May 2011


The Hating Game author Talli Roland also wrote the 24 Hours travel guides under the name Marsha Moore. She lives in London and has three loves in her life: chocolate, coffee and rom-coms. Her second novel Watching Willow Watts is out later this year. (Interview by Shirley Benton-Bailey)

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  1. 1. Tell us about The Hating Game.

    The Hating Game features Mattie Johns, a man-eating woman who decides to go on a dating game show to win the prize money she desperately needs to save her recruitment business. She thinks she’ll sail through the show no problem … but little does she know the male contestants aren’t just anonymous strangers, they’re her very unhappy exes. Add in an ambitious executive producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end, and you have the recipe for lots of on- and off-screen drama!

  2. 2. Where did you get the inspiration for the book?

    I love reality shows – they’re kind of like a modern-day Coliseum – so I already had plenty of ‘research’ under my belt. I knew I wanted to write a novel featuring the phenomenon of reality TV, but the show in my book had to be something different than what was out there. I conducted more research (yay!), and finally the idea of having my main character date her way through her exes came to mind. It had such great possibilities for conflict as well as character growth. Originally, I wanted to call it The Ex Factor (in homage to the lovely Simon Cowell) but sadly that title had been taken. I’m really happy with the title we did come up with, though; I love that it plays off The Dating Game.

  3. 3. How long did it take you to write The Hating Game?

    I wrote the first draft quite quickly, in about six weeks. The second draft was where the hard work began for me, because I needed to take what I’d written and shape it into a credible story where the characters grow and develop. That took about a month, and then I did a few other drafts to smooth it out and polish it up. All in all, it was about three months.

  4. 4. Can you describe your path to publication?

    I’ve always enjoyed writing – it was the reason I trained as a journalist – and I’d thought about trying to get a novel published, but it wasn’t until my 30s that I seriously started writing fiction. Over the next couple years, I wrote four novels and learnt a lot! When the opportunity came to publish non-fiction travel guides, I jumped. Even though non-fiction wasn’t really what I wanted to do, I knew it could teach me a lot about the publishing process and maybe even help me get a foot in the door for my fiction. And it did! Prospera Publishing – the same company that publishes my non-fiction – published The Hating Game and will also publish Watching Willow Watts, due out in November.

  5. 5. Was being a writer always your ambition?

    It’s funny, because even though I love writing fiction, I never thought of it as a job. I started off as a journalist – which I guess is the closest you can get to writing as an occupation – then went into public relations, then teaching, then … and the list goes on. Finally, after exhausting many occupations, I decided to really have a go as a writer.

  6. 6. Which comes first for you – characters or plot?

    Definitely plot. I really enjoy fun, quirky plots and once I know the situation, I can think of the type of character who would find that scenario difficult. I love a good conflict!

  7. 7. Who are your favourite chick-lit writers, and do you feel that any writers in particular influenced you?

    I’m a big fan of chick lit, and I started off reading Sophie Kinsella. Chick lit is what I’ve always enjoyed reading the most – particularly books with strong female protagonists. I think the trend is leaning more towards that type of woman and less towards cupcakes and high heels. And – as much as I love cupcakes and high heels – I think that’s a great thing.

  8. 8. Can you describe a typical working day for you now?

    I’m usually at my desk by seven or seven-thirty, and I work through until lunch. In the afternoon, I spend my time blogging, emailing and doing any promotional catch-up. The evenings are my down-time and I like to chill out with one (or, ahem, several) glasses of wine.

  9. 9. What have you found to be the best and the worst things about being a writer?

    One thing is both the best and the worst: being your own boss. On the plus side, it’s fantastic, because you only have yourself to answer to! On the negative side … it’s all down to you. If you don’t meet that deadline, you have only yourself (and wine?) to blame.

  10. 10. How do you see the publishing industry evolving over the next five years?

    I wish I knew! It’s shifting so quickly these days, but I think the changes are positive. Ebooks and the ability to self-publish give writers many more options now than in the past. I think the ebook market will continue to grow each year. It won’t mean the death of print but it will mean a lot of new opportunities. It’s an exciting time to be in publishing!

  11. 11. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

    It sounds like a giant cliche but don’t stop writing. Seek help and advice from other writers, go to workshops and conferences if you can, but just keep writing! It’s the only way to improve. And a good glass of wine at the end of the day makes everything right again!

  12. 12. What are you working on now?

    Right now, I’m working on revisions to Watching Willow Watts, my next novel (paperback due out in November; ebook a few months before). It’s the story of a small-town girl who is catapulted to stardom when a YouTube video of her one-off Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits. Instantly, Willow’s small English village is overrun with fans flocking to see the ‘new Marilyn’. Egged on by the villagers — whose shops and businesses are cashing in — Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn’s legendary curves. But when the only man she’s ever loved returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village’s newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

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