About author, Jennifer Gilby Roberts: Jennifer Gilby Roberts has a degree in physics and a postgraduate certificate in computing, so writing fiction was inevitable really. She was born and grew up in Surrey/Greater London, but now lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, small daughter, two middle-aged cats and a lot of dust bunnies.
Her job right now is taking care of her younger daughter, but previously she worked many thrilling jobs in administration, including one in an insurance claims office (wholly unrelated to the one in ‘The Dr Pepper Prophecies’…).
Describe your writing style in five words: Funny. Dry. Like Sophie Kinsella’s.
Salty or sweet? Sweet, because that’s what chocolate is.
Tell us about your book, “The Dr. Pepper Prophecies”: The narrator is 25-year-old Mel Parker, for whom nothing seems to go right. Having finally decided that she’s beyond hope, she sets out to fix up her friends’ lives instead. The tag line for the book is ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’, which should give you some idea of how that goes. It’s based (loosely) on Jane Austen’s Emma – imagine that with Bridget Jones playing the central character.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I think ebooks are great. I resisted the Kindle for a long time, but I’m glad to have one now. You can carry loads of books with you, so you have something for every mood. I have to admit, though, that I still prefer a paperback for reading in the bath.
What was the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? Long. I wrote the first draft of The Dr Pepper Prophecies in 2002 and edited it several times over the years. Publishing was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. My husband bought me a Kindle, then I found out you could publish ebooks through Amazon. I made up a cover, formatted it and put it up. Then I actually started reading about the business of self-publishing. It’s lucky I didn’t do that first, or I might not ever have published a book. There’s so much more to do than I ever imagined.
Who or what inspires you? It was reading Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret? that inspired me to write The Dr Pepper Prophecies. I wrote After Wimbledon after being in Melbourne for the Australian Open. Ideas come from all sorts of places.
How did you come up with the title of your book? At the time I wrote the first draft, Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc was running a series of adverts with the tag line ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’, which is very much the theme of the book.
What are you reading right now? Watermelon by Marian Keyes, The Tent, The Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy and yet another book on ebook marketing.
Every writer must have a…: … lot of courage, if they’re going to put their work out there for others to read.
If you could meet one author, who would it be? I’m not sure I would want to meet any of my favourite authors. People you admire rarely turn out to be what you expected. And I’m definitely not a social butterfly!
What is the best advice you’ve been given? Don’t get it right, get it written – don’t keep stopping to think of the perfect word, or start editing until you’ve finished the first draft.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? My second novel After Wimbledon will be out in late 2013. It follows pro tennis player Lucy as she plays the Wimbledon Championships, contemplates retirement and falls for her boyfriend’s arch-rival. A good one for anyone who felt that The Dr Pepper Prophecies could have used a bit more romance.
Blurb of “The Dr Pepper Prophecies”:
25-year-old Mel Parker has a few tiny problems:
• Her job is terrible
• She’s been dumped yet again
• Her ex is now her boss
• Her parents think she’s a loser compared to her perfect younger sister
• All her efforts to improve her life seem doomed to failure
• There just isn’t enough chocolate in the world to make up for the above.
The one good thing in her life has always been her best friend Will, who has seen her through every crisis from lost toys to pregnancy scares. But his girlfriend (who’s prettier, better-dressed, more successful and secretly evil) is determined to replace Mel as the woman in his life and how is Mel supposed to compete?
So what do you do when you’ve pretty much given up on your own life? Help others, of course! After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, Mel’s about to find out.
Worse still, her misguided efforts seem to be driving a wedge between her and Will. Can Mel live without her best friend? Or is he the man she loves…?
Chapter tease of “The Dr Pepper Prophecies”
Okay, I’ve had five minutes of panic. The guy who was leering at me now thinks I’m about to throw up, because I’ve been leaning back with my eyes closed and a tortured expression on my face. I’m thinking clearly now.
I might not be pregnant. I have been late before. I even skipped one period altogether when I went on that stupid crash diet after GCSEs. What I need is a pregnancy test.
Somewhat inconvenient then that the plane won’t even land for another three hours. And Martin’s picking me up at the airport. They really should sell them on the plane.
Okay, I’m thinking. There are other ways to tell if you’re pregnant, aren’t there? Like…okay, I know I read somewhere that you have vivid dreams when you’re pregnant. And I did have a great one last night. Colin Firth, the lake scene in Pride and Prejudice.
But then, who hasn’t had that one?
Nipples. Your nipples go dark brown or something.
Except I can’t really get my breasts out on a plane.
Or can I?
I go to get up and nearly gut myself with the seatbelt I’d forgotten I’d put on. Now the window seat guy thinks I’m running off to be sick. I sit down again, jarring my spine, take a deep breath and try again. Undoing my belt this time.
I walk unsteadily to the toilet. In fact my knees feel a little weak. It’s low blood sugar, that’s all. Or maybe food poisoning from the failed cloning attempt they gave us for lunch.
I’ve slipped into denial now. I’ve always liked denial. The sky is always blue and there’s never a queue at the post office.
Or the toilet. I bet someone’s trying to join the Mile High Club. I never applied for membership. I don’t like using aeroplane toilets, let alone want to have sex in one. They’re dirty and the lighting makes you look terrible. Plus, is there actually space?
I finally get into one. I lock the door, pull my top up and my breasts out. Then I study them very carefully. They look normal to me.
Of course, it might just be too early for it to show.
What else? There must be something else. Morning sickness – don’t think so. Dizziness – low blood sugar, low blood sugar. C’mon, I watched all those medical dramas. Think.
I have it! If you’re pregnant, your cervix turns blue!
Well that’s a fat lot of use, isn’t it? I can’t exactly get a quick look at my own cervix.
Or can I?
I mean, theoretically, all I need is a mirror.
It might work.
And it’s not like I have anything better to do.
I pull off my knickers and hike up my skirt. Hmm, in fact, I’d better take it off. I dump them both on the toilet seat.
First hitch, mirror is on wall.
Finally, gymnastics comes in handy.
I get one foot up by the wash basin and keep the other on the floor. Then I sort of tilt myself so I can see. It’s not working. I can’t see the right bit of me.
I get onto the toilet seat, put my leg up again and try that. That’s better. I’m kind of in the right place now. I try to see.
Nope, no good. Can’t see anything. Need a smaller mirror. And maybe a miner’s helmet for my finger.
It was never going to work. I’ve gone mad, haven’t I? Post traumatic stress disorder.
I try to get down. I catch my foot on the tap. Oh shit, I’m falling!
My butt hurts. And I hit my head on…
Oh, God, no.
The ‘call for help’ button.
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