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Five things that inspired How (Not) To Date A Prince

Updated: Sep 30, 2018



How (Not) To Date A Prince has been out for just over a month now. I'm so glad people seem to be enjoying the book!


I thought it would be fun to write about some of the celebrities, items, experiences and places that inspired me when I wrote the novel.



Morten Harket


I don’t know about other writers, but I need to know exactly what all my characters look like as I write. I’ll usually have a person I know in mind or a celebrity, even if the character’s personality is completely unrelated to that individual.


When I came up with the character of Anders - the mysterious love interest in How (Not) To Date A Prince - I searched on Pinterest for ‘hot Norwegian guy’, a search which delivered lots of images of 1980s pop star Morten Harket. I liked the look of him, so he is how I imagined Anders, except I imagine Anders to be a bit less punky. And certainly without such a massive quiff!


‘I’m Sam. Samantha Fischer.’ I reach out to shake his hand and, as our palms clasp, it feels like a current is passing through us. The air fizzes and everything else is drowned out. I gaze into his eyes, deep and blue as a fjord. His face really is remarkably handsome, strong-boned with high cheekbones, smooth skin and a healthy glow. He’s magnetic, but it’s not just his conventional good looks that are appealing, it’s the twinkle in his eyes that feels infectious. As we hold the handshake for a fraction of a second too long, our gaze lingering on one another, I can’t help wondering if he feels it too. Does he feel that pull? The tension? The spark?



Cinderella Jimmy Choos


I originally saw these bad boys in Selfridges. They were displayed on a revolving plinth and cost a whopping £3,500.


They’re the perfect dreamy princess shoes and I couldn't resist featuring them in the book.


One of my favourite parts in How (Not) To Date A Prince is when my heroine, Sam, loses one of her glass-slipper style shoes at the Royal Wedding and Anders presents it to her later, like a true Prince Charming. Clearly Cinderella had a profound influence on me as a child!


I stop in my tracks. My desk no longer resembles a desk. It’s a mountain of wedding kitsch, like a six-year-old girl’s fairy-tale fantasy has exploded all over the place where my computer used to sit. I can barely see it for all the reams of lace, veils, glittering tiaras, roses, bottles of Moët, sparkly cupcakes and pastel-coloured macaroons in tiny wedding favour pouches swamping it. I take a step closer and resting on top of a pile of lace is a pair of rhinestone-embellished glass slippers where my keyboard used to be. They’re quintessential princess shoes, the kind of thing Cinderella would have worn.



Tobey Maguire


Sam is a politics reporter but her boss gets her to cover the Royal Wedding and appoints an assistant to help her out, freelance journalist, Simon. While Phil, Sam's boss, thinks Simon would be good for the job, he's also trying to play Cupid!


I typed ‘cute geek celebrities’ into Pinterest, which generated loads of images of Spiderman actor Tobey Maguire, who I suppose is the quintessential cute geek.


He looked perfect for the character of Simon and so as I wrote scenes featuring Simon, I’d often look back over pictures I’d pinned of the actor.


‘So, ummm, what was that you said about us covering the royal wedding?’ I ask, meeting his gaze. He looks about my age, with sleepy-looking blue eyes that match his tie and artfully messy dark gelled hair.


Neuschwanstein castle


The Royal Wedding in How (Not) To Date A Prince takes place at a beautiful palace surrounded by mountains and fjords in the Norwegian countryside.


Sam is a hardened Londoner and yet she becomes totally swept up in the magic of visiting such a romantic place. I got carried away in the fantasy too as I wrote the wedding scenes.


I based the descriptions of the palace on images of Neuschwanstein castle in Germany. I also went on holiday to Norway when I was 15 so I could remember what the fjords and mountains were like. I’d love to go back to Norway as it's truly stunning.


With vast spires rising to the sky, arched windows and an imposing clock tower, the castle shimmers in gold-flecked stone at the top of a hill surrounded by lush woodland. A winding river traces alongside, leading to a lagoon-like fjord in the distance; it’s like something from a fairy tale. Even me, politics obsessed as I am, couldn’t help but get swept up in slushy daydreams as I gazed at pictures of it.


My life as a journalist


Sam is a politics reporter for a national newspaper, which isn’t a far cry from my old life.


I used to write about UK and world news for a national newspaper too, covering a great deal of political stories. Sam adores her job, while for me, it never quite felt like my calling. I enjoyed some elements of it, like meeting people and learning about new topics, but I certainly wasn’t as much of a die-hard newshound as Sam. Deep down, I’ve always wanted to be a novelist.


However, it was fun to think back to those days and be able to incorporate elements of my former life into Sam’s character.


He swivels his chair over to Matt’s desk so he can read the article on his monitor, editing it line by line at super-fast speed and barking corrections at him, which Matt rapidly fixes, his fingers darting over the keyboard. Matt’s cheeks are flushed, his mind working at razor-sharp speed as the adrenalin of breaking the story surges through him. I know that feeling. It’s the feeling I chased when I went into journalism; the rush of breaking a story is one of best natural highs. The eagerness to be first, to beat the competition, and deliver your story straight to the public. It’s thrilling.



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