Q&A with Portia MacIntosh, author of It's Not You, It's Them.

First comes love. Then comes family...

After a lifetime of kissing frogs, Roxie Pratt has given up on finding her own fairytale romance. That is, until she meets her very own Prince Charming, Mark Wright, and he sweeps Roxie off her feet.

So when Mark finally gets down on one knee and pops the question, there's only one thing left to do: meet the family! And when everything has been picture-perfect so far, what could possibly go wrong...?

Today on Hummingbird Reviews, I am over the moon to be welcoming HQ Digital UK author, Portia MacIntosh, onto the blog for an author Q&A. Portia is the author of fantastically funny, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable rom-coms that I absolutely LOVE, so I'm excited to be chatting to this lovely lady about writing, reading and all of the things in-between. Grab yourselves a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy!

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
My name is Portia MacIntosh. I'm a chick lit writer from t'north. I'm going to say that I'm a size 6, but I'm actually a 7. Y'know what they say about girls with big feet...

When is your next book due to be published?
My next book is out... hopefully towards the end of June, although that might change. It's called The Accidental Honeymoon - it was called The Honeymoon Period but that made too many people giggle.

What is The Accidental Honeymoon about?
My leading lady, Georgie Parker, is an English girl who moved to LA to become an actress - which didn't happen. She does wind up being engaged though, to an orchestral pianist no less. Things go wrong for Georgie the day before she's due to fly home for her cousin's wedding, when she catches her fiancé in bed with another woman. Gutted, she goes on the trip alone, stopping for a night in Las Vegas on her way home to Blackpool. She meets a handsome casino worker named Jack, and after accidentally losing him his job, the pair wind up drowning their sorrows together. On the plane the following day, Jack turns up with Georgie's spare ticket and tells her they got married last night. As the plane takes off, Georgie realises that rather than heading straight back to the states for an annulment, Jack could pretend to be her fiancé for a week, because no one has met her actual fiancé before, and she's embarrassed about what has happened. So the pair pretend to be a couple, but pretending you're in love with a total stranger isn't as easy as it seems...

How do you hope readers will feel while reading it?
I think we all know what it's like to be dumped, and the feeling of having to tell people about it... you can't help but feel like a failure. Georgie hasn't just been dumped, but she doesn't have a job or her own home. She's nearly 30 and she's failing at life. We all know that feeling too. This is a girl making the best of bad situations that are out of her control. Hopefully it will make people laugh too.

If you were to describe this book in the same way you'd describe the weather, what would you say?
Blackpool in July. Like you acknowledge that it seems hot and sunny but you know how awful things can get when the seasons change.

When did you begin writing and what was your first book about?
I've always been writing something, for as long as I can remember. Whether it was stories at school, magazines at uni, working as a journalist as an adult - and now writing books. My first book, How Not To Be Starstruck (and the prequel Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place) were based on my time working as a music journalist. They were like a fictionalised version of a real industry.

Do you have any goals for your writing?
I've never had any goals. Well, getting published just seemed like this impossible dream that would never happen to me - I couldn't believe it when my dream came true. I don't really think about the destination, I just concentrate on the journey.

Describe your writing style in three words.
Cheeky, funny and mucky. Also how I'd describe myself in three words.

What themes do you usually focus on within your writing? Is it different with each book?
I try to mix it up, but there's always a love story. I always write from the perspective of my leading lady - I like to write realistic, flawed characters who my readers will hopefully care about and relate to.

Once you've an idea firmly in place, what is the next step for you?
I try to get a chapter plan done straight away, even if it starts with just ten points. Just a list of what happens. Then I take it from there and try and build on it.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?
It totally depends - usually on how much pressure there is to get it done. Just sitting down with a blank screen and seeing what happens is pretty wonderful - then again, so is typing your last lines and knowing that you just wrote an entire book.

Are there any techniques/methods you use when it comes to plotting?
I talk it out with my boyfriend - I've come to rely on him quite a lot for listening to me ramble about my crazy ideas. I think just having someone listen to you talk out loud can be helpful, even if they're not really listening. Saying things out loud helps me to really process my thoughts. He does have some belting ideas though, I'm really lucky.

Have you ever come face to face with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes! My gosh, this is a thing. I never realised it was a thing until I experienced it. For me, it was odd and frustrating, because I had everything planned out, and I would sit down at my laptop and somewhere between my brain and my fingertips the words would get stuck. I couldn't write. I think I was stressed and under a lot of pressure to get work done at certain times. I just pushed through it. I kept trying and failing, but I never stopped trying. Eventually I just remember how to write books.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everyday life. I'm always on the look out for inspiration, whether it's things I see happening to my friends or conversations I overhear in bars. Even for simple things, like needing a name for a character, I'll just glance at Facebook and the first name I see is the one I'll use.

What does a typical day in your life look like, Portia?
The beauty of being an author and a freelancer is that no two days are all that similar - which I love. If I'm having a writing day I'll get up, put the kettle on, fire up Netflix and watch things until I feel like I'm in work mode. I usually listen to music while I'm writing although I sometimes I'll leave the TV on and just be that little bit distracted. My other day-to-day hobbies include shopping, going out for dinner, playing video games with my boyfriend and lying on the floor while my dogs swarm me.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
I struggle to force myself to write during convenient timeframes. There's just something about sitting down and knowing you have 40 minutes to write and then you have to stop, that stops you properly opening up and getting on with it.

How do you come up with your titles?
They usually just come to me. Sometimes I'll talk to my editor about my ideas and we'll come up with something together. I feel like my editor is always going to know best about these things...

When it comes to creating your characters, what's the first step you take?
I try to imagine who they are and what they're going through, and what kind of person that's going to make them. I figure out their personality and their voice before I start writing.

Have you ever taken a research trip? If so, where did you go and for which book?
I have actually. For It's Not You, It's Them I spent a lot of time in the Dales, in the middle of nowhere, getting a feel for the place. Truth or Date is set in Leeds, which is somewhere I've spent a lot of time, and Bad Bridesmaid was inspired by a trip to Cornwall. It's good to write about real places.

Do you ever set yourself word-count goals?
I don't, because I doubt I'll meet them. Being creative happens when it happens, right? You can't force it.

What is your definition of 'success'?
This changes every day. After each thing I achieve, I'm already thinking about what's next for me. I don't think there's any end goal where I'll be like, OK, yes, I've made it.

What is your definition of 'happiness'?
Happiness is something that you should be every day. It's easy to make a list of the things we need to be happy. Like, oh, I'll be so happy when I have more money and I'll be so happy when it's summer, etc. But happiness shouldn't be the end goal, it is something you should be right now. It's so important to be happy with what you have.

What do you find hardest? The beginning, middle or end?
Oh, the beginning. Not really the first chapter, but chapter three onwards, you still have no idea who people are and what they're about. By the end of the book I'm ready to go back to the start and write the first third properly.

What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don't put all your happiness eggs in one basket - least of all a basket that belongs to someone else.

What one piece of advice would you pass on to another writer?
This is going to sound odd - but don't take too much advice. Not everyone is going to be able to give you advice that is right for you, so think carefully about which bits you take.

Tell us an author who is on your auto-buy list.
Lynsey James. She's wonderful.

If you were to write in an entirely new genre, which would you write in?
I'd love to write a thriller. I have an idea for one, actually. As soon as I get the chance...

What are you working on at the moment?
Just finishing up the last bits of work on The Accidental Honeymoon.

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Tea. I routinely gave up coffee for a time, but I could never stop drinking tea.
Summer or winter? Summer.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Sweet or savoury? Sweet.
Holiday in the city or countryside? City. Because Wi-Fi.
Text or call? Text.
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
TV programmes or movies? TV programmes.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Cats or dogs? DOGS. Is that a serious question?
Chinese or Indian food? Chinese.
Pasta or cheese? Cheese.

About the author.

Portia MacIntosh has been 'making stuff up' for as long as she can remember - or so she says. Whether it was blaming her siblings for that broken vase when she was growing up, blagging her way backstage during her rock chick phase or, most recently, whatever justification she can fabricate to explain away those lunchtime cocktails.

Portia just loves telling tales. After years working as a music journalist, Portia decided it was time to use her powers for good and started writing novels. Taking inspiration from her experiences on tour with bands, the real struggle of dating in your twenties and just trying to survive as an adult human female generally, Portia writes about what it's really like for women who don't find this life stuff as easy as it seems.

You can find Portia MacIntosh on Twitter.
You can pre-order your copy of The Accident Honeymoon here & Portia's previous books here.


  1. I love this interview! I adore Portia and you asked some really great questions Becca! :)

  2. Fabulous interview! I read and reviewed (on Me, My Books and I) Portia's first books and absolutely loved them! This one sounds good too, *sighs* so many books, so little time :) x