The Who, What, When, Where and Why with Chrissie Manby

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By Jade Craddock

With twenty best-selling books to her name, including her latest title The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club, Chrissie Manby knows a thing or two about being an author, and she’s kindly stopped by to respond to our who, what, when, where and why questions. ♥

1. Who has been the most important person in your writing journey?

I’ve been a published author for nearly thirty years so the list of people who have helped me along the way must be running at triple figures by now. I’ll give you just three from the very beginning: my English teacher, Mrs Pocock, who gave me the confidence to send off some short stories to Just Seventeen. Jacqui Deevoy, Just Seventeen’s fiction editor who bought one of those stories and put me into print for the very first time. And David Garnett, the science fiction writer who dared me to write my first full-length novel and, when I did, gave me great notes and showed the resulting book to his editor at Little Brown. She bought it and the rest is history.

2. What motivates you to write?

The mortgage. Ha ha! No, seriously, the mortgage is a big motivator and a very effective cure for writer’s block. But I suppose I am also motivated by the idea that something I write, however flippant, might help someone else to make sense of their own situation. I’ve had a few emails over the years from people who’ve told me that my books helped them through a dark time. That’s incredibly humbling and reminds me how lucky I am to do a job I love.

3. When did you first start writing?

I really don’t remember. I think I’ve always been writing stories in my head. I first took it seriously as a career prospect when Jacqui Deevoy bought one of my short stories for Just Seventeen. I was fourteen at the time. It was another eight years before I published my first novel under the pen name Stephanie Ash. My first novel as Chris Manby came out two years after that.

4. Where do you write?

I write at the kitchen table. I sometimes wonder if I should set up a proper office but the kitchen has great light, the table is big enough to lay out the A3 sheets of paper I use for plotting and I like to be near the kettle. My kitchen table is very special to me. I bought it in 2001 when I went into the top ten for the first time.

5. Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book in something of a whirlwind to cheer myself up. I lost my dad last year and in the six months after his death, I wrote an entirely different book with the same title. It was dripping with grief. About a month before my deadline, I realised that book could never go to print. At least not in the cupcake cover you see before you. So, I scrapped 70,000 words and started again, channelling my batshit-crazy heroines of old like Lizzie Jordan and Ashleigh Prince (of Getting Over Mr Right). How would they handle being dumped in their forties like my new heroine – another Liz – whose husband leaves her for a much, much younger ‘clean eating’ blogger?

My writing schedule was insane – between five and seven thousand words a day – but somehow I did it, I made my deadline, and I had fun in the process. My dad was a great joker and I hope that this more comic novel is a better testament to his memory than the dirge I wrote before. Writing this book really bucked my spirits and I hope it might do the same for a couple of readers too.

Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty romantic comedies including A Proper Family Holiday, The Matchbreaker and Seven Sunny Days. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, Getting Over Mr Right, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London.


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