It is a great pleasure to have Nina Kaye back to Off the Beaten Track.
Nina is a favourite author, particularly her heartwarming take on romance. I absolutely loved Just Like That (you can see my quote on the cover). Jess and Nick are a pair! Both are battling with their own demons and find that a little communication can go a LONGGGGG way. These two flawed but layered characters are dealing with real issues in realistic ways, and I was cheering for them both from the sidelines. I also fell in love with Rana, one of the supporting characters. This read has heart, humour and romance – the perfect read for a chilly Aussie winter or to take on summer holiday if you live north of the equator.
Now let’s hear from Nina…
Tell us what inspired you to write Just Like That?
There were a few things that came together to form this storyline. Anyone who has read my previous books will know that I write more than romance. I write about characters who face change and adversity in their lives, and how they overcome these challenges, finding love along the way.
In Just Like That, my main character, Jess, experiences a huge shift in her life when her brother unexpectedly has a stroke and she takes on the responsibility of being his carer. Having experienced a life altering change when my own life was suddenly shattered by a debilitating illness, I was acutely aware of the impact and pressure it put on those closest to me. This was one source of inspiration for writing about someone taking on caring responsibilities. The other was just how important and overlooked the role of a caregiver is, and I felt there was a need for people in this situation to be more represented in fiction.
Another source of inspiration for Just Like That was a documentary series I watched about sun bears and how, like so much of the world’s wonderful wildlife, they are endangered. It saddened me to learn how they’re illegally hunted for their bile and how they’re losing their natural habitat. In that series, the presenter followed the story of a baby sun bear, which had been rescued after its mother was killed by poachers. The cub was so adorable in the way it tumbled around and treated the presenter like it’s play partner. It really captured my heart. The idea of the wildlife park and Nick the grumpy head keeper/love interest came from that.
A final source of inspiration relates to the setting. Just Like That is set in my home city of Edinburgh and the beautiful countryside and coastal towns of East Lothian, where I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time in recent years. East Lothian, which is just a short drive from Edinburgh, provided the perfect setting for the wildlife park and for Jess to go on her journey of self-discovery to find her happy ever after.
What’s your most recent read that you’d like to recommend?
I think I’ll share my current read, which is Under a Greek Sun by Mandy Baggot. It’s about a young woman, Eve, who visits her friend Abby on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. Eve’s looking forward to some much-needed downtime, but things don’t go quite to plan. She ends up leaving for her break with her troubled brother, Ben, in tow, then discovers Abby has multiple jobs on top of running the local animal sanctuary, leaving little time for them to chill together. Between her worries about Ben and not getting a moment to relax, Eve’s starting to wonder if this holiday is going to deliver on its promise, but there’s one thing – or more accurately – one person who can offer a glimmer of hope: Gianni, the gorgeous Italian. He has his own family challenges, so maybe it’s not the right time for either of them to be thinking about love. Or maybe there’s an opportunity to find some common ground and for a beautiful summer romance to blossom… Obviously I haven’t finished it yet, so I’ll need to find out!
This book actually has some similarities to Just Like That, in that it features family struggles and romance with a backdrop of cute animals. It’s also got everything I love in it. A strong storyline, a fabulous setting, characters I care about and some great humour. I’d already highly recommend it!
(Note to reader: I loved Mandy’s book too!)
What has been your author highlight over the past year?
I’d say it’s been securing my two-book deal with Canelo for Just Like That and Stand Up Guy, which will be my next novel to be published. Having this contract has allowed me the opportunity to grow my writing career further and to keep improving my writing skills as I go. I learn best ‘on the job’ so I love working with my editor, Emily Bedford, who always offers such great ideas for how I can improve my stories. I’ve also had a couple of smaller highlights in the last few months in getting my first audiobook deals. Just Like That will be my first novel to be published in audio, so I’m really looking forward to hearing how the narrator brings the story to life.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just submitted my next novel, Stand Up Guy, to my editor for review. It’s due out in January next year and I’ve really enjoyed writing it. It’s another Edinburgh based story, this time about a lonely young woman who invites a stand-up comedian to stay with her when she learns that his dream of making it big at the Edinburgh Festival has come to grief. It’s written with my usual style, combining humour with poignancy – my aim being to create all the feels, offering some moments of reflection as well as an entertaining read.
What do you hope readers will take away from Just Like That?
Just Like That is a story of change and self-discovery as well as a romance, peppered with light-hearted moments and humour, so I’m not looking for readers to learn any serious life lessons from it. But what I do hope they will take away is that real life isn’t picture perfect. It’s messy – with complicated relationships, miscommunications and vulnerabilities we don’t always want to share. We all make mistakes and we can choose to be forgiving of others who do the same. And we all deserve to have love in our lives, regardless of the challenges we’re faced with!
More about the book…
Is fur-ever on the cards for these enemies-at-first-sight?
Jess is smashing her Edinburgh events management job right now. Her boss is talking about a promotion, her clients love her and other companies want her. But all of that comes to an abrupt halt when her brother has a sudden stroke. Jess doesn’t think twice about stepping in as his carer, but her boss is not so understanding.
Demoted to managing low-end events, Jess is less than thrilled to be assigned to a small animal park in need of raising funds. She’s even less happy when she clashes with arrogant head keeper, Nick. He’s frustrated with her squeamishness; she thinks he’s a lech. Nick wants a baggage-free life; Jess has so much drama going on, even the Kardashians can’t keep up.
But maybe saving the animals of East Lothian Wildlife Park will help these op-paw-sites find some common ground…
Where to get the book
Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Waterstones | Foyles | Google Play | (and all your favourite book retailers)
More about Nina Kaye…
Nina writes warm, witty and uplifting romances with a dollop of humour. Life is not straightforward and she likes to reflect this in her writing – by creating realistic characters with complex lives who can learn along the way. Her debut novel, The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating was published by Orion Dash, followed by Take A Moment, which was inspired by her own life, and One Night in Edinburgh with Canelo. Just Like That is her fourth novel and her fifth, Stand Up Guy, will follow in January (both also with Canelo). All her novels are set in her hometown of Edinburgh and really bring the city to life.
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