Hello Ella! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your novel, Confessions of a Karaoke Queen. Can you tell us what it is about?
A: Thanks! I’m very excited. Confessions of a Karaoke Queen follows Maddie Mulhern, the daughter of 80s pop duo Pineapple Mist, who, when her parents embark on a one-hit-wonder nostalgia tour across Europe, is left to look after their struggling karaoke bar. But Maddie’s aversion to the mic becomes the least of her worries when a cutthroat TV crew take an interest in the club, promising to rescue its dodgy finances if she agrees to a fly-on-the-wall reality series. Cue camera, lights, action – and rather more than Maddie or her friends bargained for. Not least the appearance of sexy, mysterious director Nick Craven . . .
Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing or did it develop before your eyes as the characters grew on the page?
A: Characters always grow a little of their own accord – that’s when you know you’ve got them right! I had the plot mapped out broadly before I began, so I knew where everybody needed to be and when, but it’s nice to keep things reasonably flexible in case a character says or does something that steers it in a slightly different direction. It’s always important to commit to an end point, though, so while the twists and turns are happening you’re comfortable with where it’s heading.
Readers will be able to close their eyes and step into Sing It Back, the karaoke bar created by your pen, feeling like they’re really there. Would you say that it is as much a main character as the people who work there?
A: That’s sweet of you to say. I love it when I read a book and I feel like I’m really there – that’s what fiction is all about. Yes, I would agree that Sing It Back is a character of its own. I thought it would be really fun to have lots of 80s memorabilia all over the place, like cushions with Five Star embroidered on them (imagine!) and Gary Numan’s face as a clock. I love the 80s, so I hope readers will be able to picture it in its full beauty/monstrosity. And the club, of course, gets The Makeover Moment. I’m a purist about this: I think every romcom should have one.
Have you already started working on your next project? Can you give us any clue as to what it might be about?
A: Let’s just say that Maddie Mulhern has a few more tales to tell . . . so watch this space!
Due to the popularity of social networking websites, it seems that interacting with readers – be it via a Twitter account, a Facebook page etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?
A: It’s a funny combination because writing is a solitary, quite isolated pursuit, then on publication you’re suddenly, like, Ta-da, here I am! But it’s for those same reasons that things like Twitter and Facebook are so valuable to authors, because they give you a support network. The only dangerous thing is that they encourage procrastination, which any writer will admit to at some point in the process: I try not to get drawn into it till I’ve met a target (easier said than done). Being in touch with other authors is lovely, though, because they’re doing the same thing and understand how it works, and hearing from readers is especially rewarding.
What is your one fundamental piece of advice for aspiring writers?
A: Keep trying. There are so many stages as an aspiring writer where the easy thing is to give up: when you’ve only just started and you think what you’ve done is crap; when you’re halfway through and you’ve lost the thread and have no idea where it’s going; when you finish it and are plagued with self-doubt and vow never to show anyone EVER; when you receive your first rejection, then your second . . . Every author’s been there and every author kept trying. So keep trying! Stamina is half the battle.
And lastly, is there anything that you would like to share that I haven’t asked? Embarrassing karaoke anecdotes are also welcome!
A: Oh dear I’ve got plenty of embarrassing karaoke anecdotes. The worst was when I sang ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and that gruesome Halifax ad must have brainwashed me because I started warbling ‘ISA ISA Baby’ without realising and when I did I wanted to shoot myself.
Thank you for your time!
And now, for a chance to win one of two copies of Confessions of a Karaoke Queen, click here and complete the form. The competition is open to UK readers only and will close on the 26th December at 1pm.