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


Niamh Clune said...

Always interesting to hear the story behind the story...Thank You for an enjoyable, interesting read!

Melanie said...

Interesting post. I watched your ITV video a while ago. I found it fascinating. So glad everyone was cooperative and let you visit their "inner sanctums" of the hotel/restaurant industry.

Well done you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Well done you on bagging that interview. And great post too. Always fascinating hear the back story to any novel. Am sure you'll be dining out on this for years to come.
Hope you're working up the fourth book already!

Jane Richardson said...

LOVE the idea of this book! It's got all the 'ingredients' (I know - sorry!)I love, and can't wait to read it. Will be salivating with my bib tucked in - good luck!
Will have to check your other works in the meantine!

Jane x
(Scot in SE England!)

Chris Longmuir said...

Great post and I loved the way you let us into the progress of deciding the cover. The end result really is eycatching

Mary Smith said...

Great to know the story behind the story, Janice and congratulations on being able to type The End on your ms. Hope it will be available soon.

Sarah Tokeley said...

Thanks for sharing - and wonderful news that you've completed the book :-)

Janice said...

Niamh - thanks for popping over - it's lovely to 'see' you here.

Melanie - yes, it was facinating to see behind the scenes in a top restaurant. I'm now officially addicted to research that involves being immersed in the world of my chracters!

Janice said...

Hi Kit - I hope you are right about that pun lol!

I have a strong idea for book #4 and I have both main characters fully formed in my head - nothing written down yet though. However, true to form, while I've been writing 'Reaching for the Stars' I've been researching the new one - by working part time as a legal secretary - because you see, my new heroine is a lawyer!

Janice said...

Hi Jane - lovely to meet you on Twitter and chat to you here in blog land - thanks for your kind words and the pun made me laugh - lol!

Hi Chris - yes, it was an interesting process to yet the cover right and to explore all the options - I'm really pleased with the result.

Janice said...

Hi Mary & Sarah - lovely to see you here and thanks for your comments - yes, it was a fantastic feeling to complete this story. I celebrated by opening a nice bottle of wine!

Angela Barton said...

I left a message but it didn't appear, so if you get 2, it's just me!!

Very well done for completing your latest novel. You are a star!

Don't forget to book a follow-up interview when your book is published! : )

Love Ange xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thought I'd already commented, but obviously not! Really enjoyed reading about your journey to this point, Janice. Looking forward to reading Reach for the Stars.

Joan Fleming said...

Janice, I left a message here yesterday, but it's disappeared into the ether. Congratulations on finishing RFTS! Interesting back story - looking forward to reading it.

Janice said...

Hi Ange and Rosemary & Joan - thank you so much for your kind comments and for popping back to leave them. I've had blogger problems too over the past few days - so very frustrating!

Janice xxx

K. Rosenberg said...

Congratulations Janice! Getting a draft finished is always such a huge accomplishment! I loved the TV interview as well. :-)

Patsy said...

Congratulations on reaching the end of the manuscript. The book sounds intriguing and the cover looks great, so I'm sure it will do well.

Janice said...

Ange - I tried and tried to leave a comment on your blog and Blogger wouldn't let me! Sorry

Janice said...

Hi Kenneth - thanks for popping in (and from Vienna no less!)and for your kind comment. I finally managed to leave a comment on your blog this week re your trip photos but it came up as 'anonymous'!

Janice said...

Hi Patsy - thanks for he lovely comment and the Follow - I loved your blog and the intro to other Friendly bloggers!

Janice x

Talli Roland said...

Fantastic, Janice! It's always fascinating to hear the story behind the story. Thank you for sharing. I love how your two covers tie in.

Sara Bain said...

you'll cook up a storm in December! Well done on completing another chapter in the life of your third novel. Here's to the next.

Sheryl Browne said...

Just finished Bagpipes & Bullshot! The research behind that was obviously extensive and spot on. Loved it. Reaching for the Stars should be excellent. Well done you!

JO said...

Interesting - to see how you built the story from an idea! Thanks.

Janice said...

Hi Talli - thank you for your lovely comment - always appreciated!

Sara - how fab to 'see' you in the blogosphere! Thanks for popping by and for your kind comment.

Sheryl - Thank you! I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed Bagpipes & Bullshot! I do find that extensive research before starting to write can give plot ideas you may not have been able to consider without the 'insider' information.

Jo - so lovely to meet you - and thanks for the Follow which I have reciprocated to discover your wonderful blog!.

Janice x