A few of Katie Gayle’s favourite things

Schim and Kate at Love Books for the launch of Gails bestselling book The Accident
Schim and Kate at Love Books for the launch of Gail’s bestselling book The Accident

If I were to make a list of my favourite writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel (AKA Schim) would be at the top of the list. They have now written a book together using the pen name Katie Gayle published by the utterly fab Bookouture. The book is out next week on December 2nd BUT you can order it now and as soon as you’ve finished reading this HILARIOUS interview, that’s exactly what you need to go and do. Enjoy!

Favourite restaurants in Joburg?

  • Kate: I can’t remember. It’s been sooooo looooonnnggg. My most recent meal out was lunch at Dosa Hut in Fordsburg – R35 for an absolutely magnificent masala dosa. You will not be sorry.
  • Gail: Dinner out? With food adults would like to eat? No idea what you’re talking about.
Kate Sidley Gail Schimmel AKA Katie Gayle at one of their fave spots The Service Station in Melville Pic by Jane Thomas
Kate Sidley & Gail Schimmel AKA Katie Gayle at one of their fave spots The Service Station in Melville. Pic by Jane Thomas

Favourite coffee shops?

  • Kate: Billy Dukes mobile coffee shop at 27 Boxes in Melville. I walk there every Sunday. Siya makes great coffee. While you’re there, pick up a croissant at Baker Brothers and take a stroll through the cool little nursery selling indigenous plants.
  • Gail: I have developed an addiction to the salted caramel latte that they make at Vida; so I make up quite strange excuses to be near a Vida. . .

Favourite wine/gin/whisky?

  • Gail: I have been a gin fan since before it was a thing. I want that on record.

Favourite deli?

  • Kate: Super Sconto on Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove, for Italian groceries and deli foods. Not exactly a deli, but I recommend Eastern Temptations in Emmarentia for spices, pulses, rice, nuts, divine chutneys, masalas and frozen things – basically, all things India and more. Salma will even give you tips and instructions if you ask.

Favourite bookshops?

  • Kate: Are you kidding me? Love Books in Melville, of course. Although I do scour the second hand shops too – mostly for poetry.
  • Gail: I love the vibe at Love Books, but – please don’t hate me – I adore my kindle. Cheaper and easier. Plus, the best place to read Katie Gayle.

Favourite TV shows?

  • Kate: The only thing standing between me and full-on lockdown depression was Schitts Creek.
  • Gail: I loved Schitts Creek too! Now I’m addicted to the Pointless quiz show; it’s all I actually watch on TV at the moment.

Favourite gyms/hikes/yoga studios/swimming pools?

Kate swimming in Magaliesberg the day we were allowed to leave Gauteng
Kate swimming in Magaliesberg the day we were allowed to leave Gauteng
  • Kate: Magaliesberg for hikes and mountain pools as often as possible. Zoo Lake Swimming Pool (not to be confused with Zoo Lake Itself) is magnificent. Yoga Studio @yogainthedojo in Greenside, for yoga with my lovely sister-in-law Michelle Aldana.
  • Gail: Exercise is the work of the devil.

Favourite beauty salons?

  • Kate: Added Touch in Tyrone Avenue Parkview for a quick pedi and a chat with the lovely ladies who work there.

Favourite hairdresser?

  • Gail: I adore my hairdresser, Fred, and his wife, Cheryl, at Sneak Preview in Parktown North.
Sneak Preview
Sneak Preview

Tell us your favourite place(s) to go on holiday in Southern Africa. What is it you love so much about the particular region/resort?

  • Kate: So many! I have a particular love for the Eastern Cape, having spent many happy holidays there. It’s still relatively unspoilt, not too crowded, great beaches, good swimming and walking.
  • Gail: Because I have tweens, my holidays have to be kid friendly. We would probably die without our annual two weeks at Sabi River Bungalows, and we love Umngazi.
Schim enjoying a birthday gin at Umngazi
Schim enjoying a birthday gin at Umngazi

Favourite way of spoiling yourself when you’re away?

  • Kate: An afternoon read/snooze.
  • Gail: My 10 yo daughter and I always treat ourselves to a mommy-daughter massage or pedi on holidays.

Any plans for the Christmas hols?

  • Gail: We postponed our April Umhlanga timeshare to December, so we are doing that first – and then staying in a beach cottage at Sheffield Beach. I am very excited about the last part.
  • Kate: Family holiday at Pringle Bay in the Western Cape.

Favourite reads for the hols?

  • Gail: Well obviously everyone ELSE should be reading the first Katie Gayle. It’s very light and funny and a good beach read. It’s not like anything either of us write on our own. A reviewer has described it as a bit bonkers, and we think that’s spot on.
  • For myself, lockdown has given me a weird addiction to fantasy series, so I am hoping to find a good long one for December.
The book
The book

What is the new book about?

  • Gail: Epiphany Bloom, known as Pip, can’t hold down a job. So when a temporary filing assignment gets her confused with an expert in missing teens, she finds herself caught up in trying to solve a kidnapping while pretending to be someone else. There is a cat.
  • Kate: There are also llamas. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!)

Explain your writing process for this book. Where did the idea come from to write a book together?

  • Gail: A glass of wine at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and observation that we are both hilarious (our own observation, to be clear) and the path was set. Process wise, we plot together, then Kate writes the first draft and then I kind of follow and add things and sometimes change things, and go back and take out things that suddenly don’t make sense. And then we get stuck, and have to plot some more.

How did you decide on the genre?

  • Gail: I’d been to a talk on how heroes in mysteries – or was it thrillers – anyway, how they should have a special ability to make them stand out. So we decided to write a book about someone with no special abilities at all. Then we just wrote. Towards the end of the first one, we realised we’d written a cozy mystery.

How easy/difficult was it?

  • Gail:  That’s so hard to answer. Sometimes it feels really easy and like writing as a pair is the best thing ever. Sometimes we get stuck on something and it all feels very hard. Editing book 2 nearly killed us.
  • Kate: It’s so much fun to write (and, we hope, to read). I couldn’t have asked for a better lock down project.

What kind of research did you have to do for it?

  • Gail: Let’s just say that our Google histories are very, very strange. Book 1, The Kensington Kidnap, involved research such as “Why is plastic actually good” and “What towns in Kent end with ‘bury’. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that for book 3 we have found out an awful lot about llamas. Also, because Kate is much cleverer than me, sometimes I have to secretly google what she’s referred to.

You’ve also landed an international publishing deal. Tell us how that came about.

  • Gail: Kate got a bee in her bonnet that we would send the first one to Bookouture. I was a bit sceptical, but didn’t want to pop her bubble. She sent it. We got a three book deal. We pinch ourselves a lot.

Will there be a book launch? Details of that.

  • Gail: Because it’s a digital book mostly – you can get hard copies, but from SA we’re not convinced they’ll make it to you – a book launch isn’t in the works. We keep playing with different ideas, but the time of year also makes it hard (it’s out on 2 December!)
  • Kate: Pamela, download the book on 2 December and pour yourself a little glass of bubbly, and we’ll consider it launched! (OKAY, IF I HAVE TO!)

Where can fans get your book? Will there be any printed copies available?

Katie Gayle -Cheap as chips Go forth and order it NOW...
Cheap as chips. Go forth and order it NOW…
  • Gail: Any digital platform. And the more people who download it on launch day – for a mere 99p – the more you’ll help us. 2 December, have I mentioned that?

If Katie Gayle was an actual person, what would  her favourite ten things be?

  • Gail: cats. tea. puns. London.

Favourite piece of writing advice?

  • Gail: One of our characters in book 1 actually gives this advice – bum on chair. The only way to get that book that is inside you out is to sit down and write the damn thing.

What’s next for you? What are you busy working on at the moment?

  • Kate: We are working on the third book in the Epiphany Bloom series. We think it’s the best yet!

2020 has been a shitty year but do you have a favourite moment?

  • Kate: When we went to Level 2 and I could finally leave Gauteng to visit my favourite Magaliesburg pools – a mere 10km over the border in North West! (I have a pic).
  • Gail: Looks at Kate’s answer in shock. GETTING A THREE BOOK INTERNATIONAL BOOK DEAL, weirdo.
  • Kate: Eeek! Forgot that. Yes, definitely favourite moment.

Can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for taking part in Reading Matters xxx