Fake news played a big part in the presidential election, and continues to play a part in politics, with the president declaring mainstream media channel CNN as “fake news.” So even though those not-so-accurate news headlines on Facebook are probably what come to mind, author Sophie Kinsella is here to remind us that not all fake news is political. In her newest novel, My Not So Perfect Life, Sophie discusses the consequences of falsifying an overly glamorous life on Instagram (we all do it to some extent, but anyone remember the Insta model Essena O’Neill, who called off the charade?). We recently chatted with Sophie about what inspired her to tackle such a hot-button issue. Here are all the deets on her newest must-read novel.
B+C: Your newest book, My Not So Perfect Life, follows a young girl named Katie who fakes a glamorous Instagram life (that is, until the facade is ruined by an accidental IRL encounter). What drew you to the topic of fake news and social media?
SK: I always write what I see around me, and I’ve been growing more and more aware of social media and the way we’re all subjected to relentless positive images of each other. I could see how people start measuring their own lives as compared to other people’s feeds and also create slight fictions with their own posts by trying to make everything look perfect. But we can never be perfect and shouldn’t try to be!
My books are all about relationships. For relationships to be real and meaningful, you need to see the whole person, the whole picture and the whole truth. So I thought this was a fascinating area to explore through my characters.
B+C: One of the things many readers love about your books is how you portray realistic female characters with everyday problems (seriously, we’ve *all* dug in the trash to save a sandwich or two). Why do you feel it’s important to feature authentic ladies in your novels?
SK: I love to read a character I relate to. So that’s what I try to achieve with my books. I try to depict women in the most honest and confessional way that I can. By doing that, their struggles in my story will be honest and real. As you say, we’ve all dug that sandwich out of the trash!
B+C: You’ve said previously that you always see a little bit of yourself in your heroines. What part of Katie reminds you of yourself?
SK: I can absolutely relate to Katie. I remember in my first proper job being very intimidated by all the established journalists and wondering how on earth I was going to be like them, so assured and on top of things.
B+C: While My Not So Perfect Life handles fake news in a lighthearted fashion, the actual macro concept of fake news can actually be very dangerous (whether it’s false political coverage or the only semi-true online life of an Instagram star). What would you say to the average 20-something lady who wants to cut through the BS and find authentic content?
SK: We live in an age of spin, and it’s hard to find the balance between not falling for everything you see and being totally cynical. When it comes to coverage, read widely. Don’t just find one source and stick to it. I think, as humans, we pick up on a lot of signals above and beyond visual ones, and we can trust those. Spending one evening sitting with a friend, seeing her face and listening to her talk will tell you more about how she really is than months of Instagram content.
What’s on your current to-read list? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.
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(Featured photos via John Swannell)