Team LBD meets Jane Costello
To celebrate the launch of Jane Costello's latest paperback, All the Single Ladies, Team LBD are offering our readers the chance to win ¬£1000 to spend at Littleblackdress.co.uk as well as a luxury stay for you and all your single ladies and a signed copy of the new release! This week we sat down with the bestselling author/mother of two/self-confessed LBD lover herself to talk snogging eight and a half minutes in to a blind date, her addiction to the great British high street and what she'd do with ¬£1000...!
You were a journalist before you started writing your first novel Bridesmaids. What made you want to write novels?It stemmed from my life-long love of reading. When I was a little girl I remember being totally absorbed in books like The Hundred and One Dalmatians – then as a teenager I moved onto Judy Blume, Stephen King and Jilly Cooper's Riders (which was an education in more ways than one . . .) I thoroughly enjoyed being a journalist – and part of me still misses the buzz of a newsroom – but I'd always harboured a secret ambition to have a book published. If you'd told me then that I'd ever be onto my fifth I wouldn't have believed it. Where do you get your inspiration for a story? My head is constantly awash with ideas – the quality of which is variable, I'm afraid to say! But in amongst the dross, there's always something worth developing. Often the ideas can be inspired by a place or an event that I've experienced in real life – and one of the best examples of which when I experimented with online dating while writing All The Single Ladies. I had a succession of breathtakingly bad dates before I met the man I'm with today. But it was a consolation during those dark days that, every time I met someone who bore no more than a 3% resemblance to his profile picture or who dived in for a snog after eight and a half minutes, that I was being provided with a gold mine of comic material! You've turned out five bestselling novels, write for Marie Claire, The Sunday Telegraph and various other magazines and have two children. Are you easily distracted? When I'm in the thick of writing a book – past the half-way mark usually, I can write for hours and hours and remain very focused. The start is a very different matter. For me, that's the hardest part – and it can be frustrating and torturous work, like trying to work out a jigsaw puzzle that's impossibly large and with half the pieces missing. At this point, I am a master of procrastination. I can literally while away hours plotting out storylines (shuffling Post-it notes around my desk), managing my online profile (faffing around on Facebook and Twitter) and nourishing my creativity (eating biscuits). Where do you go to really get your head down and write? I will write anywhere – lounging about on the sofa, at the kitchen table, on the train. I'm always dying to write in the garden when it's sunny, but I end up spending most of the with my nose scrunched up an inch away from my laptop screen as I try in vain to locate the cursor. Were you surprised by the success of your early titles like Bridesmaids? Absolutely – everyone was. My advance for the book wasn't enough to give up the day job at the time (they rarely are for first-time authors), so I wasn't expecting in my wildest dreams for it to shoot up the bestseller lists like it did. Probably my most jaw-dropping moment as an author was stepping off the train at Euston on publication day and spotting it at the front of WHSmith - next to Jackie Collins. I felt like I'd just won the X-Factor – an incredible moment. Which book was your favourite to write? Choosing a favourite is virtually impossible, but I will say that I found My Single Friend the easiest to write – everything simply fell into place in a way that's proven sadly elusive since. Conversely, I found All The Single Ladies the hardest to write – yet I'm convinced that it's the best of my books, so it was obviously worth the headaches! Any advice for aspiring writers? I could go on for hours about this but there are two big things I'd pick out. The first, simply, is this: read. It doesn't matter if it's Charles Dickens or Marian Keyes, read as many books as you can with an analytical, intelligent eye and work out what makes the brilliant writers out there so good. The second thing is persevere. I don't mean become one of those people who send off hundreds of manuscripts to agents and carry on blindly in the face of rejection. But you should be prepared to be in this for the long haul, understand that some rejection is inevitable and – crucially - listen to good advice. All the Single Ladies…what's it all about? It follows the story of my heroine Sam, who's fun, feisty, ambitious – and thoroughly loved-up. She's convinced she'll grow old with her boyfriend Jamie - until he announces that he's giving into his wanderlust and has bought a one way ticket to South America. Sam isn't the sort of woman to give up without a fight. With five months to persuade him to do the right thing, she and her friends Ellie and Jen hatch a plan to win him back. It involves dirty tricks, intrigue, a gorgeous new pretender – and some serious ups and downs that she hadn't counted on. I was determined to make this novel as unpredictable as it is riotous – and I've been overwhelmed with the response to it. You're happily loved up now. Is any of All the Single Ladies based on your single days? Oh, definitely. I wrote the book when I found myself newly-single and plunged into dating game for the first time in a decade. It was exciting, but absolutely terrifying at the same time. The last time I'd been on a date was before Facebook was invented – and I'm not even sure I owned a mobile phone! So, yes, all those feelings of trepidation, excitement and exhilaration when you meet someone you like was something I very much channelled into the book. We're really excited to be giving away a ¬£1000 LBD wardrobe in the back of All the Single Ladies! What would you choose if you were the lucky winner? I'd try and go for a nice mix of daytime and evening wear. I feel like I'm spoilt for choice but the stand out pieces for me are the Bernshaw Isis Dress – I would love to wear that - the Gorgeous Couture Mara Maxi dress and The Sticky Fingers Zabina Dress. There's no way I could resist some shoes too – I'd go for the Bourne Alana Shoe in Fawn Print. And we're giving away a girly weekend for four at the Cumberland – what would be your ideal weekend away with the girls? I've been on girls weekends that have involved tents in a muddy field and super-posh hotels - and had a blast on both. But given the choice, I'd undoubtedly opt for the latter! I've actually stayed at the Cumberland myself so feel qualified to say that whoever wins this is in for a serious treat. I think city breaks are always a brilliant option if you're with the girls – with a nice mix of sightseeing, shopping and (plenty of) cocktails at the end of a busy day. Which is your favourite piece on Littleblackdress.co.uk? It has to be the Bernshaw Isis Dress – It's super-glamorous and so elegant, I think anyone would turn heads in that. Which is your favourite brand? Where do you normally shop? I love Karen Millen, Ted Baker and French Connection. I make occasional efforts to mix things up a bit and not be quite so predictable, but for some reason I always end up back at those places. I'm afraid I simply couldn't reveal how many pair of KM jeans I've bought over the years – it's a shameful statistic. What are your shopping habits? Whic celebs do you look to to inspire your own style? I prefer shopping online as I'm not one of life's recreational shoppers – one of those people who adore shopping as an activity in itself. Don't get me wrong, I love clothes, but I suffer from terrible impatience (or rather, those around me suffer) so traipsing around shops for hours brings out the worst in me. It's far easier to do it from the comfort of your home. My style depends on the circumstances. When I do the school run, I'm rarely in anything other than jeans and Converse, but other times I like making an effort. I love fashion but I tend to go for clothes that are elegant and fairly timeless. Fashion icons would be Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and, a recent edition, Victoria Beckham - I think her dresses are fab. How do you get ready for special events? As you mentioned, I have two children, so it's usually a fairly stop-start affair – over the years I've learnt how to simultaneously apply foundation while having my hair brushed by a three year old and saving Indiana Jones from certain death on the Playstation. What is your fail-safe wardrobe staple? Skinny jeans. See above. If your wardrobe was on fire which dress would you save? I have a beautiful silk maxi dress with beads around the neckline that I bought for my brother's wedding in France last year. I'm fairly sure I'd be prepared to risk minor burns and smoke inhalation for that one. What is your first fashion memory? A ra-ra skirt with flecks of glitter and retina-burning purple leg warmers. This was at my first school disco, circa 1981 and I thought I looked AMAZING – like Coco from The Kids From Fame, who was obviously the epitome of cool in my seven year old eyes. What does the LBD mean to you? Classic elegance, beautiful understatement – and confidence. The LBD is the one item you can wear without ever worrying you've chosen the wrong thing. Who is your LBD icon and why? Do you remember that stunning ‘vintage' Valentino dress Julia Roberts wore for the Oscars a few years ago? I think she deserves that title for carrying that off. Who else could look like that in something from 1982 – the era that gave us shoulder pads, Hawaiian shirts and leotards? Describe your perfect LBD night… It'd be a glitzy, totally over-the-top party to which all of my favourite people in the world would be invited – boyfriend, kids, friends, family. I went to a charity event for the NSPCC a few years ago at a stately home called Knowsley Hall, an enormous Georgian pile near where I live. You can't really beat a setting like that. I'd wear a super-glam, long dress and we'd all drink champagne and dance to the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays until the sun came up. For your chance to win a signed copy of Jane Costello's All the Single Ladies as well as a ¬£1000 new wardrobe from Little Black Dress AND a stay in top London hotel, The Cumberland, with your girlfriends for the weekend enter here now!