Interview With Charlotte Butterfield

Interview With Charlotte Butterfield

Tell us about your latest book.
It is a romantic comedy called Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It takes place over the course of a year and follows the lives of three sisters. Leila, the main character, has had a disastrous love life and swears off men for a year. She starts a blog charting her twelve months of celibacy, which snowballs into a hugely popular all-female community, empowering women and celebrating single life. But only a few months into her self-imposed man ban, she falls in love. I wanted to write about a relationship that had to be kept secret, and to explore the tug of war between the feeling of duty, and love.

Interview With Charlotte Butterfield
What advice do you have for other writers?
Find a writing style that comes easy to you, and stick with it. The industry is still in love with intense domestic dramas, and I once tried my hand at writing a couple of chapters of one, thinking, ‘I’m a writer, therefore surely I can write anything’. Well I couldn’t. I was itching to make the angst better, for one of the dark and brooding characters to crack a joke, or at the very least a smile, and I was miserable writing about misery. As soon as I realised this and allowed my fingers to type what came naturally, I was so much happier and my writing was so much better. I know that many industry insiders look down on chick lit and romantic comedies, but I also know that I couldn’t write anything else.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
The freedom to invent happy endings. So many times in life you mentally beat yourself up after an encounter or situation thinking, ‘Oh God, I wish I’d said…’ but in your book you can. You can revisit conversations and make them wittier, pithier, more honest, and you are completely in control of how your cast of characters reacts.

How long did it take you to write your book?
I can usually write a first draft of the manuscript in about three months, as long as the children are at school and I turn off notifications for twitter, facebook and emails! I work for about four or five hours each day, with quite a few coffee breaks, but I try to write 3,000 words a day. I get annoyed with myself if it’s less than 2,000 and I celebrate above 4,000 with a massive glass of wine in the evening.

When and where do you write?
We live in a countryside suburb just outside of Rome in Italy, and for the first time ever, I actually have an office, with a window onto the garden. Previously I wrote from a little desk in the corner of my bedroom, so I feel very lucky to have my own space now. I have three small children, so most of my writing is done when they’re at school or asleep.

Interview With Charlotte Butterfield
Do you believe in writers block?
I do. Writing romantic comedy is an uplifting job, it’s happy and joyful and funny. Which means that I need to feel that way too. If I’m feeling a bit stressed or had bad news, it’s sometimes tricky to put that to one side and be upbeat and comical, so if I’m nearing deadline and really can’t afford to waste a day’s writing, I’ll often skip ahead to a chapter in the book where there’s more angst and drama, and then revert to the skipping through life scenes when I’m in a better mood. Although, I have to say that writing about love and romance and happiness is a great antidote to feeling stressed!

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’ve just finished my third book about a wedding journalist whose day job writing about hearts and flowers is completely at odds with her rather cynical view on life and love. This should be out in Spring 2018. I’m now plotting my fourth and fifth books, which I’m thinking about setting in Italy, as that’s where I’m living now, and I think it could make a fantastic setting for a romantic comedy.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I actually self-published my very first book, Very Nearly Perfect. I’d written it as a bit of a challenge to myself. I’d been a journalist for fourteen years, and like many writers, thought I had a novel in me. Once I’d written it, the box was ticked for me, I didn’t want to go through the endless search for an agent and elusive publishing deal, so I self-published on Amazon and CreateSpace. I found it a really easy route to getting your book out there, and it was really heartening to see good reviews come in, and earning revenue every time someone downloaded it. On a bit of a whim, and buoyed up by the positive reviews, I entered it for a writing competition at the Emirates Lit Fest in Dubai, where I was living at the time, and I came second. I then got signed by an agent, and the book was bought by Harper Impulse, and I got a book deal for more books. So for me, it was a great decision to self publish to test the water, to gain confidence, and to lead me to a publisher.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I have never wanted to be anything else. At seven, I used to write stories that my Dad would photocopy, staple together and I would sell at school for five pence. I did English at university, then became a journalist. There was never anything else I wanted to be.

Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
Absolutely. My parents and sisters always knew that this is what I wanted to do, and my Mum even carries around a couple of copies of my books at all times to give to random strangers that she meets! My husband is a former journalist too, and despite chick lit not being his thing at all, he dutifully puts his copy editor hat on once I’ve finished my manuscripts and gets out the red pen. My children think it’s great that Mummy writes books, although my nine year old daughter is very impatient to turn fifteen, which is the age I told her that she can read them!


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