The Lonely Fajita by Abigail Mann is published in ebook by One More Chapter on 14 May 2020.
Abigail kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Lonely Fajita.
The Lonely Fajita follows Elissa Evans, a young woman living in London and stumbling through her twenties. When her boyfriend decides to move abroad – without her – she’s left unable to pay rent thanks to her non-existent wage at a new dating app called Lovr. Desperate to stay in the city, she takes part in an intergenerational home help scheme, which sees her become the housemate of Annie, a sweary Northern pensioner with a complicated past. Together, they pull each other out of isolation and learn how to live a fuller life.
2. What inspired the book?
After university, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, so moved to London and took up internships, most of them in the tech world for little to no pay. Ultimately, I couldn’t afford to do this for long before my savings disappeared, so I began thinking about what someone’s last resort might be if they wanted to stay in London but couldn’t afford their rent.
In the same week, I was scrolling through news stories and came across a co-habitation scheme that matched young people with older residents who might benefit from companionship at home. The idea of two characters facing similar issues of loneliness but across generations really struck me, so I wanted to explore that more. I liked the idea of contrasts – the modern tech offices of Shoreditch with a Victorian residential home in Hampstead, modern dating vs old-fashioned courtship.
3.Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I like a plan! I’m still figuring out what my perfect method is, having tried all sorts; flash cards, a big bit of paper on the wall, corkboard, storyboarding, etc! When I’ve got a rough outline for the story, I type it up and flesh it out with particular scenes I know I want to write. Somehow, I can never figure out the ending, so I usually start writing without knowing what the last few chapters will be. About halfway through the first draft, I’ll see where the narrative is leading and re-plan the last act of the book. So, in short – it’s a bit of both!
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
I’ve been surprised by the wonderful community of authors and readers that has come as a part of this process, especially between women writers. You always hear about how competitive the publishing world is and although that’s true, there are so many willing to offer advice, shout about your book, and point you in the right direction. There’s a strong sense of there being a seat for everyone at the table, as if a reader likes a particular genre of book, they’ll seek out others like it too.
5.What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I like getting outside, as sitting at the same desk for hours each day can sometimes make me lose perspective, so physically going somewhere else really helps! I also love baking, as unlike writing a book, you can follow instructions and somewhat guarantee the results! Reading is a really important part of my down time, as I think it helps my writing. If I really want to get away, I’ll plan a camping trip – somewhere remote with no signal and a good campfire.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Hmm. Pride and Prejudice. I’ve watched it enough times, so I know already that I wouldn’t get bored of it! Jane Austen is such a master of sharp dialogue, so it’s a real masterclass in writing too.
7.I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
What’s the best piece of advice you heard that took you the longest time to realise?
I always thought that writing a novel is some kind of magical, mystic skill that you either have, or you don’t. I spent too long thinking that I wasn’t a ‘proper’ writer because my ideas never came out of thin air, and characters never walked into my head fully formed. Eventually, I realised that this is part of the writing muscle, and the more you practice it, the more naturally those ideas come. It’s training, like you would do for anything else. You wouldn’t sign up to a marathon having never been on a jog before. Writing a novel is much the same; you work up to it.
About the book
It’s Elissa’s birthday, but her boyfriend hasn’t really noticed – and she’s accidentally scheduled herself a cervical smear instead of celebration drinks. Great.
Then there’s her borderline-psychotic boss, the fact she’s not making but losing money at work, and her sinking feeling she’s about to be dumped.
But Elissa will soon find out that being single doesn’t have to be lonely… And with a little help from her friends, even a girl with minus £1,000 in her account can have a lot of fun.