Describe yourself in one word:
Capricious (but I’m working on it) 🙂
What is your background with regard to writing?
Writing is something I’ve enjoyed since my mid-teens and I’ve always loved to read. I took lots of short courses rather than undertake a degree in creative writing. It wasn’t until I attended a five day commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh that my writing really took off. I learnt more from Fiona in five days than I had from countless short courses. She loved listening to my stories about the restaurant world and encouraged me to draw from my own experience.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I enjoyed writing in high school but didn’t think seriously about it until about five years ago when I had the idea for a series of fantasy novels. From that moment I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life but for some reason or another I really struggled to get words on the page. That’s why writing Yes, Chef! was so much fun. It just flowed.
Tell us a little more about Yes, Chef!:
Yes, Chef! has been described as ‘a culinary thrill ride’ which I love! Readers can expect to laugh out loud, travel to beautiful European destinations and be left with a craving for fine food. It’s sassy and romantic and provides an insight into the very on-trend world of restaurants and celebrity chefs. One of my favourite things about the story is the friendships between the heroine Becca and her work mates. They are warm and loving towards each other but aren’t afraid to give each other cheek and tell it like it is.
Yes, Chef! follows the sassy heroine, Becca Stone’s journey from reservations clerk at one of London’s most successful restaurant empires to a new role as PA to the restuarants’ celebrity chef. What initially seems like the opportunity of a lifetime soon spirals into a chaotic and increasingly difficult position. What inspired Yes, Chef! and does it draw on your own real-life experiences at all?
I’ve been told Yes, Chef! provides an authentic insight into the inner workings of the restaurant world and the life of a PA to a celebrity chef. While Becca’s experiences are exaggerated to provide conflict and tension, the reason it feels so real is that at one time or another I have worked in reservations, as a waitress, a hostess and a PA to a well known chef. Thankfully for me my boss is nothing like the egomaniac chef Damien Malone from Yes, Chef!
I do love the tagline of Yes, Chef!—”a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn’t all that goes on in the kitchen”—sounds very saucy (if you’ll pardon the pun). What’s the heat level of Yes, Chef!?
I love the tagline too! I guess the heat level depends on your opinion of what’s saucy. There are some steamy scenes but Yes, Chef! is more about the struggles of finding your ‘career feet’ and juggling your friendships and love life.
We’re talking food here, and I did notice some pics on your Facebook page that suggests you may’ve indulged in a pre-publication celebration… What’s your favourite restaurant and most importantly, what’s your all-time favourite meal?
There’s lots of foodie pics, recipes and news on my Facebook and Instagram but my favourite restaurant by far is Moon Under Water on Gertrude Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy. The room is stunning, the food is divine, they only use the freshest produce and the staff are very knowledgeable. They have a weekly changing menu, which means the only thing you have to decide on is your main course. This means you never have food envy! My all time favourite meal is pasta with clams, white wine, chilli, olive oil, garlic and parsley.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Probably what I already do. I work part time as PA to a celebrated Melbourne chef. My fiancé and I also grow organic fruits and vegetables to supply to the restaurant trade, so if I wasn’t writing I’d be weeding the veggie patch with the chooks scratching around.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
A great story is a great story. It takes just as much effort and creativity to write a good romance as it does to write literary fiction. Also, romance writers and readers are such lovely supportive people.
Biggest accomplishment to date:
Definitely finishing Yes, Chef! After struggling with my fantasy novel for so many years I felt a real sense of accomplishment after finishing Yes, Chef! in less than 6 months.
What’s next for you?
I’m heading off to Europe to research my next novel (it’s a hard life but somebody has to do it). The new novel is still unravelling in my mind but it’s going to be a lush foodie adventure set in the UK and Italy about discovering what it is you truly want from life and then doing everything you can to achieve it, even if it’s not what others want or expect of you.
Confessions of an Author:
Favourite snack whilst writing?
I know it’s a common one but it’s got to be coffee; hot and sweet.
Is there something we’d be shocked to know about you?
I’m not sure if it’s shocking but it may be interesting for your readers to hear I wrote Yes, Chef! on my iPad. The whole book.
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
I find dialogue easy and I love including the five senses in my writing but I’d like to work on describing emotions.
Favourite travel experience?
When I was writing my fantasy novel I took a research trip to Egypt. We booked a tour which I normally wouldn’t do but I’m glad we did as this particular tour gave us access to the pyramids and many of the ancient temples on our own before other tourists arrived. It was incredible.
Favourite fictional character: The Vicar of Dibley or maybe Bridget Jones.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Live in Italy and speak fluent Italian.
Milk or dark chocolate? Dark
Red, white, bubbly? Bubbly – champagne ideally. Pol Roger is my favourite.
Salty or sweet? Sweet
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Give or receive? Give
About the Author:
Lisa Joy began writing stories in her teenage years, but decided she needed to get her heart broken and live in another country before pursuing a career as a novelist. Born in Sydney, she spent most of her childhood wearing pink tights and leotards at ballet class.
At age 21, deciding she wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, she left her safe and somewhat predictable existence behind and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer’s PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business. Having fallen head over heels in love with London, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen, Lisa stayed put for about 7 years, until finally, family called and she returned to Australia.
Her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh. She now lives in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne on an organic vegetable farm with her fiancé and four chooks and in addition to writing novels, is PA to a celebrated chef. Fortunately for Lisa, he is nothing like chef Damien Malone from Yes, Chef!