Questions and Answers. NO CHEF, I Won't!
Q1, Where did you get your ideas about combining food and love together?
A1, I’ve been a food technologist for fifteen years now and am a published author of romantic books. Sitting on the train one day I decided to write a short story about a chef and her new boyfriend who cooks a lovely meal for her. Because I am used to writing technical food details and using sensory terms of appearance, taste, smell, and texture - my pen flew across the pages. I called the story, ‘Lamb in a Pot.’
Q2. Did you manage to have the short story published?
A2. Yes, although English publishers weren’t interested a USA magazine published ‘Lamb in a Pot’ in their love stories magazine. My foodie work colleagues loved the story which made me want to write more. I wrote another nine stories with different food groups, cheese, vegetables, bread, etc. and formed them into a collection.
Q3. Why did you write the novel?
A3. After I’d written the collection I wanted to write my first novel and because the stories were good I decided to expand on them and weave them into a full length novel. It’s always easier to write about something you know and first hand experiences are far more interesting to read.
Q4. Your heroine, Katie, is a food technologist – are the descriptions in the book true to life?
A4. Absolutely. I’ve tried to describe elements of the job using my personal experience (where appropriate). Katie’s work ethics are my own and as a team leader she looks after her junior colleagues supporting them through all aspects of the job. She likes to lead by example rather than teach from a text book and I think this is apparent in her visit to Shrewsbury with Harry and the tasting session where she encourages young Alice to speak out with confidence.
Q5. Is it a profession you would recommend?
A5. If you are interested in food, have a flair for design and development, and want to work long and hard I certainly would recommend it. I remember the first new product I developed for a fish company. It was a Salmon Kiev (fresh salmon fillet rolled around a lemon & parsley butter then coated in breadcrumbs) and I’d dragged my mum into a supermarket to show her the packs on the shelf. ‘They’re mine,’ I’d boasted proudly and she’d insisted upon buying three packets. It’s a buzz that never leaves you and I am still, fifteen years later, extraordinarily proud of my achievements.
Q6. Do you think Katie left her job at the retailer because she didn’t get promotion?
A6. I think there was a small part of her that felt betrayed at not getting the managers role but this simply confirmed the fact that she was at a cross-roads in her career. She knew that change had to come whether it was within the retail sector or down a new path altogether.
Q7. Katie was devastated after the break up. Do you think she would have coped without her friends?
A7. Yes I do. She is a very strong woman. Her strength was gained from losing her dad at an early age and having to fight and pay her way through university alone. Something like that is always character building. But her journey after she’d walked out on Tim was made easier by the love and support from her friends.
Q8. Do you think if Katie hadn’t been so stubborn they would have talked and made up after a couple of days?
A8. Possibly but Tim was just as huffy and had been from an early age through his privileged upbringing. Even if Katie had made the first move and offered the olive branch he still needed to learn how to cope with rejection and confront his old demons.
Q9. Some women may argue that it is old-fashioned of Katie not to ‘go all the way’ with her male encounters, i.e. Doug, Sam and Andrew?
A9. True, but I don’t think all women are the same and not all 30 something’s sleep around at will. My uptake is that casual sex is something you do in your 20’s to experiment but by the time you’ve reached your 30’s you are more selective with partners. Although had Katie had normal healthy needs she was still in love with Tim and knew there would be no satisfaction in casual sex.
Q10. It’s surprising to see Tim make a mess of the restaurant at first? Would Gordon Ramsay have had these problems?
A10. As a chef Tim is great at recipes and cooking but there’s more to running a restaurant kitchen than just cooking and food. He soon learns this to his cost. As a manager you have to acquire the art of managing people, which in time, he did.
Q11. Some may say Katie gave in to Tim without visible proof that he had changed. Should she have waited to make sure?
A11. They did talk it through and she accepted his apologies – she could tell by how vulnerable he was that he’d learned his lesson. And, she saw how much Jessie idolised him and how well they all worked together in the kitchen. But she wasn’t going to have him back on apologies alone – she waited until she heard the words, ‘I still love you.’
Q12. Following the disastrous day working together in the kitchen we thought they were never going to get back together?
A12. Yes, it took a while for Katie to understand that his obnoxious behaviour was not targeted towards her as his girlfriend but as a member of staff that was messing up his food and cooking. She soon understood why working and living together causes so many problems.
Q13. Do you think there is any merit in a follow-up novel?
A13. Yes I do. All three girls have such different characters. I could ask the questions, would Sarah still think Simon was Mr Right with two screaming children? If Lisa was chased by a wealthy gorgeous millionaire would she be tempted to leave Sam in the greenhouse? And if Tim took Katie away to a countryside restaurant to live the dream would she survive without her London friends and family?