That’s a really good question and I have a theory on this. I always wanted to be an actress and as a teenager spent a great deal of time involved in drama groups and studied English and Drama for my university degree. However, for some reason I gravitated towards the writing side of drama and ended up working in TV writing scripts and developing programme ideas. When I left my career to write I suddenly felt alive again and escaping into each character’s life was just like acting. There’s a great deal of me in Stella the heroine in Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, so it was easy to get inside her head, but I believe my drama training also enabled me to get inside the other characters too. I like to think as a result of this the dialogue and actions are real and the people in my books are fully developed and believable.
Q: What gave you the idea for Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes? And how did you come up with the hilarious title?
The idea had been in my head for years. A friend once told me she felt she was wasting her life and would love to leave the corporate world she worked in to stay at home to look after her kids and bake fairy cakes all day. She never did make her escape …life got in the way as it usually does… but she planted the seed for Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes. I was working long hours away from home and I completely related to my friend’s desire to chase her dreams before it was too late. For me the idea of being in a warm vanilla scented house waiting for another batch of cakes to come from the oven filled me with calm. It made me realise that there must be more to life than struggling on a daily basis to give an impossible 100% to everyone and everything. This made me think about the possibility of a different life – so when I left the frantic world of television I realised my dream to write. At the same time, I’m just like Stella in the book and I find deep comfort in the bottom of the mixing bowl and I always write at the kitchen table so I can be near the oven!
The title Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes came to me one day while I was having lunch with two friends. We were talking about cake and weight and it just amused me that three curvy ladies were worrying about how fat they were while obsessing about which cakes to choose for dessert!
Q: Are you currently working on another novel?
Yes, I have almost finished The Terrible Truth About Tanya Travis – my second novel, which is about a daytime talk show host with a dark secret. It’s written in the same style and is funny like Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes – it’s also set in the crazy world of television but it deals with slightly darker themes and is partly set in the hauntingly beautiful Nepal…. where a woman’s secret can stay hidden for many years.
Q: Do you have a certain writing schedule you try to stick to?
I do have a writing schedule – but I rarely stick to it! I have terrible self-discipline and ideally I should sit at my desk and write from 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening, but I don’t. I find all kinds of excuses to leave my desk – I bake, clean the cooker, call friends, blog, Tweet, text, FB – in fact I do any kind of writing other than the novel! It’s mad because once I sit down to write I can’t stop, I completely love it and immerse myself in the places and people I write about. It’s just the initial sitting down to start the process that I find hard. I am discovering a lot about myself through writing – and one of those things is that I am a deadline junkie. If my publisher gives me a date they need the book finished, I’ll do it – but will probably work 24/7 through several nights to get it done.
Q: Who are some authors that you would love to work with?
I would find it difficult to actually collaborate with another author as for me writing really is a solitary pastime. But there are authors I would love to have around while I’m writing. If I could share a desk with anyone it would be Jen Lancaster, whose book Such a Pretty Fat is one of the bravest, funniest books I’ve ever read. I think her ‘don’t give a damn’ humour, obsession with trashy reality shows and love/hate relationship with fabulous food must make us writing ‘twins!’ Yes, Jen is welcome to join me with her laptop at my kitchen table where we could share jokes and doughnuts while we write (though the commute between Chicago and Worcestershire in the UK might be a bit much and I think she’d miss her doggies!)
I was very lucky and have a lovely editor, Jo Doyle, who guided me through the whole re-editing process and I learned so much from her. Jo selfishly went off to have a rather gorgeous baby girl to match her delicious little boy, but I think she’s realised her priorities and will be back by my side shortly to turn Tanya Travis into a work of art! J
I asked a very good and honest friend to critique my book in the final stages, and my best friend helped with the ending over a few glasses of red. For the next book I have asked a couple of friends if they’d be kind enough to get involved in the early stages (ie read the first draft) for me and I am delighted to say they’ve agreed. I think early input from honest friends/readers will be really useful as they will bring a fresh perspective to the writing and perhaps come up with solutions for any knotty plot problems.
Q: What is your favorite desert- be specific!
Now that’s a tricky one because I have a short list of about 700! I adore Chocolate fudge cake, Raspberry Pavlova and homemade strawberry shortcake – but my favorite is a really chocolatey mousse with a consistency so thick it sticks to the roof of your mouth and fills your heart with melted chocolate. AND it’s a pre-requisite that all the above have to be steeped in heavy cream.
Q: Can you share any of your favorite recipes with us?
I have lots of favorite recipes, but the one I love the most is my white chocolate and cranberry Christmas Fairies which are in the book. Stella creates the most amazing cakes and tarts from Chocolate Chilli Cha Cha Fairies to Inebriated Christmas Tarts and when you’ve finished the novel, you’ll find all the recipes at the back. The recipes are my own original ‘designs’ and have been triple tested to be utterly fabulous!
Q: Where would be your dream vacation?
My family and I LOVE the US. We have holidayed in Florida several times (my husband is now a big Rays fan) and in April this year we visited New York which was amazing – especially the bakeries … and the cupcake possibilities were endless. However, we’re hoping to go on our dream destination next Summer and visit California – I’m dying to see LA and San Francisco. I may even set the sequel to Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes somewhere around Hollywood – I think Stella, Al and Lizzie would just LOVE a little bit of film star fairy cake action.
Q: What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up.
I have written about my own rocky road to publishing on the Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes Blog and I have been very honest. Writing a book isn’t easy, it can be fun and wonderful, but it’s not easy, but the hardest part is sending it to publishing houses and agents and receiving the inevitable rejections…. then starting all over again. It’s important to fight the natural instinct to give up because it’s so hard to keep believing in yourself when it seems that nobody else does. Around the time the millionth rejection comes in your friends (and even family) will probably start to question what you’re doing and why you are doing it. This makes you question yourself. Go through this process and don’t blame anyone for giving up on you, it’s human nature… just never, ever give up on yourself. I never gave up because deep down I believed I had something special and I just needed to convince everyone else and in order to do that I HAD to keep sending my book out and live with the hurt of more rejections.
Several years down the line with a three book deal the secret is – I never gave up, and that really is the key. To hold that book in my hand and be asked to do lovely interviews like this one is worth all the effort and the doubts and the pain – honestly.
Ask questions about your work, show everyone, anyone. Attend writing classes, edit and re-edit your work – even start again – but if this is really what you want then just stay focused and keep those three little words in your head. DON’T GIVE UP.
In My Mailbox: Week of September 25
Author: Kimberly Lin
Received: From Kimberly Lin via CLP Blog Tours
Synopsis: Sometimes going after what you want is the hardest thing you will ever do… Meet Helen. Smart, successful and obliviously trapped. For the past six years, Helen has given her life and her heart to her cushy corporate finance job and to Mark without question. However as the Recession sweeps the Nation, she is one of many left unemployed and with the burning question of what does she really want in life. RECESSION PROOF is a debut novel for anyone that has settled in their career and relationship but has discovered that what really matters in life is living it…
Author: Sue Watson
Received: From Sue Watson
Synopsis: TV Producer Stella Weston is over worked, over weight and under fire. Having battled uphill for years to balance her career with her family life, she is repaid by being put out to pasture on a religious gardening programme complete with a nervous vicar, his nymphomaniac wife, and 22 stone Britney wannabe gardener, Gerald. Miles away from her husband and daughter she somehow turns the show into a comedic triumph, only to once more fall foul of her evil and twisted boss, stick thin MJ. Stella decides enough is enough but soon finding herself husbandless and penniless, she realises discovering the courage to quit is sometimes the easy part. Desperate, Stella throws herself into her one true love, cakes, and asks the question: can you really turn a passion into a profession? What follows is a series of comical disasters, hilarious holidays, failed dates, super cakes, accidents, injuries and near death experiences. Full of spirit, heart and girl power, this is a high quality chick lit novel that will have readers everywhere laughing, crying, and reaching for the mixing bowl.
Author: Rachel Gibson
Received: From Transworld Publishers
Synopsis: Trouble . . .
Chelsea Ross’s acting career has been a total bust. The closest she ever came to stardom was her brilliant performance as “Pretty Dead Girl #1.” But leaving Hollywood to become the personal assistant to a famous hockey player could be her stupidest career move ever.
More trouble . . .
Injured superstar Mark Bressler’s glory days are over. The bad-boy ex-jock could at least be civil to the pint-sized, pink-haired bombshell who the Seattle Chinooks hired to be his P.A. If Chelsea didn’t need the money, she’d be running from the world’s biggest jerk as fast as her feet could carry her.
Chelsea can deal with Mark’s rotten attitude and dark moods. The problem is those biceps and that red-hot bod! And when the bad boy starts to put the moves on her, Chelsea knows it’s time she banished him to the penalty box . . . if only she could resist the kind of trouble he has in mind!