When a book makes millions

Paula Hawkins’ debut thriller, The Girl On The Train, made her a multi-millionaire, and her latest book, Into The Water, has filled the coffers even further.

A former financial journalist, Paula had to borrow money from her father in order to pay the bills while following her dream of being a novelist. But the patience paid off; not only did The Girl On The Train soar up the bestseller lists, but it was also made into a hit movie, starring Emily Blunt.

Here, Paula, 44, reveals a little about how she spends her money and her attitude to finance.

Saver or spender?
“Spender. I’ve always spent my money on travel and I’m a sucker for a nice hotel, so I like to stay in nice places. The nicest hotel I’ve stayed in is the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. I’m such a showoff!”

Do you spend a lot on clothes?
“I love nice clothes. I like Erdem, I like McQueen, but I don’t have a wardrobe full of designer clothes. I’m not really the right size for that, anyway.”

What was the first thing you bought when you got your book deal?
“The first thing I did was pay off all my debt. I did buy a very expensive Erdem cape to go to the premiere of The Girl On The Train. It was over £1000.”

What has been your best investment?
“Property, I think. I bought my first flat in Clapham in south-west London when I was 20-something. That was 1998, before the property market went bonkers and I was earning okay money as a journalist. I borrowed a bit for the deposit – and it tripled in value. I got in right at the last minute before the housing market went mad.

“Then I managed to upgrade slightly to a place in Brixton and now I live in a big flat in Clerkenwell. It’s only two bedrooms but I wanted some outside space. I have lots of garden pots.”

And your worst investment?
“I’ve bought lots of clothes I’ve never worn. I bought a pair of Valentino biker boots that look absolutely terrible on me. I have no idea what I was thinking. They cost hundreds. I convinced myself I’d grow into them, but I didn’t.”

Cash or credit card?
“Nowadays, probably cash. I got stung on the credit card thing early on. I overspent on them in 2014 and had to borrow money from my father to make ends meet while working on The Girl On The Train.

“When I got a book deal, it was the greatest call to be able to ring him up and say, ‘It’s all going to be fine, you can have your money back!’ I’ve paid off my credit cards now.”

If you wrote a financial advice book for women, what advice would you give?
“Do as I say, not as I do. Living within one’s means is to be recommended. I was foolish to think that living on credit was a viable way to be and that you could juggle credit. You can’t. You will always get yourself into trouble. If my book success hadn’t happened, I would have ended up in a lot of financial difficulty.”

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins is published by Doubleday and available now.

Have you read The Girl On The Train or watched the movie? What did you think?

– With PA

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