Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am lucky enough to be chatting with romance novelist Lisa Joy, whose novel Yes, Chef has caused quite a stir since it was published in July ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
Originally from Sydney, I began writing stories in my mid-teens. At 21 I moved to London and was distracted by the big city, new friends, travelling Europe and discovering amazing food. I only began writing again 8 years later when I returned to Australia to settle in Melbourne. My fiancé and I have recently moved from a one bedroom flat in the city to a nine acre property about an hour outside of Melbourne. We grow organic vegetables for the restaurant trade and aside from writing novels I’m also PA to a well-known Melbourne chef and restaurateur. Thankfully for me he is nothing like the celebrity chef in my debut novel Yes, Chef!
Tell us about your most recently published book?
Inspired by real-life adventures, Yes, Chef! is a deliciously funny and romantic story that reveals a tantalizing glimpse of the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn't all that goes on in the kitchen.
Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations in one of London's most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef, Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality.
Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centered wife. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realize that she may have thrown away exactly what she's been looking for all along.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
Yes, Chef! is my debut novel. Before that I’d only written copy for websites and social media campaigns so it’s a little strange to think in a few days time people all over the world will be able to read my book. But that’s the beauty of eBooks. When it came to searching for a publisher for Yes, Chef! I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to look far. I approached Penguin first and they provided me with some glowing feedback. I was referred to their Destiny Romance imprint as they were just beginning to publish chicklit alongside their more traditional romance titles. At first when I discovered my book would be published digitally and not in print I was a little disappointed. And then I told myself to get over it – a major global publishing house wanted to publish the first book I had ever written. It was a pretty great feeling.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
For me, just finishing Yes, Chef! was a very proud moment. I had been working on a fantasy novel for about 4 years before shelving it to write Yes, Chef! It turned out to be the best thing I ever did as just over one year later I had not only finished a book but was offered a publishing contract.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I’ve just begun working on a new novel. There’s no set title yet but it’s going to be a lush foodie adventure-romance set in the UK and Italy about discovering what you truly want from life and then doing everything you can to achieve it, even if it’s not what others want or expect of you. I’m heading off to Europe and the UK soon on a research trip. I’m so looking forward to escaping the winter here and feeling the Italian sun on my face and I’m dying to get back to London again since it was home for the majority of my twenties.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I believe a great story is a great story no matter the format, but I do love how immediate eBooks are. Any time you want a new story all you have to do is press a button and it’s yours.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
My only experience is with traditional publishing so I can’t really comment. Except to say that I know Yes, Chef! benefitted greatly from all the editorial feedback I was provided.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
The Digger’s Club - The Australian Fruit & Vegetable Garden. With fresh food shortages set to become a global issue in the coming years, I believe everybody should be growing some of their own food. Even if it’s just some rocket or tomatoes on the balcony.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading Yes, Chef! as much as I enjoyed writing it. Actually, I’m very much looking forward to returning to Adelaide soon. Back in April 2013 I attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author and Adelaide resident Fiona McIntosh. She was such an inspiration to me and she completely changed my attitude towards writing so she’s asked me back to talk about my journey to publication with her September masterclass attendees.
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