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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Karina May on the perfect writing desk, waiting and two-book deals

One of the very best things a book can do is make me laugh a lot, swoon a little, set my tummy rumbling and fan the flames of wanderlust, all from the comfort of my lounge room, and I’m delighted to say, the gorgeous new release Duck á l’Orange for Breakfast did all these things and more! This novel is the print debut for Sydney author Karina May, and I’ve been seeing window displays and social media posts all over the place since its release with Pan Macmillan last month.

Readers will have a ball with the quirky main character Maxine Mayberry and her IKEA addiction, ghastly ex-in laws and the health scare that flips her world upside down. You’ll also be cheering for Max as she tackles a baking challenge with enigmatic online dating beau Johnny and want to stow away in her suitcase when she travels to France. Perfect for rom-com fans who love recipes in the back of books!

Sydney-based Karina May is a former magazine journalist turned digital marketer, avid reader and writer of lively love stories that span the globe. When she’s not dreaming up her next meet-cute, you’ll likely find Karina rescuing her kindle from the bath, or out guzzling espresso martinis in the name of research.

Short and sweet questions

Current book on your bedside table:

Current book on your bedside table:

The Shot! A debut by Naima Brown out in June that I was lucky enough to get an early copy of. It’s described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor and is delightfully intense.

Where do you do most of your writing?

When I’m at home, I usually write at the dining table. I do like to get away when I can, so I’m also an expert hotel bed writer (three-pillow stack makes for the perfect desk!)

Favourite Australian holiday destination:

So many beautiful destinations but a recent fave is Rottnest Island. I only went last year after attending the RWA Conference in Freemantle, but I loved it and want to go back (and explore more of WA!).

What’s your preferred drop?

Rose in Summer and shiraz in Winter.

Pet peeve:

People who read the end of books first! Whyyyyyy … I love to skip ahead and read the acknowledgments, but reading how it ends? JAIL TIME.

If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be?

Books of course! (although I would argue they’re essential) and maybe wine (also essential LOL …)

Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for:

Amy Lovat. I’m so excited for her debut, Mistakes and Other Lovers, coming out in July!

Australian book you’re most looking forward to reading in 2023?

I’m looking forward to reading Clare Fletcher’s new book, Love Match, which is out in September!

Best thing about being a writer?

There are just too many to list them all, but top of that list I would say is making up stories (I have so much fun playing in my head), connecting with readers, and being a part of the gorgeously supportive Australian writing community.

Worst thing about being a writer?

I would probably say the waiting. The waiting to hear whether you’ve gotten the deal, or secured the agent, then waiting to hear if your publisher likes your latest manuscript, then waiting for edits … but then when it’s on, it’s ON! It can be a rollercoaster of emotions.

Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? What song/channel/podcast do you have on high rotation?

I like listening to music, specifically Taylor Swift’s, Folklore. There is something about that album that is conducive to creativity – I know a few writers who agree!

Favourite perfume/scent:

Replica’s Lazy Sunday Morning

TV/film crush:

Will always be Pacey Witter (i.e. Joshua Jackson) from Dawson’s Creek. I don’t care how much that ages me haha

The best non-writing related prize I won was…

I remember winning a massive Lego set in Year Six and the pride I felt handing it straight over to my excited little brother.

Top three tips for aspiring authors?

1. Find a writing process that works for you. There is no wrong or right way to get your words down – it might be in short, sharp bursts or longer intervals. You can source writing tips from podcasts and craft books, but ultimately you need to discover what feels most natural to you (and be open to that process changing!)

2. Surround yourself with people who get it! Ideally, that’s other writers who can help with accountability. motivation and story – but even other creatives who understand what this crazy pursuit requires of you can make the biggest difference to your productivity and perspective.

3. Just keep writing! If you have 1) and 2) sorted it will be much easier to keep going through the rejections (that are unfortunately part of the process), and/or when life gets busy.

What theme do you hope shines through in your writing?

I like writing capable protagonists who are at crossroads in their lives who are learning that they’re deserving of all the good things, so I want readers to be left with confidence in their self-worth and a feeling of empowerment (and a big grin on their faces from all the laughs they’ve had along the way).

Proudest author moment?

Definitely scoring my two-book deal with Pan Macmillan. But I think receiving my copies of Duck a l’Orange for Breakfast and holding the book my hands for the first time – and then again, seeing it in the window of Dymocks Sydney CBD was when the moment properly hit!

My favourite thing about writing romance is ….

I love that I get to write deep, heartfelt scenes that make readers feel, but also the light, fun banter that helps build the tension for those real connection moments. It’s the best of both worlds!

If anyone gives me flack about writing romance, I tell them…

Well, first I roll my eyes and then I don’t try and justify anything! Romance, or connection really, is what most people aspire to have in their life– whether that’s a sexual relationship, a platonic friendship, or just with yourself and the world! One of the reasons I constantly refer to Nora Ephron is because I love how she crafts romantic worlds – I think that’s my favourite type of romance!

Share a fun fact readers might not know about you:

I studied Media and Communications at University and majored in Global Studies because I wanted to be a Foreign Correspondent. I did an internship at a newspaper in Bangkok right out of uni, and got the shock of a lifetime when I discovered that it wasn’t the same as what Catriona Rowntree did on Getaway!

Duck á l’Orange for Breakfast

Maxine ‘Max’ Mayberry, an ad executive with writing ambitions, is holed up in her friend’s apartment after discovering her long- term boyfriend in bed with another woman. If that wasn’t bad enough, Max has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Enter Johnny: a cheeky yet charming Tinder pen pal and a perfect distraction. Together, Max and Johnny flirt and cook their way through ‘The Laurent Family Cookbook’, a recipe book from Max’s ex-boyfriend’s pretentious French family, without ever meeting in person.

The ‘Fork Him’ project starts as a joke, but soon transforms into something more meaningful as Max undergoes brain surgery, travels to Paris for a fresh start, and decides whether she believes in herself enough to chase the life – and the man – she really wants.

Find Karina online

Instagram: @karinamaywrite

Article also published with Romance Writers Australia 2023


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