My Week - Dr Brooke Magnanti
Former call girl and Belle de Jour blogger Dr Brooke Magnanti on running, erotic fiction, and keeping some secrets from the neighbours
Sunday is our [Dr Magnanti and her husband’s] day for going out on a long run. Where we live in the West Highlands, in Lochaber near Fort William, there are lots of different places where you can go. We’ll go for a two-hour run up to a bothy and get an amazing view. A year before I started the Belle de Jour blog I had been living in Aviemore and always had it in my mind that I’d live up here again. The penny dropped a couple of years ago that now was the time.
I keep office hours as much as I can, so Monday mornings can be intensely boring. That’s when I catch up with my publisher and attend to everything that has come in via email. I consider myself immensely fortunate that I am writing full-time, seven or eight years after the first book came out. I blog very little now, and it isn’t about personal stuff any more because everyone knows who I am. I don’t mind if people go back and read the old stuff, but I’d rather the neighbours didn’t know what we were up to on any given night. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
I’ve been fascinated by the lifecycle of [erotic best-selling novel by EL James] Fifty Shades of Grey, because it’s so different to my own. Even though we both have big internet fanbases in common, I never would have had the confidence as a writer to finish a book without a strong editor and traditional publisher behind me. I think it does say a lot about the fascination with kinky sex, and people getting tired of the ‘same-old same-old’ in erotic writing.
Tuesday is our big shopping day. We drive to Fort William and buy everything we need for the week. We have become completely countrified in this way – there’s no more nipping out of the flat late at night for a pint of milk. You have to be organised. The winter before last we got absolutely snowed in – our drains froze – and if you hadn’t done your shopping in advance you could really get caught out.
On Wednesday I keep on top of our vegetable patch – we’re growing potatoes, kale, garlic and beans this year. I don’t dress up as often as I used to and in many ways it’s nice, because that is just one more stress to keep up with – there is so much pressure on you to look a certain way. If I was walking around the village wearing a dress and high heels, people would wonder what I was up to.
On Thursdays and Fridays I try to get another run in, and we are tentatively trying to start a running club and go for hill runs and sprints. I’m pursuing it as a project because I knew that promoting this book would be a test of stamina. But exercise also helps keep you sane. There have definitely been times in my life when the stress and negativity has built up and I’ve felt on the edge. It’s the same with sex, I suppose. But with the mileage I’m doing at the moment, it would be an impressive effort to get the sex to last that long!
The Sex Myth by Dr Brooke Magnanti (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99) is out now in paperback
Interview by Thomas Quinn