After reading Millie and the American Wedding then Millie and the American University I was really excited that Annabel agreed to answer some questions for me.
My reviews for each book are here:
Annabel Scott lives in the South of France. When not chained to her laptop, Annabel can be found basking in the sun in the summer, heading to the ski slopes in the winter (to drink hot chocolate and watch – she can’t ski) or having a sneaky treat from the patisserie – all year round! She is the author of the ‘Millie and the American….’ series and also writes under the pseudonym of Anna Bell.
1. How did the story of Millie start?
I was trying (and failing) to get another book noticed by a publisher or an agent. So as a way to build my profile as an aspiring author I decided to write a book and as I competed each chapter recorded it as a podcast and put it on iTunes. It took eight months, and I put up a new podcast about every two weeks. I hadn’t planned the book before I started but amazingly it ended up as a complete book. I think that’s why it’s a bit like a soap opera as I’d sit down to write a chapter trying to make it follow on from the last whilst making sure it ended on some sort of cliffhanger.
The story itself was inspired by two fabulous American weddings that I attended and there are a few elements of the story that happened to me!
2. The book is set in a America, how did you research for the book?
I was lucky enough to study at an American university for a year as part of my degree. I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with the US so studying there was a dream. I’ve got two very close friends from my time there and since I left there in 2002 I’ve been back quite a lot to visit. I also attended their weddings which is when I realised how different they do things over the pond.
I know New York fairly well thanks to my trips, but I use Google Streetview a lot and I also pick the brains of native New Yorkers that I know too and get them to test read.
3. What did you edit out?
I actually didn’t edit anything out of Millie and the American Wedding largely because I podcasted it chapter by chapter as I wrote it. When I decided to release it as an ebook I did a minor copy edit on it, but I didn’t change anything other than typos.
4. Without giving anything away, did you always plan the ending how it was or was you ever tempted to change it?
Again as I made it up a chapter at a time I honestly didn’t know how the book was going to end. It was one of those books that truly had a mind of it’s own. I would write scenes (especially the airport one) that would break my heart but once written I’d know I couldn’t change them. I slightly wish that I hadn’t written an epilogue. I tried to tie up all the loose ends of the novel but now I’m embarking on the sequel I’ve got to unravel a few of those ends!
5. Are there any traits of yours that Millie has?
I think my friends would say that I have. I used to get myself in pretty ridiculous situations, before I calmed down and became a happily married woman, of course. My friends would listen to my stories and tell me it could only happen to me, which is a bit like Millie.
Now onto Millie and the American University;
6. Millie and the American University is the prequel to Millie and the American Wedding, did you always plan to bring this out after the first book?
I always wanted to write a sequel to the book, but every time I thought about what would happen I kept thinking that people needed to see how it all began. I think that Millie and the American Wedding presents Rob quite negatively and I wanted to give readers the opportunity to fall for him, like Millie had, to see why he has such a big effect on her life.
7. In This one you could of easily focused on just the romance between Millie and Rob and didn’t, why was that?
I like to think that Millie’s year in America was a pivotal time in her life. As the only British girl on campus it put her in a limelight that she’d never had before. The shy, unconfident Millie that steps off the plane at the beginning of Millie and the American University is very different to the feisty one in the pages of the Millie and the American Wedding. I wanted readers to see this transition and how Millie came out of her shell.
8. What your writing process? Did you ever suffer writers block?
Usually I write a really quick and dirty first draft in a matter of weeks. I then spend weeks/months editing it over, and over again, until I finally get sick of it and send it to an editor to read with fresh eyes.
I found writing Millie and the American University the hardest book I’ve written, mainly because it felt like I was reliving my time at an American university. It’s not autobiographical in any way (the whipped cream incident definitely didn’t happen to me) but the campus, the parties, the greek culture were all very much based on my experiences. I stopped half way through writing it and wrote another book. When I came back to it I seemed to have divorced mine and Millie’s lives and found it much easier.
9. My favourite part of the book is Millie and Rob’s trip in New York, what was your favourite part?
I loved that trip to New York too! I haven’t ever been to those places (other than the ferry) so I’ve told my husband that we’re reliving their day on our next trip to New York.
Yet, my favourite part of the book is where Millie does the “crawl”. Essentially Millie has to do a bar crawl of the different fraternities on campus, drinking a drink in each one. Being Millie, she’s resourceful and tries to get out of drinking too much by doing ridiculous things like signing body parts and flashing her bits. I too did a crawl on my campus and it was one of the funniest nights of my life. There are only a few people that were with me that night who know which bits in the book are fact and which bits are fiction!
10. You mentioned another Millie book, can you tell us anything about what we could expect?
The next Millie book (Millie and the American Proposal) is set a few years after the wedding. Millie gets offered a work secondment to New York which allows her to be reunited with the old gang. But when Millie’s boyfriend gets offered a long term contract in Singapore, she soon finds herself having to decide what she really wants from life.
After that there’s going to be one more book in the series, and whilst I can’t tell you about the plot, I can tell you that it’s going to be called Millie and the British Wedding.
@writer_annabel on twitter
Links for the books:
Millie and the American Wedding
Millie and the American University
Thank you Annabel for taking the time to answer my questions I really appreciate it.