This week I am pleased to have Isabella May visit to discuss her writing, books and of course, cake. Isabella May’s debut Oh! What a Pavlova is celebrating its first year anniversary and my review can be found here. She has been busy with the recent release of her third novel Costa del Churros.
Q and A with Isabella May
Welcome to Duvet Dwellers Books Isabella May. I am so pleased you are here.
What would you like to drink out of choice – tea, coffee or cocktail?
I’m going to pretend it’s evening so I can say a Coco Loco, please!
Oh! What a Pavlova should come with a warning so the reader can stock up on cake before they read. It mentions food a lot and Kate Clothier loves cake. How much of a foodie are you? Do you bake?
Yeah… sorry about that! I do love food, as you probably guessed, but I used to have a complex relationship with it. Like Kate Clothier, I was once in an abusive relationship where every morsel that went into my mouth was policed, my weight constantly scrutinised. That’s why I am so passionate now about women – in particular – eating what the hell they want, refraining from labelling food clean and dirty, and just generally improving the way we approach the subject. So yeah, I am a big foodie with a sweet tooth. But I am also a bit of a food snob. I like my ice cream from the gelateria, my bread freshly baked, and my cookies never come straight out of a packet!
I really do love to bake. That’s not so easy for half of the year living in Spain as it’s too damned hot and everything melts! As soon as autumn arrives and the temperatures cool down, I can be found in the kitchen on a weekend, making soup, brownies and soda bread.
What is your favourite cake?
I’m asked this a lot and I think it varies depending on the time of the year. Right now I’ll say a Victoria Sandwich. Classic, delicious, pretty and not over-sweet!
All your titles are food orientated, was this planned?
Good question! No… it’s just kind of evolved that way and now I can’t imagine not writing a novel without food or drink as a focal point. I guess I love the way it brings everyone together, I love the magic we can infuse it with too.
What was your inspiration to write Oh! What a Pavlova?
A burning desire to dispel the myth that an abusive relationship is abusive all the time. For many victims of domestic violence, of course, it can be. But my experience was very different, physical attacks had no ETA and could happen perhaps once or twice a year, catching me completely off guard. The mental abuse was a daily occurrence – I just didn’t realise it (much like Kate). I’d worked in children’s publishing and was keen to weave that into the story. I also wanted to experiment with darkness and light. My subsequent books are much more uplifting – and that’s given ‘Pavlova’ some Marmite reviews. Not everyone ‘gets it’. But actually, in my situation, had I not relied on wit and humour to see me through; had I not lived my own double life (again like Kate), I doubt I’d be sitting here typing this right now. Comedy is a great coping mechanism in the darkest of times – not in the heat of an attack, no – but it’s a flicker of hope that burns brightly, often propelling enlightenment… and then perhaps even the strength to escape.
Your debut, Oh! What a Pavlova covers domestic violence and the different faces of Kate. Was it difficult to write?
Yes and no. It was extremely cathartic, cheaper than therapy! As long as I was matching the weather to my scene setting, it felt like a natural process. An elephant grey sky is a great trigger for a dark and twisted scene, as it turns out.
Who is your favourite character in your books?
So far that would be River Jackson! The dishy hippie barman in The Cocktail Bar is a wonderful example of somebody who has learned to follow their heart, irrespective of the naysayers.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
Well, coffee helps. Cake too if I’m in a café. Honestly, no. I just snatch my moments every day and try to keep the flow and momentum going. When you show up continuously like that, the muses magically deliver the creativity!
You have released three books now, what have you learnt about the process of writing and publishing? Is there anything you would do differently?
I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others *I think*. It’s hard not to because it’s a competitive industry. But every journey is as worthwhile and exciting; whether you are with a small publisher like me, a giant one, self-published or starting out. Whenever we reach that seemingly elusive goal (which for me, not so long ago, was finding a home for ‘Pavlova’), we automatically want to move onto the next big thing! So really it’s all about the journey, enjoying every moment of the process unfolding and staying as upbeat as possible because it really is a marathon and not a sprint!
Are you working on a new project?
I’m very excited to say that novel 4 (another foodie themed book surrounding an ice cream parlour) is written and with my editor. That one will be subbed to agents in January as I’m starting a brand new publishing journey.
And I am also 20,000 words into novel 5…
Wish me lots and lots of luck, and watch this space. I hope these books will be out there in the publishing universe before too long!
I am looking forward to reading them so giving you lots of luck and cake. Thank you for joining me and answering all my questions.
Oh! What a Pavlova blurb
Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.
Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.
Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.
And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…
But will she escape before it’s too late?
Purchase Link: myBook.to/pavlova
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.
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