Q&A for Alissa Baxter
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
When I was single and dating, I moved to Cape Town, and it was this time in my life, when I experienced the highs and lows of being on the dating scene in a new city, that inspired The Blog Affair. My novel is about twenty-something Emma Bradshaw who moves to Cape Town and tries to make sense of her dating blunders by starting a blog where she analyses her past relationships.
2. When did you take up writing?
I started writing my first novel, a Regency romance called The Dashing Debutante, when I was 19 and in my second year at university.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Setting is very important in my writing. My first chick lit novel, called Send and Receive, was set in Durban, a coastal city in South Africa where I lived for a few years.
And when I moved to Cape Town a few years later, I decided to set my next book, The Blog Affair, there. I like to set books in cities I’ve lived in, as I can then portray a unique sense of place. Of course, a lot of writers set books in places they’ve never visited and with the internet (and Google Maps!) at our disposal it’s becoming easier and easier to do so.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
My main character, Emma, appeals to me as she has to overcome a number of obstacles in order to grow and change as the novel progresses. She hasn’t had an easy life, and as a writer I found myself cheering her on. Another favourite in the book is Andre – her gay housemate in Cape Town, who has, let us say, a unique way with words!
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
That it’s important to simply sit down and write, rather than to wait for inspiration.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I tend to work well in the mornings. However, I have a toddler and another baby on the way, so at this point in my life I tend to snatch moments at odd times during the day to do a bit of work!
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I like to have a general outline for a book when I’m writing it, but within this general guideline it’s nice to have the flexibility to be able to go off on an unexpected tangent if the story calls for it.
8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
I enjoyed reading Cathy Kelly’s The Honey Queen, and I’ve just completed Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. I also enjoy crime novels and I’m about to start reading Peter Robinson’s Children of the Revolution.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I tend to become intrigued with the lives of the secondary characters in my books, and I’m writing a story at the moment about a character who appeared in The Blog Affair.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
It’s never easy sending your work off for the first time, but what makes a huge difference is finding someone you trust to edit and critique your manuscript before sending it out to publishers. A new pair of eyes will pick up grammatical errors and story inconsistencies you may have overlooked and it’s very important to have a polished manuscript, with as few errors as possible.
Twenty-something, white, South African Emma Bradshaw has a pattern of falling for unsuitable men and starts a blog about these so-called “serial datists”. Her search for new beginnings takes her to Cape Town, where she gets a job working for sexy author, Nick Reynolds. Romance with her boss is a no-no, but slowly, Nick works his way around her defenses. Trust him, or not, especially with her awful track record with men?
When an anonymous male reader of the blog challenges her on her ideas about the male species, Emma realises she must confront her past and find her true self before she can move forward…and love can blossom again in her future.
The Blog Affair by Alissa Baxter
Damn him. Damn him. Damn him. Like a bad apple, he just had to pop up in her new home. She’d left Durban to escape him, and here he was, back again, tormenting her as ever. Awful enough that memories of him were with her all the time, without him turning up in the flesh. And what flesh it was….
“You had a good time in Italy?” she inquired.
“Great. Well, I have things to do. Bye.”
“Running away, Em?”
Emma, who had starting walking toward the door, stopped in her tracks and turned around. “I’ve moved on, Phil.”
“You mean you’ve moved away. You haven’t moved on.”
“What makes you so sure?”
Phil gazed into her eyes before looking down at her mouth, and Emma swallowed hard. He always made her insides twist into knots, and the fact she couldn’t bear to be in the same room with him for even five minutes clearly showed she hadn’t moved on.
She had to put him behind her, though, and stop allowing him to upset her equilibrium to the degree he did.
But as she studied his once-loved face, she let out a tiny sigh. How did you just move on and forget someone? Especially when you’d once believed that someone was the love of your life?
She stood immobile for a long moment. Then, without a word, she turned around again and walked out of the room.
Alissa Baxter was born in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first novel, The Dashing Debutante. Alissa travelled to London, England, and did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote after she moved back to South Africa and settled in Durban. Alissa then relocated to Cape Town where she wrote her third novel, Send and Receive, before moving to Johannesburg, where she currently lives with her husband and son.
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Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1146980.Alissa_Baxter
Where to buy The Blog Affair