In this weeks Author Spotlight, Colette Kebell discusses her fabulous and oh so fashion forward novel, Blue and Green Should Never be Seen! (Or so Mother Says), a Female Contemporary / Chick Lit.
What is your book about?
This book falls under the Contemporary Female Category, though more specifically Chick Lit or Upmarket Literature, if you are an American. Below is the synopsis together with a sample chapter, which I hope your readers will enjoy.
GiGi (well, Griselda Griswald actually, but everybody calls her GiGi) is a woman with a mission: to help people improve the way they look, increase their self-esteem, and eventually, make them happier people. Being a personal shopper is a dark art, with few tangible rewards. Spread by word of mouth, her clients would never admit they needed her assistance. Not even if they put them under torture. Let us be honest, who would admit to being in need of a style consultant?
It is like being an alcoholic: the first step is to admit you need help, and acknowledge that that pair of leggings, now that you are in your mid-fifties, do not suit you anymore. When you have recognized it, you are on the path to recovery, and GiGi’s services will help you, despite her mother nagging that she is not doing a “real” job.
People need advice and often a fresh point of view helps in rejuvenating a wardrobe that, with time, has become boring. Would they admit it? Not a chance!
So, it is just a matter of going around and helping people buying clothes and shoes?
Not quite so. Money is tight; GiGi has to work with rich and very eccentric people, who often do not have any idea about what they want. She and her business partner Ritchie are in a constant struggle to keep the business afloat, but as they say in Dragon’s Den, she is very investable. But, with success comes the difficulties, the Battersea Fashion Center is going to open soon, just opposite of her office, and they claim they will be fierce competitors.
With the constant struggle to keep her business afloat, a powerful enemy is lining up ready to make a meal out of her, knowing very well that GiGi’s approach, eventually, will make her successful. Whilst she invents new ways to make her consultancy firm successful, she finds who could be the love of her life, thanks to some of her best friends.
The business eventually expands and they take onboard new partners along the way, making them one of the most influential fashion consultancy firms in London. But, with a very demanding job, hours and hours spent working, will she be able to balance her career and her private life?
Will she reach a point where she loses focus on what is important in life?
Do not worry; mother is there to remind her, with her nagging.
Here are a couple of tasters:
--“ Those clothes could have been very good for our beloved Queen in her eighties, but come off it; Mommy was barely in her thirties! One in particular horrified me: a blue and yellow sequined dress with humungous pink flowers all over the place. I poked it with a stick from a distance to ensure it wasn’t alive and ready to kill me. You know, sometimes they haunt you. Could these really be her clothes, or were they keepsakes from an old, deceased aunt?”--
-- With a torch in her hand she started searching in the vast garden until she was satisfied and then said, “You stay here.” It was dark and I could barely see her walking in the general direction of the shed; a few thumping noises followed and then she reappeared with a pair of shovels and working gloves. She tossed a shovel to me. “Start digging the grave; I’ll be back in a minute,” she said, giggling like a teenager. I was flabbergasted; I’d thought she meant she’d bury her clothes in a figurative way, like at the bottom of the wardrobe. This was beyond belief! I pondered the situation for a moment and then I kicked the shovel in the ground; if we were going to make a mess, I’d better get started. The earth was soft from the previous days of rain and I could work quickly. I wondered for a moment if someone would see us, here in the garden, digging like a pair of tomb raiders, and would call the police.
“Ah good, you’ve started already,” she said, depositing the bags nearby.
“Natalie, I’m not digging a six-footer here!” I complained; that would have taken the whole night.
“Not to worry, sweetheart: just deep enough to let all this stuff rot with the worms.”
She started quarrying as well and after an hour we had to stop, because we were both quite tired but also because every few minutes we looked at each other and, without a word, we’d burst out laughing at what we were doing. I made a comment about the neighbours, and that also made her laugh out loud. “I’m going to put the kettle on,” she said eventually. “Take a break.”
I sat on the edge of the grave and let my legs float into the empty space; it was now almost a meter deep and perhaps it would have sufficed for the clothes. Natalie came back after a couple of minutes with the brews and we admired our work in silence. Eventually she was satisfied with the result and she tossed the lot in. Covering it up didn’t take too long.
“I’d pay to see the face of your gardener when he discovers this.” --
What inspired you to write this book?
I enjoy telling a good story. Having been made redundant I had so many ideas buzzing around my head, of avenues I might take on a self-employed basis (I, like GiGi, had had enough of being an employee) and I thought, why not write about it? I’m sure other people would feel the same way. Though I wrote my first book some 15 years ago, I did nothing with it. I then became friends with a lady in Kentucky called Donna McDonald and she has kind of been a mentor to me and set me on the path to self-publishing. I have a passion for fashion (pardon the pun) along with many other things so this was quite a natural process as I can write about all the things I love. Maybe I’m not an entrepreneur in the classic meaning of the term, but I guess being an Indie author is a close match. I also wanted to bring some smiles and laughter into other people’s lives and so my book is light-hearted, fun and quirky.
Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
My favourite character has to be GiGi, closely followed by her best friend, Ritchie. My least favourite is Jasper Barnes, though I had to write him that way to bring some element of struggle for GiGi. I couldn’t just write a book where things are plain sailing, could I?
What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre?
I am drawn to these kind of books myself and just adore the Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic series, along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Katie Oliver’s books. My first book, as mentioned above, is a fantasy novel though whether I shall revisit it, is another matter. I have a couple of other WIPs but they are largely Chick Lit, unless as the story unfolds, I decide to add an element of something else.
Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
It is a standalone book, although I thought of adding additional stories around GiGi. I did things a bit the wrong way around though as this is my first book, then I decided to go back in time by writing the prequel, The Retail Therapist, to give more background to how GiGi came to be where she was. I plan on writing a sequel too though not quite sure when that will be due to other commitments and moving house. Having said that, each book is thoroughly enjoyable as a standalone work.
Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
The array of books that I have read has been quite vast. In my youth, I was drawn to the likes of Stephen King and James Herbert, so about as far removed from what I prefer to read now as you might get. Tolkien inspired by first novel but I guess Sophie Kinsella inspired this one; not forgetting, of course, the lovely Donna McDonald who mentored me to some extent, at least as far as how to go about self-publishing is concerned. Her books are quite a different genre, though I have read just about every last one of them and there are quite a few.
Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
I don’t think I could pin it down to just one. I adore also the young adult genre, for example Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and of course everything that is romance orientated, like the now deceased Jackie Collins. Having said that I guess one of my all-time favourite reads of this year would have to be “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes, despite the box of tissues I needed to keep at the ready. Now that I write my own books, and then of course there is the marketing of them, I don’t have as much time to read as I might otherwise like.
Have you written other books we should know about?
As mentioned previously, I wrote the prequel to Blue and Green, which is called The Retail Therapist, which takes us to the birthing place of GiGi’s fashion consultant business. It tells of the trials and tribulations in the world of being an employee that brought her to make a decision to go it alone. There is an element of inspiration to this book as well as a little more drama than in Blue and Green.
If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
Tenacity and persistence, I guess. You need to be able to take knock backs too, if you intend to go down the traditional publishers route. Self-publishing is an option, the one which I took, but there is still a lot of hard graft even once you’ve written your book…I wouldn’t say that I would turn down a traditional contract though, on the right terms and still live in hope of that. Whatever you do don’t just write a book and publish it. You need a copy editor (and maybe even some beta readers) and it is best to have a cover designer too to give your book that professional looking edge. I was incredibly lucky to be introduced to Lizzie Gardiner, who previously worked for Harper Collins, but now works for herself. She did an amazing job on both my covers given a relatively short brief. She just seemed to get me and how I wanted my covers to appear.
Where can we find your book?
Where can we find out more about you?