Kate Thompson

interviews

Pixie Pirelli

 

 

  I arrange to meet Ms Pirelli in the luxurious drawing room of the Hamilton Hotel. When I arrive (five minutes early), she is already there, sitting in the embrace of a massive sofa, looking uncannily as she does in the photographs on her website – her pretty face a tabula rasa. I’ve been told that Ms Pirelli is punctual, polite, and a media consultant’s dream, and as she rises to her feet to shake my hand and compliment me on my shoes (vertiginous Marc Jacob heels that hurt like hell), I realize that so far she’s ticked all the right boxes. I join her on the sofa, take my notebook from my bag and consult the list of questions I compiled earlier. This is the first press interview I’ve ever done, and I’m feeling a little nervous.
 
 
     
 

KT: Pixie, your latest novel – Hard to Choos – has been described by Cathy Kelly as being ‘deliciously gorgeous and hilarious.’

PP: Wasn’t Cathy kind to say that? She launched the book for me, you know. Oh, good! Here comes tea.

 
     

 

A waitress arrives with a tray laden with tea things. Pixie pours tea into porcelain cups, then starts piling jam and cream onto a scone. Because I’m trying to get myself into shape for an upcoming media appearance, I resist temptation with difficulty.

 
     

Click here

to buy

from

Amazon.co.uk

KT: Cathy also described Hard to Choos as being ‘so, so sexy’. Can you answer me straight up? Do you find the sex difficult to write?

PP: Oh, yes! It’s excruciating! Writing sex scenes makes me think all the time about my parents, and how they’ll feel when they read it. They’re frightful prudes, you see, and even though they’re very proud of me I know I’m something of an embarrassment to them. I wish I could get specially edited copies for them, with all the sex cut out. But the bottom line - as we all know - is that sex sells.

KT:
That’s true. When I was working on my last novel, my editor asked me to put more sex in. Hence the title: Sex, Lies & Fairytales.

PP:
Have a scone.

KT:
Oh, dammit. All right – I will.

Click here

to buy

from

Amazon.co.uk

     
  I help myself to a scone, and butter it liberally.  
     
 

PP: Have you read a book called The Joy of Writing Sex? I find that quite helpful, in addition to the usual research.

KT:
No – I haven’t read that one. But I have read Susie Bright’s book on writing erotica.

PP:
Oh? Where might I pick up a copy?

KT:
I found it in Coco de Mer, in Covent Garden.

PP:
Coco de Mer? One of my favorite shops in the world! My heroine Charlotte visits it in Hard to Choos! See?

 
    Top of the page
  Pixie points to the blurb on the back of her new book, where there’s a reference to ‘shopping by proxy for Coco de Mer lingerie’.  
     
 

KT: Sounds intriguing. Interestingly, your sex scenes have been described as ‘prescribed reading for men’. That’s quite a compliment!

PP:
It most certainly is. But do you honestly think a man would be caught dead reading a book like this?

KT:
Um, no. It’s way too girly looking.

PP:
I’m so glad to hear it! Because I’m writing exclusively for women, after all, not men. And to judge by the letters from my readers, I’m glad to say that I must be doing something right.

KT: What do they say?

PP:
They say that my novels help them escape from the minutiae of real life. And that’s exactly what I set out to do. I’m a consummate escape artist myself.

KT:
Me too. Fantasy land’s a much more congenial place than the real world, isn’t it? Wow – these scones are delicious.

PP: 
So are the pastries. Have one!

KT: I'd better not...

PP: You'll regret it if you don't. These are without question the most delicious pastries I've ever tasted.

KT:
Oh, all right then. Thank-you. Now let me see. What’s the next question I have for you? (I consult my list.) Here we are! What made you decide to write, Pixie?

PP:
Desperation, pure and simple. I was a hand model before I started writing, and I knew I had to find a way of earning a living before my hands started to show signs of ageing. So I approached a bestselling novelist – Lorraine Lavelle - and asked for some advice. She read my manuscript, gave me a constructive critique and put me in touch with her editor. She was legend!

KT:
I was lucky that way too. Deirdre Purcell was my mentor.

PP:
She’s legend, too.

KT: Yes, she is. She told me that the most important words in a writer’s vocabulary are ‘persist, persist, persist’.

PP:
Lorraine said something similar. After looking at my manuscript she told me to ‘polish it, polish it, and polish it some more’. Luckily, I’m not afraid of hard work.

KT:
Do you enjoy writing, Pixie, or is it a slog?

PP:
It’s a bit of both. As I said, the escapist element is what I love most about it. But it can be gruellingly difficult, too. Some days – when I’ve had to perform sustained exercises in lateral thinking - I shut down my computer feeling as though I’ve been through a mangle.

KT:
Me too. When I first started out, I sometimes worked twelve hour days without a break.

PP:
Goodness! That shows some discipline!

KT:
No. It was stupid, really. I worked so hard that my husband actually feared for my health. Are you disciplined about your work, Pixie?

PP:
Extremely.

KT:
What’s your routine?

PP:
I set my alarm for around seven, then lie on in bed for a while, letting my imagination warm up until it starts to run riot. Then I do some SAS exercises, make a litre of fresh juice and boot up my laptop. I write until around six o’clock, and then I revise the day’s work for an hour or so before rewarding myself with a back episode of Friends. What do you reward yourself with?

KT:
A sticky bun. Or two. And when I finish a book, my husband buys a whole chocolate cake to celebrate. (Across the room, I see Pixie’s PR girl checking her watch.) Oops. Your PR girl’s looking a bit antsy. I’d better get on with the questions. Next one. How involved do you get with your characters?

PP:
Intensely. I laugh with them and I cry with them. They’re my best friends. That’s how sad a person I am!

KT:
I can completely relate to that. I wept like a bereaved person once when I had to kill off one of my heroines. And I always fall in love with my heroes.

PP:
Well, that’s inevitable. Who’s going to love them if you don’t?

KT:
Precisely. Which of your heroes are you most keen on?

PP:
I'm rather partial to Alex in Hard to Choos. He’s very naughty. But nice. Like a cream cake. Have one!

KT:
Thank-you! (I help myself to a cream cake that looks like the Matterhorn) Speaking of heroes – is there a man in your life at the moment?

PP:
In my real life?

KT:
Yes. I heard a rumour that -

PP: (with a smile)
Let’s change the subject.

KT:
Oh. OK. Tell me how you relax when you’re not writing?

PP:
I scuba-dive. You do too, don’t you? Didn’t one of your heroines take up diving?

KT:
Yes. Ella, in Going Down.

PP:
Don’t you think it’s as close to heaven on earth as you can get when you dive a reef?

KT:
Damn right. But I I’d hardly describe scuba as relaxing. It’s a bloody tough sport.

PP:
Especially for someone as small as me.

 
    Top of the page
  Pixie is very small. I find it difficult to picture her laden down with tank and pony bottle and weight belt.  
     
 

PP (resuming with a shrug): But that’s life, isn’t it? Life is tough, and - like you said - you have to persist, persist, persist.

KT:
What else do you do to relax, Pixie?

PP:
I fish.

KT:
That’s unusual, for a girl.

PP:
Not any more. The sport’s becoming increasingly popular among women, and I’m a complete devotee – fly-fishing is almost a religion for me. That’s why I love to visit Ireland – Kilrowan in Connemara is my favourite place in the world. I’ve spent some of the happiest hours of my life on the lake at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel. They do a fantastic cream tea there, too.

 
     
  I see the PR person signalling discreetly to me that my time is up.  
     
 

KT: Pixie, it looks like we’ll have to round things up. It was lovely to meet you, and thank-you you very much indeed for your time.

PP:
It was a pleasure. We really have an awful lot in common, don’t we? Here - why don’t you take a pastry with you?

 
     
 

Pixie wraps a pastry in a paper napkin and hands it to me. I put it in my bag and cross the drawing room of the Hamilton hotel feeling half a stone heavier than when I walked in. I recognise the next journalist in line to grill her, who is waiting just outside the door. ‘What’s she like?’ he asks.

I look at the pastry in my hand and think about how effortlessly Ms Pirelli led me into temptation. ‘I guess you could say that she has a pretty mischievous streak,’ I say.

 

     
 

Kate Thompson’s latest novel – ‘Sex, Lies & Fairytales’ is a Bantam paperback.


‘Hard to Choos’ by Pixie Pirelli, is a New Island paperback.

 
   

Top of the page

  © Kate Thompson 2006  

  

 

Site designed and constructed by RAUNCH TIGER wpe9.jpg (5694 bytes)

Check out

 my links page

here