Lyndsay Russell's debut novel, Fat Chance, is about a plus-size woman who finds herself in a world where fat is in. The English author has worked as a newspaper journalist and radio broadcaster and published a children's picture book with her daughter.
Was it fun creating an alternative world where fat is in?
Fantastic! Really great. True fantasy - where women buy silver cosmetic pens to highlight stretch marks, and Pig Lard cream to encourage cellulite . . . all very attractive attributes in this alternative universe.
How did your book deal come about?
It was so amazing . . . Last June, I'd sold a picture book called The Rainbow Weaver, which I had illustrated and written with my 10-year-old daughter to a publishing house called Oldcastle Books. I initially wrote Fat Chance as just a short story. But it had a growing appeal, so I gave it to the same editor a few months later, because she's anti-size zero and I figured she might be interested. She never mentioned it again, as we were so busy promoting The Rainbow Weaver. Then, after the London Book Fair where we launched the picture book, the head publisher and some buyers took me to dinner. Out of the blue, the editor announced, “I know the book we should do next . . . Lyndsay - tell them about Fat Chance”. All these eyes swiveled towards me, and then like a movie, the MD said “OK, pitch it to me in 10 words”. Having just taken a swig of red wine and a mouthful of spicy Thai (the first thing I'd had a chance to eat all day) my stress level went through the roof along with acid reflux! I managed to choke out: “Plump, pretty girl who finds herself in a world where it's ‘in' to be fat and out to be slim. She becomes a model and a celebrity in a reverse universe.” He forgave the extra words, and as I rushed to the loo to throw up, I heard him say “sign her up!” I floated home with my first novel deal, and six months to write it!
Tell us about your planned promotion of the book.
Actually, it's all sounding very exciting. We're holding a pre-launch of the hardback and large softback at Borders in Kingston on Thames, the market square, 7-9pm on Friday, July 11 - open to the public, your readers are really welcome to come and join us. Then, a protest during London Fashion Week (in September) - I'll let you know details later as we'd love some support from any women who have ever felt pressurised to be a “perfect” size. There's also talk of a ball and linking up with some big fashion names in a new approach to “get the book out there”.
Do you have another book in the pipeline?
Indeed, I do . . . and I'm on the look out for a top literary agent - I've been really lucky to get this far without one, but need someone to negotiate better than I can.
Who are your favourite authors?
Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), also Allison Pearson - I just relished her book I Don't Know How She Does It.
What are you reading now?
I've just finished the funniest chick lit book I've read in years . . . Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I picked it up in Canada, so I don't know if it's over here (England) yet, but it's SO funny. A very basic story, but every line sings with humour.
What does chick lit mean to you?
A book I easily identify with . . . simple as that.
What book do you wish you had written?
Mmm . . . for royalties sake, The Bible. A pretty good read, too.