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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I am so happy to share my interview with author Lisa Darcy about her life, her career, and her latest novel; Lily’s Little Flower Shop. I asked her about her writing process and the advice she has to inspire other writers.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Lily's Little Flower Shop, author interview, Lisa Darcy, The Table Read
Lisa Darcy, author of Lily’s Little Flower Shop

I was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, with many pets, rabbits, cats, dogs, goats, guinea pigs etc. I wanted to be a vet until I was 15, and fainted in biology class, when we had to dissect a frog. My parents suggested journalism might be a better fit.

I did study journalism at Queensland University but completely collapsed when I had to do mock news interviews reporting on deaths, accidents etc. I went to my local vet who I knew really well (due to all the animals we had) to interview her for an assignment and fainted.

After university, I moved to Sydney, NSW and fell into academic publishing as an Acquisitions Editor, and then went on to write for a couple of national magazines, Practical Parenting and Bride To Be. Often both magazines would feature stories about breasts. Mastitis in the morning and making the most of your fun bags in the afternoon!

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Like many writers, I grew up writing stories. My parents would each pay ten cents to listen to my stories at dinner. I was a huge Enid Blyton fan, so the early primary years featured goblins, pixies, and huge trees in the woods. Then I moved on to Richard Adams and Watership Down and my stories started to feature talking rabbits.

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When did you take a step to start writing?

When my third child was born in 2000, I quit my journalism job and focussed on writing fiction full time – in between taking care of three children under five.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The first complete manuscript I wrote was a 60,000 word romance that I thought would be a perfect fit for Mills & Boon. It was soundly rejected across several continents. The best rejection letter started with “Great first line, but all down hill from there.” Harsh!

I learnt a very valuable lesson from that experience. Don’t write what you think a publisher wants to publish or you think a reader might be interested in. Write what you want to write! Write about topics, experiences, ideas that you’d like to read. Once I trusted myself to write for me, I found my voice.

I got my first publishing contract in 2007 and my first novel, Lucy Springer Gets Even, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2009.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

My seventh and latest novel, Lily’s Little Flower Shop is a coastal romance, fish out of water story. I got the idea for it in 2015, and it was published by Bloodhound Books UK in May 2021. A very long journey.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Lily’s Little Flower Shop?

Whenever I would visit my dear friend, Louise at her own flower shop, she would tell me funny stories about her customers. The more we chatted, the more I thought what a great premise for a book it would make – a corporate city girl moving to a small coastal town to start a flower shop, and the massive learning curve that would entail. 

Lily's Little Flower Shop, author interview, Lisa Darcy, The Table Read
Lily’s Little Flower Shop, by Lisa Darcy

What were your biggest challenges with writing Lily’s Little Flower Shop?

Learning about all things flowers and floristry related! Louise was a huge help and I sat in her shop for many hours, listening to conversations and learning about different seasonal flowers, how bouquets, wreaths are created, stored etc. It was a huge learning curve for Lily and for me too.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Definitely Louise, as far as Lily owning a flower shop, and problems getting to grips with EFPOS machines and cold room thermostats. But then Lily took on her own personality and I was able to shift the focus entirely onto her and create all sorts romantic and small town community dramas.

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Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

My antagonist is a compilation of narrow minded and petty people I’ve had the misfortune to meet at times. Obviously, as it’s fiction, these characteristics are embellished, but they’re certainly inspired by those people who love to create dramas where there are none. I’m sure your readers have met people like that.

What is the inciting incident of Lily’s Little Flower Shop?

Lily’s story kicks off when she is overlooked for a promotion that should rightfully have been hers, the same day as her long-term boyfriend is offered a work transfer/promotion to Singapore. He expects Lily will automatically go with him. She’s fed up with her job, him and the city and makes a spur of the moment decision to pack it all in and move to the south coast.

What is the main conflict of Lily’s Little Flower Shop?

The romantic conflicts escalate to a point where Lily’s ex boyfriend unexpectedly arrives to whisk her away to Singapore just as Lily is finding her feet and the possibility of a new romance. (I won’t give away any more than that.)

Re Lily’s shop, the main conflict is the tussle between Lily’s heart – wanting the business to succeed because she loves it so much, and Lily’s head – faced with mounting financial difficulties, will she give in and return to the city and her comfortable corporate life?

Did you plot Lily’s Little Flower Shop in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

Apart from plotting a timeline and flower events – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day etc, I’m definitely a pantser with all my novels. It can get me into trouble, but that’s the way I love to write.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Lily’s Little Flower Shop need?

Yes. With all my books, once I’ve completed a tenth or twentieth (!) draft, I send it to a trusted freelance editor I’ve worked with for years. Then when we’ve finessed it, I’ll send it to my agent. My editor there works through it with me again, and then it’s off to the publisher, where if accepted, it meets another couple of editors and the process is repeated.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Read widely.

Experiment with POV, tenses, dialogue and narrative to a point where you trust yourself and your voice. Then write what you want to write, whether it’s romance, speculative fiction, historical. Some people might say that there are no new stories to write, but it’s your voice and your particular take on a fish out of water romance that will get you over the line with publishers.

You don’t have to get it right, first time. It’s not brain surgery. Writing is about rewriting ninety per cent of the time.

Sorry, that’s more than one!

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

My Big Greek Holiday, also published by Bloodhound Books UK will be released in August this year. It’s about three girlfriends, all at a crossroads in their lives, who travel to Santorini for a two week holiday…and get a bit more than they bargained for.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, absolutely. At times, writing can be difficult, lonely and frustrating, but yes, yes, yes, worth the effort, especially when you hold that published book in your hands for the first time.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Lily’s Little Flower Shop is available from Amazon:

Booktopia:

https://www.booktopia.com.au/lily-s-little-flower-shop-lisa-darcy/book/9781913942533.html

And all good bookshops.

My social media contacts:

Facebook:                   https://www.facebook.com/lisa.darcy.author

Twitter:                        https://twitter.com/lisadarcyauthor

Instagram:                  https://www.instagram.com/lisadarcyauthor/

Website:                     https://www.newauthorscollective.com/site/lisa_darcy

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2 thought on “Author Interview – Lisa Darcy – Lily’s Little Flower Shop”
  1. Fascinating interview and good insights for new writers. Love all Lisa’s boks.

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