Guest: Sue Margolis (and a contest!)

Please help us welcome Sue Margolis to Romancing the Book.

Before becoming a writer, Sue worked as a reporter for the BBC. She lives in London with her journalist husband. They have three grown up children.  She can be found online at and

When asked where she got her ideas, a writer friend of mine replied sniffily: “Actually I get them from Bloomingdales. I think they get them from a wholesaler in Hong Kong.” It annoyed her that people thought her ideas somehow weren’t her own.

And yet so much of what writers write isn’t really their own. Writers are ideas magpies and if there’s a queen magpie, it’s me. I don’t go anywhere without the tiny notebook my husband bought for me. It’s moleskin. The paper is heavy and of the finest quality. It’s made by Smythson, stationers to the Queen. This is a notebook that demands to be filled with great – and more to the point original – literary thoughts, preferable written with a Mont Blanc fountain pen.

Mine is filled with snippets of stolen conversation and stuff my girlfriends have told me over the years. They’re mostly written in Biro, but there’s the odd entry scrawled in eyeliner pencil.

In one of my books, the heroine goes on a first date in a sleeveless dress, only to discover she forgot to shave under one arm. True story. Unless you swear them to secrecy, ‘sharing’ with a writer is fatal.

My latest book, A Catered Affair, opens with the heroine’s mother, Shelley on the phone to a woman who is threatening to commit suicide by jumping off a ledge. It turns out that Shelley’s phone number is almost the same as the local Samaritans and hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t get a call from somebody determined to end it all. Another true story, which my son’s, girlfriend’s mother would be happy to confirm!

My latest notebook entry is: “God, I’d hate to be 39. That’s a hundred and two in gay years.” Overheard in a coffee shop.

I pick up my best material at the hairdresser’s. John, my stylist, greets me with a double kiss. I’ll compliment him on his newly curled and tinted eyelashes. “You know, Sue, “ he’ll say, “I got up today, took one look at myself in the mirror and realised that God gave and then he just carried on giving.” Out comes the book.

All around me, beautiful women are being refurbished. Most are ignoring the colourist or manicurist. Instead they are on their cell phones. Every other word seems to be: LA, my agent or the nanny.

I overhear somebody telling the girl cutting her hair that she has found this wonderful organic food co-operative. “Doesn’t that mean you have to work there a few days a month?” the girl enquires.

“God, God, no. I send my cleaner.”

Again, I reach for the notebook. Another couple of lines to be used in a novel one day.

A well known London socialite is feeling a bit peckish and is demanding that one of the juniors goes out in the rain and fetches take-out menus from all the local eateries. Next to her, Baroness von Something has lost her diamond ring and half a dozen people are crawling around on their knees looking for it.

John is muttering about the guy opposite who’s having a pedicure. “Omigod. How gay is that?”

Turns out that John has news. He got a call over the weekend from the wife of some African dictator who wanted him to fly over to do her hair. Mugabe was visiting and she wanted to look her best. “So there I am in madam what’s her name’s private jet, drinking champagne and I’m thinking this isn’t bad for a lad who came from nowhere.”

We worked out that John’s fee aside, it must have cost the dictator’s wife tens of thousands to get him over for the day.

“And then, when I get there she’s like: ‘John, darling, don’t cut too much off’.”

I leave the salon re-furbished and refreshed, another page of my notebook filled with gems.

Contest details:

  • The prize is a print copy of A Catered Affair.
  • The contest is open to everyone.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, August 21.

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