• Michelle Vernal

The Gin Lover's Guide to Dating

Something a little different. My fellow Orion author Nina Kaye's novel The Gin Lover's Guide to Dating is out on 4 November and I asked her what the story behind her story was. This is what she told me..

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When Michelle first invited me to share the ‘story behind the story’, my initial instinct was that this was going to be a very short blog post. The seed of The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating was planted when my literary agent, Kate Nash, said to me, ‘whatever you write about, make sure it has gin in it’. And did I even have a story to share?

The answer is, of course, yes. Because a seed can’t grow without the right conditions, and in this case, these turned out to be a great setting, my experience working in the hospitality industry, and characters that popped off the page. Oh, and obviously my appreciation of gin!

Living in Edinburgh, I’m surrounded by a city that has its own love affair with gin, starting in the 1700s when the Scottish people brought the first bottles of genever (the pre-cursor to gin) onto Scottish shores through the trade of supplies such as wool with the Dutch. Fast forward around 300 years and through the resurgence of gin as many peoples’ drink of choice, Scotland now accounts for 70% of the UK’s production of this fine spirit. In Edinburgh, pubs and bars everywhere tempt you with the promise of a refreshing G&T or a tantalising gin cocktail. As well as providing the perfect setting for a gin themed novel, Edinburgh offered a beautiful and inspirational canvas upon which to place my characters and plot. Despite having lived there for over twenty years, I still gaze across the cavernous Princes Street Gardens to the crag and tail that props up the Royal Mile and iconic Edinburgh Castle, and feel wowed (and proud).

My memories of working in the hospitality industry are fond ones. At the age of fourteen, I crossed the threshold of my local village small hotel, clad in my kilt and blouse (seriously – I’m not just adding stereotypes for fun) and spent the next four years working part time as a waitress to earn my ‘pocket money’. Then, on arriving in Edinburgh to start my university adventure, I initially stuck with what I knew best; I funded my student lifestyle through working in the restaurant and bar of one of Edinburgh’s well-known city centre hotels. From there I followed a mish-mash of temporary jobs before going full circle and landing back in one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious four-star hotels as Restaurant Supervisor; then becoming their Personnel Assistant. Of all the jobs I did through my youth to my mid-twenties, hotel work created the best memories. There’s something about the diversity of the hotel environment and the workings behind the scenes, striving to provide that sought-after flawless guest experience, that really grabs me. It’s like putting on a production. I also met many interesting people from a whole range of backgrounds and enjoyed the good-natured banter that goes on ‘backstage’.

As for my characters, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up around people with colourful personalities, who don’t take life too seriously, and who know how to have proper Scottish fun. I include myself in that category; this combined with a very vivid and overactive imagination, provided the perfect melting pot for lively and outspoken characters such as Dylan and Reyes. While it was important for me to bring real life issues into my novel, I also wanted to bring out the light-hearted side of life in Scotland.

Drawn together, these key elements allowed the seed of The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating to sprout and grow into a fast-paced, vibrant story that I hope with give my readers a real roller coaster ride and a satisfying conclusion.


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