Sophie Kinsella is the author of the New York Times bestselling Shopaholic series. Her newest installment in the series, Shopaholic to the Rescue, goes on sale today. Earlier this year, Sophie crossed into the YA world with Finding Audrey, a novel about a teenage girl who struggles with an anxiety disorder. We asked Sophie what it was like to write her first novel for young adults, how humor factors into her books, and the best purchase she’s made lately.
This year you published your debut YA novel, Finding Audrey. How was writing characters in a YA novel different from writing for adults?
I didn’t really approach my writing differently and there are many similarities in the way I planned the plot and wrote about my characters. But teenagers definitely have a different wit and banter to adults; they are experts on life — but they’re also vulnerable, and I wanted to show that. The biggest difference was that, for the first time, I could get the advice of my own teenagers while I was writing!
Finding Audrey features a teen girl who has an anxiety disorder, but it’s also full of comedy, as are the Shopaholic books. Do you find that you use humor to tackle tougher topics?
Certainly. The thing that makes me happiest is when readers tell me they’re laughing as they read my books. But to entertain I think you also need some serious substance — some issue or dilemma that gives weight to the comedy. You need characters that readers can relate to, that make a real page-turner, and that is what I always try to create. I knew that Audrey would have difficulties, but retain her wry humour despite that.
What have your children taught you about reading?
They have taught me the power of story. Watching their rapt faces as I read to them reminds me of the intimate connection between reader and author. When they beg for me to read more — “Just one more chapter” — I think: Yes! Books still exert a huge hold over all of us, despite all the other temptations on offer.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve read lately?
I’ve actually just finished reading After You by Jojo Moyes, the sequel to her book Me Before You, which is wonderful. I also just recently read Resistance Is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan, which is the most hilarious book.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve bought lately?
My latest toy is my Nutribullet. I love it. My mornings are now made up of smoothies. And the best thing is, I can then eat anything I like for the rest of the day, guilt-free, because of all the veg. (That’s scientific, right…?)
What can we expect in Shopaholic to the Rescue?
Becky is in Las Vegas — which is always somewhere I’ve wanted to send her. She has come such a long way since those early days and she considers this in Shopaholic to the Rescue. She has responsibilities now, and is taking charge in a mature way. I think Shopaholic to the Rescue might be the book in which Becky grows up the most, finding amazing strength and resilience, regaining her sparkle and everything that we love and find funny about her.
Sophie Kinsella is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series, as well as the novels Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number, and Wedding Night. She lives in England.