You know the types of books that you pack in your suitcase, itching to start reading before your holiday begins but you know you should wait until you can fully immerse yourself? The books that make you excited to be away from home, to climb into the hazy heads of the rich and famous and completely escape into a world of glittering, expensive, wild parties and situations that only those with that much money could get themselves into. A relaxing holiday can be just as much about an exciting plot as it is about the holiday location, helping you transport yourself to a place far, far away from the dreariness of daily life.
Aita's writing welcomes us into this world. We are invited behind the scenes of the most private and scandalous parties that host the world's most powerful people. In last year's novel Sin Tropez we met best friends Tara and Abena, who with their combined beauty and money, stir up enough trouble to last another ten chapters. We learn about the dangerous side of money and the dark side of seemingly glamorous love affairs. In Aita's follow up novel All That Glitters we go back to dipping into this dazzling lifestyle, but this time, we learn along with money and power also come frightening responsibilities.
I wanted to interview Aita about the inspiration behind the novel and whether any of the characters or stories may be based on any of her own past experiences...
Your first book, Sin Tropez, is about sex, sun and excessive behaviour. What can we expect from the next book?
I loved writing Sin Tropez, but when it came to writing my upcoming book, All That Glitters I wanted to see if I could set myself a fresh challenge. I wanted to keep all the glamour and excitement of Sin Tropez but explore a slightly different type of protagonist. This time around, my lead character is ambitious almost beyond belief. She's beautiful, she's charismatic and she's hungry, perhaps too hungry, for everything she feels she deserves. She's a complex and extraordinary character, so as you can imagine, this leads her on a very exciting journey. There is even a murder in All That Glitters and the suspense that this storyline creates turns the novel into more of a 'thriller'.
Where is the upcoming book set?
I like to write about people who are not limited by country borders. People who live all over the world and will fly from Ibiza to Sao Paulo at a moment's notice. The action in this novel takes the reader from the historic colleges of Oxford University to the corridors of power in London's Westminster, then onto the wild parties of Miami, and aboard the super-yachts bobbing and preening along Italy's stunning Amalfi Coast. But it's not all glitz and glamour - along the way there is some serious grit, smut and seediness everywhere from London to South America!
Where did you find the inspiration behind the extravagance of the main characters?
I'm always watching people. That probably sounds a bit creepy, but I love to observe. I travel a lot and often, if I have free time, I'll find somewhere nice to perch for a while and spend hours watching people go by, observing their habits and idiosyncrasies. But I've been privileged to have had many interesting life experiences myself which have brought me into contact with extraordinary people....
Is there a central message you try and tell your readers through your writing?
I don't like to preach, and I prefer my readers to take what they want from my novels - to relate to them in their own individual ways and to put their unique spin on an interpretation. I guess, though, the questions that go through my mind as I write are often around the issue of the fine line between greed and ambition, between healthy self-esteem and vanity or arrogance. I'm interested in the correlation between sex and power. I'm fascinated by the ability of money to corrupt and to do good. There are always many questions in my head as I write.
Are any of your characters based on your real friends or experiences?
Based is probably too strong a word. Inspired is more apt. Often something in someone will inspire a character, but it could be in a very abstract way. Sometimes it'll be the way someone laughs, for example, but by the time the character makes the book they'll have been completely altered - maybe an entirely different age, sex and nationality. I try very hard to make sure characters are not recognizable out of respect for people's privacy more than anything else. But I do believe in the whole 'write about what you know' thing and so everything I write has to be set in a world that I am knowledgeable about. Clearly I haven't experienced all of the things I write about but I'll certainly have seen it or know people who have! I feel it's a duty of a writer to write with authenticity.
Do you find yourself cringing at all when writing the sex scenes?
Hahaha! Sometimes. But when I'm writing I think not as myself but as the particular character I'm writing about, which makes the whole thing a lot more palatable. Quite fun even!
What's the hardest part about writing a book?
The hardest part is containing all the excitement rushing around in your head, channeling it into the written word and managing to have retained all of that energy in the story by the time it reaches the page.
Would you ever write a book in another genre of fiction?
Absolutely! All That Glitters is already a slight departure from Sin Tropez in that it is more of a thriller. But there are many books I'd still like to write. I'd love to experiment with form and theme.
Where's your favourite place to visit and why?
I've never been the type of person who goes back to one place all the time. It entirely depends on my mood and who I'm with. I certainly don't want to take my grandmother to the same place I'd want to be with a lover. As a general rule, though, anywhere where you can be close to nature and the elements without having to pile on layers of protective clothing is a good start, so somewhere nice and hot. There is also something wonderfully calming about the sight of rippling water for miles around and the gentle sway of a boat.