Goodtoknow Book Club meets… Alice Randall

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  • Alice Randall is the author of goodtoknow Book Club book, Ada’s Rules. We met up with her and asked her what made her write a novel that doubles up as a diet plan.

    Why did you decide to write Ada’s rules?
    I was struggling with my own weight and I thought writing a novel set in the American diabetes and obesity epidemic would be a way for me to make a commitment to change.  

    What parts of Ada’s character are like yours?
    Ada and I are both pragmatic humanists. And I like to think we are both sexy and funny. Of course, she’s sexier and funnier than I am.

    Did the book start out as a diet book, a novel, or was it always a plan to do both?
    Always a plan to do both. I love playing with forms. My first novel (The Wind Done Gone) was written in the form of a diary. My second novel (Pushkin and the Queen of Spades) was written in the form of a complex suicide note. My third novel (Rebel Yell) assumes the guise of a murder mystery. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to write a novel that was written in the form of a diet book.

    You lost 50 pounds following the rules in your book. Which one did you find the most effective for you?
    Eat breakfast and walk daily.

    Did people treat you differently after you lost weight?
    Not particularly. Part of that might be living in the South. In America the South is often far more accepting of largeness.

    Why did you decide to lose weight?
    It occurred to me I was a bad role model for younger women.

    Where did you get the inspiration for your diet tips?
    I read many medical articles, talked to many doctors, and experimented with myself.

    Of your 53 perfect rules, which do you think is the least applied but the most important?
    Get 8 hours of sleep – most people seem unaware of the connection between difficulty losing weight and insufficient sleep.

    You say everyone falls off the wagon. What made you fall off?
    When deadlines are pressing I find it very difficult to get my 8 hours of sleep. For years my whole life worked because I was content with 5 hours.

    Do you think anyone can lose weight with your tips?
    I think anyone can be inspired by Ada to undertake significant change and stick with it. I don’t think there’s one diet that works for everyone. But I think if people define diet success as losing 10 percent of their body weight everyone can find a diet that works for them.

    We think your book’s a treat to indulge in. What’s your favourite indulgent book?
    There’s an Arkansas mystery writer I love to sink into a tub of bubbles with – Carolyn Hanes. But the true indulgence for me is a book that beckons me to think. For me the most delicious read of the year was Julian Barnes’ A Sense of an Ending.

    Photo credit – George Walker

    Where to next?

    Read our review of Ada’s Rules

    Read our review of The Angel at No.33

    See reviews of the new titles in the goodtoknow 2013 Book Club