Happy Saturday! Today is an exciting day as I am joined by the authors of The Book Ninja Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus.
So Girls, Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Hi! We’re Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus, Melbourne-born, netball playing, dog-loving, bookaholics and lifelong best friends. We are the co-authors of contemporary romance novel, The Book Ninja, which has been sold to over 10 countries. We are currently writing our second book together which will be published in June 2019. Together, we began Books on the Rail in Melbourne which is now Australia-wide. Ali is Creative Director for the Hedgehog Agency, Melbourne, and Michelle is a primary school teacher. See www.booksontherail.com and aliandmichelle.com
What can you tell us about your new book?
The Book Ninja begs the question – could you find the perfect man by looking at his bookshelf? The protagonist of the story, Frankie, is desperate to shake things up – she is frustrated in life and in love. An author, with a serious case of writer’s block, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really. Her journey leads her to stumble across some very wacky dates, some astonishing discoveries, some great literature and, overall, leads her to find herself.
Can you tell us a little about the characters in this book?
The characters in the book are a little audacious, passionate about reading, quirky and dynamic. Apart from the romance, friendship is a big theme in the book. One in particular, is the relationship between Frankie and her best friend Cat. They are fiercely protective of one another and have fantastic banter (often bookish themed). Our leading man, Sunny, is also such a heartthrob – kind, laid back, uninhibited, generous and, of course, very easy on the eyes.
Who is your favourite?
We both adored one of our little side characters, Seb. He is a gauky, political satire reading, braces-clad 17 year-old who frequents the bookstore at which Frankie and Cat work. He had some great one liners and, also happens to be besotted with Frankie.
Who was the most difficult to write?
Claud, Cat’s husband, proved very tricky and required lots of reworking along the way! Initially he was very stern, one-dimensional and brash. We had many attempts at trying to soften him and make him more likeable. Finally, in the eleventh hour before submitting our first draft, we landed on the answer! And so, Claud now has a very endearing obsession with knitting.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Not only was this our debut novel, but it was also the first book either of us ever co-wrote! So, it took some experimenting before we found our feet. First, we tried writing side-by-side, “piano” style. We quickly realised that this would not be practical. Eventually, we worked out that having huge brainstorming sessions during which we would nut out key plot ideas chapter by chapter and would then divide up the chapters, worked best. We would then go back over, reading and editing, each other’s work to make sure the tone was consistent. In the end, the hardest part was finding the time to come together as we both work full time.
Do you have a favourite scene from this book? What is it and why?
Possibly the ‘banana revenge’, or ‘bananapocollapse’, scene! During this scene Frankie takes out her frustration and heartache on a character by stuffing his car with hundreds of bananas (said character happens to suffer from a pretty serious case of banana-phobia). She ends up getting caught in the act, after getting stuck in the sunroof of the car, after which, all hell breaks loose.
What is your favourite place to write?
Definitely Portsea, which is a small coastal town along the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. Every now and then, we would escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne for big writing weekends together. We did some of our best work here as we had uninterrupted time together. We tended to get a little silly, cooped up writing, so there was always a lot of laughing and nutting out some of our more outlandish ideas. Runs along the beach and breaks for pizza and wine, also added to the appeal!
What are your 3 desert island books?
Ali: We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Joy Fowler, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Michelle: The Light we Lost by Jill Santopolo, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Is there a book you wished you wrote?
Possibly Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. We both absolutely salivated over the sharp, witty and poignant writing. Khong is a just brilliant!
Is there anything you hate about writing?
Deadlines! It can be a real challenge being creative “on demand”. But, of course, it’s all apart of the game. Luckily, Ali and I have each other – another person to fill in the “creativity gaps” when the other isn’t quite jelling with a particular chapter or character. We also have a lot of fun brainstorming ideas together and it usually doesn’t take long for us to get each other in a creative mood!The Book Ninja by Ali Berg, Michelle Kalus
Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 9th August 2018
Genres: Chicklit, Contemporary, Humour, Love & Romance
**Could you find your perfect man by looking at his book shelf?**
‘Frankie, think about it. Literature is your life. You’ve been trawling Tinder looking for well-read intellectuals, but it’s not working. Let’s shake things up! Just use your favourite books to find a man.’
Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried –Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.
With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little Brunswick Bookshopwhere she works, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back!
But that turns out to be the least of her worries… In between crazy dates and writing them up on her blog, Frankie stumbles upon her perfect man. There’s just one problem…Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really intoYoung Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…
Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?