Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties... Ellie has her dream job... or does she?
When Ellie's fiancé cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she's already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he's leaving in a week, and his exgirlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge.
Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It's five, actually.) It's a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.
Cathryn Chapman is Brisbane's answer to Carrie Bradshaw. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world – working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America.
In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London's West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down in Brisbane with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one place long enough to finally write her first novel, Sex, Lies, and Cruising. Having been on more than 100 dates over the years, Cathryn is a self-proclaimed dating expert.
Sex, Lies, and Cruising
Author: Cathryn Chapman
Question: What inspired the story of Sex, Lies, and Cruising?
Cathryn Chapman: This book was mostly inspired by brief stints on cruise ships in my twenties and thirties. So many crazy things happen on ships – you really have no idea until you get there. Some people love it and some people don't. I'm probably one of the latter. There are definitely benefits to working on ships, and although I was no angel, I couldn't get past the way people behaved when they thought you wouldn't be part of their life for the long term. Also the way they behaved when they were away from their unsuspecting partners at home was eye opening.
Still, I wanted to make it a light, fun book, so it's told with humour through the eyes of a fairly naïve British girl who is new to this environment, which is so unlike the -real world'.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Cathryn Chapman: I'd say about fifty percent, maybe a bit more. I do have some things in common with Ellie. Most things in the book – and more – would definitely happen in that environment, even if I didn't personally witness them. I interviewed former colleagues to get a feel for their experiences, and heard some pretty crazy stories, but I couldn't fit it all into one book, even if I wanted to! Plus, my mentor advised me to use the real stories as an inspiration, then throw that away and just write good fiction. Real life isn't as structured as a good novel should be! So there's plenty of artistic license in there.
Question: You've described the book as the -vanilla version' of her real life experiences; does it get that much worse?
Cathryn Chapman: A few of the plot lines inspired by real stories were touched on in the book but not explored to the full depth of what really happened, as I wanted it to be more of a comedy. So I don't think I conveyed the real destruction caused by some people's behaviour. The lies, the deceit, the immoral behaviour – I feel like this book is only a taste. I personally left my last ship because of heartbreak, and the preceding behaviour of the guy involved was very deceitful. While one of the plot lines is loosely based on my experience, I didn't make my character go through the devastation I worked through.
Question: Can you share one of your craziest experiences, with us?
Cathryn Chapman: My boyfriend and I were alone on a private, deserted beach in Antigua – which is a rare occurrence in that part of the world… and after sunbaking and swimming for a while, we got a little bit carried away in the water. We had our bathing suits on but were in a compromising position. A short time passed and suddenly we heard music, yelling, and cheering. Turns out we'd chosen the beach which was the destination for the -Pirate Ship' – which is basically a party ship full of drunken cruise passengers. They had somehow managed to sail up and moor right next to us without us noticing… and let's just say we had a very intrigued and vocal audience! My boyfriend thought it was hilarious. I couldn't get away fast enough.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Ellie Green?
Cathryn Chapman: I think it was having the control over how much reality I used and how much I made up. Only I will ever know what is fiction and what story lines are true, which is fun! Also, it was enjoyable to develop her character from scratch. I completely made up her family background, her life before ships, her prior experiences. I did character mapping and basically just invented this person who I ended up getting to know very well. Although I'd planned out the details of the book in advance – I wrote to a detailed outline – there were a couple of scenes which just happened on the spur of the moment because Ellie was telling me that's what she would actually do. It's bizarre – I'd heard writers say that characters take on a life of their own, but I didn't really believe it. When I experienced that near the end of the book it was a really great feeling.
Question: What can you tell us about your next book?
Cathryn Chapman: I'm currently writing the sequel, Love, Drugs, and New York. It follows Ellie on the next leg of her adventure. She is pursuing her career, and naturally, a relationship is involved. I won't say much more except that she feels like everything has fallen into place with her life, love, and career… but then starts to question if it's what she really wants. I plan to have it finished towards the end of the year. People can join my Readers' Group to be kept informed of its progress. I'll be calling out for Beta Readers to read the first draft and give me feedback. It's also a great way to get discounts on new books and occasional news – when I have time to pull a newsletter together! (www.cathrynchapman.net/readers)
Interview by Brooke Hunter