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Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties… Ellie has her dream job… or does she? When Ellie's fiancé cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she’s already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he’s leaving in a week, and his ex-girlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge. Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It’s five, actually.) It’s a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.
Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one country long enough to finally write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I worked briefly on cruise ships in my 20s and again in my 30s (different cruise lines, different jobs), and saw a lot of really interesting, crazy things going on. When I was deciding on the first novel storyline, this seemed like an obvious choice. Since I am new to writing, I felt it would be easier to write about a world I had personally experienced - even though the story itself is fiction, I think having been on ships helped lend colour and realism to the book.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
It would have to be the main character, Ellie. Although the other characters are fun in different ways, I’ve really learned a lot as a writer by exploring Ellie’s personality, writing character maps, and deciding why she makes the decisions she does. She doesn’t make the best decisions with men, but she is a nice girl just doing her best to cope with the cards she’s been dealt!
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel. The title has changed a number of times. The working title was ‘Ellie and the Crew’ (but people thought it sounded like a pre-teen book), then ‘The Lust Boat’ (but someone else had released a novel with the same name, and that was erotica. She said she didn’t mind if I use it, but it didn’t work for the genre)… Then it became ‘Cruisy in Love’, then ‘Cruzy in Love’ (because the relationship to the word ‘crazy’ wasn’t obvious), then ‘Let’s go Cruzy’… before my friend said “Cath, that is the worst book title in the history of the world. I hate it.” Hahaha, he came up with the title ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising the Caribbean’, which I shortened to ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’. It was a long journey to the title! I nearly died when I saw how many other books were called ‘Sex, Lies, and something’, but it was too late. That ship had sailed. Pun intended.
4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I have to be honest, I have edited the book that many times (around ten full edits), and the last one was the most significant, so it’s all become a bit of a blur. I can’t even remember sometimes which scenes have stayed or been deleted! Still, I like one of the last scenes, where Ellie makes a really important decision – because she is no longer driven by her heart, which was really important for her to do after all the bad experiences she’d had from trusting men she liked.
Having said that, I also like one of the later sex scenes, which is kind of a group sex scene. I know it sounds funny to say that, but writing sex felt very awkward as I went through the book. It was necessary, in order to be true to what happens on ships, but it still felt weird. Both my mentor (James) and my editor (Mac) said my sex scenes were boring and lacked emotion/reaction – that they were very ‘this happened and then this happened’. James said that the sex scenes in the bok needed to increase in intensity, so that the readers go on a journey with Ellie… but he kept helping me out by editing what I had written. Then, I was writing along in one of the last chapters, and suddenly my characters decided they were going to do this crazy thing – which wasn’t in my outline – and I just went with it. It’s not something I’ve experienced personally, so I literally just wrote out of my imagination. James read it (he read each chapter as I wrote it and sent feedback) and said, “Phwoar, what happened there? That’s the best sex scene in the book!” Bit awkward to have that discussion with a 70 year old man, but I was happy J
5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
To write every day, whether you feel like it or not… and to do really in-depth character work before you start. It felt boring to me and I just wanted to get on with writing the book, but I had to go back later and do more character work, because my editor said the character’s reactions to things weren’t realistic, probably because I didn’t know them well enough.
6. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Everything. One of my best friends, who is the most talented graphic designer I know, designed it. Then an expert photoshopper I know in Tunisia did some colour manipulation work on it (the original model had red hair and lacked depth of colour in her lips and cheeks). We went through several iterations of it, changing fonts, colours, and even the positioning of the model at the last moment – to make her off-centre. Many people have responded really well to the cover, so that’s exciting.
7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?
I have to be honest – although authors say that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write… this is one of those years where I really don’t have time to read. I also don’t watch TV. I still work four days a week, I have a three year old, and I write or work on promo nearly every night. But when I’m on holidays at Christmas, I’ll look for something very different to what I write – maybe an edge-of-your-seat thriller or something! Any suggestions?
8. What was your favorite book in 2014?
It wasn’t a new release, but I did love every moment of The Power Trip by Jackie Collins.
9. What’s up next for you?
Apart from spending lots of time promoting this book, I've started working on the sequel, 'Love, Drugs, and New York'. It follows Ellie on the next leg of her journey. I don't want to give too much away, except to say that she feels she has finally found her perfect situation - with a great man and a great job - but as time goes on, she suddenly wonders if that's what she actually wants. I've written the outline and the first few chapters, but I'm just waiting for the frenetic pace of my first book's promotional period to die down before I can get into it.
I'm also working on selling 'Sex, Lies, and Cruising' as a TV series. My publicist in LA has a contact in a major studio who is very excited about the prospect. She feels it's something that would work well in the industry right now, and would be good as a half hour comedy format (think 'Sex and the City' at sea) - and wants to option the book to try and sell it... I've also had a couple of emails from people who have seen my publicity and want to talk about TV adaptation too. However, I want to take it slow. It's always been my ultimate dream, even before I started writing the book (I have a degree in Film and Television Production), but I want to be sure I understand what I'm getting into and the best way to go about it... There's no room for mistakes with this part!
10. Is there anything that you would like to add?
I’ve had lots of promotion relating to my former work on cruise ships (which totalled less than a year, despite reports it was up to seven years!). I’m happy and grateful to have publicity (it’s what I was looking for), but I want people to know that I’m a writer who happens to have worked in the same job as my character and I could have written about any topic. It’s not a cruise ship exposé or a thinly veiled autobiography. While a few juicy bits from real life made it into the book, this book is fiction and I’ve worked really hard at creating something which is entertaining, easy to read, engrossing, and well executed. It’s not highbrow literature, it’s chick lit. But I want people to get lost in it, and even if they don’t agree with the character’s decisions, to at least enjoy the process of watching her learn and grow, have a few laughs, and even get a bit turned on, along the way!