Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Kate Saunders


BEFORE BRITISH AUTHOR KATE Saunders, 34, became a novelist, she was a successful actress who began her career alongside Oscar winner Emma Thompson in the Victorian stage melodrama Lady Audley 's Secret. "We both played men, best friends in suits with false mustaches," Saunders remembers. Emma went on to Cambridge, while Saunders landed a role in a soap called Angels and eventually joined Britain's renowned National Theatre.

Not that all went smoothly. "Having to take orders brought out the anarchist in me," says Saunders, who often got on the theater's "show report" list for misconduct. "I got on once for sticking my chewing gum on the proscenium arch before went onstage. And I used to start the final applause myself from the wings because I wanted to get to the greenroom bar before it closed."

Bored by rehearsals, Saunders began reading "everything from Shakespeare to Trollope to Dickens. Then I started writing to amuse myself." She penned her first novel, The Prodigal Father, at 18 and revised it until she sold it at the age of 25. Writing horoscopes, comic strips and fairy stories for children, Saunders quickly rose to writing book reviews and features for London's Sunday Times and judging Britain's Booker Prize.

Of her new novel, Saunders, who lives in London with "my sexy writer husband," Philip Wells, 42, and 15-month-old son Felix, says, "I love writing about sex. Someone once told me writing multiple orgasms was cliché, but I say they are not cliché, they are classic, like a Chanel handbag. You can't go wrong."

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