Today we are happy to welcome to Book Lovers Inc. always smiling Ali McNamara, who has some of the most lovely and feel-good covers (just take a look at them below). I got to interview Ali for the US release of her romantic comedy novel: From Notting Hill to Love…Actually, so read on to learn more about this story, how different is it to be a British author being published in the US and you could even win a copy of Ali McNamara ‘s novel!
Stella: Hi Ali, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Ali: I live in a small village near Cambridge, England with my husband, Jim; my two teenage children, Rosie and Tom; and my two labrador dogs, Jake and Oscar! Quite a house full!
I’m an only child, and this is where I think I get my very vivid imagination from! I find it very easy to think up new stories to write, just finding the time to get them all down on paper is the problem!
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Ali: I had to look up the term ‘pantser’! But what a great description of it!
I’m definitely mostly a pantser, but I do a little planning before I begin writing the book, and I have a rough idea of where I want to story to go, but you have to let your characters dictate what happens, not you. After all it’s their story.
Stella: Your novel From Notting Hill with Love… Actually, which originally was released in 2010 in the UK, just got released last week by Sourcebooks in the US, congratulations! I’m curious to know, how do you feel about this new release, any flutters and excitement or it’s old news since the book has already been out for 2 years?
Ali: It’s never old news! I waited for too many years to get published to ever become complacent about it. I can’t wait to see what American readers think to Scarlett and her movie adventures!
Stella: Can you tell readers what they can expect of From Notting Hill with Love… Actually?
Ali: From Notting Hill with Love…Actually is about Scarlett, who absolutely adores the movies, but her family and friends think she’s a bit too obsessed by them. So when Scarlett gets the chance to house-sit in one of her favourite movie locations, Notting Hill, she see’s this as a chance to prove to them that you really can live your life as if it were a movie.
Stella: If From Notting Hill with Love… Actually was made into a movie who would play the characters?
Ali: I’ve always though Anne Hathaway would make an excellent Scarlett. Sean is more difficult for me. It would have to be a very special actor indeed to live up to my vision of Sean!
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to From Notting Hill with Love… Actually? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters, a scene that didn’t end up in the final version, etc.)
Ali: Scarlett’s fantasy about walking down the stairs of a movie theater towards the screen at the end of a movie, when the credits are just beginning to role – but imagining you’re going down to the stage to collect an Oscar or an Emmy, is my own…
Stella: Lol, that is a great quirk, thanks for sharing Ali! Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read From Notting Hill with Love… Actually?
Ali: It’s fun, feel-good, and will make you believe movie style romance can be found in everyday life!
Stella: Can you summarize From Notting Hill with Love… Actually for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Ali: “She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant.”
Stella: I think with such a title full of quotes and winks to favourite romantic comedies I don’t even have to ask you what inspired the story But I would like to ask: if you could take only 3 DVDs to a desert island, which 3 romantic comedies would you take? (Or maybe you’ll shock us all and take a documentary on pandas or World War II?) lol
Ali: When Harry Met Sally
Notting Hill (Of course!)
Stella: You are a UK author, what is your experience did you have to rewrite some words/scenes in your stories because you were told overseas audiences wouldn’t get the reference/meaning? (or maybe editors changed some typical British (slang) words?) Any funny story you could share?
Ali: The first major difference is the cover. The UK cover featured the two main characters – Scarlett and Sean in front of a well-known cinema in Notting Hill, London – the Coronet. Where as the US cover has a beautiful painting of some Notting Hill houses – one with a blue door, as a hint to the one from the Notting Hill movie.
I was asked to change some of the text in the book. Some of our English words just don’t translate too well across the Atlantic, but some of the modifications I was asked to make I decided not to, as I felt sure US readers were quite capable of understanding the Brit references, and the adjustments would have lost some of the essence and humour of the story.
Stella: Your novels are marketed as chick lit stories, how would YOU define, categorize this genre? And why do you love it?
Ali: I just write the way I write. If someone wants to label the way I put words on a page and stack me neatly into an appropriate box, then that’s up to them. People will always try and define you as something so it fits in with their way of thinking, I’ll always try and be a little different. Watch out for it in the future….
Stella: If you could have your dream romantic comedy film, which actors/actresses would star and who would direct?
Ali: Bradley Cooper – and I’d be on the set all day everyday
Stella: Lol, please invite me over! The sequel of From Notting Hill with Love… Actually, From Notting Hill to New York … Actually will be released in November in the UK, congrats! Can you tell us a bit more about this book?
Ali: Without giving too much away for readers who haven’t read the first one yet, Scarlett ventures a bit further afield this time when she takes the holiday of a lifetime to New York, with her now best friend, Oscar. They have lots of fun and adventures while they’re there, and discover lots of new things, about themselves and their families.
Stella: Will there be more books in the Actually series?
Ali: I have an idea for one, but I’m going to wait and see how my readers react to this sequel first.
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?
Ali: I’m currently writing my fourth book. It has a music theme this time – with a twist!
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Ali: I hate peas!
From Notting Hill with Love … Actually by Ali McNamara
Book #1 in the Actually series
Can real life ever be just like the movies?
From Notting Hill with Love…Actually is the story of movie fanatic Scarlett O’Brien, who dreams of a life as glamorous and romantic as all the big screen flicks she worships. When a once in a lifetime house-sitting job in iconic Notting Hill comes along, she knows living in one of her favorite movie settings is an opportunity too good to pass up.
Leaving behind her skeptical friends, family, and fiancé, Scarlett heads to London and finds herself thrust into the lead role of her very own romantic comedy.
Larger-than-life new friends, a handsome but irksome new neighbor, and a mystery from her past may prove to Scarlett that living her life like a romantic comedy is more complicated than she ever dreamed!
From Notting Hill with Love…Actually is perfect for any hopeless romantic with big-screen dreams.
Author Ali McNamara lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband and two children, and when she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching too much reality TV, eating too much chocolate, and counteracting the results of the previous activities by getting plenty of exercise! For more information, please visit: www.alimcnamara.co.uk/books
Sourcebooks has generously offered 2 paperback copies of From Notting Hill with Love… Actually by Ali McNamara to two commenters living in the US/CAN, but since we love our international readers SO much BLI is offering 1 copy to an international commenter! So in total you have the chance to win 3 copies!
All you have to do is tell us what is your favourite romantic comedy film?
Or which cover do you prefer the UK one (pink-purple one with characters) or the US one (blue with houses)?
Please say in your comment whether you are US/CAN or INT!
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on 27 October 2012 and we will announce the winner on Sunday.