In the Spotlight | Kate O'Keeffe

About Kate O'Keeffe

Kate O'Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too. He's not: he's a cat.

She is a wife, a mother, and a chocolate expert. Seriously. She loves to read, to hang out with friends, and to hike up the big hill behind her house each day.

To date, she’s written the Amazon bestselling chick lit series, the Cozy Cottage Café, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy Series, a fun holiday novella, and co-authored One Way Ticket with fellow author, Melissa Baldwin.


What inspired you to write your first book?

I have read and adored chick lit and romantic comedies since first encountering Bridget Jones’s Diary way back in the day. I then moved on to Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and a whole raft of fabulous authors, and every time I read one of their books I would laugh and cry and think, “I could write one of those.” Now, I’m not saying I keep such hallowed company as the great Ms. Kinsella and Ms. Keyes in my writing (although I certainly aspire to), but I had a strong need to try. My first novel was Styling Wellywood, which was published in 2014. I wanted to tell the story of a woman moving back to her home town after running away from something, of falling for the wrong sorts of guys, of thinking she wants one thing but really needing something entirely different. Styling Wellywood took me two years to write, with so many iterations it would make your head spin. But write it I did, and it opened the floodgates for me. Since then, I’ve published a further six titles with three more in the works. And I love doing it.

What genre do you consider your books?

My books fall firmly and squarely into the romantic comedy slash chick lit camp.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write in first person, from the female main protagonists point of view. I love it as you can get into her head, and really feel what she’s going through. It’s a type of closeness I don’t think you can get in third person.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I guess it would have to have been in school when I was about seven. I still have a story I wrote from that age, about a girl whose hair was so long she couldn’t play with her friends (pinning it up clearly didn’t occur to me as a young child), and I remember spending hours perfecting my handwriting, and drawing the accompanying illustrations. From then I went on to write plays and short stories as a teenager, many of which I still have—and yes, they are as funny as you could imagine!

What is your favorite scene that you’ve written?

I loved writing the scene in the first Cozy Cottage Café novel, One Last First Date, in which Cassie accidentally whacks herself in the face, causing her nose to bleed, on her first date with the man of her dreams. It was so fun to write, and I cringed for poor Cassie during the entire process.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Set a goal and work toward it. No matter what that goal is (write a bestseller, perfect your craft, write five hundred words a day), you can achieve it when you put your mind to it. I set out to publish four titles in 2017 and have already got three out there with another dropping on October 31. I’ve never achieved this volume before, and it feels amazing to do it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to hear from you! Some readers get in touch with me, some to tell me how much they liked my books, some to just say hello, and it’s so fun to get to correspond directly with them. We are all people, readers and writers, connecting feels natural.

How do you beat writer’s block?

I go for a walk up a hill with my dogs and purposefully set myself the task of resolving whatever writing issue I have. It usually works, but sometimes I rope my husband in, and he never fails to give me some great tips.

Are any of your characters are based on you?

All of them? None of them? Or maybe somewhere in between? To be honest, there’s a little bit of me in all my main protagonists, although they each have elements of their own. I tend to exaggerate various aspects of myself and others and put them into my characters, creating what I hope are unique and interesting characters to read.


How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something short, sharp, and snappy that also described the main action in the book. The first book in the series is One Last First Date, so it seemed logical to call the next one, Two Last First Dates, and the next one Three Last First Dates—do you get where I’m going with this? There is a fourth novel planned, which I will be releasing in 2018 (and there are no points for guessing it’s title), and perhaps even a fifth. As each book is about one of the group of friends who agreed to a pact to marry the next guy they date, I think the titles describe that journey perfectly.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Paige lacks in confidence, and through sticking to a career she hates and always going for guys who are wrong for her, she reaffirms she’s not good enough to herself every day of her life. Her journey is to learn who she is and what she actually wants—something many of us have had to do in our lives.

How much of the book is realistic?

I like to think all of it could happen, right down to a group of friends deciding they are sick of dating and agreeing to a pact to marry the next guy they date! It might seem extreme, but I could totally imagine it happening. Although I never made that conscious decision myself, I certainly got to a time in my life when I was ready to find The One, and I was lucky enough to do so with only a few false starts. In addition, the friendship between the women in Two Last First Dates and across the entire series, is completely realistic, in my opinion. These are good friends who have got one another’s backs, but they have issues that arise in their friendships, just as friends do in everyday life. We’re not perfect; we’re human, and I hope I’ve portrayed these characters as such in my novels.

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