Today I’m pleased to share with you a little Q&A I did with Dana Bate, author of The Secret Supper Club and The Stall of Second Chances, both published by Corsair.
1. Tell us a little about The Stall of Second Chances.
The story is about a 26-year-old wannabe food writer named Sydney Strauss, whose life has gotten off track. She doesn’t have the food-writing job she really wants, and, having been dumped years ago by her high school sweetheart, she doesn’t have the love life she wants either. Then, through a few serendipitous turns, she gets a shot at the food-writing career of her dreams. But the opportunity comes at a price, and she finds herself chasing a story that could either make her career or ruin it – along with her blossoming new relationship.
2. They say write about what you know. Your background is in journalism and you studied molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Have you ever used your experience and knowledge gained in these fields to influence or shape your writing?
A bit – mostly my journalism experience. Aside from using my day-to-day experience as a field producer and reporter to inform Sydney’s character in this book, being a journalist has really helped with writing dialogue. In my former job, I would transcribe hours of interviews, so I became very familiar with how people talk – the expressions they use, the cadence of their speech. I haven’t used much of my science background yet, but I’m sure I will in a future book!
3. What is the best and worst thing about being a writer?
The best thing is the freedom to set my own schedule and write about whatever I want. I get to create these worlds and live in them day after day – it’s such a thrill. The worst thing is the isolation. Most of the time it’s just me and my computer. I sometimes miss the social aspect of working in an office.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan it all before you start or just sit and write? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
I tend to fall somewhere between the two extremes: I don’t plan everything out, but I don’t completely fly by the seat of my pants either. I generally sketch out a brief plot and character arc, but then I let the characters drive the story. Occasionally I have to rein the characters in so that they don’t get too off-track, but I don’t like to be hamstrung by a concrete outline. As for how long it takes, it depends on the book, but usually around nine months.
5. What can we expect to see from you in the future? Can you give us a sneaky insight into your next book?
My next book, TOO MANY COOKS, comes out in the UK in June, and I think it might be my favourite book yet! It’s about an American cookbook ghostwriter who moves to London to work on a cookbook for a famous actress, only to find the opportunity isn’t all it seems…
6. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Hmmm. No one has ever asked what my favourite book-to-film adaptation is. For that, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Gone with the Wind and About a Boy!
About the Book:
“The Stall of Second Chances is a story about love, choices, and second chances in the Internet era, at a time when our past is written in ink, not pencil, and when the decisions we make today can ripple far into the future.
Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food.
Not just with eating it – though she loves that too – but with writing about it as an aspiring cookery reporter. But food journalism jobs are more coveted than cupcakes, and so Sydney is stuck working for one of TV’s biggest egomaniacs – until she’s left scrambling for shifts at the local farmers’ market.
Selling muffins at the Wild Yeast Bakery is hardly going to make her the next Nigella. But soon Sydney is writing the market’s weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of being left on the shelf, she’s even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a cinder – along with her relationship and her reputation…
From the acclaimed author of The Secret Supper Club, The Stall of Second Chances is a witty, honest novel, perfectly seasoned with both humour and heart, about daring to bite into the life you really want. . . ”