October, 2007


The first book in Olivia Ryan's Tales From series, Tales from a Hen Weekend, is out now. From Essex in England, Olivia herself married young, admitting her hen party wasn't a big affair. She has three daughters. (Since the interview, it has been revealed that this is the pen-name of author Sheila Norton.)

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  1. What chick lit book first got you hooked?

    Like so many readers, it was probably Bridget Jones's Diary - it was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to write myself - funny, witty and above all, told in a very personal way.

  2. What is your favourite chick lit book?

    I think I enjoyed Marian Keyes' The Other Side of the Story most, because the story was about the publishing world - two authors and their literary agent - and by the time I read it I was a published author myself so I could really identify with the two authors and the various crises of confidence they were going through!

  3. Who is your favourite chick lit heroine?

    Maddy Goodchild in Sheila Norton's The Travel Bug. Unlike many chick lit heroines, she's by no means perfect! She's pushing 40, unfit, smokes, drinks and is having an affair with a married man! But as the story progresses we find out that she's not really such a 'bad girl' as she thinks she is.

  4. What does chick lit mean to you?

    Normally written by women for women, it's essentially easy reading (which isn't to say it's easy to write!) - usually humorous, although often with great underlying emotional depth. It always deals with real-life relationship issues and is written in a personal, conversational style.

  5. Tell us about Tales From a Hen Weekend.

    It's the story of a group of friends and relatives who go to Dublin for the heroine's hen weekend. Over the course of the weekend, the atmosphere of intimacy and the alcohol consumption lead to various secrets and confessions being aired by various members of the group, causing Katie (the bride-to-be) considerable anxiety - especially as we eventually learn that she's been keeping a pretty big secret herself!

  6. What was the inspiration behind your character of Katie Halliday?

    During the story, everyone around Katie seems to be falling apart - so, to provide a contrast, I made Katie an easy-going, attractive, popular girl who (until you scratch the surface) seems to have everything going for her. I suppose my inspiration was just that I have known lots of girls like this myself - the ones who didn't seem to have to try, they just fitted in and made friends and boyfriends without all the angst and agony that others of us had to go through! I suspect that underneath it all, like Katie, they did actually have their own problems and insecurities.

  7. What is the craziest thing you've heard has happened at a hen party?

    One bridesmaid I know (no names!) admitted to doing combat rolls along the hotel corridor with the bride-to-be, having returned very late after all the other guests were asleep and somehow (?!) setting off the fire alarm, waking everyone up in the early hours of the morning. They weren't popular!

  8. Tell us more about your planned Tales From series.

    Tales From A Hen Weekend is the first in a series of books which will explore the key defining moments of a woman's life. The second book in the series, Tales From A Wedding Day, will be published in 2008. The stories and characters are completely different, but the similarity is that they both reveal stories about the various characters during the course of the book. The style is also similar: conversational and humorous.

  9. What are you working on now?

    The next in the Tales From series - but I'm only at the planning stage so there's nothing to tell you just yet!

  10. What are you reading now?

    Blowing It, by Judy Astley - a very funny story about 'ageing hippy' parents of more sensible children!

  11. What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

    Getting published! Having a novel published is what I've always wanted to do - but so many other people have the same ambition. The writing was the easy part. Persuading someone to invest their confidence in me as a business proposition was more of a struggle. But Piatkus have been so supportive and encouraging - they're great publishers to be with.

  12. What book do you wish you had written?

    Chocolat by Joanne Harris. When I read it I thought: 'Wow! That is so different!' It must be great to have written a book that makes people feel like that.

  13. What are your writing goals?

    To produce a bestseller of course! Or at the very least, to be able to carry on writing, hopefully producing at least one book a year, for as long as I can think, type and sit upright at the computer! Creating characters and telling their stories is the most fantastic fun and I'd continue even if I never earned any more money from it.

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