Author Pernille Hughes Answers all our Questions
- Latest Book: Sweatpants at Tiffanie’s
- Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
Tiff’s been dumped and made homeless on her 10th anniversary. So, what does she need most in her life? To inherit an old boxing gym, of course. And then her world-famous first-love swans back into town. Flippin’ perfect!
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
I used to share a photocopier with LaaLaa the Teletubby. (Before kids, I worked for Ragdoll the producers of Teletubbies, as PA for one of the Co-creators. I worked on location, in a porta-cabin which housed the photocopier, which Nikky Smedley the actress who played LaaLaa would use.)
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
Unless I’ve ventured out to a café to hide from Wifi, I work in silence (I’m not including the whirr of the washing machine). I have four kids and find a particular beauty in quiet now… (I do wish I was cool and had playlists to write to, though. If I knew how to make one (I am a Tech Lemming), I’m still not sure I’d find the time, though.)
- Are you a plotter or pantser?
In my head (by which I mean ‘In my dreams’) I’m a total plotter. I’m far more productive and efficient when I know what the plan is. But then I get anxious when plotting that I’m taking too long on the plotting and should be writing, and get in a knot. So, in the end, I launch in with a rough plan and see how things go. Realistically it probably means I have to allow for an additional draft before I show it to other human eyes.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
Yes, but not in Sweatpants. It was in a YA story called Being An Idiot, which lives safely in a drawer because it has no real plot, but there I had characters saying things that genuinely made me gasp as they were so cruel and I wouldn’t have gone there intentionally.
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
Well, I could probably sit staring at Mike, Tiff’s first love, for quite some time, as he’s modelled on Anthony Joshua, but if I was being less letchy, then I think a night out on the town with Shelby, Tiff’s best friend would be a hoot. She’s funny and feisty and knows her own mind. I’d most likely end up travelling home alone though as she always gets lucky.
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
That’s easy – Gavin, Tiff’s recent ex, as he’s an annoying knob. (He may or may not be a composite of various people I least get along with in life – my lawyers say I can’t say more than that…)
- Do you read your reviews?
The concept of reviews terrified me as I approached publication. It felt like I was putting myself on a dart board and why would anyone do that?! But when publication day came around it wasn’t so scary after all – but I do manage my review hunting. I read the Amazon reviews, because I check to see whether more have been left and then can’t help reading them. (Having the Amazon reviews is SO SO important to an author as Amazon give you more attention the more you have. If you want to help a writer, new or established, leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long, 5 stars or even for a book you have bought – something you have been gifted or have borrowed counts too.)
I decided early on that seeking out reviews wouldn’t be healthy, so I avoid checking Netgalley or Goodreads for example, as, in reality, the reviews are for readers, not authors.
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
In terms of reviews, I die a little if anyone says they didn’t find my story funny.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
My husband proposing, probably. He thought I was entertaining enough to spend the rest of his life with!
My fabulous agent taking a punt on me was pretty flattering too.
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
I’m a mum first and foremost, so ‘Child-Management’ is my job. I have four teens and I mistakenly thought kids had fewer issues as they got older. Apparently not…
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
Mhairi MacFarlane (Romance), Meg Cabot, (Romance & YA), John Green (YA). I like their contemporary style and the humour. YA writers are really good at snappy dialogue.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
I inhaled Enid Blyton’s boarding school stories and before that I hoofed my way through Roald Dahl’s books. I can’t think of one firm favourite, but that might be down to age and memory loss. My teacher read a story to us when I was eight called The Wheel on The School by Meindert DeJong, which I adored, and which later I bought to read to one of my daughters. Only at that point did I see I’d named her after the main character in the story.
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
I have a violent scene in the book and that was difficult to write in so far as I don’t like my characters getting hurt, but what was harder across the story arc was writing Tiff’s heartbreak, as I’ve never had my heart broken. *touches every bit of wood in the near vicinity*.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
I’m relatively new to the publishing game – Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s is my debut novel- so am still getting to know people in the Romance field. I’ve known Holly Martin (The Summer of Chasing Dreams) since she won and I came runner up in the Belinda Jones Travel Club Sunlounger competition in 2013. (It’s an anthology of short stories by known romance writers, all set in holiday destinations – perfect sunlounger reading. The competition offered three spots for unpublished writers.) I’ve also been on a week’s writing retreat for the last two years where I’ve got to know various writers such as Cathy Bramley (A Vintage Summer) and Alex Brown (A Postcard From Italy) who were both kind enough to give me quotes for my cover. Other authors I know from there are Rosie Blake (The Hygge Holiday), Sarah Bennett (Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle), Kat Black (Playing with Fire), Rachael Lucas (Finding Hope at Hillside Farm), Isabelle Broom (First to see the Sunrise), Cressida McLaughlin (The Cornish Cream Tea Bus), Katy Colins (How to say Goodbye) and Hannah Richell (The Peacock Summer). The entire week is full of priceless advice, everyone is very supportive and generous with their experience. I highly recommend going on retreats!
For Bonus Points – Answer four fabulous frivolous questions!
- What is your biggest fear?
Other than bad things happening to my family, it’s freezing to death.
- If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
Time expansion. There simply aren’t enough hours in my day currently.
- If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
Leave me an Amazon review!
- If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t listen to people who tell you what you can’t do. YOU decide what you are capable of. No-one else.
- Finally – Who are your latest Cover Crushes? (No more than two!)
I do like a really simple bold cover, so one I’d like to get my mitts on in the near future is In at the Deep End by Kate Davies. The cover for Joanne Harris’ The Strawberry Thief is possibly the prettiest I’ve seen in a long time.
You can purchase Pernille’s latest book: Sweatpants at Tiffanie’s here on Amazon.