Minnie Darke, author of The Last Love Song and Starcrossed talks about the inspiration behind her new book, With Love From Wish & Co.
With Love from Wish & Co is a new book from Minnie Darke that follows Marnie Fairchild and her bespoke gift-buying service. When she makes one little mistake, everything starts spiralling into near chaos.
To learn more, we sat down with the book's author, Minnie for a chat about her book, the inspiration behind it, and more.
About the book
Marnie Fairchild has always dreamed of owning her own shop, and her dreams are – slowly but surely – materialising as her gift-buying service at Wish & Co takes off. Nevertheless, she dreams of something bigger and better, a space that’s worthy of her special skills, namely the shopfront once owned by her grandfather.
Caught up in her entrepreneurial fervour, Marnie makes one marriage-ending mistake, accidentally mixing up two gifts for her most prized customer – one for his wife and one for his mistress. Scrabbling to pick up the pieces of her potentially ruined business, the last thing Marnie needs is to fall for the son of the couple in question.
While it’s undeniably a rom-com plot, ‘this is not just a story about two people falling in love,’ says Minnie. ‘This is a story about the kinds of love that exist within a range of different kinds of relationships.’
One of the key features of Marnie’s business, Wish & Co, is gift-wrapping. While it might seem like an obscure choice, there’s some real-life inspiration behind the idea and a deeper meaning behind the gift-giving that Minnie threads through the novel.
‘My mum is a terrific gift giver and she’s also a freakishly good gift wrapper, so there might be a few aspects of my mother’s character that have made it into Marnie,’ explains the author. In fact, the story about Marnie taking over gift-wrapping from her mum as a child was copied straight from her mother’s life. ‘I grew up being given beautifully wrapped presents,' she says, and this turned out to be the perfect inspiration for the skills demonstrated by the book’s main character.
While the gift wrapping, in itself, is an interesting quirk in the story, it also helps support a deeper message, with the idea of gift-giving providing the link between several different love stories.
‘The real reason that we try to give good gifts, that we want to give our loved ones the perfect thing, is that we want to demonstrate to that person that we really see them and value them for who they are.’
Writing out her entrepreneurial spirit
Luckily for Minnie, writing about Marnie’s business was second nature. Being a creative spirit, the author is no stranger to coming up with interesting business ideas.
‘I have a day job, like most writers do,’ she explains. A few years back, Minnie needed to shake things up, and that was when the idea for Wish & Co was born. ‘Of course, I didn’t become a professional gift buyer in real life, but the great thing about being a novelist is that, in your imagination at least, you can become whatever you want.’
Although the author herself is quite risk-averse, she finds that fictional scenarios are a great place to flex her entrepreneurial muscles without fear of consequence. While writing, ‘you’re not really playing with live ammo,’ she says. ‘So you can create fun ideas and give them to other people to develop in a completely fictional context. You can’t lose any money that way!’ she jokes.
Writing with a pen name
In addition to writing out different career possibilities, the author equally enjoys working out different personalities while writing.
Writing under the pen name Minnie Darke, the author explains how she can play with readers’ expectations and establish a narrative personality. While writing, Minnie is keenly aware of the role of the narrator and is careful to craft a cohesive persona through which to tell her stories.
‘Creating Minnie Darke is just a process of naming up that narrator and giving them a voice and a personality and, potentially, some truly excellent shoes. So, it’s really just more character creation,’ she says, noting that inventing a rich and varied cast is one of her favourite parts of being a novelist.
Not only does Minnie's persona help the author in creating a personality behind her stories, it also gives readers an idea of what they can expect when they pick up one of her books. 'If readers pick up a Minnie Darke book they know they’re going to get a particular kind of experience,' she explains. 'They’re going to get a story that’s hopefully very uplifting and leaves them in a joyful place.'
And uplifting it certainly is! If you haven’t read any of Minnie Darke’s books before, With Love from Wish & Co is the perfect introduction. But if you’re already a Darke fan, and enjoyed The Lost Love Song and Star-Crossed, we have a feeling you’ll love this book just as much.
Love audiobooks? They’re even better with extra content! Check out some of the audiobooks that include exclusive recorded content for even more enjoyment.
Lessons in Chemistry is getting TV treatment with a new Apple TV+ series based on the book. Learn more about it here.
A guide to author Anne Enright and her books.
Find out how author Richard McHugh wrote his new book The Cutting while working full-time as a barrister.
Learn about Elizabeth Strout's Lucy Barton books in honour of her Booker prize longlist nomination for Oh William! Learn more about the series and the order in which we recommend reading the four books.
9 interesting facts about Ottessa Moshfegh, author of Lapvona.
Learn why you should join a choir and find a choir near you.
Wondering what to read after Everything I Know About Love? If you’re a fan of Dolly Alderton’s first book, then you’ll love her second book: Ghosts. Learn all about it and discover more similar titles.
These 7 real locations from Sixty-Seven Days are the perfect places to visit while reading the book. Immerse yourself in this romantic drama by exploring the same places the characters visit in the novel.
Fiona McIntosh talks about staying regimented during lockdown, the surprising catharsis of writing The Orphans, and her infamous research process.
We spoke to author Alice Nelson about her new book, Faithless. Learn about her writing experience, how she found her voice, and her trust in readers.
A remarkable story about love, literature and family to read with your book club.