Romford author Amelia Benjamin on her new book Allegra Jackson: Sex, Booze and Designer Shoes
- Credit: Archant
It started with the name – Allegra.
“I wanted to write a book about a strong woman, and I needed a strong name,” explained Romford author Amelia Benjamin.
“‘Allegra’ just came to me and after that the story flowed – she was an easy character to write.”
Eighteen months – and 80,000 words – later, Allegra Jackson: Sex, Booze and Designer Shoes is headed for bookshops across Britain and America.
For Amelia, who works part-time for the Precious Kids Children’s Trust centre in Harold Wood, writing the book was the easy part – the hard work began when she started looking for a publisher.
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“Due to the nature of the book it was hard to get it published,” said the diplomatic former Bower Park student.
“I haven’t actually read 50 Shades of Grey, but its success gave me a platform and I found a publisher in Seattle.
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“The book isn’t just about sex – it’s funny as well. It’s like a chick flick. I set out to write a fun, romantic book that would appeal to people of all legal ages.
“I wanted to push boundaries and I found I could do that with this character – I think people will be able to relate to her even if they can’t identify with her lifestyle.”
That lifestyle sees fashion-conscious Allegra moving from a top modelling agency in London to Los Angeles.
It would be easy to assume Amelia’s heroine reflects her own personality – but the 31-year-old says she’s nothing like her main character.
“Everyone asks if she’s an alter-ego,” said Amelia. “In some ways she is – she’s a very strong woman.
“I’m fascinated by fashion and the way clothing can be used to express your personality and lift your spirits.
“But Allegra’s completely fictitious. She’s an invention of my imagination.”
Although she admits she “always wanted to be a writer”, Amelia’s first attempt at a novel – back when she was 19 – didn’t end too well.
“I didn’t pay much attention to it,” she said. “This is the first book I’ve sunk my teeth into – and it’s paid off.”
Allegra Jackson: Sex, Booze and Designer shoes is published on June 1 by Fanny Press.