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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Author Interview - Teresa Driscoll - Recipes for Melissa

Find out where Teresa got the inspiration to write Recipes for Melissa and what advice would she give to an aspiring author.

Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye. Seventeen years later, Melissa is handed a journal. As she smooths open the pages and begins to read her mother's words, she is instantly transported back to her childhood. But returning to her past is painful and memories of her mother's beautiful face are a cruel reminder to Melissa that she'll never see her again. As Melissa slowly makes her way through the precious book, reading the snippets of advice and cooking the dishes from the recipes she is also shocked to learn of her mother's secrets - secrets that if shared, could change Melissa's world forever. A beautifully written, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story of a mother's loving legacy for her daughter - perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Lucy Dillon and JoJo Moyes.

Author: Teresa Driscoll
Title: Recipes for Melissa
Publishers: Bookouture
Publication Date: 5th June 2015
Link: Amazon

Author Interview - Teresa Driscoll
Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog. 
Thanks so much for inviting me….lovely to be here. 

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I’d been trying to become a novelist for ten years with lots of near misses with major publishers. Eventually I came to believe that when they say “write what you know” they really mean “write what you understand….in your heart”. I lost my mother to cancer when I was a teenager and I had been very wary of using this theme in a novel. But then I had a dream about my mother in which I realised what I missed the most…and that was never talking to her woman to woman. And so I came up with the idea for a novel in which a mother would use a very special journal to say goodbye to her daughter. I realised I wanted to reconnect these two women across time. To let the mother whisper into her daughter’s ear, if you like. Woman to woman. And I realised this would allow me to write a hopefully tender but also uplifting story. I was then like an author possessed! I wrote day and night. The house was a tip and the family struggled to find clean clothes (sorry family – I love you!). But Recipes for Melissa felt like the story I was always meant to write.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes – definitely. I started epic novels in school exercise books from the age of around ten! By the sixth form I fancied life in a garret but a wise teacher recommended journalism and it was superb advice. I trained to be a newspaper reporter and loved it. I then went on to become a TV reporter for Thames TV and finally presented the local BBC TV news in Devon for 15 years. It was a huge privilege working in television but when I left, I went back to freelance writing and it was like coming home.

What other jobs have you had?
I feel so incredibly lucky as I’ve always earned my living from writing in one form or another. As well as the journalism in newspapers and TV, I’ve been a columnist and regular short story writer for a number of leading magazines. I also helped with the PR for a Devon hospice charity for a couple of years which I loved.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
It still feels surreal! I am genuinely pinching myself daily. I got so used to near- misses with publishers that when my agent phoned to say that seven German publishers were going into an auction for RECIPES FOR MELISSA, I nearly passed out. When the box of my UK paperbacks eventually arrived, I sat on the floor and cried.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
Funnily enough, I never get writer’s block. I think that’s the discipline of journalism. You can’t tell a news editor that you’re not in the mood to write! I accept that some days I write better than others, but I just work through that. My thinking is you can always edit and polish later. 

What motivates you to keep writing?
The love of it. Sound ridiculous but it’s like breathing to me. Something I just have to do. I wrote four books that didn’t get published before this debut. My friends probably thought I was nuts. But I just had to keep going. It’s what I do.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write for the love of it - and write with passion. Don’t try to chase trends. That won’t work.
Don’t tell anyone about your new project too soon as even a raised eyebrow may throw you off.
Remember that “first drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written”. Write in forward gear, rather than worrying about making each chapter perfect before you move on. You can polish and edit later.

Who is your favourite author and why?
I can’t bear it! How can I possibly pick just one?! If you sat with me in a restaurant and saw how difficult I find it to even order a meal, you would understand. I love Donna Tartt, Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell, Anne Tyler, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot…. If you absolutely twist my arm up my back I would say my favourite book is the Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. My heart broke for the main character Maggie Tulliver who was headstrong but so endearing. All she wanted was to be loved.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Probably Celine Dion’s “Goodbye’s (the saddest word)” but it might need to be instrumental only for the opening credits….lyrics for the closing credits. Otherwise we’d be sitting in one big puddle of tears before the film even began and that wouldn’t do at all.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
Help. I love all the characters so this is tough! OK – Eleanor is probably my favourite but I just can’t decide who should play her. I’d definitely cast Jennifer Lawrence as Melissa but if I’m allowed to mention also that I have a massive soft spot for Max, I’d like Eric Bana to play him, please! Sorry. I’m really rubbish at playing “favourites” aren’t I? (Middle child.)

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the book.
Thank you too. It’s been lovely to be here.
Teresa Driscoll

Click here to read our review of Recipes for Melissa.
Book Angel

About The Author

Teresa Driscoll
Teresa Driscoll is a journalist and author with 25 years' experience across newspapers, magazines and television. After training as a newspaper reporter, she joined Thames TV for five years before 15 years as the anchor of the BBC's south west regional TV news programme Spotlight.
Teresa's debut novel RECIPES FOR MELISSA was auctioned at the Frankfurt book fair between seven German publishers and has since sold in six languages. As well as the UK and Germany, it will be published in Brazil, Israel, the Czech Republic and Korea.
Teresa blogs regularly about her "writing life" at her website - She lives in glorious Devon with her husband and two sons

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