Interview with Sophie King

picture sophie jerrySophie King (also writing as Janey Fraser) is a journalist and novelist. Her novels include the bestseller The School Run (2005), and The Wedding Party (2010), which was short listed for the RNA Love Story of The Year.

Corazon Books published Sophie’s first short story collection, Tales from the Heart, in July 2012 and since then it has gained rave reviews and been in the Top Ten short story chart on Amazon. In August 2012 we published a revised and repackaged ebook edition of The School Run, which has gone on to be a Top Ten Kindle ebook and #1 in Amazon’s Women Fiction & Writers chart. We published Sophie’s brand new novel, Falling in Love Again (Divorce for Beginners), in December 2012 and an updated edition of Mums@Home, called Love is a Secret in May 2013.

In between novels, Sophie writes short stories and has had hundreds published in magazines such as Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. She also gives regular talks/workshops at bookshops and literary festivals including Winchester and Guildford. Until her recent move to Devon, she tutored at Oxford University and West Herts College. For three years, she was writer in residence at HMP Grendon, a high-security male prison. She has also appeared several times on breakfast television and Woman’s Hour, including a Christmas programme on rivalry in the kitchen!

In 2005, she won the Elizabeth Goudge Short Story Trophy and was a runner up in the Harry Bowling Prize. Sophie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association; Women in Journalism; the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and the National Union of Journalists.

Where do you write?
At the top of the house in my study. If you peer over the rooftops, you can see the sea. I have a sign on the wall that says BY THE SEA, ALL WORRIES WASH AWAY. I find it very calming. I also have two cartoons that The Oldie did of me, about my work as a writer in residence of a high security prison. And of course, I have walls, lined with books. Behind me is a sofa where my dog sleeps. He’s very protective if anyone tries to interrupt me.

Do you have a favourite literary character?
Jane Eyre. When I was younger, I felt an affinity with her because we shared the same name and were both painfully shy.

Is there a book by another author that you wish you had written?
Salley Vickers’ Miss Garnet’s Angel. It has a voice all of its own

Is there a book that you have always meant to read, but still haven’t got round to doing so?
Funny you should ask that. I was discussing this at the weekend with my eldest son. It’s Cloud Atlas. I have two copies on my bookshelf (not sure why) but I still haven’t got round to it. I might break my own rules and see the film first.

What is the first book you remember reading?
The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. I still have it although it’s missing some pages. I’ve written my name just inside the cover: you can see, from the style, that I have just learned to write which meant I was about two and a half at the time. My mother used to say I was a very early writer and reader. The same cannot be said for my mathematical abilities but I’d much rather be a writer than a mathematician.

What are you currently reading?
Dearest Rose by Rose Coleman. I’m also reading Our Island Story by HE Marshall, about Britain’s history.

If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
The Bible.

Which is the best book you have received as a gift?
A beautiful leather-bound collection of Charlotte Bronte’s works from my mother, one Christmas. I wish I knew where it is now. But that’s what death, divorce (and moving house) does in a family. Things go missing, including hearts. However, my new husband has come, complete with several books of his own. He introduced me to the writer Robertson Davies who is a real find. He reminds me of a more modern-day Trollope.

Who would be at your dream dinner party (living or dead)?
Charles Dickens. Queen Victoria. Diana, Princess of Wales. My mother. Wendy Cope (I love her poetry). My husband and children. Fay Weldon. Russell Crowe. Judy Dench. That would do for starters. I love mixing people up from different walks of life. Between Christmas and New Year, we always have a huge drinks party. Everyone always meets someone they’ve never met before.