Monday, 24 February 2014

Meet Katie Oliver - author of Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability & Mansfield Lark

Well, when I say meet, I don't really mean meet, as I haven't interviewed Katie. That said, since I devoured Prada and Prejudice in 3 days, whilst working and caring for baby Antonia, and as I am duplicating that exercise with Love and Liability, the second in Katie's Dating Mr Darcy series,  I couldn't just publish her excerpt from her second book, released this month, without any introduction.

And since we're here and before we share the fab excerpt with you, here's a wee bit about Katie from the lady herself:-
I entered the world in the usual way at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. I grew up, got married, and I’ve lived in Northern Virginia ever since.
In high school I read Henry James and Edgar Allen Poe, and fell in love with wordy prose and morbid subject matter.  I listened to The Cure a lot, too. I eventually abandoned Henry and Edgar for stacks of Harlequin and Regency romances.  
In those days, romance heroines were either (1) nurses or (2) governesses. They were slender and beautiful and fell in love with the mysterious master of a crumbling estate, or a French race car driver with a tragic past. I mean, seriously – who knows a French race car driver or the mysterious master of a crumbling estate?  Not me.
Still, it’s always fun to imagine. And in the end, isn’t that what writing – and reading good books - is all about?

Now, I will be publishing my review of Prada and Prejudice on the blog later this week, but can I just say, if you're not an Austen fan (and I'm not particularly) don't let that put you off. I have termed it Bridget Jones meets Shopaholic, but with a soup├žon of something a bit special.
For now feast your eyes on Katie's excerpt. Buy links are at the end of the excerpt. Right now, it's time for me to get back to Love and Liability, as baby Antonia is actually sleeping this evening - hurrah!

“Holly, you’re late.”
Honestly, if I had a fiver for every time my boss Sasha said that to me…I could quit this crap job at BritTEEN magazine and do something useful – like write about important things, instead of coming up with 150 words about the latest shade of sparkly nail polish, or figuring out how to stretch a 10-minute Q&A session with the hot new boy band into an interview when they only properly answered two bloody questions.
I know I should be glad to be a junior (very junior) features writer at a top UK teen magazine.  And I am.  Mostly.  But what no one told me is how low the pay is, or how long the hours are.  Or how much of a Mussolini in Manolos my boss, Sasha Davis, would be…
Today, for instance, Sasha’s assigned me to interview a solicitor.  A solicitor!  I ask you – what teenage girl wants to read about torts and habeas corpus?  And while it’s true that Henry Barrington might stand for a Member of Parliament very soon, with a name like ‘Henry Barrington,’ he’s bound to be (1) boring and (2) ancient.  He probably wears a regimental tie and has halitosis and wonky teeth.  How am I to write an interview of interest to the average teenage girl with a subject like that?
So off I go to grab lunch before I head out to interview Mr. Regimental Tie.  And I notice the homeless girl again.  I saw her this morning, sleeping on a bench on Shaftesbury Avenue.  I study her more closely.  She’s got dark, sticky-up hair that looks like she cut it herself, and her only possession is the rucksack her head rests on.  She looks about seventeen.
I find myself wondering what it’s like to be homeless.  Who is she?  Does she have enough to eat? Who are her family? Does she have a family?
But I haven’t time to ponder the question; I’ve an interview to conduct.  I flag down a taxi and head to Canary Wharf to pose the “One Outrageous Question” to Mr. Barrington.  Each month I ask a teen celeb (or in this case, a boring solicitor) a cheeky question - and hope that I don’t get thrown out on my arse once I ask it.
I arrive (good thing I can expense the taxi ride, it cost me my last ten quid) and wait in the lobby of Mr. Barrington’s law office.  It’s posh, with lots of potted plants and mahogany wainscoting and plush Oriental rugs – but its very posh-ness makes me nervous, and I can’t wait until this interview is over.
I gather my things and follow the secretary’s directions to Mr. Barrington’s office.  At the end of a carpeted hallway I stop before a closed door…his closed door.
How tedious he’ll be, I think crossly as I lift my hand and knock. How utterly, mind-numbingly…
As the door swings open, I gape at Henry Barrington.  He isn’t remotely old, and his teeth are perfect.  He really is…breathtaking.  There’s no other word for it.  He’s so breathtaking, in fact, with his dark hair and polite half-smile, that I can scarcely form a coherent sentence.
As he clasps my hand in a brief, firm handshake, I suddenly remember the One Outrageous Question Sasha gave me.  I glance down at the question and groan.  Oh, God - how will I ever ask him that?
“Please, come in.”  He indicates a pair of chairs angled in front of his desk.  It’s a massive and vaguely intimidating desk, covered in papers and pens and half-empty cups of tea.  I choose one of the chairs and sit down, resisting the urge to turn round and flee out the door.
“My secretary said you wished to interview me.”  He sits down behind the desk and leans back in his chair.  “For a teen magazine.”
It’s plain from his quizzical expression and the slight lift to his brow that he equates teen magazines with tabloids.  Or porn.  Or both.
I nod. “I’d like to profile you for a short article in BritTEEN.”
“Only a short one?  So I’m not exciting enough to merit a full-length article?”
“No,” I say.  I meet his semi-amused gaze.  “I mean, yes.”  Flustered, I clear my throat. “May we begin?”
He leans forward.  “Please do, Ms-?”
“James,” I somehow manage to say.  “Holly James.”
I launch into my questions.  They’re good ones, too, even if I only came up with them in the back seat of the taxi on the way over.
Everything is fine until I get to the One Outrageous Question, when it all goes a bit pear-shaped. Henry is affronted and roundly scolds me – scolds me! – for writing dreck.  Then he suggests I find a better job.  Then he chucks me out of his office.
Now that Henry Barrington has gone all Mr-Darcy-in-high-boots-and-hauteur on me, I understand completely why Elizabeth Bennet initially wanted to push Darcy into the path of the nearest fast-moving phaeton.
“Thank you so much for your advice, Mr. Barrington,” I return with as much hauteur as I can muster on my way out, “but I have to get back to writing dreck now.  Goodbye.”
But my dramatic exit – spoiled when I drop my handbag and spill its contents all over his floor – is rendered an exercise in mortification instead when pens, Tampons, semi-squashed packets of HobNobs, and a raspberry-flavored condom (don’t ask) land at his well-shod feet.
Is it possible to die of embarrassment?  I’m about to find out…

You can buy Prada and Prejudice via the following methods:-
Amazon UK:
And here are the links for Love and Liability:-

See you during the week for my review - it's a 5 star by the way, so don't miss it! 

1 comment:

  1. Utterly brilliant titles!!! Bet the great J A would have laughed!!