I am always on the lookout for funny books by fellow Aussies, and Ana’s Shizzle, Inc did not disappoint. I think I was expecting a traditional rom-com, but this story is more of a satire, and not really a romance at all (although I suspect there might be a little later in the series!).
Isa Maxwell is quite a character. All she wants is to be famous, and she doesn’t really mind how she gets there. So when she sees an ad on TV featuring billionaire Mr Hue and a search for his next assistant, she races off to the interview, not realising that hundreds of other women are also vying for the job.
Isa manages to stumble from one crazy situation to another, always emerging unscathed. Much of this is due to luck, but she may also be a bit more intelligent than we are led to believe.
I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t your typical billionaire romance. When Mr Hue first appeared, I was thinking ‘here we go, he’s going to go all Christian Grey and start flirting with her’ – but it wasn’t like that at all. And throughout every new chapter, an unexpected event would occur. I never knew what I was going to read next, and I LOVED IT!
I also adored Isa’s DJ friend Harden, and I hope to see him in the sequel. All the characters are hilarious and come out with quite random and kooky comments, but it works perfectly. If you can imagine the funniest parts of a Ben Stiller or Will Ferrell movie, you will be part of the way there to understanding Shizzle, Inc.
The style of this book is very, very clever, and it is incredibly well edited. The tone of the story took me a few pages to truly appreciate, but once I immersed myself in Isa’s world, I couldn’t wait to see how it ended.
Author Interview with Ana Spoke
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m relatively new to the world of self-publishing, although I’ve tried to write that “first novel” for at least ten years. I then tried to sell that first novel to traditional publishers for almost a year, before deciding to self-publish just over a year ago. Today I have two published books with the third on the way, and I love every stage of the process, from draft, to editing, and (strangely) marketing.
I still have my day job, working in a serious and sometimes boring role in a government organisation, which provides a stable base and an endless inspiration for my comedy. Before that, I’ve been a professor, a registered landscape architect, and even dabbled in genetics, which helps with that whole “write what you know” concept, not that my protagonist has any idea about gene sequencing. Yet.
2. What is your latest book about? What inspired it?
Indiot, the second instalment in Isa Maxwell series, was inspired by a spam email – turns out they are good for something! After receiving a plea for help from an Indian prince, Isa gets into another huge heap of trouble, driven by her good intentions and a few bad decisions. Just like the first book (Shizzle, Inc.), Indiot is very fast-paced and has twists and turns all along the way, so hold onto your seat!
3. Who would you cast in the movie version of your book?
I’d like a complete unknown, but obviously brilliant, new actor, to be cast as Isa. If not, then Amy Schumer, although she’s a bit too old for the character. In fact, most of my preferred actors are too old for these roles – for Mr. Hue, I can just see John O’Hurley, who played Mr. Peterman in Seinfield, but he’s over 60 now. I’d love to cast Helena Bonham Carter as Eleanor, the evil secretary, but I would be just as equally thrilled to see someone else choose the actors and bring the story to life.
4. What songs make up the soundtrack for your book?
Isa absolutely loves old-school rap and anything with a beat. I have bits of soundtrack happening in Shizzle, Inc, as she listens to Eazy E and Snoop Dog in her car, or parties with her friends to the Far East Movement and Bloody Beetroots. In Indiot, I would imagine a lot of Bollywood-style music, but I couldn’t name the artists for that. Again, what an amazing experience would it be to see a filmmaker apply some magic to the story!
5. Tell us about your writing process.
It keeps evolving – the first book was written as anecdotal scene bits on my public transport commute, walking to work, and as emails to my sister, which I then shaped into a story. The second one I conceived in my head for months and then wrote out in Word as one narrative. I am currently working on the third and, having discovered Scrivener, started with a much more detailed plot than usual.
I rewrite a lot, which is probably normal for comedy. Even as I write the sentence for the first time, I delete, delete, delete, until it makes sense. I edit as I go, which is considered a no-no for some, but I just can’t help it. Then, once finished, I edit mercilessly several times myself, send the draft to beta-readers, and edit some more, until sending it to…the editor. It took me about six months total to write Indiot, of which three solid months were spent in editing stage.
6. Favourite authors / books?
I love comedy in all its forms, which is why it felt natural to start up www.comedybookweek.com. I have only had a chance to read one of the participating authors this year, but can’t wait to read some of the books on offer for the next year’s event. The variety is mind-boggling, from chicklit to funny sci-fi and mysteries.
Some of my all-time favourites include a Russian classic 12 Chairs by Ilf and Petrov and Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek, which I read in translation as a kid. More recently, it’s been chicklit, such as Bridget Jones and Devil Wears Prada. I especially like quirky characters and prose, and the more ridiculous, the better.
7. What’s next for you?
I am currently working on the third installment in the series. It is just as bizarre and funny as Shizzle, Inc, although Isa is growing up a little with each book I write about her.
8. Where can we get your books?
Shizzle, Inc is available on all major platforms, such as Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and Apple, but Indiot is currently exclusive to Amazon. I plan to make it widely available in a few months as well.
Indiot Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EXZU8R2/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
Shizzle, Inc Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Shizzle-Inc-Maxwell-escapades-Book-ebook/dp/B014XFQPZ6?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/spokeana?lang=en
My blog: https://anaspoke.com/