Monday, December 15, 2014

Interview and Review: Styling Wellywood by Kate O'Keeffe!

Title: Styling Wellywood
Author: Kate O'Keeffe
Format: Kindle Edition, 261 pages
Pub. Date: May 8th 2014
Source: Kate O'Keeffe

About the Book:
Jessica Banks is dragged kicking and screaming from her fabulous and carefree London life back to her hometown of Wellington, New Zealand and into the arms of her uptight mother.

She struggles to settle back in until she finds a way to bring her own version of London glamour to her new home. Things begin to look up when she meets Scott Wright, tennis coach, and possibly the hottest man on the planet - but is it a love match? Or is someone else the right man for Jessica? Someone she thought was out of her reach?

When both her best friend suddenly disappears and her high school arch nemesis rears her perfectly coifed head, Jessica‘s new life begins to unravel. Even her dearest friend, Ben, can’t protect her from her demons. She eventually realizes she needs to face her deepest, darkest fear - the fear she’s managed to successfully drown in cocktails for the last four years.

Can Jessica overcome her past and find love and happiness in unexpected places?

With Wellington - the world’s coolest little capital city and New Zealand’s answer to Hollywood - as the backdrop, Styling Wellywood: A fashionable romantic comedy is a laugh out loud, heartwarming, entertaining romp in the world of contemporary women’s chick lit romance.

If you like Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, you'll love this new romcom!

Buy it here- Available in Print and Ebook:
Amazon & more retailers soon!


Thanks so much for talking with me today, Kate! Shall we begin?. In Styling Wellywood, Jessica has quite a few romantic encounters. Were any of these romantic interests inspired by someone from your own life?

Hmmm, that's a tricky one. I guess we've all known a guy like Scott - handsome, self-assured, a little too full of himself - and I'd be lying to say I hadn't dated one or two guys like that in my time, but neither Ben nor Scott are based on any one person. Kind of an amalgamation of guys my friends and I have dated in the past, I guess.

That's true enough, I definitely have met guys like Scott. Now, Jessica dreams of being a posh stylist to the stars. Are you as into fashion as she is?

I've always loved fashion and try to support local designers. There's so much talent out there and buying their clothes means you don't end up looking like everyone else! But Jessica's pretty obsessed with the whole fashion thing and looking glamorous, and as a busy mother and writer I just don't have the time!

What's your favorite piece of jewelry?

It's a vintage tear drop aquamarine ring set with a few small diamonds. My mother gave it to me, her mother gave it to her… you get the picture. So it has serious sentimental value and always gets compliments from random strangers and friends alike as it's quite striking.

That sounds so pretty, I love aquamarine. If you could have one dream fashion item in your wardrobe, what would it be?

One of those incredible Vera Wang gowns you see Hollywood A-listers wearing. So so fabulous. Of course I'd have nowhere to wear it… and you don't really need a floor-length dress to walk your dogs around the 'burbs, do you? But a girl can dream...

Jessica is returning to Wellington, New Zealand after time away in London. Are you from New Zealand? Are any of the stores or places that she mentioned standing in real life?

Now this is where Jess and I are very similar! I'm from New Zealand and moved to London when I graduated at 21. I loved loved loved living there and really did find it hard to move back home after all the excitement of a large, world-class city on Europe's door step. Wellington is a beautiful city, but it's pretty small in comparison with cities like London or New York, so it took some adjusting to being back. Of course now I'm totally settled and love it here.

As for the stores, yes they all exist! I had thought about whether to make up fictitious designers but there are so many amazing Wellington and New Zealand designers out there I decided to just go with what there was to offer.

That is absolutely fantastic. I love that you chose to go with real stores. It's a cold, rainy day and you decide to stay in with a book- what are you reading?

Oh that's a hard one! So many choices... I'd probably have to go with one of my favorite classics - E M Forster's "A Room With A View." If you haven't read it and you enjoy humorous women's fiction, give it a try. It's just fabulous!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what were you doing before you became an author?

I have always wanted to be a writer and started so many novels, but then that pesky thing called 'life' would always get in the way and I would end up shelving it. With Styling Wellywood I was a stay at home mother and so had a little bit if time when my son was either asleep or at preschool. I wanted to do something with my brain - playgrounds, baby bottles and laundry can only excite a girl so much - and had so many characters and scenarios buzzing around my head, so decided to just sit down and write.

Some authors only use a specific pen or drink coffee from a certain mug. Do you have any quirks when you write?

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Oh and I often have one of my dogs sitting next to me snorting away. Seems to help, but who knows why!

Chocolate helps make everything better. Can you describe Styling Wellywood in five words?

Chick lit with humor, friendship, romance, and heart. Was that five?

Since Styling Wellywood is about romance, what is one fictional book character that makes you swoon?

Oh, it HAS to be Mr Darcy. Yum yum yum. So manly, noble and gentlemanly. And it helps he richer than God too, if I'm entirely honest.

Great answer. He's definitely swoon worthy. Jessica has a few misadventures in the romance department. Can you tell us a bit about what your first date was like?

My first date… hmm, that's a walk down memory lane I'd prefer not to take. But since you've asked... I was a teenager and really liked a slightly older boy from afar - to this day I don't think he had any idea how I felt about him, because it wasn't him I went on a date with but with his friend. Who knows why I said yes, but I did and felt like I suffered through the whole thing. We went to a movie and he was very sweet, but he just wasn't the guy of my dreams. Things improved significantly for me soon afterwards, but sadly that will always be my first official date - with my dream guy's friend.

I appreciate you sharing that story with us. Isn't weird thinking back on choices we made? Kate, do you have any other books or projects in the works that you can tell us about?

I've been working on a series about three sisters, each book devoted to one of them, but the others make appearances across the series too. They'll be a bit like Styling Wellywood in their tone and style, but with a heavier does of romance. There's a brother too, but I'm not sure he has a book yet… we'll have to see how he behaves in the first three to see if he gets one.

I'll definitely keep my eyes open for those. Out of all of the characters in Styling Wellywood, who do you think you are the most like? Who are you the least like? Why?

I'd say I'm most like a mixture of Jessica, Stephanie and Laura. Jess because she's such an optimist, Stephanie because she's slightly mad, and Laura because she's sensible and logical and I'm a pretty A-Type kind of gal.

The least? Jess's mother, Scott, and Morgan - or at least I hope!

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there that you can share with us?

To steal a phrase, I'd have to say 'just do it'! Writing is fun, incredible, wonderfully creative, frustrating, but, ultimately, if you don't pick up that metaphorical pen, it's just a hole bunch of vaguely formed ideas running around in your head. If you think you have a good idea for a story, start by writing up your key concepts - characters, plots, themes - then you'll see that it'll start to take shape. I plotted Styling Wellywood out, did character analyses, and knew what themes I wanted to explore before I even started Chapter 1. I'm certainly not a 'pantser'! It helped me so much to have a structure. I know not everyone works this way, but it was great for me. Of course enjoying it and feeling passionate about what you do goes without saying.

Thank you so much, Kate, for taking the time out of the busy holiday rush to answer a few of my questions and for letting me read Styling Wellywood!!



Plain and simple, this book is a great example of women's fiction. The comparisons say that this book is in the same vein as Sophie Kinsella. I love her, so I read this, but with caution since I love Kinsella's books and I've been burned by the "if you like ____, you'll love ____" comparisons before. I'm happy to say that that comparison is totally accurate.

A large part of what made this book so lovely to enjoy was the setting. I don't often read books set in New Zealand, but I admit it's one of my top dream vacation spots. After reading this book, I only want to visit there more. It's clear the love for the country that the author has (even if lead character Jessica doesn't always see it). I liked the slang used, the sights described, and the shops that Jessica frequents. (I just found out that they're real shops. How cool is that, using real places and fashion designers!?)

I also loved Jessica. She's a complicated character that I think all women can relate to. She has big dreams of high fashion, of leading a life of London luxury. She has some facepalm worthy dating moments and is humbled a bit when she moves back in with her mother. Styling Wellywood is a roller coaster of Jess finding herself and rediscovering who she was in Wellington, getting back in the familiar groove of the city that she used to call home.

The rest of the characters were all unique and interesting too. Jess has a core group of friends that sometimes you love and sometimes you're annoyed with, much like any group of friends. Their choices (especially those of her best friend) will make you wonder what the hell is going on in their head, and you'll eagerly turn pages to find out answers. Her parents are likable and quirky. One of her love interests, an American tennis instructor named Scott, is definitely hot. And then there's her "friend" Ben. Totally just friends. Yup. She doesn't think about their drunken kiss not one bit. He's sweet and is the kind of man we all want to know.

Jess is the kind of character you can't help but to cheer for. She may not always go exactly where she wants in life, but she takes life as it comes. She grows into herself and her choices, becoming in charge of her life and what she wants out of it. I think we all want to have a bit of that mentality.

Styling Wellywood is a funny, well-written work of romantic women's fiction set in New Zealand. This is a great read to have nearby in the summer when you're lounging by the pool. I recommend it to fans of romance, chick lit, humor, and fashion. Thanks so much to author Kate O'Keeffe who gave me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Deciding long ago that feel good stories and happy endings shouldn't be limited to just children's books and fairy tales, I decided to create such worlds through my writing. Because life can just sometimes suck, can't it?

I've loved chick lit and romantic comedies since I first encountered Bridget Jones as a young, impressionable writer. It really was a match made in chick lit heaven for me! I like to take on serious subject matter and wrap it up in warmth, wit, and humour.

I've been a teacher and a sales executive, but am now content as a mother, madly writing all the ideas I've accumulated during my time on this planet we call home.

I live and love in New Zealand, with my wonderful family and my two very scruffy, naughty dogs.
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  1. This was a great interview to read, thanks a lot for stopping by Kate! I haven't really been into fashion books much before, but having it set in New Zealand certainly got me interested in reading this one. Wonderful review babe!