in an unexpected way. Plus fresh, even quirky, new ingredients which lift the story right out of the predictable.

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