Today we are privileged to interview author, Haley Hill. Thank you so much Haley, we enjoyed your witty answers. She has also provided us with a free excerpt from her book. Enjoy!
How and when did you become a writer?
I became a writer just after I’d sold my matchmaking agency. In the space of six years I had personally interviewed thousands of single professionals and as a company tens of thousands. I had learnt so much and heard so many interesting perspectives on romantic love, I was desperate to put it down on paper. However, I’d had no experience in writing novels. I had once worked as an editor for the Pharmaceutical Journal but that’s a world away from Chick Lit! It took me a long time to find my style.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just released my debut novel ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker,’ so I’m busy getting the word out at the moment. I’ve been really lucky and there seems to be a lot of interest from bloggers and journalists. And I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some amazing early reviews. I think the topic of romantic love will always fascinate people.
Do you plan your novels? How do you prepare?
I wrote an outline for ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect’ but as I wrote the story, it seemed as though the characters took over. I’ve heard authors say this before and I’d always thought it was a little pretentious, but really it does happen. There are some feisty characters in my book and they led, or more like, frogmarched the story where it needed to go.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
The freedom to work when I want to. I put my daughters to bed and work all night sometimes. Although on the flip side, there is no freedom when you’re a writer. Your writing consumes you and there’s little room for anything else.
What do you get up to when you're not writing?
Honestly, at the moment, not much. I look after my daughters and write. When I was a matchmaker, I was out in London every night, living the Sex and The City lifestyle. However now I prefer the simple life: a long walk with my dog, Rufus, followed by a cosy night in with my husband, some good food and a bottle of red.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out?
[Deep sigh]. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Writing takes time to master. It took four attempts for me to produce the first draft of ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect’ followed by ten further major edits. Not to count the twenty or so proofreads. I think the title was a self-fulfilling prophecy! Seriously though, don’t compromise. Do your story justice and write it well.
If your book was made into a film, who would you want to play the main characters?
I’ve always thought Anne Hathaway would make a brilliant matchmaker. I think she could express the endearingly naive idealism that drives Ellie, my novel’s protagonist to want to change the world. Kate Hudson would be perfect as Ellie’s nemesis, Victoria. As for the male characters, I think Hugh Jackman as Nick, Ellie’s love interest. (Obviously it would be imperative that I cast him personally.) Then Hugh Grant as Mr Marbella, the uber-rich billionaire obsessed with nipple types. And Colin Firth as the hapless yet loveable William.
Tell us about your current book.
‘It’s got to be perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker’ is a novel inspired by my time as a matchmaker. It’s a fun Chick-Lit style read, which demonstrates, through the character’s relationships, how we have been conditioned to aspire to a ‘glossy brochure’ happy ever after. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in all my time as a matchmaker is that happiness is fleeting. It comes and goes. And another person cannot make us happy. Aside from the deeper premise, there’s also lots of fun stuff too: a broken penis, a dog on Viagra and feminist anarchy at a lapdancing club!
Tell us how you settled on the title.
It wasn’t until the final draft, a year and a half into writing, that the title just came to me. It was as though everything I’d learnt and had been processing in my mind suddenly reached a conclusion.
What project are you working on now?
I know many authors write prolifically but I think after this, I will let my thoughts rest for a while. I don’t want to write for writings sake. I want to make sure I have something meaningful to say first.
What do you enjoy about being a writer?
To be honest, I found the writing process quite challenging, and at times a real struggle. I’m a perfectionist at heart and I’m my own worst critic. However, now the reviews have started to come through, it feels as though it’s all been worthwhile. It’s not the recognition so much, it’s more the fact that my writing has managed to touch someone, or at least make them laugh. At the risk of sounding trite, that makes it all worth while.
What are you reading at the moment?
Raising Girls by Steve Biddulph. I think the next generation of women have some serious challenges ahead and I want to equip my girls in the best way I can.
Tell us a little bit about you and how you came to be a writer.
In 2005, I was 27, engaged to a lawyer and had a great career as a pharmacist. Everything was as it should be. Until the day before my wedding when the groom called the wedding off. Suddenly my world fell apart. I began to question everything I knew about love and life. I think it was that total uncertainty that spurred me on to set up a dating agency. I wanted to discover the truth about love. Six years later, running the UK’s biggest matchmaking agency, I finally had the answers I needed. I also had several hundred marriages to my name and a wonderful husband, who I’d met through the agency. My work was done. Well almost. I sold the agency and that’s when I decided to write the book. It was as though I was compelled to document everything I had learned.
And Just for fun can I ask you these quickies?
Sweet or sour? As an ex-matchmaker I wouldn’t dare separate them. They are soulmates.
City or Countryside? Ooh that’s a close call. City for now. Country later.
Icecream or Sorbet? Icecream. How is that even a question?
Tea or Coffee? Tea usually. Coffee when I’m on a deadline.
Fact or Fiction? Facts make the best fiction.
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter - I have a short attention span.
Dogs or Cats? Dogs, dogs and more dogs. Honestly I’d have a hundred if I could.
eReader or paperback? eReader. My name is Haley Hill and I’m an eBook addict.
Summer or Winter? Winter, so long as it’s a proper winter. Not the lame drizzle-fests we’ve been having of late.
Concert or theatre? Theatre. Does Dirty Dancing count?
Inspired by the Author’s six years as a matchmaker When Ellie Rigby hurls her three-carat engagement ring into the gutter, she is certain of only one thing, that she has yet to know true love.
Following months of disastrous internet dates and conflicting advice from her dysfunctional friends, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Although now, instead of just looking for a man for herself, she's certain her life's purpose is to find deep and meaningful love for all the singles in the world.
Five years on, running the UK's biggest matchmaking agency, and with thousands of engagements to her name, she has all the answers she needs. She knows why eighty-five percent of relationships fail. She knows why twenty-eight is the most eligible age for a woman. She knows that by thirty-five she'll have only a thirty-percent chance of marriage.
Most of all, she knows that no matter what, it has to be perfect. Or does it?
‘Blonde hair, blue eyes and big tits,’ he said to Mia. Fortunately for him, in the four years we’d worked together, she had learned to temper her eye rolls and her expression was fixed at something that could have even been described as earnest.
‘Would you consider green eyes?’ Mia asked.
‘No,’ he said, pushing up his sleeves to reveal a diamond encrusted Rolex. ‘I dated someone with green eyes once. It didn’t work out.’
I continued typing on my keyboard on the table next to them, brushing the hair away from my face to sneak a sideways glance at him. He wore a shiny grey suit, the garish end of Gucci. His watch was obnoxiously bling like a bank balance on his wrist, his hair: blond, highlighted. Tan: deep, natural. Eyes: blue, sparkling. Smile: cheeky, lopsided. Teeth: even, white. Age: I’d guess, thirty-seven. Height: around 5ft 7in, unfortunate considering his other physical attributes. Body language: overtly male, legs splayed, hand near crotch, shoulders wide. Eye contact: good. Champagne choice: predictably expensive. Overall assessment: inflated ego, directly proportional to, and fully dependent on, his net assets. I looked over at Mia, watching how her dark hair hid her face as she leant over a notepad and began writing. He sat opposite her, his hands miming two large beach balls.
‘Like this,’ he said, a self-satisfied smile sweeping across his face. ‘Are you looking?’
Mia raised her head and the curtain lifted. I could tell she was fighting to suppress an emotion. I supposed it was either amusement or rage, but I couldn’t quite tell.
‘Yes, got it,’ she replied. ‘Please continue.’
‘And I like nipples that point upwards.’
‘Upwards-pointing nipples,’ she said, scribbling away.
‘And I prefer pink to brown.’
‘Preferably pink.’ She paused and looked up, eyes narrowed.
‘Is that a deal breaker? The pink nipples?’
He weighed his head from side to side and I pictured a tiny cluster of brain cells rolling around inside his skull.
‘Yes. Definitely pink. I’m not fussed which shade.’
‘There are shades?’
‘Of course, from light pink, like the colour of your nail
varnish, to a dark pink, a bit like your lipstick.’
‘Wow, you learn something every day.’
‘I’m surprised you didn’t know that.’
‘Yes, you being a –’
‘No, being a woman. You must have seen hundreds of your friends’ nipples.’
‘My friends don’t have hundreds of nipples.’
‘You know what I mean.’
‘Oh, you mean all those topless pillow fights we have?’
He nodded and winked. She locked him with Medusa eyes.
‘Right, now your turn.’
‘What else do you need to know?’
She ripped out a sheet of paper from her notepad and slid it across the table along with a pen.
‘Draw an outline of your penis for me, please.’
‘An outline?’ he asked.
I giggled inwardly and wondered if he had selected the wrong word for clarification.
‘Yes, sketch the outline and then add in any unusual features.’
Her expression remained fixed at a plausible serious.
He picked up the pen. ‘Does it have to be to scale?’
‘Preferably. Or else you can indicate the measurements.’
With an expression of intense concentration and with a tight grip on the pencil, he soon completed the sketch. Then after a further five minutes of shading and corrections, he held the sheet of paper aloft for Mia to see.
‘Obviously we’ll have to verify this with a photo,’ she said, taking it from him and studying it.
He leaned back in his seat. ‘Will you want that signed by my bank manager?’
‘Ex-girlfriend will do. But if your bank manager is happy to do it …’
Moments later, after he’d left and the buzz of his phone was fading into the distance, Mia turned to me with a tight smile.
‘Another Prince Charming,’ she said, handing me the sketch.
‘Good sport though.’
I looked at the drawing, winced and then quickly folded it away. It appeared, his ego wasn’t the only thing that was inflated.
‘So, what were you scribbling down?’ I asked. ‘A full
She shook her head. ‘Shopping list.’
I sighed. ‘Mia.’
‘He’s a client. You’re supposed to be focused on helping him.’
‘Go on then.’
She laughed. ‘Well, under all the bravado, there’s probably a
lost little boy who just wants to be loved.’
‘Mia. Stop it.’
‘Know any stupid girls with big tits who want a rich guy?’
My mind flicked through its archives. ‘Yes,’ I said, nodding
slowly, ‘but she’s not stupid. She’s quite intelligent actually. Her name’s Kerri.’
‘We don’t care about her name. What’s her cup size?’
‘Hang on.’ I picked up my phone and typed her name into
Google images, then handed the phone to Mia. ‘There you go, pink nipples.’
Mia sniffed. ‘Of course, a glamour model. She looks so … what’s the word?’ She drummed her fingers on the table.
‘Yes, that’s it. Intelligent.’
I rolled my eyes, something I appeared to have acquired from Mia.
‘You okay to arrange the introduction?’
‘Sure,’ she said, stuffing her notebook back into her bag.
‘Living the dream.’
Haley was born in London in 1977, with a big heart, big feet and big ideals. In 2005, she set up what turned out to be the UK's biggest matchmaking agency. She has since sold it and drunk the proceeds. She lives in Battersea with her husband James, a wine merchant and consequent enabler of her habit, their twin girls and a scruffy hound called Rufus. She spends her days chasing her toddlers around the house, trying to write but mostly just messing about on Twitter.
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