I get asked this question more often that you probably think. Why did I choose this genre, this style as opposed to serious romance or even thrillers? My answer is always the same – why not?
That may sound simple, but there is actually some very solid reasons behind it. Chick Lit has dominated the sales charts for decades. Other genres have also seen increases and then plateaued, but overall, good old romance in the form of Chick Lit has held steady. Anyway, who doesn’t love a good Bridget Jones or Love Actually story? Some Chick Lit has led to the biggest grossing movies of all time and series franchises like Sex and The City, and were all secretly hoping for an outcome like that!
I didn’t start off writing Chick Lit, in fact I began (but failed miserably) writing a psychological thriller. It was a great concept, but the characters were really unlikeable and the plot had as many holes as a slice of Swiss cheese. I struggled with it for well over two years before a very wise mentor told me to ditch it and go with something I knew well. I contemplated this for a while, quite sure my life was far too boring to ever write about, but in a group workshop I was recounting stories of my experience as a wedding and funeral celebrant and I had the entire class in stitches. That’s when I made the jump. I went home from that class absolutely invigorated and full of ideas. I wrote my first book, Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don’t in three months.
‘They Do, I Don’t’ is a romantic comedy about a marriage celebrant who gives up on love when her own life falls apart, but with 10 weddings (and a funeral) still to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, there are plenty of laughs and family drama. Within six months of deciding to switch to Chick Lit I had an offer from Harper Collins Australia for this story.
Timing was definitely a factor, Harper Collins were on the hunt for that type of story, but writing something I knew about intimately and had great insight into meant that it was a story I could write easily and tell really well. Once book 1 was off and running I turned my attention to book 2 and had so much fun taking my characters on another hilarious journey. My family was definitely living in fear at that point given that many of the characters in my first book (especially the sisters) resembled them. They started to throw in ‘this isn’t allowed to go in the next book’ every time they said anything to or around me.
Book 2 in the series: Confetti Confidential: Annabel’s Wedding was released on November 1st last year and pretty much picks up a year after where the characters from They Do, I Don’t left off. Of course there’s lots of hilarious moments and emotional turmoil just like the first and so far feedback and reviews for both have been amazing.
It’s certainly been a learning curve having two books released in 1 year and all of the whirlwind and crazy that comes along with that, but I think that’s really the only way to learn. I wish I could say I was now confident with how to market myself and reach an audience, but the reality is that with every book you put out you just have to wait and see.
Right now I’m almost finished writing my third book, again a Chick Lit set in Hawaii, but after that I’m going to branch out a little. Chick Lit will always be my favourite genre and I don’t think I’ll ever move too far from it, but I’ve teamed up with a fabulous kids author recently to write a really fun adventure story aimed at middle grade readers and I’ve also begun research and notes on what I’d call an ‘epic’ love story which is based on my grandparents and a box full of old war-time letters my Mum found when clearing out their house.
There’s definitely exciting times ahead, but one of the best things that I have found about this whole thing is the people I have met. Chick Lit is a genre that welcomes you with open arms. The community is supportive and helpful and reciprocal in lifting you when you reach out and lift others. Oh, and did I mention that they’re cool? Yep, we’re all pretty cool!
About Susan Murphy
Susan Murphy is an author, mum to three fabulous kids, wife, marriage and funeral celebrant, university student, teacher, and self-confessed chocolate addict. When not writing she can be found standing on the edge of a cliff, on a P&O cruise ship or even getting blown away on a beach somewhere while officiating wedding ceremonies. You might also find her at the SA Writers Centre where she is currently a member and previously the Writer in Residence.
Video trailer for Book 1
Harper Collins: http://www.harpercollins.com.au/search-results/?search-term=Susan+Murphy
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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