Author Lisa Heidke has just released her fifth book, It Started With A Kiss, published by Allen and Unwin. She is running library talks across Sydney and the South Coast all this month and will also be facilitating a workshop at the Sydney Writers Centre on Popular Women’s Fiction. We were lucky to nab sometime with her during her busy schedule.
(ES) Tell us a bit about your protagonist Friday Jones in It Started With A Kiss. And can I just add, what an awesome name.
(LH) I like her name too! Friday is a married naturopath with two teenage daughters, living on Sydney’s Northern beaches. Her seemingly idyllic life is thrown into disarray when her husband, Liam walks out ‘to find himself’. Her self esteem at an all time low, Friday spirals further when a handsome goat farmer pays her attention and she has an ill fated fling with him. That’s when Friday’s best friend, Rosie, steps in and signs Friday up to an internet dating site, KissMeCupid.com – unbeknownst to Friday. The major part of the novel is set on the Northern Beaches, with trips to the inner west, Kings Cross and Kiama.
(ES) The book goes into the world of online dating which is interesting because there will be readers who are well-versed in the online dating world and those who have never been on it before. Did you have that in mind?
(LH) I guess I did have it in mind because while Rosie is an old hand at internet dating, Friday has never had anything to do with it. Therefore readers discover the pros and cons of internet dating at the same time as Friday does, when she emails them and meets up for coffee, dinner and so on.
(ES) What was the most surprising thing you learnt about online dating during your research?
(LH) That there are quite a few people who lie! They lie about their appearance, height, weight, profession, interests, etc. I find it amazing that people can post photos of themselves looking ten years younger with a full head of hair – and not be concerned that when they actually meet their dream date in real life, their appearance is nothing like what was promised in the photo.
(ES) Your known for your humour, does It Started With A Kiss have its funny parts?
(LH) I hope so! I would say there’s a fair amount of situational humour, from the disastrous internet hook-ups to the divorce party shenanigans which Friday is dragged into. There’s the everyday humour that comes from living with two teenage girls who have their own set of dramas and angst. Never a dull moment.
(ES) Female friendships also play a big role in your writing. How does writing about friendship compare with writing about love interests?
(LH) I really enjoy writing about both types of relationships. I loved writing about Friday’s friendship with Rosie. They both have frustrations and aspects of their personality that niggle the other and I enjoyed showing that. I also really enjoyed creating the relationship between Friday and Olivia and Evie, as well as developing the sisterly bond and rivalry that Olivia and Evie have. As far as love interests go, there was a fair bit of that in the book, too, so I feel there was a good balance between the two.
(ES) On top of being so prolific with your writing you also facilitate writing workshops and run library talks all across Sydney. Does the more “social” aspect of your career help the writing?
(LH) To be honest I would rather be at my computer, writing. I enjoy talking at libraries and doing the workshops but I get terrible stage fright and become quite anxious. After the first ten minutes, I am usually fine but the nervousness stays. As far as the ‘social’ aspect helping with my writing, any social interaction is an opportunity for me to create new characters, take in a setting, listen to voices and play around with scenarios in my head – which is sometimes why, when I’m talking to someone, I’ll stop mid-sentence and start chatting with the imaginary characters in my head, instead.
(ES) What do you hope readers take away from It Started With A Kiss?
(LH) Friday is on a journey of personal awakening and discovery. At the beginning of the novel, she is completely lost and somewhat naive. I hope that by the story’s end, Friday has matured and grown as a person. I write hopeful endings, so for me, I hope readers will join Friday on her rocky road re internet dating mishaps, troubles with her teenagers and dramas with her ex-husband, and see that even though the future won’t be perfect – because no one’s is – we can’t predict what lies ahead, it is at least optimistic. (ES)
Popular Women’s Fiction Workshop with Lisa Heidke, Feb 7-8, Sydney Writers Centre, 55 Lavendar St, Milsons Point, $395.
It Started With A Kiss available instore and online