Fellow book lovers, I am very excited to have my ‘frind across the dutch’ with me today (that’s my best Kiwi-ese approximation of ‘friend across the ditch’ 😂). Kara Isaac is practically my neighbour, with only a small stretch of water between me on the east coast of Australia and her in New Zealand, and since I totally gushed all over her latest release (if you missed that, you can read it here), I thought it would be fun to have a chat.
First, we can’t have an Australian/New Zealand interview without Tim Tams! And Kara has suggested some traditional lemonade to go with them. (You can even find the recipe for the lemonade at The Spanish Cuisine.)
While you’re sharing them around, let me introduce you to Kara and Then There Was You.
~ About the Author ~
Kara Isaac is a romantic comedy writer who lives in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. When she’s not chasing three small hobbits, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand.
~ About the Book ~
Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.
Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He’s determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.
When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?
~ Interview ~
KATIE: Welcome to the blog, Kara! We’re going to start things off by taking a little ‘flight of fancy’. Can you finish these sentences for me:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
KARA: Assuming someone else is footing the bill, Bora Bora (specifically an overwater bungalow suite at the Four Seasons!)
Oh, I can feel the sun warming me just thinking about it!
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…
Picking up after my children. I’m continually amazed by how in what feels like mere seconds they can turn a tidy room into looking like a tornado has torn through the toy box!
Oh boy, yes!
If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…
Argh, I am so not musical! This question is the reason why it took weeks for me to finish this interview! (Lol! #sorrynotsorry) I had to ask friends and they suggested a fiddle. Energetic, fun and lively (my husband would probably add can sometimes be a little screechy 😉 ).
Haha! In my experience, it’s always dangerous to ask your husband to help with those kinds of questions! We’ll leave it at the energetic, fun, and lively shall we? 😉
When I was a child, I wanted to be a…
Well, you have three kids. That’s kind of close, isn’t it? 😉
My ideal place to read would be…
A hammock on a luxurious tropical island with someone fanning me and bringing me drinks and snacks on request.
I’m sensing a tropical theme here! First Bora Bora, and now a tropical island… 😉
Alright, let’s get down to business. What inspired this story?
This was my first ever attempt at writing a romantic comedy, and I started writing it way back in early 2008. I’m the eldest of three and my younger brother had recently gotten married and my younger (by six years) sister was engaged while I was very single and had an amazing knack for going on really bad dates! I decided to make my heroine worse off than me, so I doubled the age gap between her and her sister and gave her an epiphany that she had been in a relationship for years with a guy who was never going to commit. 🙂
Lol! That sounds very therapeutic! 😆 And as it turned out, it wasn’t the only way in which the novel mirrored your own life. Where is the line between fact and fiction here?
When I first started writing Then There Was You I actually had a different hero in mind for Paige, and then this Australian worship pastor from Sydney showed up at an airport in the second chapter and refused to get off the page and took all her attention away from the other guy!
In the way that only God can orchestrate, six months later I met an Australian worship pastor called Josh at an airport. I married him. 🙂
After the meeting at the airport the rest of their relationship is strictly fictional, though there are a few other things that have been inspired by real life. 🙂
Don’t you love God’s sense of humour?! We might have to hear the rest of that story someday! 😉
Speaking of humour, that’s one of my favourite elements in your writing. How would you describe your sense of humour?
Ooooo, hopefully funny? (*Katie nods vigorously!*) It often depends on the character. Allie and Paige were both on the snarky/sassy side whereas Emelia had more of a dry sense of humour. I always love some good physical comedy. People falling over and into things, wardrobe disasters, food escapades, unruly pets, whatever I can use. 🙂
The physical comedy is one of the things I love about your novels. I still snort-laugh when I remember that scene with Allie in the mud in Close To You! 😂 So what’s your go-to when you’re looking for a good laugh?
Writer wise, Jenny B. Jones and Erynn Mangum both have the ability to have me gasping for breath from laughing so hard. Movie wise, I reach for late 90s/early 2000 romcoms. Never Been Kissed, Ten Things I Hate About You, Notting Hill (Spike!) are a few favourites.
Oh my goodness. Spike is one of the best secondary characters ever! That scene with the yoghurt/mayonnaise! 😂 And I agree with Jenny B. Jones. Erynn Mangum is someone I’ve been hoping to read soon. When I get a spare couple of hours…
So, how much of the humour in your stories is inspired by real life, and how much of it comes to you naturally in the course of writing the story?
There’s always a good mix. I’m always looking for inspiration in real life and in Then There Was You there is a thread in the story involving a drop bear. That was inspired by a trick my husband and his siblings played on a cousin visiting from America 🙂 Then there are the scenes that kind of just show up on the page and write themselves!
Bahahaha! Classic Australian tourist prank! I loved that scene! And for anyone who’s concerned, smearing Vegemite on your arms, legs, and face keeps them away just fine. 😉
Do you have a discarded scene that didn’t make the cut, or even an idea for a scene that you didn’t use?
In an early version of the manuscript there was a scene where Paige is told to “bring a plate” to a morning tea and brings a literal plate instead of some food. It was based on an event that happened years ago in our youth group when we had a new American family at church and a “bring a plate” event and the mother thought that the church must be low on crockery so sent her son along with a mountain of old plates to contribute! My developmental editor thought it made Paige look as dumb as a doorpost and so it had to go. 😉
Oh yes, that’s another good one. I’ve heard of lots of people who have done that when first arriving in Australia, particularly if English isn’t their first language. Gee, we make it hard on newcomers, don’t we?!
Okay, how about introducing us to Paige McAllister and sharing what you think is her most endearing characteristic?
Paige is recovering from two great losses in her life – the death of her older brother and the loss of her dream of being a concert violinist. As a result, she’s spent the last six years really just existing in a job that isn’t right and in a relationship that is going nowhere, partly because she feels guilty for still being alive and doesn’t believe she deserves to be happy. For me her most endearing characteristic is her willingness to confront that she doesn’t like the person she has become and to take some bold, scary steps to change that.
Amen! I like me a heroine with a bit of gumption! (Is that an Aussie term?)
And Josh Tyler? Could you introduce him and share what you think is his most swoon-worthy characteristic?
Josh Tyler is a world-renowned worship leader who has been burned badly by his failed relationships in the past. He sees what his parents and sister have and wants it, but also distrusts his instincts when it comes to women since they’ve let him down in the past. I think one of his most swoon-worthy characteristics (but also his weakness) is how he’s so fiercely protective of his family.
I loved Josh’s family! Especially that they were so down-to-earth and level-headed. And there is definitely something swoony about a guy with family loyalty. ❤
What was the most enjoyable part about bringing these two characters together?
They had great chemistry from the first time they landed together on the page. Some of the scenes in the book that I (personally) think are the funniest (the hamburger debacle, the auction) are ones where I had one idea for how the scene was going to go and then they took over and it took off in a completely different direction!
Haha! That auction scene was gold! And that hamburger scene—I loved that it had this ‘What’s going to happen next?’ tension all the way through, and it was never predictable. I guess I know why now! 😃
Finally, what’s next for Kara Isaac?
A vacation! My family and I are shortly off to spend some time with my husband’s family in Sydney. From there I’ll also be heading to Orlando for the RWA (Romance Writers of America) annual conference (I’m not sure what I’m more excited about – the conference itself or the prospect of multiple nights of sleep without having to get up to feed a baby!).
Book wise I’m hoping to start writing Kat’s story when I get home but my agent and I are also looking at a couple of other potential opportunities so it’s also a little bit of a wait and see scenario right now. 🙂
Well, I hope you enjoy the vacation, conference, AND the uninterrupted sleep! And I can’t wait to see what you come up with next. 🙂
What kind of humour grabs you the most? Physical comedy? Dry wit? Sassy? Do tell!