Author Talks: Josephine Moon – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Love

Love stories are never my first line of narrative in a novel (with the exception of perhaps The Chocolate Promise) but play a secondary, supporting storyline. I knew that my main character of The Cake Maker’s Wish, Olivia Kent, would have a love interest but that was as much as I knew when I began the book.

I write the way I garden—spontaneously, with very little planning, accidentally planting things I later need to pull out, forgetting to water some things, which die from lack of attention, and letting random seeds sprout to see what they’ll become. Every now and then, I have to dig up whole garden beds and start again. Consequently, my ideas for Olivia’s love interest were as equally unplanned as my garden.

I thought I knew who Olivia’s man would be but characters have a way of taking over. In every book, characters simply ‘turn up’ and to begin with I often I have no idea why they’re there. I give them time and space on the page to see what happens and often the reason becomes clear later on. For example, in Three Gold Coins a Swedish gardener called Henrik turned up to Samuel’s Italian house one day, alongside Matteo. I had no idea why he was there until later in the story when I needed to send Lara on a trip to the north of Italy with Matteo. Who was going to stay and care for Samuel? Henrik, of course! That was why he’d arrive on the page, to allow Lara the chance to travel.

Anyway, back to The Cake Maker’s Wish…

Not only do characters simply ‘turn up’, some of them arrive fully formed, like real life people I can see moving about and hear clearly in my head. These characters are the best and make my job so much easier. (Helge, Clarence and Madeline were all exceptionally strong characters in The Cake Maker’s Wish who helped to write their own scenes.) Soon enough, another man put his hand up to be Olivia’s love match. Oo, I thought, this is interesting! Now, Olivia would have to choose between men. This was a completely new concept for me and I began to set up the story so that both love interests were equally compelling.

Then… a third man put up his hand.

Yep, now I had three men all vying for Olivia’s heart. I had never written a story before with two love interests, let alone three. Structurally speaking, that is a serious challenge. I went backwards and rewrote the book to include the third man.

In my heart, the third man—Harry—was The One but no matter how much I wrangled him and Olivia on the page, Olivia’s heart wasn’t in it. Things became very confusing. Both my editor and my publisher said they felt Olivia had ended up with the wrong man. Neither told me what to do about it, trusting I would come up with the answer.

Characters that are as strong as Harry don’t turn up without reason. What was going on? I mulled over the problem for a couple of weeks until I realised what had happened. Harry had walked into the wrong book. Harry had turned up a book early and truly belonged in next year’s book. Realising this was both a relief and an incredible pain. I knew I had to rewrite the whole story, taking out Harry, who’d been there from the first page to the last. I took a deep breath and began to unpick every scene he was in. As frustrating as this was it meant that by the end of the unpicking I knew Harry really well and he easily stepped into next year’s book (currently called The Jam Queen). I know he is now where he belongs.

As for Olivia, she then only had to choose between the remaining two lovely men and I know she ended up with exactly the right one.


The Cake Maker’s Wish

Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .

When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.

The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.

For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.

After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.

An uplifting and heart-warming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.

Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released 2nd June 2020


About the Author:

Josephine Moon was born and raised in Brisbane, had a false start in Environmental Science before completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and then a postgraduate degree in education. Twelve years and ten manuscripts later, her first novel The Tea Chest was picked up for publication and then shortlisted for an ABIA award. Her bestselling contemporary fiction is published internationally. Her books include The Tea Chest, The Chocolate Promise, The Beekeeper’s Secret, Three Gold Coins and The Gift of Life.

In 2018, Josephine organised the ‘Authors for Farmers’ appeal, raising money to assist drought-affected farming communities. She is passionate about literacy, and is a proud sponsor of Story Dogs and The Smith Family.

She now lives on acreage in the beautiful Noosa hinterland with her husband and son, and a tribe of animals that seems to increase in size each year. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

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