As a massive fan of all of Isabella’s books, I was thrilled when she agreed to take the time to answer a few questions for me.
The covers for your books are so distinctive, and are all incredibly appetising. How much input do you have with the design?
Thank you so much! That’s one of the loveliest things you could ever say to a new-ish author; to any author. The beauty of working with a small and independent publisher like Crooked Cat Books is the fifty-fifty decision making process on aspects such as cover art. I love the way the (almost) aerial shots of the food and drink montages hint at the comedy and chaos to come in the story – as well as the delicious culinary thread. I’d never have considered using photographic cover art before but it really does work well and my novels just wouldn’t have the same feel to them with illustrations. I mesh a lot of different subjects together and so it’s important that my books have a brand and identity to help them stand out in a very crowded literary world. Hopefully we have succeeded!
Your books always include beautiful locations and equally beautiful sounding food and drink. What would be your dream destination and culinary experience?
It may seem an obvious choice, but I’d have to plump for Italy every time. The versatility and simplicity of the food, the vast array of stunning backdrops; there’s nowhere on Earth quite like it! Every course is equally delicious. Not to forget the gazillion styles of coffee. And then the Aperol and Limoncello…
Were the café/bookshop in Oh! What a Pavlova and the cocktail bar in The Cocktail Bar based on real locations and can I have their addresses please (shh, it will be our little secret)?
Haha – I am happy to reveal all…
The café/bookshop in ‘Pavlova’ is partly a figment of my imagination and partly based on a gorgeous little den of a café/bookshop which used to exist in Bath. They served the best Frosted Banana Cake I have EVER eaten. I can’t work out why they closed down. It’s an absolute crime that the people of Bath didn’t rally together to buy the place!
The Cocktail Bar is based on a Glastonbury institution. Gothic Image is an eccentrically gorgeous shop which has been going since I was in nappies. It can be found in the High Street and I recently got goosebumps when everything came full circle and the owners agreed to stock copies of… The Cocktail Bar!
Did you learn to flamenco dance as part of your research for Costa del Churros?
I can’t dance for toffee! Neither can my husband. I won’t tell you how much money we spent having lessons for the first dance at our wedding… and still we did it wrong! But somehow we have managed to produce an eleven-year-old child who is a very talented dancer – tap, ballet, jazz, pop, musical theatre; you name it, she does it. She used to take flamenco lessons too… until we ran out of days of the week (more’s the pity). Still, I gleaned quite a lot from watching her classes and teachers in action. The rest I have learned from living in a part of Spain where this glorious art form is engrained in the culture. I won’t rule out lessons one day, but I’ll need to find a very patient teacher!
If you could have a meal with one author, alive or dead, who would you choose and what would you like to ask them?
I am a huge Joanne Harris fan but my favourite author does have a tendency to get opinionated on Twitter… so it might not be the most relaxing of dinners!
I’ll go for Nigella instead. Her cookbooks read like literary works of fiction, after all, and I would love to ask her JUST HOW she manages to adapt recipes on a whim without everything turning pear-shaped. I’d love to have the ability to cook like that.
This might be like asking you to choose a favourite child but, which of your books are you most proud of and why?
I am fond of them all for completely different reasons. But If I could narrow it down to two, then I’d say The Cocktail Bar because it was my second novel, and therefore the book which (hopefully!) proved I wasn’t a One Trick Pony. And my current WIP (book 4) because it feels like my best writing yet…
What can you tell us about what is coming next for you?
Well, book 4 is written and ready for editing. It’s another foodie adventure with a magical/spiritual thread. There may be a bit of Capri and Bath involved in this one… However, it’s off on a brand new publishing journey. All will be revealed (one way or the other!) in 2019. Watch this space…
Thank you so much for your time Isabella!