About

Samantha Mackintosh portrait photograph

Me looking terribly serious

Samantha Mackintosh has a fifteen-year career in publishing behind her, and now works in the attic like a madwoman, fixing spelling and punctuation of other people’s books. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa and now lives in England with her husband, two small children and too many noisy people in her head.

Kisses for Lula is her first book.

 

 

Meet Samantha Mackintosh

Ali from Egmont: Hi, Samantha, do you mind if we ask you a few questions so readers can get to know the mastermind behind Kisses for Lula?

Samantha: Erm. I will tell you terrible lies.

Ali: Great, thanks! Okay, here we go. Where were you born, and where do you live now?

Sam: I was born in Chingola, Zambia, in darkest Africa, and now I live in London’s closest village, in darkest, awfullest, greyest weather.

Ali: And if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Samantha: I love where I am (it’s not always grey! Plus I live in hope of a hedgehog moving in to the back garden), but I wouldn’t say no to a New York apartment . . . a villa in Greece . . . a cottage in St Ives . . . a farm in the Lake District . . . Y’know. A diddy little property portfolio.

Ali: Is it true you learned to read from watching Sesame Street?

Samantha: Yes. And my mum made flashcards too. Things like HEAD and HAND and HAIRY ASS. Okay, not the last one, but you get the picture.

Ali: Who were your favourite authors as a child, and what books are you into now? Any particular favourites?

Samantha: I remember crying with disappointment when there were no more Sue Barton (written by Helen Dore Boylston) books to read from our local public library, but I devoured plenty of other stuff, from Blyton to Blume to Boon (Mills and). As a teen I fell in love with poetry: Wilfred Owen, Dylan Thomas, Lord Byron, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, but always had to rely on the antiquated local library. We had two university booksellers with teeny fiction sections, and no money to buy books, so I’m a total book glutton now.

My recent favourites are City of Thieves by David Benioff, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, This Charming Man (I love Marian Keyes) and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Also the crime club: Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, and literary fiction: Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood. Lordy, are there any books I don’t like?

Ali: Tell us about your most treasured possession.

Samantha: My laptop, definitely, my engagement ring, a tin trunk of journals and letters from when I was . . . um . . . younger than I am now. My camera too.

 

Ali: If you had to hide your secret stash of Maltesers, where would you put them?

Samantha: In the bliddy ironing pile. Nobody ever goes in there but me.

Egmont: What did you do before you wrote Kisses for Lula, and when did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

Samantha: I’ve worked for book publishers, magazine publishers, legal publishers, even been involved in designing health warnings for ciggie packets! I’ve waitressed, slaved behind bars, sold sausage rolls, worked in a bookshop (heaven!), but the hardest job of all is looking after children. Well, some children. People I give birth to seem to wear pants on their head a lot and require emergency treatment at A&E a lot:

‘Don’t worry, madam, there’s nothing you can do for a skull fracture. Just make sure the clear fluid doesn’t leak for too long.’

‘Are you sure, Mrs Mackintosh, that you saw the wooden ladybird go up there? I see nothing in this nostril.’

‘A missing fingernail, Mrs Mackintosh, always looks worse than it is.’

 

When I was nine I got fed up about there being no books for nine-year-olds and decided then I’d write them myself when I grew up. Then I grew up and realised how impossible it is to become a real-life, all-day-long, I-get-paid-for-this-lark writer. So that ideal fell by the wayside, but now look! Whahey!

Egmont: Where do you like to write?

Samantha: I like to write in the attic at my desk with the heater on underneath and my toes in cosy slippers right on it. (Even in summer.) (I’m pretty sure health and safety wouldn’t approve.)

However! Due to real life, I end up writing on the train, at the gym, in the bathroom (don’t ask), upstairs in my sister’s house, early in the morning, late at night, any chance I get. Do you see why my laptop is my most treasured possession?

Egmont: Is there much of you in Lula? Or in any of the other characters in the story? Please say Boodle!

Samantha: I’m afraid, like Lula, I have been known to put on clothes that were left in a crumpled heap beside the bed from the day before. (Always clean unders, though!) Like Lula, I eat way too much chocolate (only she stays slim, the lucky cow) and –

Lula: Now just hang on one frikking minute.

Sam: Oh no you don’t. Back in the head! Back in the head!

Lula: No can do, writer lady. Hey, Ali?

Ali: Uh . . .

Lula: I’d like to state for the record that Sam’s implication that I wear dirty unders –

Sam: I did not imply! I expressly said –

Lula: Uhuh, sure, so, please note, I absolutely never wear unders more than a day, and I eat chocolate for medicinal purposes only! Do you have any idea how much iron there is in choc–

Sam: That is a total lie. You eat chocolate because you love it and you’re a greedy pig. What normal person stashes chocolate everywhere? Sharing is caring, Tallulah Bird.

Lula: Hey! You see the people I live with! Frik! You INVENTED the people I live with! Ali!

Ali: I’m staying out of this. Perhaps this is a good point to close the interview –

Lula: Nonononono! You don’t get off that lightly! Sam is exactly like Boodle. Big, hairy, always knocking people over. Especially boys. She’s nervous around boys. Only sisters in her family, you see, no experience of them whatsoever. Maybe a teeeensy bit like me there.

Sam: OH! MY! GO–!

Lula: But she’s quite sweet too. You know. Cares about people. Makes sure they get a decent kiss in, even though it’s not with the guy you –

Ali: Yes, we know about your first kiss, Lula.

Sam: Yeah. Put that grin away. It’s what happens after the kiss that matters. You could end up doing the hula and never getting another snog EVER AGAIN. [Lula Does the Hula is coming soon, if it’s not out already.]

Lula: You wouldn’t!

Sam: That depends. Will you be quiet? Will you behave?

Lula: [Obedient silence]

Ali: [Cough] Okaaaay. So, Samantha, tell us about your first kiss.

Sam: Oh NOOOO!

Ali: Yes, or we’re not gonna print this book.

Sam: Okay! Okay! But this goes nowhere, right?

Ali: Yeah. Sure, Sam. [Signs off 50,000-copy printrun]

Sam: Right, well, you need to know I was sweet sixteen and never been kissed, a terribly unsightly person and had zero clue about boys. So that’s how come I welcomed Stephen Measey into my life.

Ali: Stephen Measey? Seriously?

Sam: No. Got to protect his name. His real name is much, much worse. At first glance he was all right, I guess, but on closer examination he laughed like a horse, had teeth like a horse but could absolutely not kiss neeeearly as well as a horse.

Ali: Huh?

Sam: One word: HOOVER.

Ali: Oh no.

Sam: Oh yes. How that boy could suck! I swear, I thought I was going to lose my tongue. He hung on, slurping for the LONGEST time, until I thought I’d actually lose the most important muscle in the body. When he finally broke away I was speechless. Well, how could a person speak after that kind of action? Exactly. Who could blame me. I just stood there blinking in the sunlight thinking, Whaaaat the ffff! Is that NORMAL? IS THIS WHAT A KISS IS? He left pretty pronto, thank frik, and I then proclaimed terrible flu for two weeks. I had to. Can you imagine the hickies that guy could inflict? And can you believe he wanted to come round regardless of my ill health? Maybe he thought he’d be helpful by clearing out my sinuses.

 

Ali: Stop! EW! I can’t believe you just said that! Ew! Ew! Ew!

Sam: You asked! Nothing about my life has been remotely pretty!

 

Ali: What, not even the wedding dress you made yourself?

Sam: ESPECIALLY not the wedding dress I made myself! What was I thinking? WHO makes their own wedding dress? Not normal people. No. None. Thank goodness the collapsed wedding cake (truth: a lot went wrong that day) was tasty enough to numb the pain. PLUS I had good hair, for once in my life.

 

Ali: Moving on! Have you ever been in trouble with the law?

Sam: Never. The law is on my side.

Ali: Huh. But what about the skinny dipping in the uni pool episode?

Sam: HOW DID YOU HEAR THAT? But wait! THAT WASN’T ME! NO! NEVER!

Ali: So you gave campus security a phoney name.

Sam: No! Not a phoney name!

Ali: Someone else’s name, then?

Sam: Can we please change the subject? I need to go do some ironing.

Ali: Fine, fine. (We know about the ironing.) Any wise words for all those aspiring writers out there?

Samantha: Start and don’t stop. Don’t ever say you doooon’t have tiiiime. If you say you dooooon’t have tiiiiime I’ll come round and wallop you. Unless of course you’ve got newborn twins in your house and are on feeding/changing/staying sane duties. Then you’re excused.

Egmont: Lula ends up in all sorts of sticky situations in the book. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Go on, spill!

 

Samantha: Grggnn, fine, but only cos you’ve got such lovely come-to-therapy eyes, okay? I trust you.

Ali: Oh, dear. About that . . .

Samantha: It was a bright and gorgeous day, the kind of weather you always forget is actually possible, and I was loping happily across Waterloo Bridge, gorgeous swingy silk dress on, bag slung confidently over the shoulder, mad grin on my face. An Australian woman drew up alongside me: ‘G’day,’ she says.

‘Uh, hi,’ I say.

‘I can see ya knickers,’ she says.

Wh-what? Is my dress see-through? I think.

‘Ya bag,’ she says, ‘it’s pulled ya dress right up.’

I look down in horror, and she’s aaabsoluuutely right. ‘Th-thanks,’ I stutter, yanking my bag away so my dress can drop back to the knee.

‘I could see ya knickers,’ she says again, with a great deal of satisfaction.

HOW LONG HAD I BEEN STRIDING ALONG with my GREY GRANNY KNICKERS ON SHOW?

HOW LONG? I ask. HOW LONG?

Oh, man. I need a drink.

 

Ali: Not yet. One last question . . . who would you be most likely to fall for – Arns or Jack? Or Fat Angus, perhaps?

Samantha: Ha! If I went anywhere near Fat Angus, Pen would do something terrible to me!

Ali: Sam! Pen is in your head!

Sam: Exactly! Brain damage!

Ali: Arns or Jack?

Sam: Can I tell you after Lula Does the Hula? I think there might be more we need to know about these two . . .

My Other Life

I have a day job. Often, an author calls publicising their writing their day job, but my day job has nothing to do with writing – well, nothing to do with my writing anyway. I have the enormous privilege of editing, copy-editing and proofreading other authors’ books, and it is entirely wonderful. Except for the …

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