January 2014


Katie Oliver’s debut novel Prada and Prejudice was released this month. She loves romantic comedies and all things British and lives outside Washington DC with her husband.

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  1. 1. What inspired you to write Prada and Prejudice?

    When I set out to write my book, two things struck me: (1) the economy was in a tailspin and (2) Gordon Ramsay was very popular. Somehow those two ideas came together and became Prada and Prejudice, the story of Natalie Dashwood and Rhys Gordon, and his efforts to save Dashwood and James department store.

  2. 2. What is it about Natalie that will appeal to readers?

    I think the fact that she acts first and thinks second is something a lot of us can relate to. She means well, even if she’s a tiny bit spoiled (a fact which Rhys frequently points out to her). She’s loyal to those she loves and she has a very big heart.

  3. 3. If you worked in a department store, which section would you most like to be in?

    Good question, that ... probably handbags! Like Natalie, I love a nice handbag (there’s a gorgeous Dooney & Bourke one I have my eye on right now...)

  4. 4. How did your book deal come about?

    My book (actually the second book, Love and Liability) was shopped to every publisher in New York and they turned their collective noses up at it. ‘Chick lit is dead,’ they said, ‘American women don’t want to read about London/British characters/a non-American protagonist,’ or they said ‘we like it...but we don’t love it.’ So my agent teamed with a UK agent, and the books (all three of them) landed on the desk of Helen Williams, an editor at Carina UK/Harlequin in London. She LOVED the books and wanted to buy all three. So, I like the British, you see.

  5. 5. How has the advent of ebooks made it easier for aspiring authors to get published?

    I think it’s made it both easier and harder. While ebooks have opened up lots of new avenues for writers (e-publishers, self-publishing), I think the resultant glut on the ebook market has made readers more selective in their buying habits. With the cost of ebooks – even those from major authors and publishers - coming down, I don’t think self-pubbed books have the same appeal they once did. Although there are many very good self-published books, some are poorly-executed, filled with typos or plots that make no sense; I know, because I’ve read a few myself. The sad truth is, if the average person buys a book and it’s poorly written or hasn’t been proofread, they won’t buy from that author again. It behooves self-published writers in particular to take pride in their work and make it the very best it can be before putting their name on the cover and throwing it out into the world.

  6. 6. How important is humour to your writing?

    It’s very important! I love to laugh, and I like to make my readers laugh, as well. I didn’t set out to write a humorous book; but with Natalie as my protagonist, the funny stuff just seemed to follow. I’ve always been a fan of screwball comedies and the Jeeves and Wooster books, so perhaps that’s where the humour comes from. There’s so much seriousness in our everyday lives, I think comedy provides a nice respite.

  7. 7. What can we expect from your next two books, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark?

    More laughs, I hope; and more page-turning excitement. Love and Liability tells the story of Holly James, Alastair James’s oldest daughter, who works at BritTEEN magazine. She becomes embroiled in danger when she tries to help Zoe, a teenage homeless girl. Holly meets Alex Barrington, a handsome, up-and-coming Member of Parliament. As their relationship heats up, trouble follows when Erik, a human trafficker who’s looking for Zoe, targets Holly as his means to find her... Mansfield Lark is my favorite of the three books. Dominic Heath, the temperamental rock star in Prada and Prejudice, is asked by his mother to return home after an eleven-year absence. The family’s ancestral home, Mansfield Hall, has fallen into disrepair. Without Dominic’s financial help, they may very well lose it - forever. Dominic and Gemma return to Warwickshire, where he’s to star in a new reality TV show, The Only Way is Dominic. Will his efforts save Mansfield Hall? Can he patch things up with his irascible father who hasn’t spoken to him in nearly twelve years? And can he escape the wily clutches of Bibi Matchington-Alcester, who’s determined to trap him into matrimony?

  8. 8. Why have you gone for a Jane Austen connection with your books?

    Well, although the books are only very loosely based on Austen, we chose the titles to tie the books together, since they feature some of the same characters, yet they’re not quite a series. I think my books reflect a similar focus with the mores and habits of everyday people going about their everyday lives, much as Jane’s did.

  9. 9. What has been the best lesson you’ve learnt so far about writing/publishing?

    That it’s a LOT of work; that it doesn’t happen overnight; and mostly, that there’s a lot of revision that goes into a book before it’s published. The unsung heroes in the publishing world are definitely the editors! And I’m lucky in that I’ve got fantastic editors with Helen Williams and Lucy Gilmour at Carina UK.

  10. 10. What is the average day like for Katie Oliver?

    I’m still working a full-time day job, so it starts very early, before 5 AM. I get dressed, slap on some makeup, feed and walk the dog, kiss my husband goodbye, and then I have a window of about 40 minutes to tweet, reply to emails, post to Facebook, etc. before I head off to work. When I get home, I walk the dog again (Duke, a terrier who loves to have his belly rubbed), and either fix dinner, or my husband and I go out. Oh – and Duke likes to go along as well – he loves to ride in the car. If I have revisions or copy edits to review, I do those in the evening, or during my lunch break, or on the weekend. I try to fit in exercise most days, watch General Hospital (I’m a long-time fan), take a shower, and go to bed. I read, catch up on some more tweets, and pass out, usually before 10PM. Pathetic, isn’t it?

  11. 11. What is your favourite rom-com movie?

    Love Actually, no question. I love the intertwining stories, the drama – I still cry when Emma Thompson gets that damned CD from Alan Rickman for Christmas – and the humour. It’s a film I never tire of.

  12. 12. If you could invite five people to dinner – alive, dead or fictional – who would you choose?

    George Sand – she was an original who was ahead of her time, and she was a writer; Thomas Jefferson – he invented the first ‘copier’ and brought ice-cream to the states; Peter Cook – he was a hilarious, clever, intelligent actor and a brilliant raconteur; John Lennon – he was a clever, peace-loving, and often misunderstood man; Diana Rigg – she’s an amazing actress. I wanted to BE Emma Peel. I still do.

  13. 13. Which upcoming book are you most looking forward to reading this year?

    Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks.

  14. 14. What do you hope 2014 brings for you?

    I hope it brings a measure of peace; a measure of publishing success after several years of hard work; and the ability to quit my day job and write full time.

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