I’ve wanted to interview Jacquelyn Middleton for my blog for awhile. Originally, it was as part of my “inspiring” people series – I was inspired by her successful move from broadcast production and programming into award winning magazine writer. Anyone that can make such a scary change inspires me. Things got busy and often, it’s hard to find the time to interview people, but when she announced “London Belongs to Me” was coming out, that was a whole other cool factor and I had to reach out to find out more. It gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jackie (JM), which was great, and find out more about her book and her writing process.
Q: How did you start writing?
JM: I started contributing to the Slice website (where she formerly worked). I always wanted to do more writing and freelance writing seemed to be a good fit.
Q: But why the complete career change?
JM: I got laid off in 2008 from a job I loved in broadcast, but was writing for a website. This gave me a portfolio of work that I had done. There were family issues that I needed to be around for and free-lance writing provided me with the flexibility that I needed.
Q: So you always wanted to write?
JM: YES! My Mum would tell me that I needed to write a book, but that was scary because I thought what if I can’t do it? What if I don’t have the goods to deliver the thing that I most want to do? I was inspired by Stephen Beresford (he is an English actor and writer for stage and TV). He wrote Pride, my favourite movie for many reasons. Pride was at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and I wanted to talk to him, but he was chatting with someone else so I didn’t get to tell him how much he inspired me at that moment. As a freelance magazine writer, though, I got to interview him! In magazines, if you have a great idea, you can make it happen. I pitched an idea to Script Lab after he was nominated for a BAFTA for Pride. I interviewed him in London (twice including last September). He was wonderful – he delivered in the interview, was funny, and I just adored him. He inspired me because nothing he ever wrote for TV ever went through, but he wrote a play and the National Theatre picked it up. Remember, this was his first play and it was picked up by the biggest theatre in the world. Then, Pride was picked up and he just made it happen. He didn’t sit around and procrastinate. Seeing him do this was a huge inspiration. After the first interview with him, I knew that I needed to write a book. I needed to try, even if it didn’t get published. The book is a tribute to my Mum.
Q: How autobiographical is “London Belongs to Me”? How close is the heroine, Alex Sinclair to you?
JM: Alex isn’t very similar to me at all. I never moved to London, but I got to live vicariously through Alex. I didn’t have a tumultuous relationship with my Mum. My own Mum was my everything. I had to visualize Alex’s relationship by removing my mother from my life and imagining what Alex went through. Alex’s love of London is similar to my own and her drive to pursue the career that she wants is very much like me. There are traits of Alex that I share and people who know me will pick up on them. Parts of me are in every character of the book. It’s fun writing a book. There are little tributes to people that only you or a select few would pick up on.
Q: Do you tell people that you know who the various characters are based on?
JM: No, I’ve stopped. I can’t tell people in case they are wrong because that is how they are reading the story. It’s personal and you should be able to read the story with who you pick or think the characters are. I like it when people guess though.
Q: The book has a lot of fan girl moments. What are your ultimate fan girl moments?
JM: Meeting Simon LeBon from Duran Duran (Jill here – did I mention that Jackie has great taste in bands?) for the first time. He never disappoints. I have so many though! Just a note, Jackie goes to Fan Expos and has met a lot of really cool people including one of my celebrity loves, Benedict Cumberbatch!
Q: What books inspired you to write “London Belongs to Me”?
JM: Charlotte’s Web (She really has great taste in books, that’s my fave too!), 84 Charring Cross Road (true story and gorgeous movie), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and My Love Affair with England (Jackie read it in 1993 before she went to England for the first time) all inspired me.
I’ll reveal more of the process behind writing a book in my next entry. Remember that London can belong to you too if you order it! Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale. You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!
Jackie – thank you for being so patient with all of my questions!