Author interview: Lisa Dickenson

Today I am very lucky to be joined by the very lovely Lisa Dickenson for an author interview, the perfect way to finish off my week of reviews for You Had Me at Merlot.

1. Hi Lisa, welcome to Sheli Reads. I have been reviewing You Had Me at Merlot all week and loved it! Where did you get your inspiration for the story?

Mooooorning! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing Merlot – very much appreciated, what a star you are! To be honest, as much as I’d love to say I spent four months at a Tuscan vineyard allowing the story to unfold itself, most of the inspiration just, erm, came out of my head. I’ve visited vineyards in Australia and California, on day-trip wine tastings, so I drew on memories of them. For everything else, I used holiday brochures, relationships I have with people, lovely friends and dreams of hot hot summers to inspire me!

2. My favourite character is independent woman, Elle. Did you base her character on anyone you know?

I think she’s probably, in a way, based on most people I know. Even if you don’t have exactly the same dreams/goals/wants as Elle I think we all have something we crave after as well as that feeling that other people are expecting us to be in a place in our life that we aren’t at – whether for you it’s marriage, babies, owning a house, being at the top of your career or even being the ‘ideal’weight and fitness. I hope she’s relatable, in that way.

3. If you were casting a film for You Had Me at Merlot, who would you like to play Elle and Jamie?

Good question! Ooo, I’m really not sure, as I don’t picture specific people when I write (and I never describe my leading lady’s looks in that much detail as I like people to be able to put themselves in the story). Maybe someone like Jennifer Lawrence for Elle (or Laurie!) and Liam Hemsworth or Jake Gyllenhaal for Jamie? Who would you cast?

4. I liked that the book was released in four parts over four weeks as it gave me something to look forward to on a Monday! How did you decide to release it this way?

Glad you liked it! It was actually my Editor, Manpreet, at Little, Brown’s idea to publish them this way. She wanted to do an experiment with my first novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, and she felt it worked so chose to do the same for You Had Me at Merlot.

5. Which authors most inspire you?

I’m very inspired by female authors who’ve made an empire out of their writing – be it because they thought of, at the time, a very simple yet unique idea that skyrocketed, such as a school for wizards or teenage vampires (I wish I’d come up with those concepts!) or because they churn out books writing exactly what they want to write and have become leaders for that reason, like Jackie Collins.

6. Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests? We would have to make sure that there was plenty of Italian wine at the party!!

Yay for wine! And if there’s wine involved… as awful as this sounds I’d love to have a dinner party full of celebs who apparently don’t get on, just to see how they act around each other in real life! I guess this is why I’m such a sucker for reality TV… So people like Jen and Angelina, Britney and Christina, Kim and Paris. And I’d just sit back with my vino and gawp at them all.

7. Where is your favourite place to write? Do you like to have noise around you or complete silence?

I do most of my writing on my bus commute to and from my day job, but in an ideal world my favourite place is either squadged in the middle of my big grey sofa, or somewhere with a nice view, like over a Cornish beach or the Hollywood Hills! I don’t mind some noise – sometimes I listen to certain emotive music to get me in a particular mood for a scene, or I stick some New Girl or Friends on in the background if I need to get my head into a more ‘funny’ mode!

8. Finally, what can we expect from you next?

Well, the complete ebook of The Twelve Dates of Christmas is coming out in October, which I’m excited about, but my next book will be out in Spring 2015 and is yet untitled… I’m really looking forward to writing it though, I have lots of ideas bubbling away!

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Lisa for taking time out to answer my questions. You can follow Lisa on twitter at @lisawritesstuff or visit her website http://www.lisadickenson.com/

You Had Me at Merlot: Part 4

The final part in this hilarious four-part digital romantic comedy, from the author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas – winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year award.

Elle didn’t plan on falling for anyone on this singles’ holiday so it came as a huge surprise to her when she fell, hard, for her very own Italian stallion. But it seems he’s not as perfect as he first appeared – especially now that his maybe-not-so-ex ex-girlfriend has turned up.

Elle doesn’t want to believe that it was all a lie but it’s hard to ignore the very real bombshell standing in front of her. Has she been taken for a fool? As the end of the holiday approaches, confusion and heartbreak threaten to ruin Elle’s hard-fought peace of mind. Does Tuscany have enough magic left to fix her broken heart?

You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of Merlot).

My opinion: So this is it. The final installment. And after yet another heart stopping cliffhanger in part three, I had to know what happened next.

Elle had been getting in the spirit of romance at the Tuscan vineyard she had accompanied her friend Laurie to for a singles holiday. Only letting her guard down seemed to come back and hit her, hard. When Jamie’s ex turns up at the vineyard and he doesn’t turn her away, Elle doesn’t know what to do. She turns to her new found vineyard family and confides in Laurie, Donna and George and finds herself needing to make bigger decisions than she ever thought she would need to when she left London. Can she ever return to her old life in London, and more importantly, is she over men forever?

Reading this last part of the story was bittersweet, as although I couldn’t wait to pick it up, I knew that this meant that it was coming to an end. I think I have professed my love in all of my reviews for the location and the characters. I really want to enforce just how much I loved this book, and it was a perfect summer read to distract me from my post holiday blues over the last few weeks.

I really hope Lisa writes lots and lots more for us to enjoy and will create more fabulous characters to become my book friends! I had a proper book hangover when I got to the end of this final part, but felt content with how it ended. Although, I’d LOVE to read more about the outrageous Laurie!

Seriously, you should read this book, and if you haven’t downloaded it by now I’m not sure we can be friends any longer. You will thank me when you read this hilarious yet romantic escape to Italy.

My rating: Five big shiny stars

This week I will be posting reviews of all four parts of You Had Me at Merlot, and will be culminating the week with a special interview with the author, Lisa Dickenson.

You Had Me at Merlot: Part 3

 

The third part in this hilarious four-part digital romantic comedy, from the author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas – winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year award.

Elle, determinedly single Elle, isn’t used to waking up next to a boy. And she certainly isn’t used to being engaged. Thanks to all the (delicious) chilli wine she consumed last night, Elle has no idea how she’s managed to get herself into this situation. And as fond as she is of the man lying next to her, and no matter how happy he looks by this turn of events, getting married has never been part of Elle’s plan. No way. All that romance stuff just isn’t for her . . . right? But the combination of this lovely man, the incredibly romantic Italian countryside and the feel of the early morning sun on her skin is starting to have an effect on Elle. Maybe, just maybe, she’s not as anti-love as she thought . . .

You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of Merlot).

My opinion: So I’ve read the third part of four and after the cliffhanger of book two, I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into this next installment!

Elle has woken up with Jamie, who is apparently her future husband. Only she has no recollection of the proposal thanks to all the chilli wine and chocolate she consumed the night before. She wasn’t intending on finding a boyfriend in Tuscany, let alone a husband to be. Only the thought of this gorgeous Italian man in her life isn’t quite as bad as she thought. Elle uses her skills to try and help the vineyard get more customers, whilst coming to terms with the fact that this hot man likes her. That is until she does a bit of research online and finds something that leaves a sour taste in her mouth.

This was another fab installment of You Had Me at Merlot, and another one I loved. I totally devoured this one, again reading it in one sitting. I really feel like I have got to know Elle and Laurie, and I think they are some of my favourite book characters. Again, the setting is amazing. I don’t think a Tuscan vineyard will ever lose its charm as a setting for a book for me. Who couldn’t feel romantic in a location like that!

The cliffhanger at the end of the book left me open mouthed, just as the last one did. I can’t wait to find out what happens in book four, although I’m a little sad that I’m nearly at the end of this fab story.

If you haven’t downloaded the series yet, why not?! You won’t regret indulging in this singles holiday in Tuscany!

My rating: Five stars

This week I will be posting reviews of all four parts of You Had Me at Merlot, and will be culminating the week with a special interview with the author, Lisa Dickenson.

You Had Me at Merlot: Part 2

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The second part in this hilarious four-part digital romantic comedy, from the author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas – winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year award.

It took some convincing for Elle to come away on this singles’ holiday and now her MD has turned up! As the matchmaking activities begin, from blindfolded wine tasting to crushing grapes barefoot, Elle tries her best to enjoy herself but it’s not easy with her boss around. Nor is it that easy when she’s being set up with every man on the holiday. All in all, this isn’t turning out to be the fun break Elle was hoping for. Thank goodness for Jamie, the vineyard owners’ son – he’s exactly the kind of company Elle needs right now because he’s not interested in finding a partner either. So what if Jamie is delicious to look at and his dad thinks they’re perfect for each other? They’re just friends. Nothing more. And that’s all there is to it . . .

You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of Merlot).

My opinion: I was lucky enough to already have this second part on my Kindle when I read part 1, so was able to dive right into this one!

Elle is trying to deal with the fact that her MD Donna has turned up at the vineyard, so she now not only has to try and enjoy a singles holiday which she doesn’t really want to take part in, but has to do it with her boss! An awful American staying at the vineyard is trying his best to woo her in the most unromantic way ever so things seem to be going from bad to worse. Enter Jamie from stage left. He’s the hot son of the vineyard owners and not interested in the desperate girls on holiday. He just wants to make wine and help keep the family business going. As two single people not interested in getting into a relationship, Elle and Jamie become friends, much to the dismay of a couple of the girls staying at the vineyard.

This next installment is just as good as the first. We get to know a bit more about some of the holiday makers and there are certainly some interesting sorts there! The setting just seems to get even more beautiful and in this part of the story, there is a trip to Florence to see the sights. Hot Italian Jamie is a very welcome addition to the story. And her makes his own wine and chocolate. Why don’t all men do this?! They certainly don’t seem to have those skills in south Wales! You are lucky to get a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich! Anyway, I digress. I may have fallen a little bit in love with Jamie already…

I forgot to say in my first review, but I love Laurie. She is a brilliant character, outrageous and so funny. I love the friendship between Laurie, the maneater, and independent woman Elle. It shouldn’t work, but only goes to show that opposites attract as friends, as well as partners! I couldn’t put my Kindle down until I got to the end of this part of the story and there is one hell of a twist at the end. You’ll get to see my review of part 3 tomorrow, but I had to wait for part 3 to be published to find out what happened next!

My rating: Five stars

This week I will be posting reviews of all four parts of You Had Me at Merlot, and will be culminating the week with a special interview with the author, Lisa Dickenson.

You Had Me at Merlot: Part 1

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The first part in this hilarious four-part digital romantic comedy, from the author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas – winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year award.

Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they’re single, they’re not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren’t filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine – she likes her independent life, she loves her job, and she has no desire to walk down the aisle anytime soon. But Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. You Had Me at Merlot Holidays promises crisp sunshine, fun and a chance to stir up some sizzling romance. Elle has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else’s idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?

You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of Merlot).

My opinion: This is the first book I have read by Lisa Dickenson, and boy was it a good ‘un!

Elle is an independent woman who is single, but quite happy as she is, thank you very much. Why would she want to get in a relationship and lose the time she has to do what she wants and learn the dances to Beyonce songs?! Her best friend Laurie books them on a Tuscan singles holiday and Elle vows that this is just a holiday to relax and drink lots of wine as she’s not interested in meeting anyone.

I was drawn into this book straight away and have to say that it is hilarious! I was sat out in the garden chuckling to myself when reading this. I liked Elle right from the beginning and felt that I could really connect with many aspects of her character. She is a workaholic, desperate to get noticed and as a result spends far longer than anyone else in the office, working like crazy. Despite this, she hasn’t quite been able to put her head above the parapet and get herself noticed yet, particularly by Donna, her MD and idol. I’ve seen this happening to others throughout my career, and it was a great detail to put into the story.

Tuscany is an amazing setting for the book. I love a book set in Italy (although I am yet to visit in real life as yet) and I couldn’t wait to read more, both about the beautiful vineyard setting and the shenanigans from the singles holiday. There is a great twist at the end of this book which leads perfectly into the next one and will leave you chomping at the bit to read part 2!

Fab characters, great writing and a hilarious storyline. Let’s see what part 2 brings us….

My rating: Five stars

This week I will be posting reviews of all four parts of You Had Me at Merlot, and will be culminating the week with a special interview with the author, Lisa Dickenson.