I’m really thrilled to share today’s Guest Post by Australian author, Lisa Joy whose debut novel, Yes, Chef!, was released by Destiny Romance (an imprint of Penguin Books Australia) on 14 July.
First up though, I’d like to thank Lisa for contributing this post about her journey to publication and wish her all the very best for her future endeavours within the writing world.
Lisa began writing stories in her teenage years but decided she needed to get her heart broken and live in another country before pursuing a career as a novelist.
Born in Sydney, she spent most of her childhood wearing pink tights and leotards at ballet class. At age 21, deciding she wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, she left her safe and somewhat predictable existence behind and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer’s PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business.
Having fallen head over heels in love with London, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen, Lisa stayed put for about 7 years, until finally, family called and she returned to Australia. Her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh.
She now lives in the picturesque Dandenong ranges outside Melbourne on a vegetable farm with her fiancé and four chooks. And yes, she is PA to a celebrated chef.
I often marvel at the many different directions my life has gone in and the number of things that had to happen to get me to where I am today. My debut novel Yes, Chef! has just been released, but I never made a conscious decision to become a writer. About five years ago the idea for a series of fantasy novels came to me and from the moment I began writing I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I had never experienced the same amount of satisfaction in any other job as I did when I wrote one good sentence. It was a relief. The media often tells us to ‘follow our bliss’ or to ‘focus on our passion.’ But what if you don’t know what your passion is? And even once you discover your dream it doesn’t mean it will be easy to achieve.
I had been dragging my heels trying to write this fantasy story. I was a meticulous plotter and felt I needed to know everything that was going to happen in the last book before I could even finish the first. Four years later, it disturbed me to realise I was going out of my way to avoid doing something that gave me so much enjoyment. I began to wonder if I was an eternal dreamer. Was it better to constantly work towards a dream, even if you never reach it, than put yourself out there only to possibly fail? While I was writing there was still a chance but if I finished and was rejected, it was over, wasn’t it?
Needless to say my writing needed a proverbial kick up the backside, so when I heard the inspirational and ‘no-nonsense’ author Fiona McIntosh was hosting a commercial fiction masterclass I snapped up a place.
From day one Fiona’s love was tough, but I put my head down and really tried to put into practice all the teachings that had lead to her success. She told me I had to stop all the angst because nobody cares. Now, that might sound harsh but it was exactly the reality check I needed. I was writing stories not saving lives! My competition is not just other popular fiction books but magazines and social media and games like Candy Crush and Hay Day. From that moment my writing freed up. I stopped writing for publication and began writing for enjoyment.
On the last night of the masterclass I was telling stories around the dinner table about my days in the restaurant business and being the PA to a television producer. It occurred to me that my life, something I had always regarded as ordinary, was interesting to others. And while Yes, Chef! is a fictional tale, my experience working in positions that I thought were far from my passion actually gave me the material I needed to achieve my dream.
One year after the masterclass had finished I had shelved my fantasy series, changed genres to chick-lit, completed a manuscript and gained a publishing contract from a major global publishing house.
Most importantly, I had a lot of fun writing Yes, Chef! and the biggest reward is hearing how much enjoyment others get from reading it.
About the Book
Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations in one of London’s most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef, Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality. Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centered wife. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realize that she may have thrown away exactly what she’s been looking for all along.
Inspired by real-life adventures, this deliciously funny and romantic story reveals a tantalizing glimpse of the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn’t all that goes on in the kitchen.