Five Questions with Helen Fielding

Jessica Allen | The Social - October 25, 2013

Photo credit: Sarah Robinson/The Social

Q: Whatís on your bedside table right now?

A: There is a DVD with the second season of Girls on it and a MacBook Air. I watch a little bit every morning to make me laugh. I love it.


Q: Rarely do fans rally behind the film adaptation of their most beloved novels but yours certainly did - even though you cast a Texan [Zellweger] to play their heroine. Now, you helped adapt the screenplay. How much anxiety did that cause you?

A: I think with the first movie there were a lot of people involved who were very close to the world of Bridget. And they were all very passionate and we all knew each other very well. It came out of all of that. We thought it was going to be terrible! And then at the first screening, people suddenly started laughing. So thereís something about that energy that made it work. Team effort. 


Q: I read that youíre most influenced by the work of 19th century novelists, including Thomas Hardy and Edith Wharton, ďwhere there wasnít the differentiation between a page-turner and a literary novel.Ē Do you feel that authors today have to choose between the two? 

A: I donít think they do. I just think that somehow around the time of Virginia Woolf there was a sense that to be really literary you had to write the sort of paragraphs that the reader reads several times and doesnít realize that theyíre repeatedly reading it, you know? And I think in the 19th century a lot of novels were written as newspaper columns almost, so there has to be the sense of wanting to know what happens next. But at the same time, it comes from a place of truth. And itís a slice of life. And thatís my favourite sort of book. Throw in a happy ending, too.


Q: I also read that your biggest pleasure is travel. Is there a destination you still havenít been to that youíre especially excited to see?

A: Yes! There are loads of places I havenít been yet. I want to go to Machu Picchu and I want to go up on the train. I want to go to Vietnam. And I liked to go back to Burma because I went there years and years ago and now itís opened up a little more to tourists. Also, Brazil. Thereís a literary festival there called Paraty, which apparently is great. I really want to go to Brazil. And I want to go to Mauritius. Iíd also like to go back to Zanzibar, which I went to years and years ago. I want to go to the Serengeti. Iíve also never been to South Africa and some parts of India. Iíd also like to go back to Central America and do a little bit more scuba there. Theyíve got some really good cliffs for diving, underwater cliffs. But I havenít been too much of South America, either. Iíve never been to Chile. So I would like to go there. And I really want to go to Cartagena, though I think it might be a bit dangerous with the whole drug thing. But I would love to go there, anyway. Thereís that whole movie, Ro--

Q: Romancing the Stone! Oh my God that is one of my favourite movies! And sorry for interrupting!

A: And theyíve got a literary festival there, too! You could plan a whole year of travel based solely on literary festivals. Thereís one in Mauritius, thereís one in Brazil and thereís one in Cartagena. Thereís one practically everywhere. Sorry, was that all a bit long?

Q: Uh no. That was amazing. Okay, last one. You used to write restaurant reviews so Iím hoping you can help me with this last one: I always a pick a thematic wine and cheese for our Social Chapter book picks. For Mad about The Boy, Iím thinking I have to go with a Chardonnay and maybe a gooey brie of some sort. Agree or disagree?

A: Well, crucially Roxter, the younger man in the book, is very, very keen on food indeed. So I think he would probably choose ham hock for his food, something a bit more solid than cheese. And probably a bottle of red wine. And Bridget would probably go along with it. 

Jessica Allen

Before joining the The Socialís team as their Digital Correspondent, Jessica Allen was a writer for Macleanís. And before that she worked at an Italian restaurant. She likes writing about everything from food and film to science and ancient history. Past obsessions include Moby Dick and Jason Bourne. (And also the movie Gladiator, but she doesnít want to talk about it.)