Interview with Santa Montefiore

santa montefiore novelist of rabbits of london


Why rabbits? When our son, Sacha, was six he couldn’t sleep one night so we told him to think of something lovely. He had a pile of rabbits he loved and one night he came up with the thought that they lived under Buckingham Palace. The idea for the book came from that thought and for many holidays we’d walk and discuss storylines and how to create a ‘rabbit world’, the need to have rules and limits just like our own world, or Harry Potter’s world or in The Hobbit. As soon as my husband, ‘Sebag’, came up with who the baddies were going to be, it just ran from there.

How do you work with your husband? What do you both individually bring to the story? Sebag is so busy with his filming and writing that I literally have to drag him to the table but once there we take it in turns to type and think up storylines and characters. I bring the more traditional elements – cosy fire, Watership Down feel – while Sebag wants it to be futuristic with the Ratzis living up in The Shard and doing bad stuff on the internet. Is it true the story has been bought for film? Yes! by 20th Century Fox’s Blue Sky. I had an email from my agent saying he had ‘nice news’.

Who are your literary heroes? Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Sarah Waters (Fingersmith is the best). I love ‘The Enchanted April’ and the ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels.

What’s your favourite childhood book? Animal books. My favourite is ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (I met Julian Fellowes yesterday and he said he has written the musical) and ‘The Little White Horse’ by Elizabeth Goudge.

What’s your top tip for writing? Just do it! It’s like dieting, we read all these books about different ways but in the end it’s just do it: eat less!

Writing so much about family life, do you think you live better because you have been so thoughtful about so many different scenarios? Maybe. It has certainly stopped me having an affair as I can imagine it all so don’t need to do it in real life.

Your first novel was set in Argentina: have you taken your kids there? They are about to make a film of that book (Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree) and once that gets underway I will take the family. I have read that you possess a sixth sense. I used to be able to see spirits. In the time between asleep and fully awake. I am too busy now to meditate or tap into it but, who knows, it might come back stronger at some point.

Do you have a lucky charm/number? I have crystals everywhere.

How do you keep so trim? I have a trainer, Frank, twice a week and the days he doesn’t come I run. I eat carbs for breakfast and then not again. And that’s hard because I am a carbs’ girl. That’s not to say I don’t have the odd bit of chocolate cake at a friend’s house.

Skincare routine? La Prairie. I try others but always come back to this.

Favourite European city? Paris.

You converted to Judaism when you married and the kids are Jewish. Do you celebrate Christmas in any form? With my family we do; at home we have lots of Hanukkah presents.

Have you got a favourite family game? ‘Family’ tennis.

Best view in London? The view from my office over Kensington Gardens.

Pushy or chilled parent? Chilled but very (over?) protective too.

Who would you most like to sit next to on a plane? Javier Bardem (in fact I will have to invent a Spanish rabbit just so he might be able to do the voiceover!)

What drives you mad? Litter.

Best advice you’ve been given? My father always gives the best advice: ‘You might not be able to change a situation but you can change your reaction’ is a good one.

royal rabbits of london