Breaktime with Miss Pratt
Charlotte was a student of The Red Maids school, back in 1989, before we merged with Redland High and became Redmaids' High School. She's recently published her fourth novel and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to find out where her love of writing came from and how her time at school influenced her chosen career path.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself...
I grew up in Bristol, and was at Redmaids from 1989-1996. After school I went to Royal Holloway to study English Literature, and then onto Birmingham to do a Masters in Gender and Women’s Studies. After a couple of years working as a junior features writer at Venue Magazine, I moved to Dubai by myself on a one-way ticket with 23kgs of luggage to be a features editor on a women’s magazine, and I left there 12 years later headed for Rome with a husband, three children and a 40-foot shipping container! I then lived in Italy for four years and moved back to the UK last Summer. We now live in Gloucestershire.
What was your favourite subject at school?
It sounds a little predictable given my career choice, but definitely English!
Was your love for writing influenced by your time at school?
My love for writing began even before Redmaids; at my junior school I would write short stories that my dad would photocopy on his fax machine and I’d sell them at school for 5p! I had an English teacher at Redmaids, Mr Pearson, who wrote a book called That Sinking Feeling, and he signed a copy for me and I still have it today, thirty years later. I remember wishing that one day I too would write a book.
Tell us about writing your first book. How did you come up with the concept and what was the writing experience like?
I actually didn’t tell anyone that I was writing my first novel. I was on maternity leave from my job as a magazine editor, and my third child slept so much I started using his nap times to tinker with a story I had in my mind. I had read a feature in a magazine showcasing ‘hot’ male film-stars with their ‘normal’ looking wives and this feature infuriated me so much I wrote a novel about it!
Has there been one standout moment in your career so far? And if so, can you tell us about it?
Once I’d written my first novel, Me You and Tiramisu, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I had three young children and I knew that I didn’t want to send it off to agents and get lots of rejections, so I self-published it. Then the annual Emirates Lit Fest took place in Dubai and there was a competition for unpublished and self-published writers. I entered it, and I came second, and landed an agent and a three-book deal with Harper Collins! I still pinch myself that I was lucky enough for my publishing journey to start this way. My second standout moment was two years ago, during lockdown, when my fourth book went to auction and four different publishers were bidding on it; I was getting phone calls from my agent every few minutes updating me, and it was terrifying and exciting and absolutely mindblowing that this was happening to me!
What would your advice be to students who would love to pursue a similar career to you?
Write. Write everyday even when you don’t feel like writing. If you have a day where you feel happy, write comedy or joyful scenes, if you’re having a blue day then tap into that and write an emotional one. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit you, just start writing and it will find you. And if you’re not already, become a very nosy person! Look at everyone around you, take in their mannerisms, the way they sit, walk, talk. Every one has the potential to become a character, and every story you hear can form part of a plot.
Charlotte’s new book By This Time Tomorrow is out now in paperback, ebook and on audible and is published by Hodder & Stoughton. We look forward to welcoming Charlotte to Redmaids' High School in September to take part in our weekly careers talks for our Sixth form students.