Hi guys! It’s June (already) and it is time to share my favourite May reads with you. It was a great month bookish – wise (OK, and life was also not so bad, except for some not too great news but also some good ones), I rated many of the books with 5*. But – there were two novels that literally took my breath away. Two very different ones, different genres but both of them exceptionally brilliant. Moreover – I have a big, great pleasure to also share Q&As with both Authors, so scroll down and enjoy!
I already can’t imagine summer and winter without Lisa Dickenson’s books. I love Lisa and I love her novels and one day, when I go to the UK, I want to meet her personally (be warned, Lisa!), so there. May has seen her lovely, gorgeous, summery “Catch Me if You Cannes” being published and even though I’ve read the book some time ago when it was published in the four – part – series I can’t describe how lovely it was to see the story as a whole, beautiful paperback version. Here you can read my review of this brilliant novel and here is also the promised Q&A with the Author.
- Lisa, “Catch Me if You Cannes” is my book of the month (please do act as if you were really surprised!), so let’s talk about the book – who should play the characters should the book be made into a film? (and it should!!!)
Thank you thank you thank yooooooooou! I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my husband, my future dog, my Agi, my TV – oh, sorry, I went off on an Oscar speech tangent. Thank you SO MUCH though for picking Cannes as your book of the month, this is muchas exciting! Okay, who do I want on my casting couch (oo-er!)…
- Jess – our bubbly Marilyn Monroe. This is a tough one! Maybe Emilia Clarke, Ellie Kemper or Hayden Panettiere?
- Bryony – cool and confident, I’m going to go with Zoe Saldana, Michaela Coel or Zendaya
- Leo – lovely Leo… he’s gotta be strong and fit, but also a bit of a loveable goofball. Hmm… why don’t you choose your perfect Leo, Agi (OK, here we go. It’s not going to be an actor. Whatever, whenever, however, no matter what – it must be Enrique Iglesias So there. You know now my biggest secret 🙂
- And if you were to go to the opening night, what would you wear?
Oh, it would have to be some amazing red-carpet-worthy gown reminiscent of old Hollywood. Maybe the colour of the Cote d’Azur ocean. I think I’d channel Marilyn Monroe, in honour of Jess!
- How much fun was it to write “Catch Me if You Cannes”? (Because I am so sure it was a great fun!)
I loved writing Cannes! I felt inspired by old classics like Some Like It Hot and new female buddy stories like Bridesmaids. I liked writing a caper for a change, and the Cannes Film Festival seemed the perfect setting for a couple of misfits to lose themselves in.
- You were in Cannes, right? What did you like best there?
The whole atmosphere of the place. I expected to feel like I wouldn’t fit in (not that that would ever stop me going somewhere!) but actually it was welcoming, beautiful, calm and clean. The glitziness never felt too exclusive, and this is partly what gave me the idea for Jess and Bryony, who travelled there full of white lies and assumptions…
- Are you choosing the lovely places you set your books specifically, so that the research is even more exciting?
I’m a bit of a travel bug, and I fall in love with some places pretty easily. So what more often occurs is that I go somewhere (or re-go somewhere), find it magical, and then dream up storylines while I’m there. Or when I’m back home, stuck in the post-holiday blues.
- There are tons of funny situations in your novel – how do you write them? Did they happen to you or are they completely fictional?
Why thank you, darlin’, I do try *hair flick* There might be nuggets of things that have happened to me in my books, but I usually amp them up a bit. With Cannes especially I tended to always go with the rule of asking, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen here…?’ and then making it happen! But being a romantic comedy it’s never usually literally the worst thing!
- Now a thousand dollar question – what is your favourite scene in the book? Only ONE, pretty please 🙂
I like the entire scene at the Hotel Du Cap, where Jess and Bryony are trying to make it from the pier at the back of the hotel and out the front door, and they run into obstacles at every turn. In my mind it plays out like they’re a golden-era Hollywood slapstick comedy duo, which is how I like to think of the whole book, in a way.
- What’s next for Lisa Dickenson?
WELL, Book 5 is nearly there and just gagging for a title to be added to it. I also have some new storylines up my sleeve, some ideas for crime fiction, and also a secret project which will be taking off REALLY SOON, I hope!
- And a bonus question: Nutella with a spoon out of the jar or on toast?
Ooooooooooo, I love Nutella on toast, but there’s something about scoffing it straight from the jar with a spoon. So my winner is SPOON.
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And now it’s time for my second book. It has totally blown me away, guys. It was unpredictable, surprising, full of twists and turns and it was totally addictive – when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally. Doesn’t happen often but it was the case with “The One” by John Marrs – here is my review of this incredibly fresh and unique book, and here is Q&A with the Author!
- John, I’m so sorry but I have to ask – how did you come up with the idea for “The One”? This book is so unique and full of surprises and I just need to know what inspired you to write this story.
My partner (also called John) and I were planning our New York wedding. While on an escalator on the London Underground, I wondered how much easier it’d be if there was something chemical inside us that matched you with your soul-mate. If you saw them, you’d just know they were made for you, like I felt about John. Four months later, draft one was complete.
- The novel is told from multiple points of view – how did you keep them all on track?
I kept all five of them on little dog leads in my head, and then when it came time to write them, I’d let them off to run around and see where they ended up. I don’t write methodically. So I skipped from character to character depending on my mood. The hardest part was when it was all complete and deciding on which order to place the characters. I decided to ease people in gently with Mandy in chapter one, then punch them in the stomach with Christopher the serial killer in chapter two.
- How carefully did you plan the novel in advance? It is so complex, with so many twists and turns – which I loved, BTW – and I wonder, did you have to stick to your plan or did the plot take you by surprise as well?
Once I had the characters in mind, I thought about trying to link them but then decided it would be too convoluted. So I kept them under the umbrella of the DNA test and let them go in their own directions. I ran all my ideas through my partner as he’s a great sounding board for that kind of thing despite the fact he rarely reads a book! Then I just started writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself with plot changes – spoiler alert – for example, with Mandy, it was never the intention for her Match Richard to still be alive. It was only as I wrote about his death that I changed my mind and thought it’d be more interesting to have him still breathing.
- A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?
I don’t have any, I really don’t. I’ve always had a full-time job throughout this process so fortunately, I’ve not had to reply on writing novels to pay the bills. I work as a journalist and as a result, I have a thick skin and can take criticism. My first book, The Wronged Sons, was rejected by 80 different publishers and agents which is why I decided to self-publish and it became a hit, enabling me to continue writing books in my spare time. Of course it’s not great to get bad reviews but it’s part and parcel of the job. People have the right not to like my books just as I have the right not to like every book I read. And I’ll never respond to a bad review, no matter how tempting it can be!
- What did you want your readers to take away from your story? Was there a hidden message within?
I guess the point of The One was to encourage readers to ask themselves if such a test existed, would they take it? If so, why? What about those who are in a relationship already? In a world that appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down, sometimes we all need to take time out to appreciate what we have, not what we could have.
- What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing “The One”?
The first draft is always interesting, and the second draft is fun, tinkering with ideas and expanding upon them. The version I hate the most is the final proof. By then, I am so sick of reading the same 104,000 words over and over again. This book was the first time I worked with an editor, Emily Yau at Ebury, who also discovered The One when it was a self-published book called A Thousand Small Explosions. Her suggestions were so, so good and she made the process a pleasure.
- I think you must have been asked thousand of times already but please bare with me – would YOU take the test? Why yes/why not?
Ha! Yes, I have been asked it once or twice and the answer is always the same – no! As I addressed in the book, so many people think the grass is greener on the other side and they are always striving for something new, something more exciting than they already have. Invariably, they never get it. I married nine months ago and have found my One. I don’t need to take a test to reassure myself.
- What’s next for John Marrs?
The Wronged Sons now has a publisher of its own and is re-released on July 13 with a fresh new edit and title, now called When You Disappeared. My next brand new novel, tentatively called The Good Samaritan – a psychological thriller – is scheduled for release in November this year. And I’m about to start writing book five.