My advice – hire a good copy editor! Your manuscript must be correct both grammatically and structurally. Your book shouldn’t be a lesser quality than a traditionally published one because it’s self-published. Editing is an investment and will make a big difference.

NLK: Tell us about your book A Little Bite of Happiness.

VPC: A Little Bite of Happiness is a transition between two periods of my life. I put my career as a pastry chef behind me because of life threatening allergies. But I had put so much effort into my business and in developing recipes that I was heartbroken to give it up. A Little Bite of Happiness was a way to slowly say goodbye to my former life and finally have the courage to write about what I know; food – which also helped me assess my writing ability.

I put my passion for food and stories into this book. There is a lot of me; a sort of coming out – at last all the emotions I had bottled up could emerge in a beautiful way.

In a fast-paced world I wanted to show how to take the time to dream and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. My book is about emotions, all of them, and how food can make us feel every single emotion. There is an element of food in every story and the recipes illustrate the stories.

NLK: Why did you decide to self-publish? What advice would you give to writers considering self-publishing?

VPC: When I had written one third of the manuscript I started to contact publishers. Rejection emails arrived saying A Little Bite of Happiness wasn’t the genre they published. It is not a traditional cookbook and  I am not a celebrity chef and short stories are very hard to publish unless you’re Stephen King. I thought I would save time, energy and peace of mind if I self-published. The main reason was A Little Bite of Happiness had to be published! It’s a genre which doesn’t exist yet and I had this gut feeling the world needs it.

My advice – hire a good copy editor! Your manuscript must be correct both grammatically and structurally. Your book shouldn’t be a lesser quality than a traditionally published one because it’s self-published. Editing is an investment and will make a big difference.

Be prepared to spend a huge amount of time marketing your book. You alone are doing the job of an entire publishing house – it’s tiring, stressful sometimes and it’s not going to happen overnight.

NLK: What’s your writing dream?

VPC: I have several! I dream of A Little Bite of Happiness being successful and translated into many languages so my writing can make people all around the world dream, feel and bake.

My writing dream since I was a teenager is to be an eclectic writer – to write philosophical essays, crime books, romances, and of course, my memoirs (without boring the reader).

NLK:  What’s your fantasy dream job?

VPC: To be paid to read all day while patting my cats and dogs, eating delicious food, and drinking champagne. More seriously, I would have loved to work in the publishing industry. But right now, I just want to spend the rest of my life writing.

NLK: You’re a Parisian born and bred French pastry chef, do you have a secret recipe you can share with us non-cooks so we can impress friends at dinner parties?

VPC: There are many in my book. Apart from the macarons recipe I had to add because I wrote two stories about macarons, the recipes are traditional homemade recipes; ones that mums would bake for Sunday lunches or dinner parties. All the recipes are very easy to follow and turn out beautifully as long as you use high quality ingredients. One of my readers, who had never baked before, is in a frenzy baking phase since she read A Little Bite of Happiness, and is trying one recipe each day. She made the chocolate mousse at 3am the other night because she couldn’t sleep, and had it for breakfast.

It’s very difficult for me to choose a recipe as all of them bring different feelings. This is the first very short text I wrote for A Little Bite of Happiness, and the recipe which illustrates it, and it’s a selfish one. It is very important to enjoy it alone to get the most satisfaction.

The Lover

Although she didn’t value enough their relationship, it was simple: he was her best friend and her lover, always loyal, never a single question asked. Sometimes she didn’t look at him, turned her back on him, ignored his calls. She blamed him, despised him even…guilty of this shameful affair poisoning her mind, screaming evidence of her weakness, her neediness of his comforting presence in her life.

A love-hate story.

But she loved him dearly, passionately, adored him because he made her feel so good. After all, who did they think they were to judge her?

She closed her eyes, a burning desire consuming her. She caressed him slowly, immersed herself in his bittersweet scent, and finally abandoned herself. Her heartbeat was skyscrapering; she could feel this warm powerful wave emerging from her gut, intensifying more and more until she reached it. At the paroxysm of pleasure, an explosion of senses went through her entire body. His spicy flavour on her tongue, the warm smooth elixir of joy going down her throat, his sensuality enveloping her…delicate, intimate, never vulgar.

A peaceful satisfaction invaded her, carnally and emotionally. She was happy, fulfilled, revealed to herself by his touch.

God she loved Chocolate!

For One Mug of Solitary Pleasure

50 grams dark chocolate (at least 58 per cent)

150 millilitres hazelnut milk

Chantilly cream (recipe page 79)

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Dutch cacao

Over low heat, melt the hazelnut milk and the chocolate together. Stir until beautifully combines. Take off the heat, pour the luscious mixture into a pretty mug. Top it with a generous amount of chantilly cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar and Dutch cacao.

Now you’re all set for few minutes of ecstasy. Close your eyes and let the magic invade your senses.

NLK: What’s the biggest difference between living in Australia and France?

VPC: Paris can be very stressful when you live there. People have very romantic ideas of Paris but it’s not Parisians’ reality. I used to drive three hours every day to go to work. Kids go to school from 8am to 5pm and then have hours of homework every night. There is not much room for leisure. Of course, the architecture in Paris is stunning and there are many plays and musicals all year round, much more than in Australia, and cheaper. That’s what I miss the most.In Australia, I found a way of life which suits me better, almost stress-free. People are more relaxed, the weather is better, the beach is not that far and you don’t have to dress up to go to restaurants. Balmain has a village-feel, most habitations are houses and it’s very green, which is a big change compared to the grey Paris where you can hardly find a park. Australia is also a very safe place compared to France where you can get robbed pretty much everywhere.I miss the French produces, especially stone fruits, gariguette strawberries and raw milk cheese. And champagne is extremely expensive here!But I wouldn’t go back to live in France. And most French who visit Australia want to migrate here. It is a very good life here, and Aussies often don’t realise it.

 

About V.P Colombo
Parisian born and bred French pastry chef, V.P Colombo, currently lives in Sydney where she founded and ran Fleur de Sel, a homemade cake and dessert business, before dedicating her time to writing. Her macarons, like all her food created without artificial colourings and preservatives, were much loved at the Balmain market in Sydney, as were her scrumptious dessert tables created for weddings.

V.P Colombo left Paris, via Singapore, to arrive in Sydney in 2010, and stayed in Australia to create stability for her daughter. The challenges of immigration were compounded by severe depression and life-threatening food allergies.

A Little Bite of Happiness emerged through this period as these challenges, combined with her passion for food, sparked her imagination as a writer. The resulting book, her first, is a homage to food, sensuality, love, loss, and simply life in all its glory.

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