It is a pleasure to welcome Elodie Cheesman to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, an author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Love, in Theory we sat down for a chat. Thanks Elodie!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
I’d love a flat white. After 5pm, a G&T is my go-to.
How did you make the transition from a lawyer to a published author?
I started writing Love, in Theory soon after starting as a graduate lawyer. I chipped away at it slowly in the early mornings before work, with dreams but no expectations of publication. Things slowly fell into place; after a few rewrites, I signed with a literary agent, and then last year, with Pan Macmillan. I still work full-time as a lawyer, and intend to keep up both my writing and legal career.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new book, Love, in Theory?
I’ve always been fascinated by scientific studies of love – attempts to quantify and understand a very mysterious and magical thing. Learning about optimal stopping theory (a mathematical theory which, when applied to dating, pinpoints the time at which a person should settle down in order to have the best chance of ending up with The One) planted the seed of an idea. I started thinking about a hyper rational protagonist who is determined to apply academic theories to her search for a life partner.
What is the significance of the title to the book?
This book is a romantic comedy; it’s centred on a search for love. ‘In Theory’ flags the battle that ensues between head (in this case, what the scientific theories say about finding love) and heart. The protagonist Romy is forced to choose between sensible engineer Hans (who, on paper, is perfect for her) and free-wheeling creative James (who, according to the academic theories, is all wrong for her).
What are the main themes in Love, in Theory?
Love, in Theory explores the challenges of modern-day dating, including the paradox of choice presented by dating apps, and the casual nature of swipe-right culture. It plays with questions like: How do you go about finding The One? How do we define The One? Is love quantifiable, or ultimately random and unknowable?
Where did the inspiration for the character of Romy come from?
Romy is a commercial lawyer in her early twenties; very analytical and pragmatic. To get inside Romy’s head, I drew on my more rational side, as well as my experience in the world of commercial law, then dialled it up a lot!
Did you find it challenging to capture the complexities of modern-day love and relationships, which are strong themes in your novel?
Writing a novel is a particular kind of challenge, but the themes themselves came quite naturally to me. Having navigated the dating scene in my early to mid-twenties, including via dating apps, questions about how to find love had been rolling around in my head for years. I’m also an avid consumer of love stories and rom-coms, and have had a lot of discussions with friends about the complexities of modern-day relationships, so I had a lot of material to draw upon.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading Love, in Theory?
I hope readers close the book and feel amused, warm and uplifted. And that maybe the book causes them to consider love in a slightly different way.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
I love playful and humorous writers. As a teenager, I was inspired by Jaclyn Moriarty. As an adult, I’ve taken inspiration from the works of Nora Ephron, Maria Semple, Katherine Heiny and Graeme Simsion.
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
I recently read Heartsick, Jessie Stephens’s creative non-fiction debut about heartbreak. It is outstanding. My other favourite recent reads include Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I watch a lot (a lot!) of Netflix.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
My next novel is underway, another romantic comedy!
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Elodie. Congratulations on the release of your new book, Love, in Theory.
Thanks so much for having me, Mrs B.
Elodie Cheesman’s joyous debut is a modern take on the age-old decision between following your head or your heart in the search for love.
There’s an algorithm for everything else, so why not love?
When 24-year-old lawyer Romy learns that she is at her ‘optimal stopping point’ (the mathematically designated point at which one should select the next ‘best person’ who comes along in order to have the best chance at happily ever after), she knows it’s time to get serious about her love life.
Ruthlessly rational, with a belief in data over destiny, Romy knows that reliability and consistency are dependable options, while passion and lust are transitory and only bring pain and disillusionment.
That’s why sensible Hans the engineer is the right choice, as opposed to graphic designer James who exhibits the kind of behaviour that has got her into trouble before. Isn’t he?
Love, in Theory by Elodie Cheesman was published on 25th May 2021 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Elodie here: