“Dad advised me to change my name when I went in to journalism, and now I wish I had”: 10 Questions for writer Sophia Money-Coutts

Sophia Money-Coutts

SOPHIA MONEY-COUTTS is a member of the Coutts private banking dynasty, and was a journalist with society magazine Tatler for five years, appearing on their BBC documentary series Posh People.

She now writes a national, weekly newspaper column on Modern Manners. Her raunchy new novel, The Plus One, has been hailed in reviews as this summer’s “chick lit” hit.

Are you adapting to publicising your first book?

Not yet. My brother Drummond set up a meeting for me with an agent in LA. I was going to do that British understated thing but he said I had to go in boasting “The Plus One is going to be bigger than the bible.”

And did you?

In the end, I said: “My book is Downton Abbey meets The Devil Wears Prada.” They said “Wow. We get it. Amazing. Yah.” It’s another world.

As a journalist, how are you treating the reviews?

I wasn’t going to read any but my publisher sent me them last week and it was great. There’s a lot of “upper class Bridget Jones” write-ups, and I get it. It draws attention.

Has your “posh” name brought prejudice?

Undoubtedly. My Dad advised me to change it when I went in to journalism, and now I wish I had. I’ve had to develop coping mechanisms.

Like what?

Self-effacement. David Baddiel posted a photo of my book on Twitter, saying: “This can’t be a real person. She sounds like a character from Dickens.” I just replied “Real Person” and ignored the later comments.

How did your dad react to your career choice?

He worked in Coutts bank all his life, but didn’t love it. He made sacrifices for us and didn’t expect us to follow him in to the City. I feel privileged that he just wanted us to be happy.

Was he embarrassed by the book’s sex scenes?

Not at all. My family don’t mind. My grandmother might have been embarrassed but she’s passed away now. The worst thing about those bits was doing the audio book.

Why, what happened?

I voiced it myself, and I had to do it with a young recording engineer. That was embarrassing. When I fluffed a line, he’d say: “Could we go back to where she’s taking her clothes off?” It was a bonding experience for us both (laughs).

As an interviewer, are you a good interviewee?

Probably not. I prattle on. When I listen back to me interviewing people, just as the interviewee says something interesting, I’m off gabbling about something else entirely. I have verbal diarrhoea.

You have 24 hours left to live. How do you spend it?

My dad and step-mum live in Spain so I’d gather my mad, eccentric family there and drink lots of rosé wine from plastic bottles. Then I’d hope for the best.