Sue Watson is my guest blogger today. She should be celebrating as her second novel is out now. But I want to ask Sue about her first which had the wonderful title of Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes.
Can you tell us a little bit about Fat Girls…?
Yes, it’s a novel about weight, motherhood, friendship telly and cake – all the stuff that fills my life! Whilst working as a TV producer I’d often jot down funny, overheard dialogue. I’d make notes and compose whole chapters in my head, but it wasn’t until I left the BBC that I began to put notes and dialogue together.Sitting, with a blank page, at my kitchen table it really hit me how tough this was going to be. However, as difficult as it was to write a novel from scratch, it was the easy bit compared to getting published. The feeling of rejection, heartbreak and sheer exhaustion that goes with finding a publisher was the hardest part. Eventually I did find a publisher and today my second book comes out – can’t believe I’ve done it again.
Wasn’t there originally a problem with that first title?Yes it just came to me one day, funnily enough while I was eating cakes with some curvy friends. But I did a straw poll and no-one liked the word ‘Fat’, my agent said it wouldn’t sell books and my curvy friends said they would feel self-conscious holding a book with fat written on - like a label! I desperately wanted to keep the fat but it was changed, for a while, to Telly Tarts and Fairy Cakes. My husband came up with that title - he works in TV too and said radio staff often refer to people who work in TV as ‘Telly Tarts’. However, later in the tortuous process of finding a publisher, I decided to claim my original title and wear the word fat (literally in my case) with pride. I thought it would stand out and as it sells so well on e-book, I guess those beach beauties don’t have to wear the word ‘Fat’ across their tummies now as they read it on their kindles!
And now we have Younger, Thinner, Blonder to look forward to reading. Another great title. What is this one about?It’s another romantic comedy in a similar vein to Fat Girls but with a totally different heroine. This time I wanted a challenge. I wanted to write about someone who was totally opposite to me and Stella my first heroine. So my new heroine, TV celebrity Tanya Travis is very slim and obsessively tidy. We meet Tanya just as her perfect celebrity life is beginning to fall apart at the seams. She’s constantly reading stories about her own life, her boyfriend’s apparent cheating, and the public are only nice when she agrees to say cheese into their cameras. Everything she does is up for scrutiny. Within seconds it’s online, tweeted and Facebooked. But when Tanya tells a white lie to Hello – things really start to go rapidly downhill. And with her career, relationship and designer kitchen at stake, Tanya may have to agree to star in reality show, ‘Celebrity Spa Trek,’ with all the other has-been Z-listers.
I’ve heard many authors say that their second book was more difficult to write than the first. Did you find this?Agony. You go through a stage (I did) where you wonder if you can ever really write again. They say everyone’s got a book in them, but you torture yourself wondering if that was it – just one book? However, once I forced myself to sit down, stop procrastinating with cake and face those writing demons, I suddenly knew exactly where it was going. I loved writing Younger, Thinner, Blonder, and I’m now grieving for the characters I’ve spent the last eighteen months with. It’s like saying goodbye to a group of lovely friends. I miss them.
Does your new title, actually do either of them, reflect you or your desires?That’s a very good question. I wrote Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes because I love cake but struggle with a weight problem – I also like alliteration. While writing Fat Girls... I put on two stone through no fault of my own (honest!). I selflessly sampled those fairy cakes with no thought for myself, only my readers. Every day was a new ordeal as a fresh batch of warm cakes were produced from the oven for me to test... and you can never get the waft of warm vanilla from your clothes you know. Finally, after all the sweat and tears and tasting, I had a complete collection of recipes to share in the book. And, as a result of this deep and relentless research I’m still wearing the coffee cakes and chocolate chilli cha chas around my middle.
I thought that perhaps writing a book with a younger, thinner and blonder title might help me lose the weight and look younger - it didn’t! I’m still struggling with my weight and on the wrong side of forty I reckon it may have been more accurate for the title to be, ‘Older, Fatter, Darker.’