Chat with Plum Sykes for a mere thirty seconds, and you know exactly why the British-born, Oxford-educated editor, novelist, and socialite has reached the pinnacle in each of those arenas. Smart, witty, and supremely down to earth, Sykes has an eye for a story and a heart that is firmly grounded; to wit: she went public with a crippling anxiety disorder, and shared how she beat it. The Vogue contributing editor recently hosted a book party at Burberry Boston to promote her latest novel, Party Girls Die in Pearls, during which we spoke with her about murder mysteries, her writing schedule, and her battles with anxiety. Yes, she wore pearls.
Plum Sykes signing books recently during an event at the Boston Burberry store.
Congratulations on your latest novel – and it’s a mystery! Plum Sykes: Thank you. I didn’t know if I could plot a murder mystery. Could I write a social commentary that would make readers laugh and smile – but still have murder in it? I taught myself. It was really fun.
What is your writing regimen? PS: I do it first thing in the morning. I get up around 6am. I write in my office. In the afternoon, I make sure to do something different – go to the gym, ride my horse, or take a walk outside. I make sure to never sit down at my desk unless I know I am going to write.
You have had such a glamorous life: Vogue fashion editor and now a bestselling author. PS: It was all by accident. I was never someone who had a plan. I had dreams. My mother told me to do what you love. Well, I loved fashion and I loved writing.
How did you nail the chick lit genre? You were a best-selling author right out of the gate. PS: Actually, my first novel, Bergdorf Blondes, I wrote that for myself. It was right after 9/11, and I did it to cheer myself up. I was about New York socialites, and believe me they are funny. I didn’t expect any readers.
Tell us about your new book Party Girls Die in Pearls. PS: It has some really fun elements: college, a fabulous social scene and romance. I went back to Oxford to meet with students and wander around. I had total access, so I would read the old student newspapers and the gossip columns. In the 80s, there were iconic people there: Hugh Grant, Amanda Hartnett and Charles Spencer. Tons of parties, always white tie. There was lots of great inspiration for my research.
Who are your readers? PS: OH, they are really fun! They are young women, and by young, I mean young at heart. I love my readers. I am obsessed with them. All I want to do is amuse people
You recently were very open about your history with anxiety and endometriosis… PS: Yes, it’s funny, a few years ago I may not have admitted all of it. On the outside, it was a little too perfect. The truth was, I had terrible battles with anxiety and endometriosis. They both are a problem for young women. I found a wonderful help through an anxiety expert named Charles Linden. I wanted to help others.
What are your favorite spots in Boston? PS: I absolutely love Boston. It is so civilized and nice. It’s so preppy, I suppose. I love the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a lot. Next time, I want to visit Harvard.