'Check in married, check out single.' That's exactly what a divorce hotel promises. And LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is a romantic comedy about life on the other side of the altar rails. So what happens when three very different brides from three very different walks of life, finally take off the Vera Wang wedding dress, and realise that happy ever after isn't all it's cracked up to be?
Well, a divorce hotel seems like the answer to their collective prayers. Why not come to a calm place of tranquil reflection and work out all the nitty gritty finer details of your separation and divorce there, over a single weekend? And even better; all taken care of with room service, cocktails and maybe a little harmless lookout for husband no. 2 on the side? As Chloe Townsend, the hotel's general manager can tell you, divorce can actually be painless and fast. And she of all people knows exactly what's she's talking about; after all, she's living breathing proof that even after the most devastating of breakups, there's still hope, even after all that hopelessness.
First we've got Dawn and Kirk, both mid-twenties and who look too young to even have got married in the first place, let alone be on the brink of divorce. Then there's Jo and Dave, late thirties and barely able to be in the same room as each other, never mind discuss legal and real estate matters amicably. Biggest mystery of all though, has to be Jenny and Andrew, early fifties and still so obviously mad about each other. No one can understand what could possibly have driven such a devoted couple to the point of breaking up?
And so over the course of probably the most intense weekend of these couples' lives and amid all the mayhem, mishaps and mis-matches, we discover exactly what lies beneath the surface of each once-happy romance. And more importantly, just how will each love story plays out in the last and final reel…
Please tell us about the character of Chloe.
Oh, I loved writing Chloe! She's a people person, a pleaser, someone who'd bend over backwards to help out anyone is trouble. Which pretty much makes her the perfect choice to work as General Manager at Ireland's very first Divorce Hotel. Chloe has years of experience behind her, and is utterly devoted to her job. Maybe just a bit too devoted and that's the trouble. You see she's known heartbreak and humiliation on a scale few of us can possibly imagine and her journey as a central character is really towards healing and realizing that she can actually learn to love again.
You previous book was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Popular Choice Irish Book Award in 2013, so how did this make you feel?
Thrilled, delighted and utterly overwhelmed just to be there! Mind you, on the day I did do a lot of stressing a fretting about The Dress. Every other author I know was clad in gorgeous designer wear and there was me, head to toe in a €35 frock from River Island. Best part of it all though was getting to spend the whole evening with my lovely editor Eli, who'd come over from London especially for the awards. We had a ball!
Why is women's fiction so appealing for you as a writer?
I'm a huge fan of women's fiction and have been ever since I was a teenager and first picked up one of Maeve Binchy's books. I love reading books that are accessible and yet have a feel good factor to them. Mind you, the kind of heroines I tend to write tend not to magically morph from Cinderellas into fairy-tale princesses; I've always found the transformation from Cinderella into a confident woman ready to stand tall and take the world on her own merit far more interesting.
Please tell us about your inspiration behind the book.
Would you believe it, I was actually in hospital recovering from surgery on a broken arm, and catching up on all my trashy magazines, as you do. Anyway, I stumbled across an article about a Divorce Hotel that had just opened very successfully in Holland. I was intrigued and got to thinking; can you imagine a story when you've got all these feuding couples whose marriages have fallen apart for very different reasons all captive as it were under the one roof for an entire weekend? I thought, wow, this is amazing…you couldn't make it up! But then, I've always said that real life trumps fiction every single time.
Why did you want to write a romantic comedy that was unconventional?
I read a lot of romantic comedy, and while I love the essential premise of 'girl meets boy, one of them messes up, girl loses boy, girl gets boy,' it got to the point where I felt there was already a lot of fiction in that genre out there already. So I thought, why not spin this off in a slightly different direction? I love a good quirky plotline and hope readers will too.
Many successful female authors have come from Ireland- so how for would you say that women from your birthplace have a flair for romance?
If you ask me, it's because we're all such great talkers. We never shut up! You only have to see the size of my mobile phone bill and you'd know exactly what I mean. I hang around with a lovely gang of female authors and it's hard to get a word in, we're all so busy yakking at each other. Maybe it's because of all those long solitary hours in front of a computer screen when you're writing; the release of getting to chat properly is overwhelming.
What is next for you?
I'm delighted to say that I've just finished my first draft of my new book for 2015, provisionally titled WOULD I LIE TO YOU? It's about catfish…the internet kind, that is. And a heroine who visits a dating website and soon finds herself in a lot more trouble than she bargained for…I hope you're have me back here next year to tell you all about it!
In the meantime, thank you so much for your questions and I really hope you'll enjoy LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME .