The art of launching a book

Gallery Girl was my tenth novel, a romp through the chucklesome world of contemporary art. My favourite character is sexy, naughty Zeb Spaw, the baddest art bad boy who ever picked up a paintbrush (and then put it straight back down because nailing knickers to chopping boards was so much easier and got him more headlines). Because I had such fun writing about him and the terrible works he produces, I decided to actually pretend to be him, do my own spoof contemporary art exhibition and mount it in a smart London gallery.

Wendy at Zeb Spaw exhibition launch

‘angry-with-britain’, as I called it, attracted a great deal of attention from the art world (’Hilarious’ The Daily Telegraph). Wendy at Zeb Spaw exhibition launchYou can see Zeb’s/my entire ’oeuvre’ on the here, just click the the exhibition catalogue to the left (written by my husband, who also did some of the artworks). Scroll down and enlarge on screen to get the full show. Highlights include ’Flash in the Pan’, a fierce critique of celebrity culture in the form of a gold-sprayed loo. ’Pants’ is a meditation on the human condition through the medium of a pair of large white Y fronts. ’Hunter Gatherer’ is a consideration of the shop-till-you-drop ethic expressed with abandoned shopping lists picked up from trolleys in the local Waitrose. Enjoy - and be angry!!

To see me talking about Gallery Girl, and also Wild and Free, click here

When Wendy Met Jilly

There’s a lot of love in the room as popular novelists Jilly Cooper and Wendy Holden meet. As Good Housekeeping’s Lucy Moore discovers, they have lots in common, despite being a generation apart.

GH: How would you describe what you write?

JILLY; Someone once said I was Barbara Cartland without the iron knickers! Wendy and I both like to make people laugh but we’re also journalists, so we take the subject by the throat.

WENDY; Exactly. It’s entertainment, but there has to be something at the core to keep you going.

GH: You both specialise in larger-than-life, colourful characters. How do you create them?

Pic of Wendy and Jilly Cooper

W: Inspiration can come from anywhere but particularly the papers, the glossies and celebrity magazines. Anywhere where people with over-the-top lifestyles are encouraged to say idiotic things.

J: Wendy’s writing is brilliant because she is so contemporary. Because I didn’t know her, I had a vision of her living right in the middle of Chelsea.

W: I wish! I live in the country and hardly see anyone..

J: I don’t see anyone for months!

W: I imagine you surrounded by an admiring coterie at all times!

J: No, just dogs and cats!

GH: You both invent marvellous names for characters – how do these come about?

J: I have to admit, I like beautiful people! Everybody says there are far too many in my books and the only thing I’ll say in my defence is look at Tolstoy and Homer. All their characters were delicious. I’m obsessed with heroism. Hengist was heroic but I really can’t decide whether or not to bring him back again.

W: Oh you should. I love him and his wife – she’s very rude. Under her chaste Jaeger knits, she’s red hot!

J: I like those sorts of women!

W: And you have to have at least one character who aspires to goodness. You can’t just have a comedic maelstrom where no one emerges with much credit. Jilly’s heroines are always fabulous too. They glow, and you’re desperate when you shut the book because they’re not in your life any more.

J: The world is very frightened at the moment and people take themselves very seriously. Women of Wendy’s and Emily’s age are thinking ’I’m bringing gorgeous children into the world and what future have they got?’ You need to try and cheer people up. That’s what we both want – to make people happy.

GH: Location is crucial to both your books. How do you decide where to set them?

W: For me it’s usually London or the north of England, as that’s what I know. But I would love to write a book set in Gloucestershire! I know it’s Jilly’s stamping ground but there’s such a lot going on. All those rockers, actors and celebrities. Jilly, you must see them hanging out all the time?

J: Never! But people can go on bus tours round Gloucestershire now past all our houses. I found out the other day that there’s even a ‘Jillywood’ tour. It’s rather bizarre, I must say…

By now the pair seem to have been friends for ever and have worked up a substantial appetite. They head off for lunch, arm in arm and still nattering. Don’t forget to put ‘they’re friends for life’ when you come to write about us!’ Jilly says to me. ‘And Wendy, darling, when are you coming to stay?’