It’s time for another author interview folks! This time I’ve got the amazingly talented Isabella May joining me talking about all things bookish and writing!
Hi Isabella! Can you tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
Hi Katie! Thank you for hosting me today. I’m Isabella May. I write fantastical foodie fiction with a sprinkle of romance, comedy and magical realism. I live in Andalusia, Spain (right on the beach) but I grew up on the ley lines of Glastonbury, UK; one of the most mystical towns in the world. Both of these very unique settings have definitely shaped my writing.
I have had three novels published with Crooked Cat Books in the past 18 months (Oh! What a Pavlova, The Cocktail Bar and Costa del Churros). My fourth novel is on a brand new and exciting – read nail-biting! -journey. What I can say is it heavily features ice cream, feels like my very best writing yet… and is currently doing the rounds with publishers and agents. Meanwhile, my fifth novel is almost finished. And my sixth novel is vying for my attention and promises to be quite the story. I am literally (excuse the cliché) bursting with ideas, and eager to get snapped up.
Alas, I deviate between genres and break a lot of writing rules, so I can appreciate my square peg-style isn’t for every Marketing Manager out there. Hand on heart though, I know it’s my USP, and that’s why it works; it’s also why it has earned me a legion of lovely and loyal fans. Not to mention the support of the beautiful book blogging community. I’ll sub, sub, sub my socks off this year and if the powers that be won’t sign me up… well, then I’ll take the power back into my own hands and happily self-publish.
I’m not a fan of being in limbo, but ‘que serasera’; the saying of my current home, has never felt more applicable to this authoring gig in 2019!
Describe yourself in 3 words.
How would you Twitter pitch your novel?
I recently took part in the U.S. #PitMad competition and had to do exactly that! Here’s what I said:
MARIAN KEYES meets PAULO COELHO meets NIGELLA LAWSON Warring Italian twin sisters make gelato mayhem in the city of Bath amidst the backdrop of rugby and the Mafia.
I got a few likes (yay!) so novel 4 is out there over the pond doing the rounds now, too…
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
As tempting as it is, don’t try to emulate anybody else’s voice; you were given your own for a reason and nobody can tell a story the way you can.
Learn to convert rejection (and naysayers and critique) to rocket fuel. All the biggest creatives in every field have had to dust themselves down and stand back up and believe in themselves more than EVER before after countless failures. It’s part of the artist’s journey.
Learn the writing rules and then break them whenever necessary. It’s the only way to craft your unique voice.
Are you a panster or plotter?
I’m a BIG pantser and delight in the way my characters take me on the hairpin bends of their story. I’ll start a novel off with a rough idea, but that’s all.
What does success look like to you?
Celebrating the small victories along the way. Even when we win the award or get ourselves in the top 100 on Amazon, it only sates our hunger for a while. We are perpetually seeking out the next big thing. So recognising the little wins is really important; they’re the things that make our individual path so interesting and exciting.
How do you choose your character names?
I try to avoid the names of the most annoying kids at school like the plague (unless they’re my antagonists). This tends to narrow things down rather nicely!
Do you ever Google yourself?
Ha! Nope. Too scared.
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Eat cake, take a walk on the beach, have a week off and do anything but write. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s important that I get up, walk away, focus on my other loves… and then the muse will return, sure as the sun rises.
How long does it take you to write a book?
My debut, Oh! What a Pavlova took a whopping seven years – from initial scribbles through to polishing. Nowadays, having honed my skills, I tend to write a novel every six months.
What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?
The hardest part is knowing that you can write really well (and trust me… this wasn’t always the case!), but all of that is irrelevant because subjectivity will always rear its ugly head and try to knock you back down. That’s when you have to dig deep and learn to be tenacious as hell.
The easiest part is the sitting in a café with copious rounds of coffee and cake bit. I just LOVE my Saturday mornings when I play dance mum and get to do just that while my 11 year old has ballet and tap!
Describe your writing process in 3 words.
The Japanese have one word for this: Ikigai
If your book/one of your books got made into a film, who would play the main roles?
I’d love to see Jake Gyllenhaal take on River Jackson’s role as mixology maestro in The Cocktail Bar. How exciting it would be to see the film crew running around Glastonbury High Street!
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
Definitely the one I am learning to accept right now: having three novels traditionally published (with glowing reviews) means very little to new and prospective publishers and agents. On the plus side, this is super encouraging for debut authors. We are all on a level playing field when it comes to submitting those manuscripts.
Who’s your favourite author and why?
I have so many favourites. In recent years, I’ve been a sucker for novels by Daisy James, Julie Caplin, Julian Fellowes, Jonas Jonasson, N.J. Simmonds, Lizzie Chantree, Heidi Catherine, Megan Mayfair, Alice Castle, Rosie Travers and Zoe Folbigg. I could go on! I read a helluva lot.
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Café sombre – Spanish style!
Beer or wine?
Erm cocktail? I’m one of those weirdos who isn’t very fussed by wine… and beer bubbles make murmurations up my nose.
Chips or curly fries?
Chips, sprinkled with Pink Himalayan sea salt and a splash of Modena’s finest Balsamic vinegar, please!
Puppies or kittens?
How can you make me choose???
Summer or winter?
English summer, Spanish winter.
The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…
Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura
Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?
One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.
Cake, cocktail, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.
Costa del Churros is her third novel.
I love the sound of Costa del Churros! I mean, who doesn’t love foodie fiction?! Grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2TzM3xi