Olivia Darling has written several books and her latest novel “Temptation” is out now. We found more about her in this interview:
How did you get started as a writer?
Though ‘Temptation’ is my third novel as Olivia Darling, I’ve actually been writing for a long time under various different pseudonyms. Possibly my best known alias is Chris Manby. My first ever published work was a short story for teen mag ‘Just Seventeen’, under the name Carolyn Lane.
It was about a break-up. I was fourteen years old when I wrote it and I still think it’s some of my best work! My English teacher encouraged me to send my work off to magazines and I got lucky with my first submission. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to try again had I got a rejection straight out of the box.
After that I published several more short stories to make shoe money while at school and university. I wrote my first full length work – an erotic novella under the name Stephanie Ash – for a dare while I was temping. The guy who dared me – a science fiction writer – passed my manuscript to his editor and the rest is history.
What is your latest novel, Temptation about?
Temptation is the story of three very different women: an opera diva, a banker and an office cleaner with ambitions to be a singer, whose lives collide one summer. It’s set in London, Paris and St Petersburg, against a backdrop of opera, organised crime and contract cleaning! I like to think it’s funny as well as sexy and, hopefully, intelligent.
What made you choose to write under different aliases?
I use different aliases so that I can write different kinds of book. My Chris Manby work is traditional chicklit. My Olivia Darling books have more glamorous settings and are much raunchier.
Where do you get your inspiration for your lead characters?
My characters come together from a long list of ingredients. They contain aspects of people I know, people in the news, people from history and little bits of my own experience. Mercy, the ambitious cleaner in Temptation, has aspects of myself (her bad bits!), Leona Lewis and Katherine Jenkins.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Pretty classic. I don’t have the face or personality to carry off frills and flounces so there’s lots of simple shapes in neutral colours and black. I wear black all the time. My favourite designers are Alaia (for a dream party dress) and Michael Kors (for everything else). They really do make timeless fashion. In my downtime, I wear a lot of Breton tops. So much so that one of my friends once said my dominant personality trait was ‘stripey’.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a novel for one of my other aliases right now but I’m looking forward to stepping back into Olivia’s shoes soon. I’d like to write about the fashion world.
Have you always wanted to write?
Actually, I always wanted to be a shoe designer. Unfortunately, I’m better at writing than design.
What is something we wouldn’t know about you?
I was once a keen breakdancer. Knees can’t take it these days.
How do you take time out from writing?
For just a few minutes, I deadhead the flowers in my yard. For a few days, point me in the direction of the sunshine. I’d love to live in the South of France.
How long does it take you to write a book?
As long as I’m given. In most cases that’s half a year.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Uncomfortable shoes… More seriously, it means the freedom to choose a creative path through life. As women, we’re often taken less seriously but if there is a silver lining to that big cloud it is that we can be more free to explore new ways to live.
I think it would have been very hard for a man from my background to choose to do what I did upon graduating – take a low-paying, low status day job that gave me just enough money and time to write my first novel. I sometimes think it must be a real bore to be a man.