This is the start of a brand new series of interviews with the Romaniacs, celebrating people who we don’t usually get to see or talk to. Today we’re very pleased to have a visit from the wonderfully named Holly La Touche who is to be found behind the scenes at award winning publishers Choc Lit. Good morning, Holly, and welcome to Romaniac HQ – the sofas are all comfy and the cushions have been plumped up ready for you, so take your pick and help yourself to tea and cake. It’s coffee and walnut or chocolate fudge today. I think there might be the odd butterfly cake too if the other girls haven’t found the tin.
Holly: Hi, Celia, thanks so much for inviting me.
Celia: Great to see you. Okay, let’s get the ball rolling. How long have you been working with the Choc Lit team, and how did you come to apply for the job?
Holly: After university I volunteered at my local book festival and did some magazine work experience but I knew I wanted to work in book publishing, particularly in an editorial role which is notoriously difficult to get into! So when I heard about the Tasting Panel I thought it would be great ‘slush pile’ work experience. Luckily for me, Choc Lit also needed a publicity and admin intern. After a few months I was hired as a publishing assistant and I’ve been here for a year. It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time!
Celia: And seizing the moment too, I guess. So what’s the best thing about working for Choc Lit?
Holly: It’s great to work with people who love romantic fiction as much as I do, and to work with such talented authors. Reading rave reviews is a definite highpoint of my day. It was genuinely thrilling when Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering was the number one Kindle download and the 5 star reviews kept rolling in.
Celia: That’s one of my all-time Choc Lit favourites. What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?
Holly: I’m currently fangirling over the first Game of Thrones book. I thought it was going to be a bit dry and Lord of the Rings-y but I’m hooked! I’m also listening to To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick on the walk to and from the train station.
Celia: Could you please tell us about a typical day at Choc Lit and describe your workspace?
Holly: My workload is a nice balance between emails/admin and more creative work like writing cover copy. This morning I’ve been adding a contents page to a Kindle file and drafting copy for the newsletter.
Choc Lit HQ is quite cosy and colourful – the walls are covered in framed Choc Lit covers, all arranged in order of publication, which helps us keep track of the ever-growing list! My desk is currently overflowing with proofed Treats!, Choc Lit Lite manuscripts and grammar books. I also have a lovely Darcy & Friends paperweight clip holding a photo of my sister, Alex.
Celia: It must be great to be surrounded by all those amazing covers. Do you ever get the chance to get together with all the Choc Lit authors from time to time or is that a logistical nightmare with travel etc?
Holly: I’ve managed to meet quite a few authors at RNA events and book launches, but I don’t think we’ve all met up at once.
Celia: What was your dream job as a child?
Holly: I wanted to be a deep-sea diver. My dad used to run a small diving school in Connemara, and his diving gear and the underwater photos he’d taken always fascinated me.
Celia: Well, I definitely didn’t see that answer coming! Do you get to read the books that are coming up from the Tasting Panel?
Holly: I get to read them at proofing stage but otherwise they’re left in the Tasting Panel’s capable hands. If a manuscript does really well on the panel and there’s a bit of a buzz around it then I’ll be nosey. There’s one waiting on my Kindle right now actually…
Celia: Hmmm – intriguing… Who’s your favourite author outside Choc Lit (I won’t ask you for one from the team in case it causes an unseemly fight!)
Holly: Charlotte Brontë. I’ve read Jane Eyre five times and recently went to Haworth to visit the parsonage. Seeing her little gloves and dress was incredible!I’m also slightly obsessed with Gillian Flynn. She writes amazing female characters, all totally unhinged but oddly likeable. Camille from Sharp Objects has really stayed with me and I think she might be one of my favourite characters ever!
Celia: Choc Lit is famous for its delicious romance and great settings – where would you take someone very special for the romantic holiday of a lifetime?
Holly: There are loads of places I’d like to visit but I think it would be really romantic to visit Kyoto, Japan, in spring. Seeing the cherry blossom trees in bloom would be breathtaking.
Celia: I’m with you on that one, an irresistible venue. Well, it was lovely to meet you, Holly – come back soon. A piece of cake for the journey, perchance?
Holly: Thanks, Celia!