Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Lisa Joy

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.


Yes, Chef! is currently available for purchase from the Penguin Books Australia website.

If you have a website, twitter or facebook page that you would like me to promote, please include it here.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Review: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

YOU is a deliciously terrifying stalker tale that grabbed hold of me on page one and kept me captivated right until the very end. Joe is a young man working at an independent bookstore. Beck, the young woman he meets in the F--K section of the store, is his perfect match in every possible way ... even if she does not realise it. The narrative--told as though Joe is speaking directly to Beck--tells the story of Joe's obsession with Beck and the extent to which he mercilessly stalks her and anyone else who gets in their way. Sealing the deal on the creepiness factor on this stalker tale is the fact that Beck is not entirely innocent herself ...

Caroline Kepnes is a talented author. Her ability to demonstrate the extent of Joe's delusions and Beck's deceptions and make them easily identifiable to the reader without being explicit or obvious is commendable. At times I found myself questioning who was truly calling the shots as Beck's ability to manipulate others--particularly Joe, Peach and Dr Nicky--demonstrated the markings of a psychopath. I also found the many Stephen King and Paula Fox references to be quite appropriate. In many ways, the book feels like a combination of some of the best elements of literary and commercial fiction.

Utterly unputdownable YOU features many twists and turns that kept me guessing about who was the villain and who was the victim right until the gruesome and frightening end. YOU is not a tale for those wanting a happily-ever-after romance. Highly recommended. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for my review copy. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Perhaps one of the more modest works of street art in Adelaide, this small fountain sits in the small section of park bordered by Pirie Street, Grenfell Street and East Terrace. Despite doing some research on the area, I am unable to discover if this park has an official name, or if it is considered to be an extension of Rymill Park. (This map leaves the question unanswered.) If anyone knows, please feel free to tell me in the comments below.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Off Topic: Oh, Asthma

Someone asked me what asthma feels like.
This picture from the University of Calgary website pretty much sums it up.

While everyone else in Adelaide is off enjoying the great spring weather, I am stuck indoors with my inhaler. While being indoors for a long stretch really isn't such an ordeal for someone who loves reading and writing anyway and has a few reviews that need she needs to catch up on. But, anyway, asthma is a bit of a scary disease. Here's why:

Asthma can strike at any time.

I take my medications like I am supposed to, and try to avoid things that may it worse (long aeroplane rides for example,) but that doesn't mean that I never have an attack. Anyway, an asthma attack can happen at any time, meaning that no matter where I am or where I'm going and for how short a time, I always have to have my medication on me.

People really don't know how to react when someone has an attack.

This includes people in the medical profession. I remember being in the admissions area of a public hospital and the nurse kept asking me for my personal details while I gasped for breath and tried to pass her my medicare card and driver's licence, which had all relevant details on there. For some reason, and despite me barely being able to breathe, the nurse was insistent that she "hear it from me."

As a rule, asthma attacks tend to be misunderstood by a lot of people. Usually people either run away or over-react. If you want to help me, all you need to do is let me sit down for a while, pass me my medication and ask if I'm feeling okay. If I'm turning blue, please call an ambulance.

On another note, not being able to breath is unpleasant. I really do not force myself to have an attack to get out of unwanted activities. Believe me, I'd much rather do housework and still have the ability to breathe, than be sitting and unable to breathe.


It's your choice if you want to smoke. You are welcome to your personal beliefs about smoking. In fact, some people with asthma smoke and claim that it does not trigger an attack. However, please understand that I do not want to be around people who are smoking, because it triggers asthma. I stick to non-smoking areas for this reason. Although many people respect non-smoking areas, you always seem to get that one person who will defiantly light up inside a bus shelter, usually while standing beside the no-smoking sign. No, you are not being cool or making a statement about how hard done by you are. You're making things harder for people who choose to smoke but stick to designated areas and you're making things uncomfortable for people who stick to non-smoking areas for a reason. 

* * * 

In conclusion, asthma sucks. Any disease sucks. But right now, I'm suffering from a bout of it and I really wish that it would go away ...

Friday, 26 September 2014

Friday Funnies: Footrot Flats Theme Song

Whenever I hear this song (which, sadly, is often as it seems to be on high rotation inside every supermarket and shopping centre in Adelaide, despite being more than twenty-five years old,) the first thing that springs into my mind is Footrot Flats. Dave Dobbyn's most memorable hit comes courtesy of being the theme song for New Zealand's most popular animated film of all time, The Footrot Flats Movie. This clip has some great bits from the movie, mixed with some terrible (and by terrible, I mean great,) 1980s fashion. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Sandi Wallace

Welcome to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with debut crime writer, Sandi Wallace.

Tell me a bit about yourself …

As a tiny kid, I was a shy bookworm with an overactive imagination – and not too much has changed. I fell in love with crime and adventure in film and print thanks to the likes of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. At about the age of six, I penned my first book (don’t ever ask to see that one!) and invented songs in the shower too. It would be around that time that I decided I wanted to be a crime writer when I grew up.

Well, it has taken a while to develop my individual style and hone my skills but in the meantime, I’ve served my writer’s apprenticeship in a variety of jobs from banker, to paralegal, office manager, journalist and personal trainer, and that all certainly provides plenty of fodder for my stories. I still say, though, if I hadn’t become a writer, I would’ve been a police detective. In fact, I came “this close” to joining the police force several times.

But I’m glad I hung out for my real dream – to be a crime writer. And I’m ecstatic to finally be able to share Tell Me Why with readers, thanks to Clan Destine Press.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My debut crime novel Tell Me Why was released by Clan Destine Press at the end of August 2014. It is the first book in the Rural Crime Files, a contemporary rural crime series set mainly in country Victoria, my home state.

Here’s a teaser for Tell Me Why.

Picturesque Daylesford has a darker side.
Melbourne writer Georgie Harvey heads to the mineral springs region of central Victoria to look for a missing farmer. There she uncovers links between the woman’s disappearance and her dangerous preoccupation with the unsolved mystery surrounding her husband.
Maverick cop and solo dad John Franklin is working a case that’s a step up from Daylesford’s usual soft crime; a poison-pen writer whose targets are single mothers.
Georgie’s investigation stirs up long buried secrets and she attracts enemies. When she reports the missing person to local cops, sparks fly between her and Franklin. Has he dismissed the writer too quickly?
A country cop, city writer, retired farmer and poison-pen stalker all want answers.
What will they risk to get them?
What will be the ultimate cost?

Tell us about the first time you were published?

My first published piece was an article for the local paper that I wrote while on work experience. My editor told me to “go find a story” and allocated me a photographer. So my article featured my best friend whose work placement was childcare worker at a special development school. It was good fun and great practice.

I’ve had many stories and articles in print since, including my short story “Silk Versus Sierra” which won the “Best Investigative Prize” in the 2013 Scarlet Stiletto Awards. It was published in an eBook collection Scarlet Stiletto: short stories 2013. That story is also rural crime fiction, although it is set in the usually sleepy, seaside country town of Loch Sport.
But my most exciting publishing achievement to date is my debut crime novel Tell Me Why. Dreams can come true!

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

Black Saturday, the sequel to Tell Me Why, is already in-house with Clan Destine Press and due for release in early 2015. It again features John Franklin, Georgie Harvey and the Daylesford locale, although some of this story is also set around the district at the foot of Lake Mountain.
I’m currently working on the third book in the Rural Crime Files series and in this one, Georgie and Franklin step back a little, allowing other characters to develop. Daylesford still shines in book three but the action mainly occurs in a new location that shall remain a secret for a little longer.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

For me, there will always be something magical about holding an actual book, inhaling that special scent and feeling the texture of the page. I also find that paper books are great reminders of memories of when I connected with or met the author, particularly my autographed copies, and stimulate recall of the stories. Book covers to book lovers, are as paintings on walls are to others, don’t you think?
I love my “keeper books” – those I would like to re-read, share with friends and admire on my bookcase – to be paper books. But the advent of the eBook has opened an extra dimension to book enjoyment. It makes it very easy to travel with a stack of books and when I’m impatient for a copy of a book and simply can’t wait to go to a store, an eBook is so quick to purchase and download.
So I love both, is my long answer!

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

I can’t limit it to one because there are so many wonderful books that have resonated with me for different reasons. Some of the recent reads I’ve thoroughly enjoyed (and yes, it’s a crime-dominant list because that’s my addiction) include books by Katherine Howell, Michael Robotham, Jaye Ford, Ian Rankin, Camilla Läckberg, Bronwyn Parry, Alex Hammond, Honey Brown, B Michael Radburn – and the list goes on!

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Without readers, we don’t have books. Without books, we don’t have one of the very best elements of life. So, here’s a very warm “hi” from me to you. I am very pleased to meet you and hope you enjoy my debut novel Tell Me Why and the Rural Crime Files series. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook and hope to visit Adelaide and meet you personally in the future.




For links to buy my book please visit:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Take a stroll along the southern side of Hindley Street and odds you'll encounter this smiling chap (who, more often than not, seems to be wearing part of a McDonalds ice-cream, courtesy of the aforementioned, which is located on the opposite side of the road.) This chap has lived on the street since early 2000 and is a tribute to Adelaide born comedian Roy 'Mo' Rene who helped to popularise well known Australian ocker phrases such as "Fair suck of the sav," and "Don't come the raw prawn with me." Just to Roy's left is a small plaque that pays tribute to his history.