Hello again fellow Tweeps and welcome to my eighth interview.  I know I keep saying this but it is true, I am extremely lucky to have met some fantastic people on Twitter.  They are great supporters of my blog and my twitter ramblings and are always quick to help whenever I have a question about anything.  The subject of this interview is no different and has been a good Twitter buddy for months now. 

Her debut novel is finished and she is ready to head out on the daunting task of getting an agent.  Please read on and learn more about Isabel Costello who you should be following at @isabelcostello or on her blog at http://isabelcostello.wordpress.com

Hi and welcome Isabel, I notice on your blog that you are wrapping up your first novel and preparing to seek agent representation, can you tell us a bit about the novel?

Nothing Happens for a Reason is the story of a chance encounter in London between two women with nothing in common, leading to an unlikely and intense friendship.  Jackie finds family life tough with two adolescent sons and an ex-husband who can’t accept that it’s over.  Kath is a mysterious American who has no-one.  As their lives become entwined that summer, Kath’s reluctance to talk about her past is matched by Jackie’s sudden urge to reveal her own shocking secret.  And that’s when it gets complicated!

Your novel is partly set in 1970s Brooklyn.  Tell me how you came to be interested in writing about a city on the other side of an ocean from you?

I fell in love with Brooklyn the first time I went there and my character Kath came to me very vividly soon afterwards.  I am fascinated by its duality, the fact that it is both part of NYC and very much its own place.  It also has a very interesting history, and the people are wonderful.

Did you do on-site research for your novel?

Oh yes. Brooklyn/NYC is the last place on earth I would choose to write about if I wasn’t prepared to put in the legwork to get it right.  My research trip at Easter 2011 was one of the most enjoyable experiences ever and  I am greatly in debt to my fantastic network of contacts (now friends) in Brooklyn, especially as it is a very changed place to 1976 and there is no substitute for talking face to face with people who remember it back in the day.  Can’t wait to return!

Have you traveled much in the USA?

Yes, I have been many times and visited at least 20 states.  The first time was Oahu, Hawaii which must be unusual for a British person.  The USA is impossible to beat for its sheer beauty and variety – I have been to Colorado and Utah several times.  My favourite city is NYC (obviously) – I also like  Chicago and San Francisco.  Despite its cultural delights, Washington DC didn’t do it for me and I cannot cope with the climate in Florida. Texas and New Mexico are on my wish list.

How often did you work on your novel in a typical week?

Interesting one!  In theory I work during school hours as I don’t have a full time job, but I often waste huge amounts of time when I should be writing and then write like a demon in the evening, at weekends, etc.  If you’re really not in the mood it is pointless.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My book (reading) group.  When I was in a rut a few years ago, they encouraged me to do something about my ambition to write by taking classes and that’s where it all took off for me.  They are about to read the novel in full before it goes out to agents, and only if they think it’s good enough!  They are very honest and demanding, but I’m not that nervous as some of them have read previous drafts.

What if anything did you learn about yourself while writing your book?

That I’m willing to listen to constructive criticism and push myself hard to write better.  Good novels (and I try to avoid bad ones) always appear effortless, but writing a decent book is infinitely harder than most people think.

Do you have another Novel in mind, and if so will it be in the same genre?

Yes, I have an outline.  I imagine it will appeal to the same readership but will have a slightly different feel as one of the main characters is male and it is partly set inFrance, a place I know well.

I notice that you have some actual formal education in writing, can you tell us a bit about that, and what drew you to it?

My formal education (university degree) was in French and German language and literature, hence my love of literary criticism.  I have taken, and learned a lot from, various informal adult education classes in Creative Writing. 

Your Blog at http://isabelcostello.wordpress.com is very well done, you do reviews and blog a lot about writing, how long have you been blogging?

It’s hard to believe I’ve only been doing it around 3 months.  I am absolutely loving it and the response has been very encouraging.

Your reviews are very good, how long does it take you to write one, typically?

Thank you, Peter! I would love to say I can dash them off in an hour or two but the truth is, it takes the best part of two days, one to study and analyse the book and one to write and polish the review itself. 

How often does your writing group meet, is it large?

We meet fortnightly.  There are 3 or 4 of us, plus our mentor.  The intimate size of the group is one of the reasons it works so well, as we are very familiar with each others’ work and aims.  If it weren’t for this group, I would still be sitting in large classes wondering if I could ever write a novel.

Ok, now for a little bit about the person that is Isabel.

You live in London, England but you weren’t born there, can you tell us geographically challenged people where you were born and raised?

I was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire which is in Southern England about 2 hours fromLondon.  It has a famous and very beautiful cathedral.

Normal old boring childhood or were you on a merchant marine ship growing up?

It’s about time someone said ‘yes’ to the second, isn’t it?  But it won’t be me.

How would you describe yourself as a child?

Solemn, nervy and introverted.  I read all the time.

Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?

My family call me Izzey since childhood and my husband picked it up from them early on, but I dislike anyone else calling me that.

How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?

I don’t think I ever expected to be as happy as I am.  Having children transformed me.

Speaking of that, I read that you have two boys, lucky you LOL.  What is the zaniest thing that has happened in your household?

My husband made Shrek models, posters etc for our eldest son’s 5th birthday party.  They stayed up, visible from the street, for months and when we removed them tons of people complained and said they missed them!

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you change about your life, if anything?

I would tell my husband he could retire and buy a house with a pool in Provence (France)

 What is your biggest pet peeve?

I am quite old-fashioned about manners, and things like people taking disabled parking spaces they shouldn’t appalls me.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

Don’t worry too much what people think of you, most of the time they are too busy thinking about themselves to care what you get up to.

Your favorite room in the house and why?

My office because nobody is allowed in to mess it up.  Sadly that doesn’t mean it’s tidy all the time.  Getting my own room was critical to being able to write my novel.

What is your favorite Musical Group or Artist

I love the Kings of Leon.  I’m sure they’ll be delighted about that.

What is one place in the world you would like to visit that you have not been to yet?

Tierra del Fuego,Patagonia

If you could change one event in history, what would it be?

The Holocaust

Where would you go in your Time Machine?

Americain the 1960s

If we looked in your refrigerator, what would we find?

Champagne and general signs of decadence

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

I’d settle for it not being ‘The Humiliations of a Failed Novelist’.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a loving wife and mother

For this part, as brief as you can LOL, some one or two word answers please:

Favorite color? Blue

Lucky Number 6

Most Money you have spent on a single Book? £60

Fast dance or Slow Dance?  Fast

Short/Tall?  Tall

Best book you ever read? Madame Bovary

Favorite Music?  Chopin

Movie that makes you cry?   I’ve Loved You So Long

Movie that you watch every year or more often?    Rocky Horror

Favorite Season?  Summer

Regular or Decaf?  Regular, strong

City Girl or Country Girl?  Urban convert

4 door sedan or sports car?  I wish!

Favorite food?  Fillet steak

Tattoo Yes or No? No way.

Take out or cook at home?  Keen cook

Favorite Movie?   American Beauty

Skirts or jeans?  Both

Favorite Day of the Week?  Sunday

How many Pairs of Shoes do you own?   A lot.

 Rings the bell, wow Isabel you are the first one to get through the speed round with just the minimal number of words ~applause~.

You have to keep all of us informed on the progress of getting your novel to press.  I know that you will be a huge success and we can all say that we knew you when.  Now is there any charity or group that you would like to promote?

Macmillan Cancer Support were incredibly important to my family in the last months of my Dad’s life and we will never forget it.


Thanks Isabel, you were a joy to interview.