Nancy Barone is the author of The Husband Diet – a hilarious and heart-breaking novel about losing weight, losing love… and finding happy-ever-after when you least expect it (it’s out now – if you don’t have a copy, what are you waiting for!). She’s joined us to celebrate its release and be grilled about living in Italy, writing from the heart and husband-killing fantasies…
Q. You live in gorgeous Sicily – not far from the beach – surrounded by sun, sea and gelatos… how do you ever find time to write?
A. You’re so right- Sicily is beautiful and living in the countryside near the sea provides lots of peace and quiet. But writing can be tough when you’d rather be splashing away in the sea! I have dozens of crumpled, dampened notebooks with scribbled pages full of sand that look like a nutcase’s watercolors. My dreams come-true would be water-resistant paper and pen and a non-glare screen like on Kindles where you can sit and type away in the sun!
Q. Erica – your heroine in The Husband Diet – has a series of comic fantasies about how to kill her no-good husband. Ever have any of those yourself?!
A. Not personally but I’m guessing my husband might have, although he’s the calm one- just like Julian Foxham. He is exactly what I need, bless him!
Q. If you were married to Ira though, what would be your preferred method for getting rid of him?
I’d say a good way of murdering someone would be poisoning him slowly through something he always drinks, like beer. Specifically, BHP (bad-husband-poison) has no taste, color or smell, leaves no trace and bears an uncanny similarity to rat poison… Similarly, hanging him by his toes and thumbs, covering him in sugar and putting him out to be stung by swarms of bees…
Q. Erica is a hilarious, vivacious plus-size woman – who we LOVE – any ideas why there aren’t more plus–size heroines around?
A. You know, I’ve always asked myself this question. I guess it’s difficult to be honest about lack of self-confidence and even more difficult to be different. My book is also about, on my part, being able to admit that I’m not as cool as I used to try to be. Now I’m just me. And it’s so much easier- and fun!
Q. What are your top 5 recommendations for romance or women’s fiction novels with plus-size heroines?
A. Does The Husband Diet count? Definitely my number one would be Good In Bed followed by Certain Girls and all of Jennifer Weiner’s heroines. But I also like Bridget Jones’s Diary, Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster and so many more!
Q. When I was reading your manuscript for the first time is made me laugh – A LOT – and it also made me cry too, which was when we knew we had to have it! Was it an emotional process writing the book?
A. I have to be honest and say it most certainly was because Erica and I have so much in common if you exclude the horrible husband. But the awareness of not being Miss America (or Miss Italia, for that matter) and being too big did a lot to my confidence even if I never had any problems while growing up as I was always one of the leaders. But inside I knew I was different. Another thing that terrified me was clothes shopping in Italy, where you can just go and jump in a lake if you’re big- or settle with outfits that your grandmother wouldn’t be caught dead in. That’s why I love UK stores like Monsoon, Marks & Spencer’s and Evans! But obviously being big wasn’t the only issue Erica and I had to tackle.
Q. Thinking back to when you first started writing about Erica, how did you come up with the story concept for The Husband Diet?
A. Well, up to then I’d been writing romance, but I knew there was another side of me yet to be explored. Sure, I’m romantic but I’m also snarky as hell. And Erica gave me the chance to speak my mind but hide behind someone stronger than me- someone who’d take all the beatings! The idea of The Husband Diet came to me while I was at my favorite Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy devised by the amazing romance author and friend Elizabeth Jennings. I was listening to pitching experts, when bam- Erica Cantelli materialized in my mind and I immediately stood up and pitched my story in the 30 second-challenge. Never mind that it took me months and months to write the story!
Q. Without giving too much away, do you think we’ll hear from Erica again?
A. Erica is the kind of girl who always has something to say. Even when she should just shut up. So yes, I think it’s safe to say she’ll be back soon with more of her opinions!
Q. And finally, there’s a hilarious scene in The Husband Diet where Erica is trying to work out whether the cord from her hairdryer will reach to the bath – where her husband is having a soak… is that why we can’t find any hairdryers with long leads?
A. I think so. But I also noticed that as a preventive measure, most bathrooms in the UK don’t even have a socket- are English women, I wonder, becoming as bad as Erica? Is it time for women to finally take the matter into their own hands?
The Husband Diet is out now – and available from the following at just £2.99 | $5.99
And you can visit Nancy at her website – at nancybarone.com