My Name is Dhivya Balaji and I am a book blogger and reviewer with Readers Muse. I am participating in the tour organised by iRead book tours and am reviewing your book ‘Lola’s Money’. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions that I have for you.
I’m really pleased that you enjoyed reading ‘Lola’s Money’. That’s the main thing every author wants to hear from readers. I hope the following answers to your questions are the kind of replies you’re looking for.
RM Note: Special thanks to the author for patiently answering the questions. I enjoyed reading these as much as reading the book!
Q. Usually people think winning the lottery is the ultimate luck. What prompted you to write a story that mentions the difficulties faced once the lottery is won? Is this based on some real events?
A. I had been sitting at my desk finishing my previous novel (April’s Man) and wondering if I would soon get an idea for another one. Before I closed my laptop for the night, I decided to check my Lottery ticket. That made me think about what it would be like to win the jackpot and the changes it would bring. The idea of starting a new story began to merge with thoughts of what it would be like to win a great deal of money – and ‘Lola’s Money’ was conceived. I have no personal experience of substantial monetary wins, unfortunately! I simply projected my thoughts into the practical changes a big win would bring and the attitudes other people would be likely to display, given the basic instincts inherent in human nature.
Q. What do you think is the most exciting part of actually winning a lottery?
A. All of a sudden you would have a great deal of freedom, including freedom from financial worries, and you would have the power to do anything you wanted to do, including helping others. It’s a ‘wish fulfilment’ dream come true. You would feel that Fate or Lady Luck had smiled on you, and that would be very pleasant and exciting in itself. If it happened to me, I think it would instantly make me feel enriched and empowered in every way. No other financial event could touch every corner of your life quite so overwhelmingly.
Q. Have you ever been on a cruise? If so, could you share any memorable anecdotes? (I really wanted to go on a cruise after reading this book!)
A. My husband and I went on a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary. We both enjoyed it very much. The friendliness and attentiveness of the Filipino staff (which I mention in the book) was something that stayed with us long after the cruise. When they served a course at the evening meal, they would always say, “Enjoy your soup!” or Enjoy your meal! ”. Alex and I still say that to each other now and again, when sitting down to a meal or when being served in a restaurant. Also, as soon as someone leaves their cabin on a cruise ship, the staff re-make the bed and tidy anything else that needs tidied. We used to joke that, on coming out of the ensuite bathroom, you almost expected to find the bed re-made!
Q. Which character is your favourite among all those you have created?
A. My favourite character in ‘Lola’s Money’ is Betty French, Lola’s mother. She is an honest, no-nonsense sort of person who puts herself out for her daughter without being pushy or interfering. She talks to her as an equal and tries to give her good advice when she feels it’s needed. I don’t have a daughter myself – I have three lovely sons – but I hope I have achieved the kind of good parenting balance that Betty achieved with Lola. In fact, I think Betty is my favourite character out of all those I have created, including those in my four previous novels.
Q. The title for the book is so direct that we could immediately understand what it was about. Was this intentional? Is there any specific reason behind choosing this title (and subsequently any significance behind the cover page?)
A. I had a bad experience with my first novel, which I originally called ‘Living a Lie’. I presumed titles came under copyright laws, as they always used to do, and that if my publisher accepted it, then no one had already used it. But when I went online to view my book after publication I was dismayed to discover that I had used the same title as one of Josephine Cox’s novels! Since then, I keep my titles very specific. I wanted to use a picture of a cruise ship sailing across open seas for the front cover of ‘Lola’s Money’, but liners are all individually named and belong to shipping companies, so I would have had to get permission from the company and also make sure that that particular ship cruises the areas covered in my book. I didn’t want to do that, so I browsed CreateSpace’s picture gallery and saw the champagne bottle picture. It fitted the bill perfectly. In conjunction with the title, it conveys the book’s theme very effectively.
Q. Do you have any literary inspiration? (A particular author whose works interest and influence you?)
A. I was first inspired to become a writer after reading Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. I liked everything about the book: the direct writing style, the characters and the story itself. I felt that the things Jane was passionate about were a reflection of what Charlotte herself was passionate about. It all came from the heart. In my teens, I read Evelyn Anthony’s books and enjoyed them very much, despite not being a politically-minded person myself. There was so much awareness of the human condition in them and also strong psychological profiles of wrongdoers and their motivations. My most recent enjoyment within my own genre of romantic fiction has been reading several of the novels of Nora Roberts, whom I admire very much.
Q. Could we expect any more books from you?
A. I am currently writing my sixth book. It’s entitled ‘Hazel’s Home’. It’s about a young Scottish woman who works for a large, international advertising agency. When Blake Hennessey, the boss (and owner) of the company, requests that she travel to New York to work on a project for an important new client, she flies off to Manhattan. As soon as Blake and Hazel meet, they fall for each other. Their relationship seems doomed, however, when they have a major argument that causes them to separate. Hazel has a great deal to learn – and to suffer – before she finally finds her true home. I am only about halfway through the first draft, so I don’t expect to complete the new book until well into next year.