A stint on a reality TV show helped inspire Rosie Millard’s latest novel, The Brazilian.
1. Tell us more about your latest book, The Brazilian?
It’s a comic satire about a group of people first encountered in my debut novel The Square – middle-class Londoners who have too much money and are desperate for fame and a bit of extra-marital sex to spice up their lives! I take them off to Ibiza and connect them with a terrible TV reality show from which they get voted off. In the mix is a lesbian affair, a missing child (but not for long) and lots of silly jokes about donkeys and British snobbery.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for the novel?
I was inspired partly by being cast on a grim TV reality show called Celebrity Five Go To Lanzerote, from which I was eliminated first! This is a chance to get my own back. I was also inspired by key knowledge of how middle-class people like to have their holidays, ie just like at home, with their friends and neighbours and all mod cons around them.
3. Do you have a favourite part from The Brazilian?
I love my character George who is an 8-year-old boy. He runs away to go and find his friends. I am so fond of him that I couldn’t bear anything bad to happen to him, so nothing bad happens to him. He’s very wise beyond his years and adorable.
4. Do you see yourself in any of the characters in your novels?
I fear I am like the main heroine Jane who is a right cow and a snob. I have put all the worst of me into her. I enjoyed writing her. Hopefully it was a cathartic exercise and I will be much improved for it.
5. When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I am a national newspaper journalist and I decided to write a novel when I got fired from the Sunday Times about 4 years ago and had very little work. I took a fiction writing course for 6 months and from that wrote my first novel The Square. That did quite well so I opted to write a sequel. Everything they say about ‘that difficult second novel’ is absolutely true. Fiction writing is the hardest thing I have ever done, bar perhaps the Great Wall of China Marathon, and the second novel is twice as hard as the first, probably because you put all your good ideas into the first one immediately.
6. What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?
I have just read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It is a devastating book about the hopelessness of redemption and features four friends in contemporary New York. Its a very tough read but it is a life-changing novel and I am recommending it to everyone I meet.
7. Do you listen to music when writing? And if so, what kind of music inspires you?
I love the music of JS Bach and very cheesy 1970s rock. I love to listen to my children practising their instruments, which they do right beside my office. I never get bored with it.
8. Have you ever been stuck while writing one of your books? How did you get over it?
I’m a journalist! We never have writer’s block! If I came to a difficult moment, and writing fiction is all difficult, I simply went along the route of throwing a very tricky situation in the path of my characters and seeing how they got out of it. Seemed to work for me.
9. Has any other writer in particular influenced the way you write?
Both my novels are satirical and sunny and I think they are influenced by my personal and moral outlook more than any other writer in particular. I am not bold enough to say I am influenced by my favourite writers who include Hilary Mantel and George Eliot!
10. What’s next for you?
I’m going to train for the Tokyo Marathon. It’s the final one in the Marathon Masters series for me. Only about 1000 women in the world have completed all six. Can’t wait!
Following a sensational scandal at one of London’s most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow. Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.
As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager. One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed…
Rosie Millard is a freelance journalist and writer. She was BBC Arts Correspondent for ten years, and has been a profile writer for The Sunday Times, columnist for The Independent, arts editor and theatre critic for The New Statesman. She is Chair, Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Rosie has four children, runs marathons and lives in central London.