Love by Numbers
by Sara Donovan
ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments.
How to Fall in Love with Someone YOU Choose. (Why not, if you have a broken man-picker?)
Choose an available compatible guy-friend who doesn’t turn you off and rewire your brains for a hot and heavy romance.
- Get emotional while watching a sad movie.
- Share a major adrenaline rush.
- Be competent at something cool, but don’t make a big deal out of it.
- Have him provide food from the hunt (a good restaurant will do).
- Eyegaze until it doesn’t feel weird.
- Fulfil each other’s primary fantasies within reason and without judgment.
- Sleep together like stacked spoons.
Repeat the above until love and lust click in. Then send your love brain chemicals into overdrive by not seeing each other. That’s when things really get cooking.
Half an hour later, Claire helped me carry my boxes to my new floor.
‘I’d lose the breast-enhancers if I were you’ she said when we were alone in the lift. ‘The men in this office are worse gossips than the women. They’ll notice if your boobs are bigger one day to the next, and have a big discussion about it.’
I gave her a confused look.
‘You’re not serious?’
‘I’m deadly serious.’
The lift stopped at the fourth floor, but Claire held down the ‘Close Door’ button. A buzzer went off in protest.
‘I’d do it now if I were you,’ she said.
I put down my box, reached into my bra and fished out one chicken fillet, then the other. My C was instantly a B. I put the fillets in my handbag.
Claire gave me a look of approval, then took her finger off the button. The doors released and we walked straight into the six-foot-four-inch frame of Wade, Ryan’s boss.
‘Wade, this is April, your new L and D consultant,’ Claire said, taking charge.
‘So … April,’ he said, casting a micro-glance at my cleavage before stepping into the lift. ‘Welcome to the jungle.’
Before I could answer, the doors closed and the lift whisked him away.
‘Typical Wade,’ Claire said with disapproval, before putting on a determined look like a pith helmet and slicing her way through the jungle that was the fourth floor. Loud phone conversations, lively debates, shouts across workstations and counter-shouts back filled the space. No one paid any attention to Claire, me and my boxes.
I kept my head down until she suddenly came to a stop near Ryan’s workstation. I had a good look at his things since he wasn’t around. There was a calendar blu-tacked to his bookshelf, pictures of an unknown beach and ski slope, a President’s Club certificate (a junket for only the best salespeople) and a laminated quote stuck to the top of his computer monitor: Victorious warriors win first, then go to war. The words Sun Tzu — The Art of War, were in small writing underneath. Fortunately, there were no happy couple or girlfriend pictures.
‘So what do you think?’ Claire asked.
‘Um. There’s a lot of energy in here for sure,’ I said. ‘It’s pretty noisy, though.’
‘I meant what do you think of this workstation?’ she said putting the box she was holding on a desk a few metres from Ryan’s. It was so close. Too close. Like being in the front row of the cinema.
‘Is that spot also an option?’ I pointed to a workstation further away.
‘Too far away,’ Claire said. ‘It doesn’t send the right message to the team. I want them to know you’re available.’
She glanced at my skirt which seemed to ride up every time she looked in my direction.
I put my box on my new desk, then wriggled my skirt down when she wasn’t looking.
‘By the way, did you know that Toby was working on a team-building afternoon for these guys and the Technical Support team? They need some cohesion.’
‘He never mentioned it.’
‘It’s tomorrow,’ Claire continued. I gave her a surprised look. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Bad taste. The day after retrenchments and we’re spending money on lunch and a jet boat ride. It was booked a while ago.’
‘Shouldn’t it be jet boat first, then lunch?’ I said.
‘Talk to Wade about it. Call me if you have any problems.’
Claire walked away as my phone buzzed. It was Wade inviting me to a team meeting in half an hour.
I tried to stay calm as I unpacked my things, but it was hard. My eyes kept checking out the lift, waiting for Ryan to appear. I felt like a predator waiting for her prey. Only it was the other way around. I was the prey.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Sara Donovan author of Love By Numbers.
Hi Sara, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’ve lived in Sydney, Australia, my whole life, and I love it – despite living out in the suburbs, nowhere near the harbour and spending extended periods in traffic jams just minutes from my driveway.
The beaches, climate, lifestyle and sport are just a few reasons why Sydney’s worth the occasional grid lock.
I’m a business woman, mum and wife as well as a writer. I feel like I’ve been doing a juggling act and been a bit of a workaholic for years. My passion these days is learning to let go of all the ‘doing’, getting into the ‘being’ instead and finding the flow. Yummy.
What were you like at school?
I was a really good girl, which is very disappointing in many ways. I don’t think I got the courage to have an adolescence and be a bit of a rebel until I was in my 30’s.
Were you good at English?
I was good at creative writing, but that didn’t help much with my English grades as they were mostly based on my ability to write essays. I tended not to write great essays unless I was interested in the topic which meant my marks were a bit hit and miss.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To improve with every book and to learn to write poetry and historical narratives as well as women’s commercial fiction.
Which writers inspire you?
I love Margaret Attwood because she is so incredibly creative and the language and metaphors she uses put me in a state of awe.
I also love Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Love, Pray) because I learn so much from her writing (Big Magic is awesome), and Mhairi MacFarlane because she is so entertaining.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that makes her special?
My main character, April Jackson, is a creative problem solver. She realizes that she and her ‘friend-zoned’ best guy friend are borderline obsessive about unavailable people they are probably not compatible with – yet they are incredibly compatible with each other.
She does a lot of neuroscientific research about the ‘brain in love’ and recognizes there is a sequence of events to falling in and out of love with people. She comes up with a plan for her and her friend-zoned guy friend to fall for each other.
April is mix of opposites. She is smart, creative and in control in some ways, and borderline obsessive, naive and out of control in others.
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on a romantic comedy about a socially active women who is trying to save the world and win the guy at the same time. She’s a wannabe documentary film maker who is in love with the subject of her film – a social activist who is living off the grid in what appears to be an ideal community (a bit of a connection here with my socially evolved Amazonian tribe).
The story is an exploration of the monogamy/polyamory spectrum, how far people will expose themselves for a cause they believe in and the light and dark side of being a hero.
Which actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Carey Mulligan would be wonderful.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
I’m actually pretty freaked out about writing, even though I love it. It’s only when the pain of not writing gets greater than the pain of writing that I pay attention to my ideas and start writing.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I like to write when everyone else is in bed, so that means either staying up very late or getting up very early. Once a book gets a hold, lack of sleep doesn’t tend to be a problem. Writing gives me more energy than it takes.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get inspired by what I find “edgy” in my own life – either because it makes me feel deeply embarrassed, or fully alive or is fascinating to me. Then I think of how I could further deepen and explore and resolve the feeling via a story.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I do both, but in a specific order. I start off with a detailed structure of the story, characters and even of every scene in longhand. Then I type what I have written onto my manuscript and let myself deviate from what I’ve planned and write whatever I like. It is usually what I have already plotted, but not always.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Time is the worst thing. Writing is very time consuming and I am time poor in many ways. I run my own business and have a family, so I can’t just write and do nothing else – as tempting as that would be sometimes.
Ironically, time is also the best thing about writing. When you’re in the creative flow of a story, you’re basically in a trance state, which often creates blissful feelings – especially when the characters take over and you’re just a witness discovering what’s happening as you type. When you’re in that kind of blissful writing trance, you completely lose track of time.
I was recently on a 5 hour flight, deep in a writing trance and was really confused when the air stewardess told me to put away my computer because we were about to land. I thought we’d been in the air about 20 minutes.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read as much as I can. I love reading Margaret Atwood, Milan Kundera and the Brontes.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I love ebooks because when something interests me, I want to read it NOW. If it is a book that I know I will want to refer back to in the future, I buy it in hard copy.
What book are you reading at present?
At the moment, I’m reading Elizabeth (‘Eat, Pray, Love’) Gilbert’s non-fiction book on creativity called “Big Magic”. It’s about the need we all have for creative living. What she means by that is living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
The book talks about creating not because you need recognition, and not not-creating because you don’t think you can be the best. Instead we create/write because it “unfolds in us a certain beauty and transcendence that we cannot seem to access in any other way.”
Would you tell us about the cover and how it came about?
My book is a romantic comedy that bends the rules of the genre. The cover needed to say ‘Romcom’ but also needed to suggest some non-conforming characters and storyline as well.
The numbers and mathematical symbols reflect the neuroscience aspect of the book, and the four person cut-out reflects the storyline about the complicated love square the heroine ends up creating.
Who designed your book cover?
Michelle from the talented graphic art department at HarperCollins Sydney office.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one?
I don’t have a trailer but sounds like great fun to do one.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
My publisher HarperCollins believes in it and they have a lot more experience with these things than me.
How do you relax?
By walking in the bush, reading a good book and have a deep debate about something philosophical with my friends and family.
What is your favorite quote?
“Lovers don’t find each other. They discover they were in each other all along.’ I heart Rumi!!
What is your favorite movie?
It depends on my mood. At the moment it’s the Mexican romance “Like Water for Chocolate.’
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
From my website: www.saradonovan.com
Any final words?
One of the best things about taking the plunge and trying to write a novel is that I discovered that many of the sayings about writing and creativity are true. For eg – it is about the journey, not so much the destination; you do just need to start as there is magic in that (rough translation of a quote by Goethe); if readers don’t like your story – blame the muse (what the ancient Greek artists used to say if someone didn’t like their work); and while writing is hard, nothing feels better than just having written (Stephen King).
It has been a real pleasure learning more about you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Sara Donovan is a corporate facilitator and instructional designer who delivers training programs in neuroscience and communication skills. She draws inspiration for her writing from psychology, science and her accidental romcom life.
Sara will be awarding an eCopy of Love by Numbers to 3 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.