Join Esther Freud to talk about our March Book of the Month, Lucky Break, Tuesday 27 March 9-10pm

(121 Posts)

I am thrilled to announce that March's writer is the stupendous Esther Freud, who started out as an actor (specifically, as an alien in Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen) and then went on to write Hideous Kinky, and followed it up with seven more books, including The Wild and The Sea House. In her latest novel, LUCKY BREAK, Esther explores the theatrical world with piercing insight (and a lot of insider knowledge, given her own training and her marriage to David Morrissey).

The story starts with a gauche, anxious group of students at their first day at Drama Arts. Nell, who is no red-carpet queen, feels destined to a lifetime of character parts. Charlie, however, believes success is only her due. Dan has to overcome private fears and the demands of a family to reach his ambition. All of them are made interesting and likeable - no mean feat, given the luvvieness and often ludicrous behaviour of thespy types - by Freud's observant and sympathetic writing. And it is often very funny too. As the Observer put it, 'it is to Freud's immense credit that she has made a profession threaded through by fakery appear so indelibly and excruciatingly real.'

Read more about the book at our book of the month page, plus you can see what the Telegraph says here

The generous folks at Bloomsbury have 100 copies of the book to give away to Mumsnetters. To claim yours, please go to the book of the month page and fill in your details.

We'll post on the thread when all the copies have been sent out but if you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here

Esther Freud will be joining us to talk about LUCKY BREAK, acting, writing and all her novels, on Tuesday 27 March, 9-10pm. So whatever you want to ask and whichever of her books you've read, do come and join us.

Look forward to seeing you all then, and keep posting your thoughts and any advance questions on this thread...

Hullygully Wed 29-Feb-12 11:55:09

Dunnit

Fast fingers

DuchessofMalfi Wed 29-Feb-12 12:15:16

I've requested a copy too, fingers crossed smile. Sounds like a really good read.

kandinskysgirl Wed 29-Feb-12 12:20:24

I have done it too, sounds like a brilliant book. I already had read last months book club book so would be nice to read one along with everybody else.

Neenook Wed 29-Feb-12 12:56:21

Done. Sounds like a great book
Fingers crossed now smile

MayCanary Wed 29-Feb-12 13:01:30

Done - sounds good. Hoping for the best smile

tigercametotea Wed 29-Feb-12 13:47:26

Done smile

QuickLookBusy Wed 29-Feb-12 14:25:55

Done it-sounds a good read

Abcinthia Wed 29-Feb-12 15:54:42

Done smile

Nevergarglebrandybutter Wed 29-Feb-12 16:01:11

The reviews on amazon are not great on this one. Hope i get a free one this time. Have a copy of hideous kinky I keep meaning to read too.

Hullygully Wed 29-Feb-12 17:26:19

Break a leg

chipmonkey Wed 29-Feb-12 17:42:20

Hideous Kinky is great!

juneybean Wed 29-Feb-12 18:52:44

Done, thanks smile

LottieJenkins Wed 29-Feb-12 20:44:21

Hi Esther. Slight Hijack here. You don't know me but i knew your lovely Mum. She was such a kind lady and she always asked after my son who has disabilties when she saw me in our local shop. She was a wonderful lady and I miss seeing her around! sad

bigbadbarry Wed 29-Feb-12 21:06:55

Hideous Kinky is one of my desert island all-time favourites smile

Done!!! fingers crossed.

Though I am seriously envy of married to David Morrissey (am I allowed to say that?!).

Freddiesmother Thu 01-Mar-12 19:41:51

Hmm doesn't seem to be published in paperback until 29 march?! Am I missing something?

HandMadeTail Thu 01-Mar-12 21:12:26

LottieJenkins, I'm thinking that if Esther Freud's novels are in any way autobiographical, you may have found her mother more caring than she did?

LottieJenkins Thu 01-Mar-12 22:54:19

HandMadeTail I havent read Esthers books so can't comment. I just know how i found BC and thought she was a nice lady!!

Just thought I'd add that everyone should feel free to discuss the book and post questions/thoughts/opinions at any point over the month. And then when Esther comes on, she'll answer the stack of questions and take any fresh ones that come up that evening.

And feel free to chat to her about Hideous Kinky, or whichever book you'd like to talk about.

I'm enjoying the insights, whilst also biting my fists thinking how completely rubbish and hopeless I would be as an actor. I would either be speechless with derision (at the Stanivlasky Method) or speechless with fright (at having to be watched). I can't even manage Christmas charades without my heart thumping. I wouldn't last one day.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 02-Mar-12 14:59:07

Freddiesmother

Hmm doesn't seem to be published in paperback until 29 march?! Am I missing something?

Thanks for flagging. Bloomsbury are on the case and we'll report back on Monday, when hopefully it will be sorted and the p/b available on Amazon. The Kindle version is available now.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Mar-12 12:27:40

Hello, we've heard back from Bloomsbury and Freddiesmother, you're right, the paperback isn't out until 29 March blush.

BUT, Mumsnetters can get the trade paperback (RRP £11.99) online for £5.99 (free P&P) using this link.

The ebook version is available on Amazon for £5.49.

As I type, there are 3 FREE copies of the 100 giveaway copies left. Quick!! Visit our book of the month page.

And please come back and post your thoughts once you've read Lucky Break. We're looking forward to hearing what you all think.

thanks smile

So, if we've emailed before the giveaways run out, does that mean we are getting a hardback?! (suspect the answer is obvious, but just wanted to check!)

Ta.

DuchessofMalfi Tue 06-Mar-12 08:02:15

Anonymous, I assumed we would be getting the trade paperback. If you follow the link above it is available now. No idea what the difference is though.

Oh yes, sorry, was being a bit thick! You must be right.

Puds48 Tue 06-Mar-12 21:48:40

Does anyone know how long we have to wait for either the free copy of the book or the book or an email notification of whether or not our app was successful?

Thanks.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 07-Mar-12 15:06:58

The free copies of Lucky Break have now gone. I'll send an email to all the successful applicants by the end of the week.

DazR Fri 09-Mar-12 11:48:10

Just heard I've got a copy coming - can't wait to start reading - Mumsnet doesn't give us busy mums much time to read it before the end of the month!

DuchessofMalfi Fri 09-Mar-12 12:43:11

Let's hope it isn't the size of a house brick then grin.

bigbadbarry Fri 09-Mar-12 13:13:18

That's what I thought, Duchess. Under 200 pages please.

320, according to Amazon

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 11-Mar-12 17:56:05

Marking place for later about 40% of the way through atm.

QuaaludesAndRedWine Mon 12-Mar-12 00:00:23

I couldn't see where to apply for the free copy on the book page! On safari (Mac) - would that be why?

champagnesupernova Mon 12-Mar-12 12:53:32

quaaludes, sometimes MNHQ take things off if the offer has expired? Maybe all the books have been allocated by now?

NoraHelmer Tue 13-Mar-12 10:54:17

Has anyone else received their copy yet? Not sure if maybe it's just mine that hasn't arrived. It's getting a bit short on time to read it now sad.

Mine is not here yet..

coni336 Tue 13-Mar-12 12:10:08

Have any of you had email saying you are getting one?

I got an email from Shade (MNHQ) a few days ago to say it would be on its way soon.

bigbadbarry Tue 13-Mar-12 12:54:14

I've had an email but no book yet.

coni336 Tue 13-Mar-12 13:01:06

oh maybe i won't get one this time then sad

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 15:44:02

So sorry about the delay. Rest assured we're vigorously chasing the publishers, we'd like to get those copies in your hands asap.

gailforce1 Tue 13-Mar-12 16:42:36

Thanks Shade, looking forward to receiving my copy and getting started!

NoraHelmer Tue 13-Mar-12 17:43:36

Me too!

Abcinthia Wed 14-Mar-12 09:39:41

My copy arrived this morning! DD loves the wombals activity pack that came with it.

marshmallowpies Wed 14-Mar-12 11:02:28

Ohh dear, how did I miss this? Esther Freud is one of my favourite authors, but I'm not spending money on new books at the moment...if I see it in a charity shop I will snap it up and speed-read to be in time for the discussion!

Teaddict Wed 14-Mar-12 11:57:35

Hi Esther I'm loving this easy read, great insight into the acting world. When I'm loafing about in cafes with my kids I'll be wondering if there are any out of work actors in my midst! (If so they're probably wishing my DDs would be quiet and keep their crumbs to themselves so they can get on with lining up the sugar packets...)

Question for Esther - did you go to drama school and study method acting? How on earth can you take it seriously?!

juneybean Wed 14-Mar-12 13:13:41

Mine has arrived, will get on it when I've finished current book grin

Nevergarglebrandybutter Wed 14-Mar-12 16:41:05

Still no book here. sad

NoraHelmer Wed 14-Mar-12 17:00:52

I'm hoping my copy turns up tomorrow sad.

HandMadeTail Wed 14-Mar-12 17:22:59

I have a message for Esther, in case I don't make it to the live chat bit. Earlier on I made a comment which in retrospect was quite rude to your mother, and to you. I do apologise for this.

But perhaps you could let us know how autobiographical your novels are, and how much the characters are inspired by real life people.

Many thanks, and sorry, once again for being so insulting to your mother.blush

culturevulture Wed 14-Mar-12 18:35:32

My copy arrived today so I wanted to say thanks as I'm really looking forward to reading it.

A lovely surprise when I got home from work smile

Not here yet, but I only got Monday's post today, so suspect it might be another day or two!

bigbadbarry Wed 14-Mar-12 19:06:33

I missed a delivery today because it was too big to go through the letterbox. I'm not expecting anything else - is it huge?

balletpump Wed 14-Mar-12 20:17:46

Mine came today- lovely treat after dreadful day at work smile Bigbadbarry it is a big parcel so probably is what they tried to deliver. About to start it now- looking forward to it! Thank you and also for the stuff inside for puzzle mad DS

JasperJohns Wed 14-Mar-12 21:50:57

I was wishing mine would arrive today as I have a long and boring day at hospital tomorrow.

But it didn't!

JaneMare Thu 15-Mar-12 09:53:12

my copy has just arrived, HUGE envelope and the activity sheets will be well rec'd by DD

thanks smile

tigercametotea Thu 15-Mar-12 11:49:42

Mine arrived today.DCs loved the activity sheets! I will be trying to source some of the children's books advertised in my local libraries.

NoraHelmer Thu 15-Mar-12 13:12:10

My copy arrived today. Thank you MN. DD's going to love the activity sheets.

I finished last week, and now rather missing it. It was a great book to have waiting by the bed at the end of the day.

I'm plotting a sequel in my head. Charlie is going to become Nell's personal guru, and get her hooked onto Kabbalah. Nell will then decide to have a set of IVF twins with her girlfriend (she's ditched the director) using Pierre as sperm donor. But can't figure out if Dan is actually going to be unfaithful or not. What does everyone think? Is he or is he not going to make that leap?

Teaddict Fri 16-Mar-12 18:14:50

Am desperate for Nell to get the Mary film role, don't tell me, don't tell me!

yUMMYmUMMYb Sat 17-Mar-12 10:58:30

Got mine during the week and heading on holiday to remote cottage for the week so looking forward to nights by the fire reading it, please let it be good.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Tue 20-Mar-12 09:28:05

Just over half way - and loving it, my mum has already asked me to hurry up and read it so she can borrow it.

She started reading it when she stayed over for mothers day and got hooked.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Tue 20-Mar-12 09:29:08

BTW - just wanted to say thanks to the brilliant person who thought to include the activty sheets. Keeps DD busy while I curl up on the couch and enjoy the book - Thank you so much!

EstherFreud Tue 20-Mar-12 14:58:09

Hi everyone, really looking forward to talking to you all on 27th march. Till then, best wishes and enjoy the sunshine.

NoraHelmer Wed 21-Mar-12 07:49:20

Now that I've finished reading Lucky Break, my question for Esther Freud would be - was Nell semi-autobiographical? She was the only character who came across as likeable and I think that it was because she cared about her friends and appeared grounded and didn't really display any of the self-centered behaviour of the others. I felt sorry for Dan's wife, having lost her chance of an acting career and then having to watch Dan distance himself from his family.

Hullygully Wed 21-Mar-12 11:42:38

I read it all in one go on a plane. Jolly good, enjoyed it very much. Although I'm not that keen on this modern lark of leaving gaps and making the reader work out what's happened. I would have liked it twice as long. Too much George Eliot at a young age.

MayCanary Wed 21-Mar-12 16:42:41

My question: Is Charlie's transformation supposed to be taken at face value? It seemed a bit unlikely and out-of-character to me.

kandinskysgirl Thu 22-Mar-12 13:29:16

I've just finished it, however I wasn't expecting the end to be the end so was disappointed when I realised it was finished. Like Tilly I started making up endings for characters straight away, I thought Dan's wife might go on to write a brilliant screen play whilst he would have an affair.

I did enjoy it although I found some bits slightly confusing, but I think that was me not noticing I had jumped time periods and I do like books to tell me exactly what is going on <lacking in my own imagination>.

I felt quite removed from the majority of characters like I was peering in the window at them rather than really knowing them (with maybe Nell as the exception) was this a narrative technique done on purpose at all?

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 22-Mar-12 16:04:03

Hello Esther, I've read and enjoyed many of your books. Unlike the work of many authors, they (nearly) all have very different settings and periods and often styles. Has it been a deliberate choice to make each book quite different or can you simply not help where your imagination takes you? And do you think your publishers would prefer a more predictable output?

Thanks to everyone for their posts so far - and a quick nudge to anyone else who wants to put their question to Esther... The more that are up here beforehand, the more we'll be able to get through on the night as Esther will have time to prepare. So keep 'em coming.

Very very much looking forward to it. See you all on Tues.

AgnesCampbellMacPhail Sat 24-Mar-12 19:14:35

I loved itsmile

Jemma absolutely writes a screenplay and becomes the new Carrie Fischer and pisses off Dan (the now has-been) by refusing to allow him to capitalise on their talented snd lovely children.

Nell just gets more awesome and happy because happy is under-rated.

The Stanislav method made me howl with derision. I suspect the theatre is not me.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Mon 26-Mar-12 08:31:42

Finished my book on Friday morning, and I loved it - I'll definitely be looking for other books that Esther has written

I can't help but wonder if you deliberately left the ending of the book quite open so that we, the readers, made up our own endings for the different characters, as you can see we've already been doing.

I do wish Jemma had gone on to be famous, but managed to juggle her family life better than Dan did (I really did not like him at all), and eventually gacve the miserable sod the boot.

I found Charlies support of Nell at the end, really humbling, it was lovely to see that she had recognised what a great friend Nell had been.

I loved Nell's perserverence, even though she never made the 3rd year (at what sounds like a truely bizzare drama academy - was any of that based on real life) that she stuck with it and never felt a roll was beneath her when trying to make her way to the top.

Thanks for a fantastic book, I really struggled to put it down.

AlmaMartyr Mon 26-Mar-12 15:14:53

I finished this last week and really enjoyed it although I found some of the characters quite unlikeable. I was so happy for Nell when she got the role.

It did make me wonder whether the big name actors are ever the talented ones or just the ones that get the lucky break. What does Esther think she obviously knows that world?

I wasn't sure if Charlie's makeover was genuine but I like to think so, she seemed much happier. I hadn't thought before about how just a short spell of bad skin could mess things up for an actor, unless that was just Charlie's neurosis. It made me feel quite sorry for her though.

The drama school seemed crazy and run by people who were pretty nasty at beat but it seemed to be quite prestigious. Since some of the people who stayed amounted to nothing and some of those that were kicked out were successful, it made me wonder if there's any point to going to a prestigious drama school or if they'd have been better off saving their money and jumping straight in?

Sorry my questions aren't terribly clever or articulate, exhausted after a weekend with sick DCs!

AlmaMartyr Mon 26-Mar-12 15:16:04

Oh, I meant to say thank you for the book, I haven't read any of Esther's books before but will be looking out for them now.

southlondonlady Mon 26-Mar-12 15:58:37

Hi Esther, I liked the book a lot. At the end it says that you interviewed lots of actors while you were writing it. Is pretty much everything in it based on a real person / situation?

juneybean Mon 26-Mar-12 19:37:45

I liked it, it took a bit to get into it though, but once I was into it I couldn't put it down. You write quite well and it flows to make an easy read smile

SpringHeeledJack Tue 27-Mar-12 07:52:49

just dashing in to say

I love Hideous Kinky. I got it free with a mag years ago, so I am going to buy this one

yUMMYmUMMYb Tue 27-Mar-12 08:34:33

Finished the book in time. For me it was ok, but not a book that i was desperate to get back to every night. I did enjoy it, but more in a slow burn sort of way. I had really good images in my mind of what each of the characters would look like, i wonder who esther would cast in a film to play them - especially Nell and Dan?
thanks

typicalvirgo Tue 27-Mar-12 10:36:06

I finished the book a couple of days ago.

It was an easy read and not really the type of thing I like to read and I don't think I would pick it up in a book shop really. I did like the cover though.

My question to Esther is this : do you think becoming a successful actor is down to innate ability or can this ability be created in a person by attending a drama school. Or is Is there an element of luck, being at the right place at the right time ?

valiumpoptarts Tue 27-Mar-12 12:58:39

Hi Esther,
Sorry, have got this but not even had a chance to open it yet blush so I'm afraid my question will have to be non-novel based. A quick check on wikipedia tells me you have 3 children, how do you manage to get your writing done?? I have one DS and most days am pleased if I manage just to get something written on twitter!

Ohdearwhatnow Tue 27-Mar-12 14:03:05

Hello Esther, thanks for coming to speak to us. I'm getting early as have 3DC and a poorly DH so unlikely to be able to log on tonight.

I really enjoyed the book, a really easy read, classic cinderella story.

I was wondering why you decided to leave Dan's story on a cliffhanger while finishing Nell's story on a high. Also, the 'pram in the hall' analogy seems to apply as far as Dan is concerned: his career seems to suffer as a result of all his children. Does this reflect your own experience of trying to work in a creative industry while looking after 3 DC?

Oh and, I think someone else might have asked this already but did Charlie's career really stall because of a few spots or does this reflect typical actorly insecurity?

Thanks very much!

AbigailAdams Tue 27-Mar-12 20:04:50

I am over 2/3rds of the way through and enjoying is more than I thought I would. The Drama Arts place was as hideous as I imagined a drama school to be. Was it based on anywhere particular (go on you can tell us!)? I have to say I can't stand Dan (he is an arse), Nell is frustrating me because she seems so unsuited to acting but I do like Charlie (although I think she could use a good talking to from AnyFucker on the Relationship board - as could Nell). I got the impression that Nell had won a place in the 3rd year of drama school but she walked out if the meeting before hearing that. Is that the case?

Even though she is frustrating me, Nell is my favourite character. Was she yours as she seems to be the character you have most developed?

Thanks Esther

balletpump Tue 27-Mar-12 20:26:24

Hi Esther
I am about half way through the book-sadly I have not had time to finish it. I am enjoying it and, like alot of people on here, like Nell most-although she is very frustrating-I have found myself muttering about some her decisions and choices. I think this is a sign of good, engaging characters.
It would be interesting to know which character you can relate to the most-especially in relation to your acting career? I know you probably couldn't say but some inside gossip if any of the characters are based on real life people would also be fabulous! You could PM me if you don't want to out anyone on here grin
Thanks for letting me be involved in the book group-a great introduction read.
Ballet pump

Evening everyone

Reading Lucky Break has been a huge amount of fun, not only because I keep wondering who certain characters (the drama school teachers/the ditzy agent/sad old drunk Bernard) are based on but also because the writing and style are so good-humoured; it is satirical without being at all spiteful. It has put a smile on my face all through March (and changed my watching of telly and films forever).

I am thrilled that Esther Freud is here to throw light on the inspiration and research behind her book, and to talk about her previous novels and her writing career.

As usual, there is a lot to pack into an hour, so without further ado...

Esther, firstly, thank you very much indeed to taking the time to join us. And many congratulations on a superbly entertaining (and highly enlightening) book. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors, and will be archived on the site):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:00:23

yUMMYmUMMYb

Finished the book in time. For me it was ok, but not a book that i was desperate to get back to every night. I did enjoy it, but more in a slow burn sort of way. I had really good images in my mind of what each of the characters would look like, i wonder who esther would cast in a film to play them - especially Nell and Dan?
thanks

I had images of the characters in my head but not really of actors who would play them. Dan, physically, was based on someone I was at drama school with, and Nell was a mixture of people, although I feel I'd know her if I saw her in the street. I don't like to describe my characters in too much physical detail, as that always irritates me as a reader. It's nice to imagine them for myself.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:02:11

balletpump

Hi Esther
I am about half way through the book-sadly I have not had time to finish it. I am enjoying it and, like alot of people on here, like Nell most-although she is very frustrating-I have found myself muttering about some her decisions and choices. I think this is a sign of good, engaging characters.
It would be interesting to know which character you can relate to the most-especially in relation to your acting career? I know you probably couldn't say but some inside gossip if any of the characters are based on real life people would also be fabulous! You could PM me if you don't want to out anyone on here grin
Thanks for letting me be involved in the book group-a great introduction read.
Ballet pump

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:03:19

balletpump

Hi Esther
I am about half way through the book-sadly I have not had time to finish it. I am enjoying it and, like alot of people on here, like Nell most-although she is very frustrating-I have found myself muttering about some her decisions and choices. I think this is a sign of good, engaging characters.
It would be interesting to know which character you can relate to the most-especially in relation to your acting career? I know you probably couldn't say but some inside gossip if any of the characters are based on real life people would also be fabulous! You could PM me if you don't want to out anyone on here grin
Thanks for letting me be involved in the book group-a great introduction read.
Ballet pump

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:03:43

EstherFreud

balletpump

Hi Esther
I am about half way through the book-sadly I have not had time to finish it. I am enjoying it and, like alot of people on here, like Nell most-although she is very frustrating-I have found myself muttering about some her decisions and choices. I think this is a sign of good, engaging characters.
It would be interesting to know which character you can relate to the most-especially in relation to your acting career? I know you probably couldn't say but some inside gossip if any of the characters are based on real life people would also be fabulous! You could PM me if you don't want to out anyone on here grin
Thanks for letting me be involved in the book group-a great introduction read.
Ballet pump

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:04:17

Teaddict

Hi Esther I'm loving this easy read, great insight into the acting world. When I'm loafing about in cafes with my kids I'll be wondering if there are any out of work actors in my midst! (If so they're probably wishing my DDs would be quiet and keep their crumbs to themselves so they can get on with lining up the sugar packets...)

Question for Esther - did you go to drama school and study method acting? How on earth can you take it seriously?!

The actors may well be the ones serving you your coffee. When I was a young actress I did a long stint at Pizza Express.  All good material as it turned out. 

I did go to Drama School and at the time I loved method acting. I laugh to think about it now but I was incredibly serious - I really did believe I might turn into someone else, and see a make-believe 'Fourth Wall' as they call it when I looked out at the audience. A lot of actors get very carried away, I heard of one recently who'd make himself throw up just before he went on stage every night, because his character had to enter in a terrible state.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:06:27

LottieJenkins

Hi Esther. Slight Hijack here. You don't know me but i knew your lovely Mum. She was such a kind lady and she always asked after my son who has disabilties when she saw me in our local shop. She was a wonderful lady and I miss seeing her around! sad

Thanks Lottie, My Mum was my inspiration. I miss her terribly.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:10:03

EstherFreud

balletpump

Hi Esther
I am about half way through the book-sadly I have not had time to finish it. I am enjoying it and, like alot of people on here, like Nell most-although she is very frustrating-I have found myself muttering about some her decisions and choices. I think this is a sign of good, engaging characters.
It would be interesting to know which character you can relate to the most-especially in relation to your acting career? I know you probably couldn't say but some inside gossip if any of the characters are based on real life people would also be fabulous! You could PM me if you don't want to out anyone on here grin
Thanks for letting me be involved in the book group-a great introduction read.
Ballet pump

It's great that you got so involved. I know that feeling when you get frustrated by a character, but Nell, like most of us, is deeply flawed. I was always aware that as well as a book about actors, it's a book about people growing up. My characters are all 18 or so when the book starts.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:10:03

HandMadeTail

I have a message for Esther, in case I don't make it to the live chat bit. Earlier on I made a comment which in retrospect was quite rude to your mother, and to you. I do apologise for this.

But perhaps you could let us know how autobiographical your novels are, and how much the characters are inspired by real life people.

Many thanks, and sorry, once again for being so insulting to your mother.blush

All my novels have autobiographical elements. My first, Hideous Kinky was inspired by the adventure that my mother took me and my sister on to Morocco in the late 60's. I was only five at the time so I didn't remember enough to write a book about it, but I wove together anecdotes, memories, other peoples stories and my own imagination. With my third book Summer at Gaglow I decided to try something historical but I used a few snippets of information my father had given me about his German Jewish family in Berlin at the time of the 1st World War. I had so little to go on, but it was a starting point and from there I did my research. I need to feel that I can own the story in some way, rather than just writing a random story. It needs to feel personal to me. Lucky Break has many autobiographical elements because from the age of 14 - when I decided I wanted to become an actress, to now, soooo many years later, that world has been part of my life. I could have escaped it when I wrote my first novel and stopped acting, age 27, but that's when I met my husband who is an actor.

I found the book very funny and want to ask: which writers make you laugh?

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:13:29

NoraHelmer

Now that I've finished reading Lucky Break, my question for Esther Freud would be - was Nell semi-autobiographical? She was the only character who came across as likeable and I think that it was because she cared about her friends and appeared grounded and didn't really display any of the self-centered behaviour of the others. I felt sorry for Dan's wife, having lost her chance of an acting career and then having to watch Dan distance himself from his family.

I always love all my characters, but I have to say it was fun writing about Charlie in the early chapters, someone who isn't concerned about other people. Nell, like me, is always thinking about others and so I suppose I do feel in some ways she's the most like me, but I think there's an automatic reaction from people to feel closer to the underdog. We don't like people who are too self obsessed, although they can be very interesting and charismatic, and great to write about.
As for Dan's wife, Jemma, it is hard for her. Being married to an actor is never easy, but she made the choice to do something different, and I hope that will ultimately be more satisfying for her.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:16:11

TillyBookClub

Evening everyone

Reading Lucky Break has been a huge amount of fun, not only because I keep wondering who certain characters (the drama school teachers/the ditzy agent/sad old drunk Bernard) are based on but also because the writing and style are so good-humoured; it is satirical without being at all spiteful. It has put a smile on my face all through March (and changed my watching of telly and films forever).

I am thrilled that Esther Freud is here to throw light on the inspiration and research behind her book, and to talk about her previous novels and her writing career.

As usual, there is a lot to pack into an hour, so without further ado...

Esther, firstly, thank you very much indeed to taking the time to join us. And many congratulations on a superbly entertaining (and highly enlightening) book. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors, and will be archived on the site):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

My mother read to me a lot and I always loved stories, but I remember thinking how wonderful The Laura Ingles Wilder series were, Little House on the Prairie etc, and how brilliant it was that the writer had made these stories up out of her own life.

There are two things that stop people writing: 1, The discipline to sit down, and 2. What will people think? Less worrying, more writing, would be my advice.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:16:45

typicalvirgo

I finished the book a couple of days ago.

It was an easy read and not really the type of thing I like to read and I don't think I would pick it up in a book shop really. I did like the cover though.

My question to Esther is this : do you think becoming a successful actor is down to innate ability or can this ability be created in a person by attending a drama school. Or is Is there an element of luck, being at the right place at the right time ?

I think becoming a successful actor is really about so many things. Luck, hard work, professionalism, cast ability and talent. Not necessarily in that order.

fifide Tue 27-Mar-12 21:21:22

Hi Esther,
I really enjoyed your book. It took me a while to get into but once I did I really felt myself drawn by the characters and their lives, so far removed from anything I have experienced! I particularly liked Charlie's character and was intrigued by her sudden involvement in Reiki and her apparent success with it. I couldn't help wondering more about her family (the glimpses were intriguing) and what would happen to her as her career seemed to fade a little. I suppose my question is, once you have finished writing about a particular character such as Charlie, do you still think about them and imagine how their life carried on "without you" ?
Thanks,
Fi

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:22:04

valiumpoptarts

Hi Esther,
Sorry, have got this but not even had a chance to open it yet blush so I'm afraid my question will have to be non-novel based. A quick check on wikipedia tells me you have 3 children, how do you manage to get your writing done?? I have one DS and most days am pleased if I manage just to get something written on twitter!

Firstly I don't do twitter! No time. Before I had kids I wrote in the mornings, for three hours, so when I had my first one, I got some help and carried on. I was knackered, but it was what I really wanted to do. Now I have 3, even though the first two are older there feels even less time to write, and So many holidays, so my books take longer. But I still stick to those three hours. And try and enjoy the holidays too.

HandMadeTail Tue 27-Mar-12 21:23:33

Your comments about Jemma, above, seem to imply that she is real to you. Does it seem to you that the characters continue to live after the novel ends?

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:28:57

Ohdearwhatnow

Hello Esther, thanks for coming to speak to us. I'm getting early as have 3DC and a poorly DH so unlikely to be able to log on tonight.

I really enjoyed the book, a really easy read, classic cinderella story.

I was wondering why you decided to leave Dan's story on a cliffhanger while finishing Nell's story on a high. Also, the 'pram in the hall' analogy seems to apply as far as Dan is concerned: his career seems to suffer as a result of all his children. Does this reflect your own experience of trying to work in a creative industry while looking after 3 DC?

Oh and, I think someone else might have asked this already but did Charlie's career really stall because of a few spots or does this reflect typical actorly insecurity?

Thanks very much!

I didn't want to round the book up too perfectly. The thing about these characters, and their careers, is there is no end, and actors never really know when they've 'made it.' We can all think of so many actors who were doing brilliantly a few years ago and now we never hear of them. So Dan isn't sure what will happen next, and Nell seems assured of success, but it's not necessarily the case. As for Charlie, having any change in your looks for an actress whose being judged mostly on her looks can be devastating. I wanted to leave it open as to how bad her skin was, probably not as bad as she thinks, but a few nasty spots can look pretty terrible on the big screen. Actors are insecure, but the profession makes it impossible not to be.
I'm not sure if Dan's career suffers as a result of so many children. He's pretty determined for that not to get in his way. And anyone's life is turned upside down after twins, or so I'm told. In some ways Dan's stable relationship with Jemma gives him confidence when he needs it. So few actors have stable relationships when they're young. Too much choice!

bigbadbarry Tue 27-Mar-12 21:31:20

Just finished it this minute! Phew.
Hi Esther. Hideous Kinky is one of my all-time favourite books (and one of the very few cases where I like the film adaptation as well as the book; it is usually one or the other). I found Lucky Break very compelling: i dont mean to gush but you have a lovely way of writing characters i can fall in love with. It reminded me mostly of "Fame" (which is a compliment from me, i promise!) with the separate characters and jumps in time. Are you Jemma? Acting school, then married an actor, children, writing...
Sorry, I am supposed to write a sensible question. How long do you spend gestating books and characters before you start to write - are you somebody who is constantly making notes or does it spring fully formed to your mind all ready to go?

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:33:04

AbigailAdams

I am over 2/3rds of the way through and enjoying is more than I thought I would. The Drama Arts place was as hideous as I imagined a drama school to be. Was it based on anywhere particular (go on you can tell us!)? I have to say I can't stand Dan (he is an arse), Nell is frustrating me because she seems so unsuited to acting but I do like Charlie (although I think she could use a good talking to from AnyFucker on the Relationship board - as could Nell). I got the impression that Nell had won a place in the 3rd year of drama school but she walked out if the meeting before hearing that. Is that the case?

Even though she is frustrating me, Nell is my favourite character. Was she yours as she seems to be the character you have most developed?

Thanks Esther

I went somewhere called Drama Centre - and it was pretty ruthless. I'd heard you got to write your own characters scenes so maybe I was already thinking of jumping ship and becoming a writer. But I did learn a lot there too.
The thing is, Nell, Charlie and Dan are all teenagers in the forest section, and they'd be a lot less interesting to write about once they became wise and settled. That's one of the reasons I love writing about young people. If they're like me anyway, they make so many mistakes. I do like Nell, but I feel loyal to them all.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:34:02

MayCanary

My question: Is Charlie's transformation supposed to be taken at face value? It seemed a bit unlikely and out-of-character to me.

I do think people change. Charlie's brush with failure is a real wake up call to her, and I think when she stops thinking so much about herself she becomes a lot happier and nicer.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:40:40

bigbadbarry

Just finished it this minute! Phew.
Hi Esther. Hideous Kinky is one of my all-time favourite books (and one of the very few cases where I like the film adaptation as well as the book; it is usually one or the other). I found Lucky Break very compelling: i dont mean to gush but you have a lovely way of writing characters i can fall in love with. It reminded me mostly of "Fame" (which is a compliment from me, i promise!) with the separate characters and jumps in time. Are you Jemma? Acting school, then married an actor, children, writing...
Sorry, I am supposed to write a sensible question. How long do you spend gestating books and characters before you start to write - are you somebody who is constantly making notes or does it spring fully formed to your mind all ready to go?

I spend a lot of time thinking about a book before I write it. Sometimes I don't know I'm doing that, but I had the idea for a book set at a drama school years ago and I told a friend who I was there with who said, please don't, it'll be too depressing. But then I started writing short stories based in the world of acting, and once I formed it into a novel I realised I could write a section at the drama school and it would work as part of the book.
I'm so glad you liked Hideous Kinky. And the film too. I felt very lucky that the film was so true in spirit to the book. It's rare. And the little girls were so gorgeous and funny. Last time I watched it with my kids and they kept looking at me in amazement and asking Was that true?!
There is a lot of me in Jemma but in all the characters too. It was great fun writing about what it's like to be married to an actor. In our new born baby photos it looks like I have three different husbands, one with blonde hair, one red with a moustache and another with a perm. and I didn't even manage to get that into the book. I am thinking of a sequel but I don't think I'll give Jemma any more children. someone else on here suggested she deserves an award winning screenplay. So maybe I'll reward her with that.

calypso Tue 27-Mar-12 21:40:59

I really enjoyed reading Lucky Break and it took me back to my days studying performing arts at college. The intensity of the experience really rang true, particularly the chapter where they had to audition to get through to the final year and the poor guy who tries to slash his wrists - so over the top! I think it would make a fabulous film - has there been any talk about this yet? I also wondered what you thought of the film adaptation of Hideous Kinky? As others have said, I thought it was a great adaptation.

Please, please do write a sequel. I immediately started dreaming up future exploits for them all.

Also just wanted to flag up the earlier questions from fifide and HandMade Tail (and apologies if you're already onto them...)

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:44:26

kandinskysgirl

I've just finished it, however I wasn't expecting the end to be the end so was disappointed when I realised it was finished. Like Tilly I started making up endings for characters straight away, I thought Dan's wife might go on to write a brilliant screen play whilst he would have an affair.

I did enjoy it although I found some bits slightly confusing, but I think that was me not noticing I had jumped time periods and I do like books to tell me exactly what is going on <lacking in my own imagination>.

I felt quite removed from the majority of characters like I was peering in the window at them rather than really knowing them (with maybe Nell as the exception) was this a narrative technique done on purpose at all?

I spread the book out over 12 years because I wanted to show how long it can take for an actor's career to get going, and also to include the change in technology. The mobile phone revolutionised the lives of actors, can you imagine what it was like before, having to call your agent at the end of every day, and ask if there is 'any news.'
Also I started writing the book as a series of short stories and then I formed it into a book. The only way I could make that work was to have it in three parts.
I have been thinking of writing a sequel. And I Love the idea of Jemma's success. I thought one of their kids might outshine Dan too. And surely an affair is on the cards? But as a writer you never know for sure what's going to happen. But a baby for Nell, adopted possibly. Who knows. Any ideas gratefully received.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:44:48

calypso

I really enjoyed reading Lucky Break and it took me back to my days studying performing arts at college. The intensity of the experience really rang true, particularly the chapter where they had to audition to get through to the final year and the poor guy who tries to slash his wrists - so over the top! I think it would make a fabulous film - has there been any talk about this yet? I also wondered what you thought of the film adaptation of Hideous Kinky? As others have said, I thought it was a great adaptation.

Thanks, it is a very intense experience and there are always a few people who can't handle it. There has been talk about a TV series, but I'm not sure if that is going to happen. Quite a few of my books have been optioned for TV or film and scrips written but they haven't been made. I feel so lucky that Kate Winslett happened to have read Hideous Kinky and loved it and wanted to play the mother. She'd just made Titanic so getting funding was no problem. She was only just 22 when she made that. She was so good in it too.

Katn Tue 27-Mar-12 21:47:49

Hi Esther! I was just wondering if you've been to the Lucien Freud exhibition yet - what did you make of it? How is it seeing your dad's work exhibited? Do you have a favourite painting?

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:49:39

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret

Hello Esther, I've read and enjoyed many of your books. Unlike the work of many authors, they (nearly) all have very different settings and periods and often styles. Has it been a deliberate choice to make each book quite different or can you simply not help where your imagination takes you? And do you think your publishers would prefer a more predictable output?

That's nice to hear. I like to think that my books are different, although I know I'm drawn to similar themes. Family relationships, homes, etc. although I think Lucky Break is very different in style. I've never felt any pressure from my publishers to write any particlar kind of book, although I do often discuss my ideas with my editor.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:50:00

HandMadeTail

Your comments about Jemma, above, seem to imply that she is real to you. Does it seem to you that the characters continue to live after the novel ends?

My characters are real to me. I'm with them for a few years sometimes. It's worrying when they're more real to me than my own friends. People ask me sometimes if I get lonely writing, but I never do. It's so absorbing, writing books. I do feel sorry for the first person I see at the school gates though. Sometimes I can't stop talking.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:54:04

fifide

Hi Esther,
I really enjoyed your book. It took me a while to get into but once I did I really felt myself drawn by the characters and their lives, so far removed from anything I have experienced! I particularly liked Charlie's character and was intrigued by her sudden involvement in Reiki and her apparent success with it. I couldn't help wondering more about her family (the glimpses were intriguing) and what would happen to her as her career seemed to fade a little. I suppose my question is, once you have finished writing about a particular character such as Charlie, do you still think about them and imagine how their life carried on "without you" ?
Thanks,
Fi

That's very interesting. Usually I don't think so much about the life after book of my characters but as soon as I started doing readings from this book everyone wanted to know what would happen to them next so I started thinking about a sequel. I might try it if I ever finish the book I'm writing now. It would be wonderful not to have to create the characters but just deal with the plot. Often the biggest part of making a book work is finding out who my characters are. Charlie took a lot of work. It was important to me that I knew everything about her mixed race background even if I didn't put it all in the book. And it was important to Nell's character that she was estranged from her father, etc. The paperback is just coming out now so I'm thinking about them all again, while trying to stay in contact with the new people I'm working on.

calypso Tue 27-Mar-12 21:55:54

Thanks for answering my question. Fingers crossed for a TV series - that would be great; Like This Life but with actors rather than lawyers. I have enjoyed lots of your novels and was tthinking how you often write about youth (Love Falls, Peerless Flats, Hideous Kinky) Do you find youth more interesting or fun to write about? Does it become more difficult to encapsulate youth as you get older?

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:56:08

Katn

Hi Esther! I was just wondering if you've been to the Lucien Freud exhibition yet - what did you make of it? How is it seeing your dad's work exhibited? Do you have a favourite painting?

It was very emotional going to the exhibition. I particularly love the painting of my sister and me lying on a sofa. We had such fun, the three of us, while he was painting that.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:58:04

calypso

Thanks for answering my question. Fingers crossed for a TV series - that would be great; Like This Life but with actors rather than lawyers. I have enjoyed lots of your novels and was tthinking how you often write about youth (Love Falls, Peerless Flats, Hideous Kinky) Do you find youth more interesting or fun to write about? Does it become more difficult to encapsulate youth as you get older?

I still find writing about young people easier, even now. I find it much more of a challenge to write about anyone over 30, not sure why. Children are my favourite. In my current book I have a woman, about 35, and as a reward a boy of 11.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:58:05

ProfCoxWouldGetIt

Finished my book on Friday morning, and I loved it - I'll definitely be looking for other books that Esther has written

I can't help but wonder if you deliberately left the ending of the book quite open so that we, the readers, made up our own endings for the different characters, as you can see we've already been doing.

I do wish Jemma had gone on to be famous, but managed to juggle her family life better than Dan did (I really did not like him at all), and eventually gacve the miserable sod the boot.

I found Charlies support of Nell at the end, really humbling, it was lovely to see that she had recognised what a great friend Nell had been.

I loved Nell's perserverence, even though she never made the 3rd year (at what sounds like a truely bizzare drama academy - was any of that based on real life) that she stuck with it and never felt a roll was beneath her when trying to make her way to the top.

Thanks for a fantastic book, I really struggled to put it down.

That's a wonderful thing to hear - I really struggled to put it down. That's the kind of comment that makes all those thousands of hours of hard work worth it. I love it so much when I feel like that about a book. But books are so personal. Some of my favourite books just don't have any connection for other people. Anyway, to answer some of your questions:
The Drama School I went to was quite bizarre. Looking back quite unbelievably cruel too. I don't think it would be allowed today, I hope not, but students were under constant threat of being thrown out and this made for a very tense atmosphere. I was in a year of 30 of which only 10 were kept for the third year. I wasn't one of them. It was devastating and I found writing about Nell's anguish very therapeutic. For months afterwards I used to have a recurring dream that they 'd made a mistake and actually meant to say that I could stay. But what I realised after six months or so was that I was better off out of there, in fact life out of education, aged 20, was great fun. By the end of the year, when my other friends were still doing method exercises I was playing an alien in Dr Who.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 21:59:59

AlmaMartyr

I finished this last week and really enjoyed it although I found some of the characters quite unlikeable. I was so happy for Nell when she got the role.

It did make me wonder whether the big name actors are ever the talented ones or just the ones that get the lucky break. What does Esther think she obviously knows that world?

I wasn't sure if Charlie's makeover was genuine but I like to think so, she seemed much happier. I hadn't thought before about how just a short spell of bad skin could mess things up for an actor, unless that was just Charlie's neurosis. It made me feel quite sorry for her though.

The drama school seemed crazy and run by people who were pretty nasty at beat but it seemed to be quite prestigious. Since some of the people who stayed amounted to nothing and some of those that were kicked out were successful, it made me wonder if there's any point to going to a prestigious drama school or if they'd have been better off saving their money and jumping straight in?

Sorry my questions aren't terribly clever or articulate, exhausted after a weekend with sick DCs!

I think Nell's success is a bit of a Fairy Tale - although the amazing thing is anything can happen. When I was writing it I thought of how Kate Winslett was teased at school for being fat, and how she became such a star. But you do need talent, and luck too. But luck will only take you so far. Talent is a mysterious ingredient and there's nothing you can do if you don't have it as an actor. It's an odd watchable quality. But other things can influence the success of your career and they're often to do with looks. I had a friend who was sacked from a mini series after an outbreak of acne and told she'd never work again. She did. But it dented her confidence hugely.
As for going to drama school, it's a great opportunity to explore a range of parts, and there are lots of schools that are supportive and encouraging. My husband went to Rada and had a very good time.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 22:01:35

southlondonlady

Hi Esther, I liked the book a lot. At the end it says that you interviewed lots of actors while you were writing it. Is pretty much everything in it based on a real person / situation?

There were so many things I already knew without having to research, stories I'd collected up over the years and funny things I'd heard, but I did need advice on what Nell would wear to a premiere for example and how Charlie learnt how to do Reiki. And yes, everything in this book is based on something that really happened. Sadly even the nasty encounter with the big director who assaults Nell.

We've run out of time - it has flown by and been a fantastic discussion. Thank you everyone for all your questions.

Esther, thank you so much for coming on tonight. You have given such detailed, personal and thoughtful answers. Please do write that sequel...and then come back to talk about it with us.

And meanwhile, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the TV/film version. As bigbadbarry said, it could be the British version of Fame...

Good luck with the next project, and congratulations again on a wonderful book.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 22:03:18

EstherFreud

southlondonlady

Hi Esther, I liked the book a lot. At the end it says that you interviewed lots of actors while you were writing it. Is pretty much everything in it based on a real person / situation?

There were so many things I already knew without having to research, stories I'd collected up over the years and funny things I'd heard, but I did need advice on what Nell would wear to a premiere for example and how Charlie learnt how to do Reiki. And yes, everything in this book is based on something that really happened. Sadly even the nasty encounter with the big director who assaults Nell.

Bye everyone, thanks for some great questions.

EstherFreud Tue 27-Mar-12 22:04:21

TillyBookClub

We've run out of time - it has flown by and been a fantastic discussion. Thank you everyone for all your questions.

Esther, thank you so much for coming on tonight. You have given such detailed, personal and thoughtful answers. Please do write that sequel...and then come back to talk about it with us.

And meanwhile, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the TV/film version. As bigbadbarry said, it could be the British version of Fame...

Good luck with the next project, and congratulations again on a wonderful book.

It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

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