-- Chick Lit Plus
'Some of the scenes ... are just so funny that tears ran down my cheeks.'
-- Badass Book Reviews
'An entertaining and satisfying book with a little romance and a whole load of girl power.'
-- The Indie Bookshelf
'The book is a lot like the beverage for which it's named - sweet, fizzy and fun. Just don't drink Dr. Pepper while you're reading it, because you might end up with soda coming out of your nose.'
-- Chick Lit Central
'Mel is quite hilarious and likeable as a character, you find yourself rooting for her to be successful in her endeavors, but secretly wanting her to fail so you can live through the fallout that surely is to follow.'
-- Drue's Random Chatter
'I can see so much of myself in [Mel] that it's a bit scary!'
-- Chick Lit Reviews and News
'Hilarious and true-to-life quotes, relatable characters and a very sweet plot.'
-- The Bookish Owl
'The supporting characters, Will, Beth, Matt, Julie, and Cynthia are well-defined and quirky in their own right. The way their lives intertwine and get tangled up is so very real in some places and so utterly absurd in others, I couldn't help but laugh with them.'
-- Maryann Miller's It's Not All Gravy
'If like Harriet Smith, the innocent victim of Jane Austen's matchmaking heroine in Emma, you are "one of those, who, having once begun, would be always in love," then after reading The Dr Pepper Prophecies you may well suffer a longterm adoration of author Jennifer Gilby Roberts.'
-- Best Chick Lit
From the Author
(Posted to my blog on 3 Oct 2013)
I wrote The Dr Pepper Prophecies at the tender age of 20. Scary, huh? At the time I was on my gap year, having finished A-levels. Strictly speaking it was my second gap year, as I'd gone to Quebec as an exchange student after my GCSEs. I was in France taking lessons in French (oddly enough). I'd signed up for mornings only, thinking that full days would be a bit much, so I had plenty of free time and needed something to do with it.
This was spring, but in the summer I was doing a week-long summer school in creative writing at Oxford University Summer School for Adults. This is a lot less prestigious than it sounds, as all you have to do to get in is pay (it's not cheap, but I wholeheartedly recommend it). So, I decided I was going to spend my afternoons writing a novel.
I'd written plenty of stories over the years. Much of that was fanfiction, in genres such as Lord of the Rings and the sci-fi show Farscape. My experience of writing original fiction was limited. As I recall, I first wrote a YA novel (which I will have to read back at some point, although I don't think it was very good).
Then I picked up a copy of Can You Keep a Secret? by the queen of chick lit Sophie Kinsella - which remains my favourite of her novels - and laughed my arse off. I'd never liked books written in the first person before, and hadn't written anything in that style, but I decided then and there to write a book like hers.
Before going to France, I was a temp in an insurance claims office, which was going downhill rapidly while I was there (nothing to do with me, I assure you). I have to admit I was thinking of it when I wrote Mel's workplace, although none of the people I worked with appear in the book (I promise). The rest of the book is imagination. I don't have a lifelong best friend like Will, although when I read the book again before publication, I was struck by the number of similarities between him and my husband - who I hadn't yet met when I wrote it.
The book is based loosely on Emma by Jane Austen. There's one really good reason for that: it was on the reading list for the creative writing class I was taking! I hadn't read it before, although I had read Pride and Prejudice, which I refer to several times in the book. Like everyone in my generation (and a few others I think), I loved the BBC adaptation with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. One day maybe I'll write my own version of that.
I wrote about two-thirds of the book in France, in about four weeks, and the rest scene-by-scene over a few months when I got back (I was working, so had less time). I was tremendously proud to have completed a novel. I still am. I think it was my greatest achievement so far, although it's been superseded since then.
Over the years, I spent a lot of time editing it. I always planned to send it out to agents, but I was never happy with it. Perhaps if I had it would have been published years ago. Or perhaps I would just have a nice stack of rejection letters. I suspect I'm better off publishing now. Putting your work out there for people to read and criticise is not easy and I think I would have had a harder time coping with it at 20 than I do now at 30.
Anyway, it's now out in the world for you to read. I hope you like it.
Why I Write Chick Lit
(Posted to my blog on 3 Apr 2014)
I was given (read: I chose) Longbourn by Jo Baker for Mother's Day. It's a sort-of-retelling of Pride & Prejudice, from the point of view of the household servants. It's a wonderful book, but at one point I found myself feeling really down, because I felt that my books just couldn't compare to it. No rich detail in mine. No beautiful descriptions. Some drama, but not on that scale. Generally predictable plots. Chick lit, in other words.
The thing is, though, my books don't need that. I write contemporary fiction, so I don't need to include lots of detail about what life is like for my characters as my readers already know. As for beautiful descriptions - honestly, I tend to skip a lot of them when I'm reading. Just give me the bare bones and I'll make my own mental pictures. I don't think I'm alone in that. If I had no imagination, I wouldn't be reading fiction. It's the plot and the characters I'm interested in.
But the thing that really made me feel good about what I write was that I felt bad when I finished the book. Although the end was happy, the whole thing painted a picture of bleakness. Harsh, lonely lives of physical and emotional endurance, where moments of happiness were few and far between. I spent half the evening feeling teary and depressed. And, you know what, I don't want to write books like that. I don't want to make people feel like that.
There's plenty of bad in this world. Most of the media seems to be devoted to reminding us of that. I don't want to add to that. I want to make people feel better. Remind them that there is still much good out there. That just because today was crap doesn't mean tomorrow will be. That there's humour to be found in everything. And that's what chick lit is about. So that's what I write.