Belinda Missen is an award-winning and best-selling author, screenwriter, and freelance writer from Geelong, Australia, who recently scored a six book deal with HQDigitalUK (HarperCollins). With qualifications in transport and office administration, and a combined career of fifteen years in these industries, Belinda decided to uproot everything in 2013 and return to her first love of writing. She now writes full-time, between cups of coffee, binge watching television, and feeding her cats and husband.
Your first HQDigitalUK book, A Recipe for Disaster, is released on August 07, 2018. What was the inspiration for the story?
This was a really strange book, in that it kind of fell into my lap. I’d had a bit of a dry period in early 2017. I had no ideas, and no creative energy. Somehow, over Christmas and New Year, I’d been roped into making cakes for birthdays, parties, and family Christmas. Jokingly, someone suggested that I need to write a book about a girl who bakes.
I laughed it off for a few months. The idea wasn’t a bad one, but it wasn’t gelling for me. That is, until I recalled the old nursery rhyme that goes something like, ‘the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker’. I changed candlestick maker to single male caterer, and the story started to come together.
How long did it take you to get published?
Before A Recipe for Disaster, I’d been self-publishing since 2015, and writing since I was about twelve years old. Writing only became a serious hobby for me in 2013 (thanks, fan-fiction), and I published my first book, Red, in 2015. In June 2017, a friend directed me to HQDigitalUK’s Twitter feed, asking for writers to pitch to them. For a laugh, I pitched three ideas to them – they asked for samples. I submitted the first few chapters of what I called ‘The Butcher, the Baker, the Single Male Caterer’ and, by November, I’d signed a six-book contract with them. Needless to say, 2017 was just a whirlwind year.
What authors do you like to read?
I’m a sucker for anything by Mhairi McFarlane, Lindsey Kelk, Edward St Aubyn, and David Nicholls. My reading tastes are so varied. In 2016, I was all about thrillers and heady literature (watch this space), and 2017 saw me muddle my way through a pile of Doctor Strange comics and JoJo Moyes (who else owns shares in Kleenex after Will Traynor destroyed them?). So far this year, I seem to be reading a lot of non-fiction – especially centred around the British Royal Family – probably something to do with spending two months in UK earlier this year.
If you had a pet, which book character would you name it after and why?
How did this question end up being so difficult to answer? I’m sitting here looking at the bookshelves in front of me thinking, ‘Who?’. I have such a soft spot for Christopher Tietjens (Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy). He’s a decent, upstanding man who gets rolled by life continually, but remains loyal until he has no other option but to walk away. Or, I might call a cat Watney, after Mark Watney in Andy Weir’s The Martian – persistent and funny. If I had a pet that was all over the shop, maybe Patrick Melrose would be an ideal name. Too many? Okay, I’ll stop now.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
For the love of all things literary, please keep writing. Keep reading, keep writing, just keep on going. There came a time in my life when I wasn’t particularly into reading or writing. I was too busy trying to be an adult and doing what I thought I should be doing, instead of what I wanted to be doing, which had been writing all along. I only wish I had the guts at the time to have kept at this. I don’t regret where I am now, but I do wish I’d tried to make headway earlier.
Blurb of A Recipe for Disaster
Life’s not always a piece of cake…
Meet Lucy, master wedding cake baker, idealistic school canteen crusader, and someone whose broken heart just won’t seem to mend…
Lucy is quietly confident that she has made the right choices in life. Surrounded by friends and family in a small country town, Lucy can easily suppress the feeling that something is missing from her life.
But when a blast from the past arrives in the form of her estranged husband, international celebrity chef Oliver Murray, Lucy’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble beneath her like overbaked meringue.
Is Oliver’s return all business or is it motivated by something more?
A Recipe for Disaster starts long after most love stories would have ended, proving it is never too late to offer someone a second slice of cake or a second chance.
Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.