Catching up with Author Nina Kaye

It is a pleasure to welcome fellow author, Nina Kaye to my blog. I asked her some questions about her debut novel, The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating, which I absolutely loved, and about her work as an author.

Tell us what inspired you to write The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating?

The seed of my debut novel, The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating, was first planted when my literary agent, Kate Nash, said to me, ‘whatever you write about, make sure it has gin in it’. But obviously there was more to it than that. The three key ingredients were the beautiful setting of Edinburgh, my experience working in the hospitality industry, and (of course) my appreciation of gin! It was important to me to bring real life issues into my novel, but I also wanted to show the light-hearted side of life in Scotland. I’ve actually written a guest blog post on ‘the story behind my story’. You can read it here.

When did you start writing seriously?

I started writing properly just over five and a half years ago when I was fighting a debilitating illness and desperate to get my life back. This is a story I intend to share when I’m able to bring my most recent work in progress to my readers, so I’ll park that for now and focus on my journey to publication instead.

My initial goal was to see if I could write a full-length novel. It was daunting to begin with, but it came more easily than I expected, and after six months I had my first full draft. Then, after lots of editing to shape and polish it, I asked myself: what next? I knew nothing about the publishing industry, so I did some research and decided I had nothing to lose by querying with Literary Agents. Fifteen rejections later (thankfully, with encouraging feedback!), I accepted that my first novel wasn’t going to be my big break and self-published instead. But a month later, a late response came back from my querying, and this turned into an offer of representation.

After more shaping and polishing, my manuscript went on submission to publishers for their consideration. I spent months biting my nails as one rejection after another flowed into my inbox (but with very encouraging feedback once again). By then, I was writing book number two and the focus had shifted to that. We then went through the same process, and first came the inevitable flurry of rejections – which I was used to by then. People kept saying to me, all it takes it one person to say ‘yes’, and they were right. The day my publishing offer flashed up as a notification on my phone, my legs went to jelly and I shared an emotional hug with a perfect stranger in the ladies toilets of my then workplace.

That was last June and after working closely with my publisher on yet more shaping and polishing, my debut novel, The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating, was released in November. It’s been an amazing (and nerve wracking!) process, and I’m so glad I kept at it. Now my focus is on building my profile as an author and getting visibility for my book.

What do you love most about being an author?

There’s so much I love about being an author. Someone once referred to me as a ‘frustrated creative’ and that label really struck a chord. In my day job I’m creative, but I’m also very structured and focused – and it’s those skills that people tend to seek me out for most often. I’ve long needed a creative outlet that’s mine and mine only, and writing is perfect for that. I love that I can escape into this whole other world where the story takes whatever direction I choose. It’s so vivid, I feel like I’m there watching it unfold.

I also love the new friendships and connections I’ve made through being a client of the Kate Nash Literary Agency and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA). So many like-minded people I can really connect with, and we’re all on this journey together. The RNA is fantastic. I’ve never been part of something that has such a sense of community before. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a newbie or an esteemed author, you’re welcomed and included – and everyone cheers each other on!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on two different pieces. My main work in progress is another romantic fiction novel about a character who’s diagnosed with a life changing illness, and her determination to reclaim her life (including her romantic life). I’m using my own personal experience as inspiration for this. It’s perhaps a bit more poignant than my debut because of the subject matter, but I’ve used plenty of humour to keep it as light and engaging as possible.

My second piece is the sequel to my very first novel, which is currently unpublished. This ‘two-parter’ is a fast-paced, humorous story about a woman who’s very ambitious but who lacks the confidence to be the assertive, successful person she wants to be – and there’s a dollop of romance in there too.

What do you hope readers will take away from The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating?

The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating is a light-hearted romcom, so I have no unrealistic expectations that it will change anyone’s life. But this is a tough world we live in, and I felt it was important to represent some of that struggle within the story. I also believe it’s important that we (and by ‘we’ I mean the human race) never lose our sense of humour. People say ‘laughter is the best medicine’, and while I realise this saying has become a bit of a cliché, I know that having a sense of humour has helped me through some very difficult times.

Ultimately, what I hope for is to give my readers a good laugh, make them think a bit, make them feel good – and give them that satisfying happy-ever-after.

If you haven’t read it already, here’s the book blurb:

When life gives you lemons… add a splash of gin! 

When Liv’s high-flying career goes off the rails, she finds herself working at a glitzy new gin bar to pay the bills. She’s never let romance distract her, but with one very hot colleague, a mysterious online follower who might just be her soulmate, and a lot of cocktails, her dating life is about to be shaken up…

But is Liv looking for a sparkling flirtation, or something a little stronger?

Sometimes you have to face up to your past, seize your future, and mix your own recipe for happy ever after…

And here’s where you can get your own copy:

Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon US

 

Whidbey Island Retreat

The night was dark and stormy…

Saturday night I was snuggled in my little corner room of the Captain Whidbey Inn while a storm raged outside. A screen door on the ground floor kept slamming in the wind, waking me throughout the night. Fellow guests had talked about the two ghosts that haunt the inn while we ate dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone – not even my boyfriend who was winging his way to sunny Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was on retreat, and what better place to lock yourself away for a weekend of writing than an old inn on the water, and backing onto the forest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What an incredible weekend! I was part of a wonderful group of creative women, Anne, Thea, Lea, and Beverley and we had three incredible writing workshops with three diverse and exquisitely talented authors:

Stephanie Kallos

Bharti Kirchner

and Terry Persun

As well as my immediate group, I also met Megs, Kate and other gifted and passionate writers. I loved the collaboration, the camaraderie and the incredible amount that I learned. I have seen my own work with a renewed and critical eye, which means I can take another pass at it with particular attention to the following:

  • Differentiation of character (there are a lot of women in my book – are they all distinctive from each other, or do they bleed into one?)
  • Fleshing out the antagonists (‘bad guys’ have feelings too!)
  • P.O.V. shifts (oops – slap my hand)
  • Setting (the oft-neglected child)
  • Depth (short-shrifting the reader will only piss them off – thanks Stevie!)

Bharti made this great point that some authors get to the end of their book and realize that the characters never eat. Mine eat, but it is a detail that can evoke setting really effectively, so I need to ensure that I have given it the right amount of attention. Much of my action in part two takes place on a coach and I know that I can spend more time on developing the sense of claustrophobia that develops on a six-week trip. Stephanie told me that chapter one intrigued her, but that she was pissed off because I start after the crucial, catalytic moment. This is a great point! I am now working on a prologue to see if that addresses the issue. Of course, chapter one, which I am in love with by the way, will now need a major re-write. Terry’s workshop highlighted for me that one-note characters are boring. My villain in part two needs nuances and I have just the scene to bring his out.

I am so very excited to get to work. And I have a hell of a lot of it to do!