Thursday 6 October 2011

The story behind the story...

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a completed manuscript right now!

I did say completed - but I don’t mean finished - as Reaching for the Stars has now been sent to my lovely editor Kit Domino for a story edit and, after revisions, it will go back to her for a copy edit before it is launched upon the world. This novel has been a labour of love and to write ‘The End’ was a major moment for me I can tell you!

I’ve been working on this novel whilst at the same time working on many other projects over the past few years, and this manuscript has been put on the back burner more times than I can count. So much so, that at one point, I never thought it would ever see the light of day. So I thought I’d share my writer’s journey with you to this point and hope you will celebrate with me in a couple of months time (mid-December launch date still to be announced) when Reaching for the Stars will be available on an e-reader near you!

This novel started off as an idea sparked by my fascination for the rock stars of the culinary world - celebrity chefs - and everything chef related. I also have an insatiable appetite for TV cookery shows, from Hell’s Kitchen to Ready Steady Cook and everything in between.

So before I wrote a single word of this novel, I immersed myself in watching chef TV and reading chef biographies to find what drives a three starred kitchen and then I went on to interview some pretty hot chefs in person, both male and female, for research purposes.

Fabulous freelance chef Cathro Brook, who has travelled all over the world cooking for VIP’s and celebrities, told me the most amazing stories, from gundogs getting onto the shooting party luncheon table to her oven gloves catching fire during a diplomatic dinner. I don’t have a photo of the lovely Cathro - so if you are reading this Chef Brook please send me one!

Top chef Colin Masson shared his afternoon coffee breaks with me on several occasions, and told me lots of wonderful anecdotes about chefs, restaurants, and kitchens, giving me lots of ideas for my novel in progress.

Top Chef Colin Masson and Janice Horton

Chef Ian McAndrew, who has a gastronomic CV and cookbook backlist to make other chefs weep, was the youngest UK chef ever to have held a Michelin star. As the stars being ‘reached for’ in my book Reaching for the Stars are loosely based on the Michelin stars (I call them Golden Stars) Ian generously invited me to his the hotel to answer my research questions. He and his sous and commis also demonstrated what it takes to run an award winning kitchen in one of Scotland’s best romantic and award winning hotels, the Blackaddie Hotel, Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway.

Award winning Chef Ian McAndrew

Interestingly, on the same day I visited the Blackaddie Hotel, I had an camera crew in tow, who were filming my novel research techniques for a ITV news feature and the resulting short film can be seen here:

Just before completing the manuscript for Reaching for the Stars, I commissioned the cover from professional designer JT Lindroos, whom I can recommend highly as he is so fantastic to work with. I already had the cover picture in mind, but JT proposed many and varied options on my theme before we fine tuned the final cover. These are some of the first stage design ideas followed by the finished version:

So that’s all my exciting news for now - more on Reaching for the Stars soon - with an update on a launch date and more details about the storyline including an extract!

UPDATE: Please do pop over to Lady Mandy Baggot’s blog where I'm currently a guest on her Author Meet & Greet page! 

Oh, you may have noticed that I had to move my Blog Followers Box down a bit, but it is still there - and I'd LOVE you to follow this blog officially if you haven't already done so - and of course if you too have a blog that I don't know about yet, I'll be sure to Follow you back.

Love, Janice xx