Author interview with Portia Macintosh

Today on Becca's Books, I am incredibly excited to be interviewing the fabulous Portia Macintosh. I did worry that I was getting a little too personal with the questions that I sent Portia's way, but after been told that it was one of her favourite interviews to date, I was no longer worried, and I hope you enjoy reading about Portia's lifestyle and world as much as I did. 

B ~ Portia, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed on Becca's Books. It's incredibly exciting to have you here! For those readers who haven't yet heard of you, would you mind introducing yourself to them? 

P ~ My name is Portia Macintosh and I'm a sort-of groupie turned author. I have toured with bands since I was just 15 and a couple of years ago I decided to start writing novels as a way to tell my tour stories anonymously. I soon realised that I loved writing books, so I write about all sorts of things now, not just life on the road. 

B ~ From the age of just 15, you became a groupie and went on-tour with a bunch of rock-stars! Could you describe what that was like, being so young? How did you manage to get into that sort of thing at such a young age? I bet it was exciting, right? 

P ~ The early days in particular feel like a weird dream, or a movie I watched a long time ago or something [laughs]. Basically, I got "in" with a very famous band at the time, and through them I met others, eventually started working in the industry and here I am, more than ten years later. When I use the term groupie, what I really mean is hanger-on. I think people hear the word groupie and think it's a sex thing, but it's not. You're like one of the family. I have some amazing memories, I wouldn't change a thing. 

B ~ When did you decide for the first time that you wanted to share your secrets with the world in the form of writing? Was it a big decision to make? 

P ~ I remember exactly when it was. It was a few years ago and it was the middle of the night. I was swapping stories with a friend and he jokily told me I should write a book, dishing the dirt on everyone and everything. Kiss-and-tell girls are not the most popular in the industry - in fact, had I straight-up told my stories, everyone would've fallen out with me. Discretion is a big deal. If you blab, you don't get invited along any more. I was reading a lot of chick-lit, and thought a novel would be a great way to tell these stories without upsetting anyone or getting anyone in trouble. The biggest decision was whether or not I needed a pen name - in the end, I decided it would be for the best. I would hate for people to read one of my books, look at who I'm friends with and make assumptions about who a character is based on. It's not that straight forward. 

B ~ What were the people who your travelled on tour with like? Did you ever gain any serious crushes on the guys that you toured with? 

P ~ You have your good people and your bad people. It's a bit like school, in that you have your authority figures you're supposed to listen to, your best friends, the kids you don't like, etc. All my boyfriends to date have been boys from bands - not sure if that's a good thing or a band thing. It's hard not to develop crushes on the musicians because they're such fun, charismatic, talented and interesting people. They're often bad boys too though, so these crushes aren't always comfortable. 

B ~ You don't have to answer this one if you feel it may be a bit too personal, but what did your parents think about you heading off on tour at age 15? 

P ~ In its most basic form, I don't think any parent would want that for their teenager... but my parents knew I was a good kid. It would be different if were I going around in a little van with a bunch of people I didn't really know, but these were my close friends, and my parents knew a lot about the people I went around with - not only because they were Google-able and on TV all time, but because they met them. One night on tour we stopped by my house to say hello - nothing gets your neighbours attention like a tour bus parked outside your house. Bigger bands are well looked after - they only play nice venues, stay in fancy hotels, etc. The buses are safe, the schedule is strict and everyone looks out for everyone. So they knew that when I was with the band, I was OK. 

B ~ Was it as glamorous as it sounds? Did you ever bore of it? 

P ~ It can be very glamorous, and it can be unglamorous too. A fancy hotel suite soon becomes a sh*thole when you put a bunch of drunk boys in there. When the bus gets messy and you can't get comfortable or sleep, it's easy to get homesick. There's this period of time, just after the band goes to sleep and just before the driver etc. wakes up, when it's quiet and lonely and this is my least favourite time to be the only person awake. The good thing about being with the band and not in the band is that you can go home whenever you feel like it. 

B ~ Where did you live before you went on tour? How often did you return home? Did you miss it whilst you were away? How long were you typically on the road for? 

P ~ I'm from a tiny northern village no one has heard of, where everyone knows everything about everyone. When you're just along for the ride, you can do as much or as little as you like, so it wasn't tricky to fit it in around real life while I was still doing my exams. Once school was over, it was easier to get more into it. I could do the occasional night, a few at once or pop home in between. I still miss home when I'm away. Nothing beats your own bed! 

B ~ Can you tell us some of your favourite experiences? 

P ~ Sometimes it's the simplest things that are the best. I remember one day when we're driving along the motorway on the bus, the sun was shining outside, someone got out an acoustic guitar (there's always an acoustic guitar) and we had a bit of a sing-a-long. I had a really lovely moment where I just sat and thought "these are my people". I also have a lot of funny memories of bumping into people behind the scenes, thinking that I know them, and then later realising they were in fact someone famous and that I maybe didn't act like you're "supposed to" around them. I once mistook a world famous American singer for a fan of the band I was with... most of their fans weren't very nice to me, so I don't think I was particularly nice to her. Oops. 

B ~ In your latest title Bad Bridesmaid, was the story itself or any of your characters based on real people? Some of the scenes were absolutely hilarious! 

P ~ Perhaps it has something to do with the fact I only started writing to tell real stories, but I like to base things on real life. Weirdly I got asked to be a bridesmaid not long after I started writing the book, but the bigger picture isn't based on anything real. I'll borrow from a person I know in real, or maybe an individual incident now and then though. 

B ~ Your main character Mia Valentina was a bit of a bitch (ha-ha!), but I couldn't help but love her! What made you want to create her character in that way, rather than making her a goody-two-shoes sort of person? 

P ~ There are so many ditzy, down on their luck, helpless, desperately in need of a boyfriend leading ladies in chick-lit. I just thought it'd be cool to have someone strong but flawed, someone who seems to have it all, but isn't totally happy. She's her own person and she's different. We're all different - we're all a bit of a bitch sometimes, too. 

B ~ In Bad Bridesmaid, Mia felt pushed-out and disliked by almost all of her family members. You wrote is such a way that it seemed you had been through it yourself. Is this the case, or was it all completely from your imagination? 

P ~ My immediate family is amazing! We're really close and nothing like the Harrison family at all, but there are people I'm close with who have family dramas, so I took a lot of inspiration from that. 

B ~ What made you want to base Bad Bridesmaid around the wedding of Mia's little sister Belle? Are you big on weddings? In fact, are you married yourself? 

P ~ I'm not married. I have nothing against marriage - if I can find someone who knows me well and still wants to be around me all the time, that'd be great - I'm not big on weddings though. I'm not very good at being the centre of attention, so I'm not sure I could go through with a traditional one. I find them fun to attend, but things like rounding up all the single girls to catch the bouquet... I don't like that. Probably because I get ushered to the front while an elderly auntie patronisingly mutters "maybe someday, Portia". 

B ~ What are some of your favourite scenes to write, Portia? Do you prefer the emotional moments, or are you more of a passionate, sexy sort of writer? 

P ~ When it comes to sex scenes, I very much beat about the bush... so to speak. I do love getting down to the getting it on, but I quite like the real, emotional stuff too. I think my favourite bit is writing the stuff that happens in between - those early moments of flirting when you're building a connection between two characters and they don't even know it yet. You're planting these little seeds that make these two people seem perfect together - or totally wrong for each other - and they have no idea. If only they knew what I was about to put them through [laughs]! 

B ~ If someone was to follow in your footsteps and choose to become a groupie, what three tips would you give them before they set off? Is there anything in particular that they should watch out for or do? 

P ~ 1.) Be careful who you trust. I've always said that I like dating people who are quite well known because they behave. If things turn sour, they don't want you blabbing to about everything that went on. But... we live in an age where horrible stories are coming out about celebs all the time now. Sometimes they think they're untouchable and that they can do whatever they want. 
2.) Only do what you want to do. If you don't want to drink, don't. The same goes for drugs, sex... jumping in the hotel pool in your clothes! Only do what you want to do, and don't associate with anyone who tries to make you do otherwise. 
3.) Don't treat the celebrities like celebrities. When you see someone you're a huge fan of, you'll want to fan-girl all over them. Try not to. Talk to them like you would one of your mates and they're more likely to talk back rather than just letting you snap a photo before dashing off. 

B ~ Bad Bridesmaid has turned out to be a hit so far, Portia! Everybody seems to be loving it. How does that make you feel as a writer? And also, as an author, how do you cope with negative comments? 

P ~ It's amazing when someone tells you they stayed up all night reading your book or how much they enjoyed it. It's great to be able to make someone feel that way. You can't please everyone so there's always going to be bad reviews... there's constructive criticism, which is always welcome, but sometimes people are really mean. You can't take it to heart though. I think years of dealing with boy-band fans has hardened me to it all [laughs]. 

B ~ Are you planning anything else for the foreseeable future? Anything that we should look out for? 

P ~ I started my new book recently... I'm very excited about that! It's based on a messy situation I've landed myself in in real life, so it's back to the celebrity world. I find it really therapeutic to take my real life dramas and put them to good use [laughs]. I have another book out very soon too... I'm just making the most of touring while I' between books. 

B ~ And of course, something that helps out any aspiring writers out there, what are your top three writing tips? 

P ~ 1.) Blast through your first draft without worrying too much about if it's good or if that particular sentence is perfect. Then re-write each chapter until you love it. 
2.) Don't worry about writing flawed characters. People aren't perfect, so why do your characters need to be? We all do stupid stuff we can't explain and make massive mistakes. Your characters should do the same. 
3.) Don't take too much advice. Yes, mine included. Not all good advice is going to be good for you. What works for some people doesn't work so well for others so pick and choose wisely. 


Portia, thank you so much for appearing on Becca's Books today. Absolutely adored reading all about your life on tour, it's so interesting, and you've given us a wonderful insight into the world of Portia Macintosh! 

Becca xxx   

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