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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Latino dancing, Greek chicken and inspiration with Dianne Yarwood

Pass the tissues, this debut novel from Dianne Yarwood will have you laughing, crying and hugging your loved ones tight! As a firm food-lover, I really enjoyed the catering thread that ran through The Wakes, as well as the multiple perspectives and the humour that made it such a touching read. The story is a tribute to female friendships, love and the healing power of a good lemon tart. Perfect for fans of Joanna Nell, Sandie Docker and Sasha Wasley, or fans of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Five fast minutes with Dianne Yarwood

Essential writing snacks?

Dark chocolate, nuts, and frequent cups of tea. At the moment I’m addicted to chocolate and macadamia cookies – the ones I buy are quite large and so I break one in half, telling myself that half is plenty, and then five minutes later I go back and eat the other half.

Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?

Dancing! I do a weekly Latino dance class and it’s the happiest hour of my week.

What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Braised Greek Chicken. It’s a recipe from a Gourmet Traveller magazine from years and years ago. The chicken is sprinkled with paprika, dried oregano and thyme, and then stewed in shallots, olives, capers, garlic, white wine and chicken stock. Yum!

Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?

A high school English teacher, or maybe a really ordinary professional dancer.

Favourite way to spend a Friday night?

Takeaway and a ‘Line of Duty’ style crime show on Netflix. It’s almost ridiculous how compelling and satisfying those kinds of shows can be.

Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

Part of my advance went to my second son’s wedding last September, and another part will go to my oldest son’s wedding in June. It’s hard to think of anything more special to spend it on.

Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration?

In bed around 3am. So many good sentences or scenes come to me then, as if I’m writing them subconsciously and I wake with them almost fully formed. For conversations between characters, I find the shower is invaluable.

Favourite perfume or scent?

‘Monarch’ by Vanessa Megan. Its beautifully described as ‘earthy florals’ and I love the fact that’s it’s a 100% natural.

Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ (mine’s big earrings, cardigan and jeans)?

‘Uniform’ sounds a little too neat for what I wear. My work style is ‘slouchy’: loose fitting in a soft fabric, and generally something I wouldn’t be seen leaving the house in.

Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2023?

I’m keen to read Megan Rogers’ debut novel The Heart is a Star. It sounds like a beautiful book.

Share a quirky habit/talent or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.

I’m honestly a little stuck on this one; I’m not feeling at all quirky. But I do have a hidden talent – whenever I eat a dish I really love in a restaurant, I’m particularly skilled at prising its ingredients out of the waiter, while appearing to be simply in awe of the dish. I then go home and tenaciously recreate it.

Find Dianne online

On Instagram: @diannejyarwood

Dianne Yarwood worked in accounting and corporate advisory in Newcastle, Sydney and London. She also nurtured a love for cooking and catering. At the age of forty, with three young children, she became very ill and her life was saved by an emergency doctor. This brush with mortality gave her the courage to do what she's always wanted to do - write. Dianne lives in Sydney with her husband. The Wakes is her first novel.

The Wakes

A heartfelt, funny and uplifting debut about two failing marriages, two strangers falling in love, two friends embarking on a catering business - and the four funerals that connect them all.

'A truly delightful debut novel. Funny, moving, tender and wise, I ate up every delicious word' LIANE MORIARTY

'Warm and profound. I can't wait for everyone to read it' SALLY HEPWORTH

This is a story about Clare, Louisa and Chris. And sometimes Paul, and less often, Beth. It is most certainly not about frittatas (a terrible concession), and more to do with lemon tart (a perfect contrast of textures).

It is about what to do when your husband tells you that he doesn't love you anymore. And what to do when your wife leaves you after too many rounds of IVF. It's about helping your new friend with her funeral catering business, and discovering that, sometimes, the most unlikely of pairings are the very, very best. It is about food that is outrageously good and comforting to sad people. And, for once, not being sensible, and throwing away everything you know.

Catering, like life, doesn't always go according to plan, and as Clare, Louisa and Chris's stories become more intertwined, they will learn that life will always manage to break in to remind you of just how good it can be.

This is a book about living. After all, the thing about death is that it makes life important.

'So warm and poignant and sweetly funny. I loved it' JACQUELINE MALEY

'A celebration of what it means to be alive, and the joy of finding friendship where you least expect it . . . explores the messiness of middle age with warmth, humanity and wry humour, as well as fiction's most delicious lemon tarts! I'd eat this book if I could' JOANNA NELL


Head to my WIN page for your chance to win a copy of The Wakes thanks to Hachette. Simply enter the contest HERE by 5pm Monday March 5. Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers only, please.


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