SA authors bag UK deal with top digital publisher

04 June 2020 - 16:34 By Mila de Villiers
Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel - or as they'll soon be better known: Katie Gayle.
Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel - or as they'll soon be better known: Katie Gayle.
Image: Bookouture

Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel: two names local bibliophiles are as familiar with as their propensity to forget to RSVP for evenings of mahala vino and catching up with the tjoms (remember book launches?).

Enter Katie Gayle: the nom de plume of Sidley and Schimmel. The twosome penned a new cosy mystery series to be published by *djembe roll* British digital publishing company, Bookouture. Bloody brilliant stuff, bokkies!

Ja, book one - the first of three - will enter the digital sphere on December 1 (ie we can replace "countdown to level zero" with "days until we can read Katie Gayle's debut" - cheers!)

Here the duo divulge more:

1. What was the first word/thought that came to mind when you heard that Bookouture signed you for a global three-book deal? (Ecstatic expletives encouraged)

F****ck! Accompanied by much shrieking and jumping up and down. Then we got terrible anxiety and waited for the follow-up e-mail saying "Please send 5,000 pounds to..."

2. Bookouture's website describes your work as "a cosy new mystery series starring accidental sleuth Epiphany 'Pip' Bloom". If you were to summarise Pip in five words, what would your selected adjectives be?

Well-meaning, clumsy, hilarious, brave, tall.

3. Have you been asked to keep shtum about the title of the first book in the series, or are we allowed a sneak peek?

No peeking, Mila! We promise to send you an advance copy asap.

4. What drew you to the mystery genre?

"Cosy mystery" is hugely popular internationally. We wanted to do something funny and commercial and the genre seemed like something we could do and have fun with. And with cosy, you don't have to research gruesome things like how to dissolve a body in a bathtub of acid.

5. The book is set in London and follows Pip's search for the kidnapped son of two Hollywood A-listers (thanks again, Bookouture.com!). The two of you are Jozi "It Girls" through and through. Why did you decide on (a) setting the book in the Big Smoke, and (b) making at least three of the protagonists Americans and not Saffas?

First, thank you for describing us as It Girls and the bizarre machinations of our combined creative minds as decisions. You are too kind.

We didn't want to set the book in South Africa, because it felt like the burden of explanation to an international reader would overwhelm the story and the humour. Pip felt like a London girl, and then it turned out that it's strangely easier to write about a place you know less well, although you're bound to make errors - our editor laughed uproariously at the idea of driving a car around central London!

Because this market is largely on e-book, the readership is very international and a good proportion of readers are from the US, so it actually worked for the publisher not to have the book too deeply rooted in London either.

6. How long did it take to come up with the pseudonym Katie Gayle and were there any other names you considered?

Do you think it's too late to change it to Gratey Kale?

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