Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Behind the Scenes - Sophie Childs

About the book...
Bethan Brooks works in London for the ultimate boss from Hell, trying to support her wannabe rockstar boyfriend. But are The Vampire Squirrels really ever going to make it big or is she doomed to be a secretary forever? Luckily, Bethan finds the perfect escape when going to the cinema. There she loses herself in another world and forgets all about the dreaded filing and monotonous office work. Imagine her surprise when one day she encounters her favourite actor on the Tube. Suddenly, she finds herself part of the glamorous movie world she only ever dreamed about. With more at stake than she could ever realise, does she really want to know what goes on behind the scenes?

About the author...
Sophie Childs is a home educating mother of five. Her claims to fame include hosting an open mic night with Ewan McGregor in the audience and winning both The Weakest Link and The Chase. When she's not running around after her children, puppy and chickens, she writes and writes and writes. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes, I was published by So Vain Books in February 2015 and she's currently hard at work on her second, due out early in 2016.

Guest Post...
Dealing with nightmare bosses
by Sophie Childs, author of Behind the Scenes

I seem to have a knack for dealing with supposedly difficult characters. When I first signed up with a temping agency, they sent me into a job the next day, warning me that people had found the directors hard to deal with.

I walked in that morning as a temporary member of staff and left at the end of the day with a permanent contract. What’s more, my new bosses were so happy with my work that they gave me three pay rises in my first year alone. I had no idea what the problem was – they were lovely people to work with, very easy going and the work was straightforward. All I needed to do was keep the stationery cupboard well stocked and the letters typed on time. 
Yet every time I went on leave, the place fell to pieces without me. Any announcement that I wanted to take a holiday was met with a look of sheer panic because nothing would get done and I’d return to a complete shambles. The only person who seemed to be able to make my bosses happy was the niece of one of them, but she wasn’t always available and there seemed to be a revolving door policy with any other temps who attempted to work with my fantastic bosses.

Eventually I moved on to a financial PR company where, once again, I was warned that the boss could be difficult to work with. In this instance, the warning was well founded. I joined the company not long before Christmas and when I discovered that I was sat opposite him at the staff Christmas dinner, my heart sank. He was a very intimidating character, who’d always made it clear that he had no time for small talk. Every single member of the company had made time to welcome me on my first day, but as far as he was concerned, I didn’t exist.

However, we got talking over dinner and we clicked. By the end of the night, he was telling everyone how excited he was that I was allocated to the marketing side of the business and how we would achieve great things for the company. Although he was always a prickly person and you had to pick your moment to approach him, I managed to come across as though I wasn’t afraid of him (even though there were plenty of times when I was quaking in my shoes!) and I eventually won the nickname ‘Miss Whiplash’ from him because I knew how to push him without crossing the line.

When I handed in my notice, it send ripples throughout the company. You see, he’d moved his existing PA sideways after four years of her supporting him, so I could be his new PA. What made it worse was that they told me before they told her, and I put my foot straight in my mouth when I asked her whose idea it had been to reshuffle the PAs. 

So many people assumed that my boss was the reason why I was leaving, but the truth was that I’d happily have continued working for him if it wasn’t for the fact that with that reshuffle, they decided to downgrade the marketing side of things (which I’d loved) and pile a number of new clients on to me that would have seen me spend every waking hour in the office, including weekends. I just wasn’t dedicated enough to the job to be willing to do that.

After a year with the company, I moved on. (My replacement lasted a mere four months and his old PA point blank refused to work for him again after the way she’d been treated.) Finally I’d found a position as a marketing assistant, but my two new bosses proved to be one step too far for me. One of them was perfectly reasonable, but the other wanted to micromanage my every movement until I’d ‘proved’ I could do the job. 

Eventually, I learned to arrange meetings with him every time he gave me a task and tell him how I was going to handle it. He’d echo it back and leave the meeting feeling very satisfied that he’d ‘told’ me how I should do my job. 

In five years in offices, I learned that every nightmare boss has a way in which they like to be dealt with. Funnily enough, for most of them, as long as you do a good job, that’s all they need and my first bosses treated me really well because I got everything done ahead of schedule. Others need a little more active handling and if you can let their little quirks roll off your back, you’ll be fine.

For me, I was just a little too unconventional for office work. Perhaps if I’d managed to make the jump into full time PR or marketing, I’d be working there still, but the downer of being good at admin work is that you make yourself hard to replace and the gap you need to leap becomes harder and harder. However, it has to be said that my ability to handle strong characters also saw me paid above average wages and if I were money motivated, that would be all I needed.

Instead, I now have five of the most demanding bosses I’ve ever experienced – my children! And much as they work me hard, I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else.I have used the experience I had with difficult bosses as source inspiration for my debut novel, Behind the Scenes, as Bethan, the main character, at the beginning is working at a job she hates, with a boss from hell. She then one day stumbles upon her favourite actor and her life is turned upside down as suddenly fabulous parties and mingling with the celebs are part of her everyday routine. It’s a really funny and light read, which makes you dream of a glamorous world made of celebrities and movie sets.

Behind the Scenes is now available in both paperback and e-book, and it’s a hilarious read for anyone who would like to see how it would be to have your life turned upside down and be catapulted into a glamorous world of celebrities and movie sets. On my website http://sophiechilds.com/ and on Twitter I also share my thoughts, my life adventures with my 5 kids and some film reviews, so if you want to pop over or let me know what you thought of the novel, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Stephanie of So Vain Books Ltd as part of the blog tour.

Firstly, what a fab premise for a story. How many of us are going through the motions at work, turning up for the cheque at the end of the month? This story focuses on Bethan who is definitely not living the dream, either at work or at home - she is put upon by both her wannabe rock-star boyfriend and her boss.  She is a huge film fan and spends her spare time escaping into a world she can only dream about - that is, until a chance meeting with a film idol.  She first saw him on the tube, then again in a favourite restaurant of hers.  An invitation to a day on a film set, sees Bethan grabbing a once in a life time opportunity with both hands.

This was a hugely entertaining, yet heart felt story.  Bethan, without doubt is an amazing character that I connected with straight away.  She had me laughing at her antics and cringing with embarrassment one minute then feeling heartfelt pain and pity for her the next.  To say that life has dealt Bethan a bit of a bum deal is perhaps a slight exaggeration but she is definitely one of those characters that people put upon.  She inadvertently allows people to take advantage of her and doesn't actually seem to see it, always wanting to do the right thing and please other people - her parents, boyfriend, best friend and boss. Although, I don't think any of them took advantage of her with malice, it was just she was a willing victim - her subversive character allowed them to always put themselves and their needs first.

This was a book about relationships and discovery.  About self doubt and realisation. A very light hearted read with a few strong messages.  Ultimately,  if you want to live the dream, you have to make it happen.  Sometimes in life we have to make choices that benefit others more than ourselves but there comes a time when we should put ourselves first.  

From the moment Bethan arrived on the film set her demeanour changed - flashes of a different character shone through, she appeared a more confident person. Her honesty and integrity wrapping around her like armour protecting her through some of the traumas still to come her way.

I loved the way Sophie described the various relationships throughout this book - her descriptive skills are so clearly fine tuned to human nature.  I never warmed to Lee, as I'm sure was the intention. As Bethan's boyfriend they should have been at least, equal partners. But, if he was going to put anyone on a pedestal it would be himself - his ego was so large even when he did say or do something nice I was left wondering what the catch was - everything was for his own gains.  In contrast Jonathan, a person Bethan met on set, turns out to be the complete opposite.  Even as a friend he put Bethan's needs and thoughts first - giving her enough room to grow and develop without pushing himself forward.  He was the tonic she needed, always positive, nudging her gently forwards towards her own realisation and goals - I found myself smiling quietly to myself whenever he was around. Others were not so obvious, Maria her best friend, on the surface appears to be supportive but more often than not she pushed Bethan aside to seek her own gains.  Bethan clearly couldn't see this and neither could I until an impartial spectator shared their thoughts.  Thereafter, I read the scenario's and situations differently - it was like having a light switched on.

This was an enjoyable read, made even more so by the fly on the wall feeling I got as Bethan hobnobbed with the stars and trod the red carpet.  She comes across as the girl next door, thus making her comments and reactions to life more than realistic. Watching her character and confidence grow as the story developed was just lovely and sometimes dreams can and do come true. Perfect slice of escapism - thank you Sophie.
The list of bloggers who are also taking part in the blog tour are:

Monday 2nd

Tuesday 3rd

Wednesday 4th
Thursday 5th

Huge thanks to Stephanie at So Vain Books Ltd for letting me be part of the blog tour.
So Vain Books Ltd
Oxford, United Kingdom

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for such a gorgeous review! I'm so glad you enjoyed my book :D