2019 Finalist for Living
2018 Winner for French Summer
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
London, Norway, Zambia, the Netherlands
Do you have any siblings?
Many! All half siblings, my father has been very active. 2 half-sisters in Scotland, 2 half-brothers in the Netherlands (who I grew up with), 2 half-sisters in Thailand and a half-brother in Thailand. They’re all lovely.
What were your parent’s professions?
My stepfather was a biologist and helped set up breweries for Heineken in different countries when I was younger, and later worked for dairy companies. My mother stopped working when I was born and was a lovely stay-at-home mum. My father, well… I think I’ll choose not to answer that question lol.
Why do you write?
F/F Travel Romance (if that’s a thing J)
What do you think makes good writing?
Making the reader want to keep turning the pages.
How do you choose the names for your characters?
I just pick one that I think might suit the character. Sometimes, I use real names for side-characters, if people ask me to put them in their books.
What is the first piece you ever wrote?
The very first was a story my mom sent to me recently, written in Norwegian. Five pages of rambling when I was five. My first piece in Dutch was a book I started on. 30.000 words in, my laptop got lost on the train and I didn’t have a backup. I gave up on writing then, until I write Lily’s Fire, although I wrote consumer-facing messages, marketing stuff and lots of trend predictions while working as a designer.
When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
They’re not personal, but yes, I take inspiration from life, and even my own life. I use events or struggles I see around me, and the travel aspect of my books comes from my own travels, too.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Maybe. There’s always a maybe. But at some point, you have to decide the book is finished, otherwise there will be no end to the process.
What is the hardest part of writing a book?
The last couple of weeks when everything has to be made pretty and edited.
What is the easiest part of writing a book?
The start. And I love the 40% mark (I don’t plot) when things start to make sense and I get to know the characters.
Do you think a book can have too much detail it? Do you think it can detract from the story?
It could. It depends on the individual readers too; how much detail they like or need to be able to envision the scenes.
Do you have any writing rituals? And can you tell us about your writing discipline.
Alcohol and candles when I write sex scenes. And I need to travel to where my book is set, otherwise I find it hard getting inspired. As there won’t be any traveling in the near future, I’ve set my current WIP on a yacht, so hopefully I can get around that problem if they’re floating at sea J
What is your greatest fear as an author?
I do always worry my readers will not like my latest release. My aim is to get better with every book, not take a step back.
Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)?
I don’t know… I can only see what authors I’m being paired with on Amazon (the ones my readers buy too).
What are you working on now?
A novel set on a yacht. It’s a romance and I’m drawing inspiration from a fabulous 3-day trip I got invited on last year, sailing along the coast of South of France.
How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind?
It’s easy; they are, or become, their own person.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I start early morning (around 7 or 8 am) and stop when I’ve had enough. Sometimes that’s late afternoon, and sometimes that’s closer to midnight.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
Six days, sometimes seven. Of course, it’s not just writing. There’s also research, editing, marketing, distribution. proofing, audiobooks, translations, social media, and lots of people to liaise with.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Yes. 2000 words as I have a lot of other book-related stuff to do.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
On my MAC. It’s my baby and I’m permanently attached to it.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
No. I don’t plot (I can plot but then I don’t ‘feel’ my own writing), so I never know where the story goes until it ends. I’m also very chaotic so I’d feel bad for anyone who would have to work with me. It’s not that I’m not open to it, but I need to collaborate with someone I have ‘natural flow’ with.
Where do your ideas come from?
Traveling. I write the first part of the book on location and love to observe people and situations. If I want to write about a topic, such as addiction, depression, sexual harassment, I’ll spend a lot of time on research and talk to professionals.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I just see where it goes. Once I get to the 40% mark and I know my characters, I re-write a lot, so their actions make sense.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Airline hostess, vet, ballerina, singer, spy, profiler. So many things. I ended up being a designer because that seemed like the least boring choice when it came down to picking a study. Spy or profiler didn’t seem like plausible choices.
What genres do you normally write in?
Only romance so far, but I’d love to write a thriller one day, and I’m also working on a collection of essays.
What genres do you typically read?
Humour. Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, Garrison Keillor, although I will admit that I don’t have much time to read these days.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle?
Suspense, and I’d also like to write a collection of essays.
Are there any authors who have influenced your work?
I’d never read lesfic before I started writing it (I didn’t even know it was a thing), so not in this genre.
What was the first book you ever published?
Lily’s Fire (2017)
When did you first sign with (your current publisher)?
I’m self-published (Lise Gold Books)
How did you celebrate your signing?
I celebrated my first release with lots of Champagne and a lavish dinner.
What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?
Not sure, but I can tell you the worst thing. My characters in ‘Beyond the Skyline’ eventually had their happy ending in Luton, London. I’d never been to Luton when I wrote it, but I now know that it’s about as unromantic as it gets.
Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you?
I do, and I’ll just leave it at that
Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write?
What is your writing day like?
I usually have one audiobook on the go, so I’ll proof the chapters my narrator has uploaded the night before over my first coffee while I check my emails and social media. Then I’ll write until I get tired. More coffee, then sometimes a meeting with one of my translators, narrators, cover designers, or my editor. Then more writing. If I feel like it, I’ll cook dinner. I love cooking but get lost in it and will make up dishes from anything I have in the fridge for hours. If I still have energy after that, I’ll write for another hour or two.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, it was always there but I never thought of giving it a go until I needed a new challenge after being a designer for fifteen years. I wanted to create something that was just mine, that didn’t involve endless meetings or decisions from higher up, spoiling my creative process.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes, and I love hearing from them. For me, it’s very important to be in touch with my readers, it gives me joy to hear they’ve enjoyed my books, and their constructive feedback helps me too. I love honesty.
Tell us about your new release.
The Scent of Rome will be out on 28/05/2020.
In a last-ditch attempt to secure an investor for an app she’s developed, Rome Foster travels to her namesake city hoping her luck is going to change. Just as she’s about to pitch her life’s work, she meets the charming and captivating Nadine; a high-end escort who shocks Rome by flirting with her. Rome is straight, but Nadine sparks up a fire in her so strong that it seems impossible to extinguish.
Nadine Costa is pleased with the way her life is going. She lives in a fantastic apartment in the city she loves, and her lucrative job provides the funds she needs to support her expensive passion: perfume making. When Rome crosses her path, she knows she’s never smelled anything quite so exquisite in her life.
Rome is a loner and doesn’t let people in, but when an incident occurs and Nadine steps in to save her, she realizes her feelings go deeper than just lust. Neither of them was looking for something more than physical, but when the stars are aligned, it’s hard to escape destiny…
What kind of heroine is in your current book?
The kind that fights for justice.
Is there someone famous she resembled when you wrote her? Or is she based off someone you personally know?
Neither. She just manifested in my mind J
What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist?
I love teasing, playful, sexy characters, who are also intelligent.
What part of the female physique captures your attention?
LOL! Are you asking me if I’m a ‘tits or ass’ girl? It depends…
As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way?
Yes, but I also find it really easy to let go after a book. I don’t normally feel the need to make it into a series so I can hold onto them.
If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?
I would love to meet Nadine from ‘The Scent of Rome’. I think we’d get on really well.
Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about.
I like strong and intelligent women who make sense. I suppose you could call them leaders.
Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?
I’ve never thought about that. I’m quite happy within myself and I don’t think I’d want to be anyone else.
Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?
I always prefer my latest as I think (hope) my writing gets better with each book.
What is your biggest distraction when you write?
We have two dogs and three cats. The dogs tend to stare at me with a ball in their mouth, and recently, our cat, Tittie, has taken a liking to the ball too. Now, I have three pairs of eyes putting me under pressure all day long.
What are your major sources for research? Do you use books or google? Even movies?
I travel and talk to professionals for my research: therapists, perfumers, pilots, cruise ship staff, recovering addicts, lawyers… For my latest book, it was fun spending some time with a high-end escort who filled me in on her job.
Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break?
I have no idea… I will be mortified if you catch me with a builders’ comma…
If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories?
I’ve had a lot of fun jobs (designer, chef, singer) and I’ve used some of them in my books. I suppose I’d like to write about a profiler one day and certainly wouldn’t mind working in that field, but you know, the ten years of studying never appealed to me because I get bored easily.
What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world?
Apparel designer, sportswear designer, swimwear designer, creative lead, singer, chef, waitress, buyer, gas-station assistant, and many, many more part-time jobs I can’t even remember. I’ve had jobs since I was 15.
If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why?
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I wouldn’t change a lot, but I’d add a doomed romance between Julia and the narrator (Charles) and turn him into Charlotte J
Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):
Satin or Lace? Satin (‘Satin’s for the free!’ – Dorothy Parker)
Hot or Cold? Hot
Camera or Canvas? Camera
Denim or Leather? Satin lol
Talking or Texting? Talking
Irish or Italian? Italian
Thunder or Lightning? Lightning
The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Heartbeat
Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding her attention
Crayons or Paint? Paint
Mountains or Beach? Beach
Rain or Sunshine? Sunshine, always!
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members that ‘surprised’ you?
My editor approached me out of the blue when I was writing my third book and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with it. I’m glad I said yes eventually because she’s been my rock and sounding board ever since and I’m so grateful to have her in my life.
If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why?
I’d love to have a drink with Meghan Markle. I’m sooooo curious to know what’s been going on behind closed doors at the Royal Palace.
Is there anything in your life you would delete? Anything you would replay?
No, I believe in crossroads and that we’re meant to make mistakes. I’ve made many.
What were you like at school?
Naughty (but never mean) Also, highly uninterested J
Were you good at English?
Yes, but it never felt like my mother tongue.
Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn?
Norwegian and Dutch, and a bit of Mandarin. I can also communicate, with Swedes and Danish, Germans and South-Africans.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to be a better writer and write something I’m very proud of one day. I’d also like my books to be for everyone and have them translated into Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin and French. (I’ve already started with Spanish and Hindi)
If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why?
Vera Farmiga. I think she’s charming, beautiful and a great actress. I would want her to play Ally in ‘Western Shores’. I’d also love Meghan Markle to play Nadine in ‘The Scent of Rome’.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
3-4 Months. 4 Months, mostly.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Not often, but sometimes, yes, and it really sucks.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Stepping away. Travel helps me, and new experiences. Micro dosing LSD also helps but I only do that when nothing else works.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m not sure, I’d have to read my books in order to know. Creatively, I don’t think I’ve evolved much, though, but hopefully I’ve improved technically.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I don’t get much time to read and I know I should make more time to read as it makes my writing better. I only read four books last year. Strangely, I seem drawn to male, humorist writers, both English and American. In the lesfic genre, I like to read Melissa Brayden or Clare Lydon as their books are relaxing and fun.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Paperbacks. But I rarely buy new books, mainly second hand, and I see it as a positive trend that people read more eBooks. Better for the trees J
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
No, I have an editor, a beta reader and proofreaders.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Never, I need to stay in the zone.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I did my first four covers, and the covers for The Compass Series. As I used to be a designer, that wasn’t hard, but fonts and covers are certainly not my strong point, so I now hire a very good cover artist I used to work with, and for Madeleine Taylor’s books, I use an illustrator.
Who designed your book covers?
Myself and for the last two, Neil Irvine Design. He’s amazing.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes, I’m very familiar with the psychology behind marketing and I believe it’s important, especially if you’re an unknown author.
How do you market your books?
Online adverts, magazines, social media, radio, blogs.
Why did you choose this route?
These are all the routes available to me.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
No. I’m yet to come across a PR agency that actually offers value for money for indie authors.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Go with any option available to you, see what works, then re-evaluate once a year. The world changes and things that work today might not work tomorrow. When it comes to social media marketing, don’t just throw book links out there five times day for the sake of it, but make it meaningful or interesting.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Depends. I plan time and budget according to what I want to achieve. I’m planning on marketing heavy in Spanish speaking countries later this year, so that will cost more time and effort as I’ll need help with that. Normally around 5% of my time.
What do you do to get book reviews?
Not much, I prefer natural reviews as they will give me honest feedback. I have a small group of ARC readers.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I don’t spend time on this.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
No, I don’t look for them. I do always send my books to 4 lesfic reviewers, though.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Of course, good reviews make me happy. If the feedback in a bad review is constructive, I’ll take it. One-star reviews that don’t make sense or feel like a personal attack don’t bother me; I have very thick skin after working for big corporate brands for years.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Sorry, can’t think of anything.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I believe it works if it’s natural. I like to share my writing / travel process which isn’t marketing per se, but it helps the book getting noticed and builds anticipation.
Which social network worked best for you?
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Don’t bombard people with stuff you wouldn’t want to see yourself.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I had a press release for Living as it was running along with a fundraiser for mental health awareness, and if magazines ask for it, I will write one up. But normally, no. They only reach a very small audience.
Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Yes, a couple of times.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
No, I wish there was one, apart from discounting lol.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
If you’re with a big publisher, but you’re not one of their best-selling authors, they won’t put much marketing budget aside for you, no matter how good your book is. If you’re with a smaller publisher (at least from what I’ve seen) they don’t put much effort into marketing your book, so then it’s down to yourself anyway. The more eyeballs on your books, the more they will sell, and in my opinion, some of the best-selling indie authors very pretty good at marketing their books because they do it in creative ways and therefore manage to connect with their audience.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
No opinion on them.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Yes, I give away a lot for free. People who wouldn’t normally buy your book might try it that way and if they like it, they’ll want to read more.
Did you format your own book?
Yes, I use Vellum.
In what formats is your book available?
All my books are available in e-book, paperback and audio.
How do you relax?
Signing or cooking.
What is your favorite positive saying?
It is what it is.
What is your favorite book and why?
No idea. I don’t have a favorite book.
What is your favorite quote?
Panta Rei (everything flows)
Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m happy, so I would be grateful if life continues like this. Maybe in a warmer county though, I hate the English weather.
What is your favorite movie and why?
Depends on my mood. I have a guilty pleasure for Asian horror movies.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You don’t know shit, so think before you speak. Also, ‘assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups’.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Dorothy Parker and Dolly Parton. Dolly because I think she’s fabulous and funny and she’s an amazing songwriter and singer. And Dorothy because I was always drawn to both her work and persona. Neither of them give a fuck about anything.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I would have loved to have been Agatha Christie. I’d be memorable and my books would be both entertaining and approachable.
‘Borrowed’ permanently from James Lipton on The Actor’s Studio:
What is your favorite word? Yes
What is your least favorite word? Can’t (technically two, but okay J)
What turns you on? Hehe…
What turns you off? Sexy talk in Dutch. It’s awful.
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of the ocean
What sound or noise do you hate? A drill going through concrete
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Spy
What profession would you not like to do? Anything that involves killing animals. Being a butcher would be my worst nightmare.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You’ve been a good girl, please step into my beautiful garden filled with puppies, kittens, wine and sunshine.
Did you have a good childhood? Were you a wild child? Are you the ‘odd’ one out in your family?
I had an unconventional but good childhood, and I suppose I was a bit of a wild child / party animal in my late teens / early twenties.
If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself?
Carefree, lazy, curious, (but at the same time blissfully ignorant)
What are your thoughts on Porn (visual) vs Erotica (written) and do you think authors can creatively bring some aspects of both into their writing, making it sensual and beautiful instead of raw and vulgar?
I don’t think porn would inspire me. In my opinion, it’s better to leave something left to the imagination. The mind is stronger than the eye.
If you could have one and only one super-power, what would it be and why?
To be able to fly. I dream about it a lot.
Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself?
Yes. Nothing weird, just book stuff, and I hope it stays that way.
Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale?
Pen name. Many reasons.
Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it?
When my characters are in a good place and have resolved their issues. I like to give them a happy ending.
What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad?
Good thing! People deserve choice, right? I also think it’s a good thing that it’s starting to cross over into mainstream. More visibility means acceptance is growing.
Are you a quiet person or verbose in person?
Both. I like my own company, but I can be loud and extravert in social situations.
Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about?
No. I have no regrets.
If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be?
Dorothy Parker – collected poems, anything by David Sedaris, The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood.
If you were stuck in an elevator with three people, who would you like them to be?
Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert and Aretha Franklin. I’d love to harmonize with them, and elevators have great acoustics!
20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work?
I’d love for them to say my books have made a difference to millions of readers in one way or another. But I doubt that would be the case J
Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that?
Success is relative, but I’m writing full-time and it’s going well, so that’s success to me.
Were there any teachers that stood out through school? Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly?
My art teacher was inspiring and encouraged me to develop my creativity.
Do you enjoy debates? Any particular subjects?
As Lise Gold, no. Especially online, I don’t engage in debates and I don’t talk about politics. It’s just about the books for me.
If you had a time machine would you go forward or back in time and why?
No. Wait… can I just make my body go back in time and keep my mind the same?
Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year?
I’m balancing between Pisces and Aquarius, but I’d say I’m a typical Aquarius. ‘Believe’ is a strong word, but I do find astrology interesting.
Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one?
If I had to, a toe ring.
If you were the love child of two great authors who would they be and why?
Barbara Cartland and David Sedaris. I’d be fabulous and funny.
What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life?
I don’t tend to get scared easily but someone once asked me: ‘Could you hold my snake for a minute while I use the bathroom?’ and wasn’t my favorite moment. I’m willing to try everything once, though.
Have you ever stolen anything?
Yes. My best friend and I shoplifted like motherfuckers when we were fifteen because we wanted to wear matching outfits on holiday lol. I haven’t stolen anything since I turned seventeen though, apart from a Starbucks mug a couple of months ago. It was an opportunity too good to pass…
If you could make out with one character from a movie, who would it be and why?
Mila Kunis in Black Swan
Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable?
I don’t know, that’s difficult for me to say. You’d have to ask the readers.
What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author?
That people actually wanted to read my books J
Where were you when you found out you won the Lesfic Bard Award and what was your reaction? When I won the Lesfic Bard Award for French Summer last year, I was at my kitchen table, where I tend to write. I saw the post and got super excited, did a victory dance across the kitchen floor, then went out to get a bottle of Champagne!