Lisa Joy found the timing was just right for her stories about the food industry.
Anna Wintour once said, ‘It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.’ She was obviously referring to fashion, but I believe the same goes for fiction and for food trends.
Food and restaurants occupy a large space in my life and have done on and off for a number of years. But I had never thought to write about this world until about eighteen months ago. For me it was just a job but all over the world the fascination with food and documenting it had seriously hit its stride.
It took a mentor of mine; author Fiona McIntosh, to help me see that I was already in possession of a goldmine of material about this very on-trend industry. And so Yes, Chef! was born.
Right from the start I knew my antagonist would be a vain and egotistical celebrity chef. Chefs have never had a higher profile than they do now and not all of them accept the compliment with humility. There’s a scene towards the end of Yes, Chef! where our heroine Becca Stone and her friends wonder how on earth chefs became the new rock stars and more importantly when their reign would end. Now, I don’t have anything against celebrity chefs. There are a number of high-profile chefs doing wonderful things to educate us about food, like Jamie Oliver for example. Let’s face it, with the consumption of take-away and ready meals on a seemingly inexorable rise, we could all do with a little inspiration to get in to the kitchen more often. The issue Becca and her friends have is with the kind of chef that bullies others to get what he wants and tries to pass it off as charm just because he happens to be on TV, which sums up their boss chef Damien Malone.
When I first submitted Yes, Chef! to Penguin I sent it to the wonderful editor Ali Watts. She came back to me within the hour saying that she was absolutely my target market as she had watched every cooking show ever made. I couldn’t believe my luck, but I knew a good idea didn’t guarantee me a publishing contract. So I waited. One month later Ali replied saying she loved my manuscript and that I should expect a call from editor Carol George from Penguin’s imprint Destiny Romance as they had just begun publishing chick-lit alongside their romance titles. I couldn’t help but feel good timing at work, but I was blown away when Carol rang me and confessed she had been waiting for at least two years for someone to write a foodie-romance.
Time passed very quickly after I accepted a contract with Destiny. Carol wanted to release Yes, Chef! in mid-July amidst the hype of cooking shows such as MasterChef AU. However, this meant completing the remaining structural edits in addition to the copy edits and proof reads within roughly two months. As a debut author I had no idea how much work this involved but I trusted my editor and was determined to rise to the challenge. It was such a thrilling time for me because the deadline gave me real momentum. The beauty of an ebook is that the turnaround between contract and publication can be this fast as opposed to print which takes much longer.
Needless to say, time flew and since the book’s release I’ve been kept busy promoting it, which is wonderful and I wouldn’t want it any other way. When time does start to slow down a little for me, I’m very keen to get stuck into my next novel. I’ve had such overwhelmingly positive feedback from the food references in Yes, Chef! that I want to explore this theme further. So, if the timing is right, I hope to be chatting with you this time next year about my new foodie adventure romance.
Inspired by real-life adventures, this deliciously funny and romantic story reveals a tantalising glimpse of the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn’t all that goes on in the kitchen. Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations in one of London’s most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef, Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality. Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centred wife. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realise that she may have thrown away exactly what she’s been looking for all along.
Lisa Joy began writing stories in her teenage years but decided she needed to get her heart broken and live in another country before pursuing a career as a novelist. Born in Sydney, she spent most of her childhood wearing pink tights and leotards at ballet class. At age 21, deciding she wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, she left her safe and somewhat predictable existence behind and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer’s PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business. Having fallen head over heels in love with London, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen, Lisa stayed put for about seven years, until finally, family called and she returned to Australia. Her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh. She now lives in the picturesque Dandenong ranges outside Melbourne on a vegetable farm with her fiancé and four chooks. And yes, she is PA to a celebrated chef.