We interview Lindsey Kelk about what inspired her to write on so many different travel destinations and her connection to each of the characters. Lindsey is a British writer who is currently living in busy and thriving New York. Her ‘I Heart’ series is a witty read and great for fun travel ideas, (including jumping on a plane and going anywhere but home), and you’ve got ‘What a Girl Wants’ to look forward to this July!
How are you?
Great, thanks. Really busy at the moment, getting ready to go back to London for the ‘What a Girl Wants’ launch and finishing up the ‘Jenny Lopez Saves Christmas’ ebook. No rest for the wicked!
I love your writing, it’s witty and inspiring for travel. What was your inspiration for the I Heart series?
Thank you so much. The original inspiration was pretty simple, I was bored! Everything was ticking along in my life but I wasn’t especially happy, work, home, boyfriend, all stuck in a bit of a rut. I’d been on holiday to New York with my brother a few months earlier and so I started writing an ‘anywhere but here’ fantasy, six weeks later, I had the first draft of I Heart New York.
Why did you choose those particular locations as the setting for each story?
New York was easy, I’d been in love with the city for years and I knew it well enough to write comfortably about it. The others all came about in different ways, Hollywood because I’d been there with work and I thought Angela’s story would make sense, Paris because I love the city, Vegas because where else could you send Jenny to get into so much trouble? London because it was home and the other places I’ve written about, Toronto, Hawaii and Milan, because they made sense for the stories that I wanted to tell.
What is your favourite place in each location?
Oh, that’s too hard! Hawaii was absolutely my favourite place on earth. There was a secret little beach that we visited on a boat tour and I could have stayed there forever. Other than that, I love the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan and of course, everywhere in New York but Brooklyn is my home.
Are there places you’ve been to that you haven’t written about?
Lots! Last year I was lucky enough to visit a friend in Melbourne and had a fantastic time. I can definitely see a book set in Australia happening sooner or later.
Did anything happen during your travel to those places that effected you but you didn’t touch upon in your stories?
Not really, I’m pretty happy to throw anything that works for a story onto the page. I never write from direct personal experience, everything goes through my writer filter so I don’t tend to hold anything back.
Did anybody in particular inspire the characters of Alex and Jenny?
No. I’m really lucky in that I’ve got some really amazing friends around me, so writing really amazing friend characters is easy. Alex on the other hand was definitely a work of fiction!
What about Angela? Is there a part of you in Angela?
There’s a part of me in all of my characters, the nice ones and, as much as I hate to admit it, the bitchy ones! I think that’s inevitable. When I started writing, she and I were very closely aligned but it’s been so long now and her life has taken a different path to mine, it’s almost like writing an alternate personality. That makes me sound crazy. I might be a little bit crazy.
You live in New York now don’t you? Why New York over all of the other places?
I do and I love it. There’s just something about the city that is electric, it makes me feel fully charged. I grew up in a tiny country village so this is something totally different for me.
You manage to cleverly combine travel, fashion and journalism – was this intentional?
Ha, I don’t know if it’s that clever! Honestly, I wrote ‘I Heart New York’ for myself without planning anything and I never thought it would get published. After that, everything just fell into place. It’s a complete dream.
I can’t choose my favourite from your novels, they’re all amusing and give a lot of information on the locations Angela travels to. Was there logic behind the order of the cities? You started with I Heart New York and ended with I Heart Christmas (which was also based in NY).
Originally I had a story planned for the first three books, so it was only after I wrote Paris that I knew I wanted to tell more of Angela’s story and I knew that at some point I wanted her to come home to London. Other than that, no logic, I just went where the story took me.
In each novel there seems to be a great connection between the location and its generalisations/stereotypes – was it easy to apply the British voice to Angela? And if so, was it harder to stereotype the other characters to the countries they were based in?
I try to avoid stereotyping anyone so fingers crossed that’s not a big problem for any of the readers! Characterisation is important to me, I want everyone, no matter how comical or evil, to seem as though they could be real. Angela’s voice is always easy, she’s British, I’m British, I think when you’ve got a strong sense of self which she has, you don’t lose that. My boyfriend is always laughing at my Britishisms, things you’ve grown up saying never go away, Angela is the same like that.
Are there any other cities that you are planning on using as backdrops to your adventurous stories?
I could tell you but I’d have to kill you… No, really, I’m planning all sorts right now but the next couple of books are set in England.
I read ‘About a Girl’ and can’t wait for the sequel which is out in July. Can you tell us a bit about the location you chose for the sequel? I wouldn’t say no to a snippet of the story either…
Thanks so much! The new book, ‘What a Girl Wants’, is out on July 17th and is set in London and Milan. About a Girl was very much about what you do when the life you had planned for yourself falls apart and you have to start again. What a Girl Wants is about how to make the right choice – when you have two options staring you in the face, how do you know which is the right one? The safe option or the exciting option? The known or the unknown? Plus, it’s funny. Honest.
Get inspiring travel ideas by reading Lindsey’s books:
I Heart New York
I Heart Paris
I Heart Hollywood
I Heart Vegas
I Heart London
I Heart Christmas
Jenny Lopez Has A Bad Week
The Single Girl’s To-Do List
About A Girl
What A Girl Wants
By Arti Rajput