Sunday, February 27, 2011

Belle de Jour Says Haters Caused Her Move to Scotland

Belle de Jour left Great Britain because of hate mail, threats and poison-pen stalkers, and has also left her famous pen name behind to write a new book that isn't based on her famous erotic exploits, she tells the Sunday Mail of Scotland in a new interview appearing today.

"It's not a Belle de Jour book though. With the (TV) series wrapping up it seems a good time to wrap that up as well," disclosed Dr. Brooke L. Magnanti, the real woman behind the famous moniker.

Brooke, 35, is continuing her writing career in Fort William, located in the Scottish Highlands, with her outdoors loving husband whom she has said also enjoys the ice climbing in the region. She writes, walks, cooks, and she and her husband also make wine.

In 2009, Brooke revealed her identity after a newspaper was about to disclose it without her permission. Brooke, formerly of Bristol, England, was a noted scientist whose specialist areas were developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and had worked at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health as part of a team that researched the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.

But, from 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a high-class call girl for a London escort service. She has written an award-winning blog and several bestselling books based on her experiences as a sex worker. Her writing also formed the basis of the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl on Showtime, starring Billie Piper in the title role of "Belle."

As any fan of Brooke's knows, she'd been dating then living with a man referred to only as "T" in her books and blog — because he first began leaving his toothbrush in her flat, then gradually the rest of his belongings. While Brooke has not publicly named him, they have been married almost a year.

Recently, she and T moved to Scotland, after Brooke decided to take a hiatus from penning new entries for her award-winning blog (where she says simply, "Belle de Jour is the pen name of Brooke Magnanti, a UK-based writer and science researcher. Interests: whiskey, taphonomy, PGP encryption), in favor of concentrating on writing a new book, and a variety of articles. She also decided to leave the field of science behind because of the funding crunch in the U.K. for research projects. She has said that since she has other means of support — name her incredible writing — she didn't want to take a science slot from a researcher who does not.

In today's interview, Brooke provides a bit more detail about her unexpected decision to move out of Britain, and confirms that she is not currently planning any additional Belle de Jour books. As a fan since Brooke began her blog, I am excited for anything that she writes — and will happily purchase her new book, regardless of the name it bears!

Brooke is so much more than Belle, that limiting her to that role diminishes her extensive talent, and dismisses her important literary voice. In other words, Brooke-the-writer and Brooke-the-woman have more than earned my continued loyalty and unwavering support.

I have included the interview in its entirety below, or read it directly at its website:

Former call girl turned writer flees to Scotland to escape hate mail

Feb 27 2011 Exclusive by Lauren Crooks, Sunday Mail

"THE writer whose real-life sexploits inspired TV hit Secret Diary Of A Call Girl has revealed she moved to the Highlands to escape hate mail.

Brooke Magnanti spent years as the mystery high-class hooker behind the sensational Belle de Jour blog.

It was used as the basis for the hit ITV show starring Billie Piper about Brooke's adventures as a £300 an hour escort.

The 35-year-old research scientist has now moved to Fort William — and revealed it has allowed her to escape poison pen stalkers.

American Brooke moved from London late last year and told the Sunday Mail: "Some amazing things have happened as a result of the blog and I wouldn't change any of that. Some not so nice things have happened as well, but that's life.

"Most of the bad reactions come from people who write things on the internet, or send horrible letters in the post. There are some very disturbed people in the world. I think I've heard form all of them now.

"I'm very seldom recognised. Once in a shop and once by a taxi driver who was a big fan of Billie Piper!

"He was really nice. I'm kind of average looking so it's easy not to be recognised.

"People in Fort William find out I'm a writer and don't really ask many questions after that. People have been friendly and respectful, and I like the folks here."

Brooke, from Florida, credits her new surroundings for inspiring her to keep writing.

But she insists her new neighbours don't have to worry about an explosive sex-fuelled diary like her last project.

She said: "I love the calm of being in the hills. It's easier to work ideas out in my head.

"I used to rely on little notebooks stashed everywhere but don't need to any more.

"I've a book planned for next year, but it's a bit hush-hush for now. I'm under orders not to say anything about it.

"It's not a Belle de Jour book though. With the series wrapping up it seems a good time to wrap that up as well."

Brooke began anonymously blogging about her experiences as a prostitute in 2003 in London as she tried to pay her way through university.

Her stories were later released as a book, and then made into a glamorous TV series featuring Billie Piper.

But she insists that despite her antics while she was at university, life has now settled down a lot.

She said: "If I was to write a similar blog documenting my life right now it would be called Belle de Quotidienne, which translates as beauty of the everyday. I'm working on a manuscript, so my day is mainly doing research for that, going for walks, and cooking. We make our own wine as well."

Her identity was so secret that her publishers didn't even know her name until a week before she revealed herself, and she only told her parents the weekend before.

She said: "It felt strange that nobody knew. I once went on a date with someone who was writing a book and had to pretend not to know anything about publishing.

"I would sometimes see people reading the books, and a friend of mine had all of them before she knew me. It was weird going into her house and seeing them there."

[Brooke will host a talk session during the Aye Write! Book Festival on March 10 in Glasgow.]

Brooke's books include: Belle de Jour’s Guide to Men, 2009; Belle’s Best Bits, 2009; The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, September 2005; The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, May 2007; and Playing the Game, June 2009.

Each one is well-worth reading, and re–reading! You can find all of her books at the U.K.’s largest independent bookseller, Waterstones.

Also check out Brooke's op-ed articles on a variety of topics including reforming libel law in Britain, and the importance of ensuring the rights of sex workers.

— The Curator

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