Interview: Danielle Hawkins talks about her novel, Pretty Delicious Cafe

Danielle Hawkins grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Otorohanga in New Zealand, and later studied veterinary science. After graduating as a vet she met a very nice dairy farmer who became her husband. He later switched to sheep farming. Danielle spends two days per week working as a large animal vet and the other five as housekeeper, cook and general dogsbody. She has two small children – and when she is very lucky they nap simultaneously and she can write things. She talks to NZ Booklovers about her latest novel.

Tell us a little about Pretty Delicious Cafe.

It’s a romantic comedy, light and frothy with occasional serious bits. It’s the story of Lia Leslie, who runs a café with her best friend and has a psychic link to her twin brother, a flaky but charming mother, too much work to do, an ex-boyfriend who won’t go away and a nice new one who probably will.

What inspired you to write this book?

‘Inspired’ is far too grandiose a word for the way I come up with an idea for a book. This one began (I think) with the thought that if you actually happened to be psychic, you probably wouldn’t want people to know about it because they’d instantly classify you as a New Age, bean-curd-eating weirdo.

What research was involved?

I’m far too lazy for serious research, so I only write about things I know already.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

  • Put children on bus, restore house to semi-order, sit down to write.
  • Check emails, edit yesterday’s effort and otherwise procrastinate for half an hour before writing something down.
  • Re-read what I’ve written, dislike it intensely and re-write it several times until it looks a bit better.
  • Become suddenly lost in the process about seven minutes before having to shut the computer and go and do something else.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers. (Such a happy song, and it’s in the book.)

Every Day’s a Saturday – Elemeno P. (Because it reminds me of summer and the beach.)

Breathe – Anna Nalik. (Just because I love it.)

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Emma Watson to play Lia (I have a bit of a thing for Emma Watson, and she has the right sort of hair). Robyn Malcolm for her mother (I have a thing for her too). And apart from that I don’t know!

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

Dramatic bits are always fun to write (what would it actually be like to be kidnapped and stuffed into a car boot?), and it’s very satisfying to tweak a piece of dialogue for the nineteenth time and have it suddenly swim into focus and convey just what you wanted it to.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I honestly can’t remember. I always expect to be wildly excited about finishing, and then somehow it’s always a bit of an anticlimax.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman. It was absolutely lovely. Sweet and thought-provoking and uplifting and beautifully written.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’m three-quarters of the way through my next book, about a woman whose life is kind of like mine (family sheep farm, small children, part-time job) – with the difference that she, poor sausage, married an idiot. But progress is a little slow just at the moment, because I’m part way through chemotherapy for breast cancer, and chemo doesn’t do a lot for the speed and crispness of your thought processes!

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Karen McKenzie Karen McKenzie is a Director of NZ Booklovers. She has worked in book publishing for the past 17 years, as a publicist and also selling international rights. Karen is passionate about book publishing and enjoys working with authors to help them realise their dreams. She is also a published author of twelve books under the name ‘Karen McMillan’. More info at www.karenm.co.nz

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