The golden girl

<p>Who would have thought contracting glandular fever was &quot;a dream come true&quot;?<br />Well, Jill Mansell. But only because she has recently spent a fortnight believing she had hepatitis, during which time she avoided fatty foods and alcohol, before discovering (much to her delight) it was only the kissing disease. &quot;At least I can eat normally now,&quot; she explains, &quot;so I had some roast potatoes last night. They really did taste amazing.&quot;</p><p>Mansell&#39;s recent trip to hospital wasn&#39;t the first time she walked down whitewashed corridors&mdash;she spent 18 years working at the Burden Neurological Hospital (in Bristol where she still lives) as an electroencephalographic technician, monitoring electrical activity in the brain.<br /><br /><strong>Making ends meet</strong><br />Although a fan of the job she found it tough to make make ends meet so she decided to start creative writing classes after reading an article about a woman who made a lot of money from penning romantic novels. <em>Fast Friends</em>, Mansell&#39;s d&eacute;but, was published by Transworld in 1991.</p><p>Juggling writing and her scientific career was &quot;just completely surreal&quot; says Mansell, who wrote her second title while working at the hospital before becoming pregnant with her first child and giving up work. &quot;At one stage I was just going from one thing to the other because I was invited to the book awards, meeting all these famous people and it was just fabulous and glamorous . . . and then the next morning I&#39;m back at work and I&#39;ve got a patient trying to rip my ears off and bite my face . . . It was the weirdest juxtaposition.&quot;</p><p>Twenty-two books on and Mansell is among the bestselling and most well-known chick-lit authors. She is one of the top 20 British female novelists of the 21st century (in terms of sales) and has been worth almost &pound;14.5m to the market since 2000.</p><p>Her new novel, <em>To the Moon and Back</em>, tells of Ellie who is attempting to rebuild her life after the shocking death of her husband. The story follows her as she moves to a new house in Primrose Hill, starts a new job and meets both old and new friends.</p><p>Despite the sad beginning Mansell says one of the golden rules of chick lit is a happy ending. In the past when attempting to kill off her protagonist at the end her editor made her rewrite it, so Mansell&#39;s readers can always look forward to a cheerful resolution.</p><p>After so many years Mansell says she still loves her job but admits writers do like to moan if it&#39;s not going well. &quot;Today I know exactly which bit I&#39;m going to write next and I&#39;m really excited about writing it, but yesterday I was sitting there drumming my nails, thinking how can I do the next bit,&quot; she says. &quot;Sometimes its like cycling up a really steep hill and sometimes its like going wheeee down the other side.&quot; </p><p>She says she draws inspiration from many sources whether it be &quot;EastEnders&quot;, &quot;This Morning&quot;, or real life stories from the pages of glossy magazines.<br /><br /><strong>Writing by hand</strong><br />She sits each day in front of the television as she writes her books by hand using a Harley-Davidson fountain pen. &quot;I&#39;m not that brilliant on the internet, I&#39;ve only just learnt how to cut and paste and do technical stuff,&quot; says Mansell. &quot;When people talk about Word documents I actually don&#39;t know what they mean.&quot; She also relies on her daughter to type her notes.</p><p>Even though she is a self-confessed technophobe sitting beside Mansell on the sofa is her iPad which she regularly uses to post tweets. &quot;I did think Twitter would be too complicated for me, but its not, it&#39;s just so simple, it couldn&#39;t be simpler. It&#39;s just like having other people to talk to in the office when you want to.&quot;</p><p>As an author Mansell is undoubtedly a lover of longer works but says she enjoys Twitter because it is so short and immediate. &quot;When it&#39;s just a couple of sentences,- it&#39;s just like something you would say to somebody anywhere and so it&#39;s the brevity of it that&#39;s lovely.&quot; </p>