Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Next Big Thing

My lovely friend Lesley Cookman  tagged me in this meme, for which I thank her!

What is the title of your next book?
The one  that has just come out is called A Merry Little Christmas. My next one is going to be Midsummer Magic.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
AMLC came out of wanting to return to the village of Hope Christmas which I created for Last Christmas. I loved the place and characters so much, and felt I had more to say about them. Plus I've always wanted to write about a family with a special needs child, as I have several friends in that situation, so it gave me the opportunity to bring Pippa and her family out of the shadows. And of course it's a Christmas book, so I go to play around with lots of the expectations the festive season brings, some of them unexpected...

 Midsummer Magic has come about because I was asked to come up with a summery book.  I heard a song on the radio called You'll Be Mine by the Pierces, which sent shivers down my spine (ALWAYS a good sign for me). It made me think of love, enchantment, music and madness, which somehow led me to deciding I'd like to do a modern day riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream. So that's what I'm writing now, and I can tell you it's a blast!

What genre does your book fall under?
All my books fall into the commercial women's fiction/chick lit bracket (though, chick lit, really? Apart from the lovely man in my local market who calls me babe, no one could possibly believe I'm a chick any more!). However, I am a passionate believer in not getting tied down to genre, so I don't want this necessarily to be the only genre I ever write in. I also like to experiment with my writing, so even though this is in the same genre as my other books, I am hoping that Midsummer Magic will be very different from AMLC.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Do you know... that one is always so difficult for me to answer. Gabriel from AMLC is easy. I always had Richard Armitage in mind for him. Marianne ... hmm maybe someone like Jessica Brown Findlay or Gemma Artherton. I think Hermione Norris might make an excellent Cat, and Noel could be the ever lovely Rupert Penry Jones or Jude Law. Hmm, yes, Jude Law would be yummy.   Pippa could be played by Kate Winslet and Dan by John Simm.  The very gorgeous Michael Nicholas would have to be Johnny Depp.

Will your book be self-pubished or represented by an agency?
I am represented by the lovely Dorothy Lumley at the Dorian Literary Agency and am lucky enough to be published by the wonderful Avon team at Harper Collins

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
AMLC took forever, as it was a very stop start process due to the madness in my life this time last year. I must have started it sometime in the summer, but didn't finish it till around the end of Feb.
Midsummer Magic is nearly at the halfway stage and I started it in August. I'm aiming to deliver by the end of November, which is a bit mental...But I do write quickly when under pressure:-)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
While I write for a commercial market, I try to put some serious stuff in there too. So I guess I would aim to be writing as well as people I admire like Kate Harrison, Rowan Coleman and Marian Keyes.

Who or what inspitred you to write this book?
As I said above I wanted AMLC to be a follow up to Last Christmas. Which was originally inspired by the chaos of my own family life, and AMLC has well and truly picked up that baton! I'd also say it is partly inspired by notions of motherhood: being mothered, becoming a mother, mothering your own mother, dealing with the unwanted actions of your children... I think it's an interesting area, and one I might well return to.

Midsummer Magic, was originally set off by the song I mentioned above, but really Shakespeare is my main inspiration. Thanks, Bill.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I hope people new to AMLC will enjoy Hope Christmas as much as I enjoy writing about it & I'd like to think they might shed a tear/have a laugh along the way.

Midsummer Magic is proving a lot of fun to write, and I hope readers will enjoy the mistakes, shenanigans and confusion that my characters are going to be subjected too.

And before I go, I get to tag the following fabulous writers who will be blogging about the Next Big Thing on their blogs next week....

Sara Sheridan
Sara is a Scottish author who writes across the genres.  A woman of many talents and a fabulous person to boot. I am reading her fabulous book Brighton Belle right now.
Gillian Phillip
Coincidentally, also from Scotland, is a wonderful YA author. I know, because I had the privilege to edit her! She's also a formidable defendant of author's rights, demonstrated by the principled stand she has recently taken supporting her friend, fellow writer, Debi Gliori against internet trolls.
Scarlett Bailey
And I shared our pub day last week and had a blast. Her latest Married by Christmas is on my tbr list. Oh and in her spare time Scarlett doubles up as best selling author Rowan Coleman. Awesome.
Virginia Moffatt
Is my lovely twin, and my greatest supporter. Technically this meme is for pubbed or soon to be pubbed authors. Ginia's just finished the second draft of her first novel. But I think you can see from the Friday Flashes on her blog how talented she is. AND she works and has three kids...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fact versus fiction: Real life is always more mental...

Hurrah, today's the day. A Merry Little Christmas is finally published. Some books have easy births and some more traumatic ones. This one, my friends, as you've probably gathered from my other posts on the subject has had a particularly traumatic birth as this time last year when I was writing it (or supposed to be, I was in fact getting bugger all writing done) my lovely mil was dying of leukaemia and had just moved in with us. A Merry Little Christmas being very much a book about families, some of that experience has inevitably found it's way into the book. In fact, when no 4 read the blurb, she wanted to know if it was about us. You'll no doubt be relieved to know that, no it isn't about us, because the truth is however much I make things up, real life is way more mental then anything I could put on the page. And to demonstrate I'd show you a snippet from the book about the craziness of life in Cat's household. (Cat if you have read Last Christmas is a mother of four, and has a mother with alzheimer's who becomes seriously ill in the course of the new book).

Cat and her husband Noel have just come back from visiting Cat's mother, and this is the scene which they encounter when they get home...

Having established there was no more they could do for Louise, and encountering Alfie in the corridor with a bunch of flowers heading her way, Cat and Noel headed home, where they found World War III raging, as Paige had accidentally ‘borrowed’ Mel’s straighteners, and Mel was letting her have it in no uncertain terms. Meanwhile Ruby was wailing because she’d caught her finger in the mousetrap, and James was teasing her that there was a rat living under the stairs. It took a while to quieten Ruby’s wails, and get James to apologise to her, and Paige to Mel, but eventually things calmed down. Mel meanwhile had disappeared grumpily into her bedroom, so Cat gave it ten minutes before deciding to risk a chat. It was unlike Mel to be so mean to Paige. She usually reserved her fury for Cat and Noel. 

In my real world, this was the kind of thing that was happening on a near daily basis, last year...

Rosemarie had been suffering badly from constipation, so the district nurse came out to give her an enema. The moment she arrived, the engineers arrived to set up Rosemarie's emergency alarm . Just as they left, and long after the nurse had gone, and before a carer was due to arrive there was a  yelp from the front room and the inevitable was occurring...

A little while later I had to go out to an appointment. As I came out, I realised I'd missed an urgent an important call from school. I spent the next half an hour unsuccessfully trying to reach the teacher, and was feeling fairly stressed by the time I got to school. While I was standing in the playground, a kind friend pointed out that I didn't in fact, need to be there, as no 4 had an after school club.

I dashed back home to discover Rosemarie needed the loo. We could still just about manage to get her there, but she had difficulty standing and her feet kept slipping on the floor. She was also rather large, so managing her alone was pretty tricky. I'd just got her sat on the loo, when the doorbell rang and one of children came home and our decorator announced he was packing up for the evening. Said child was desperate for the loo, so I shooed her upstairs, and sent the decorator discreetly away. Ten minutes later, when I had got her sat down a new carer arrived. At that point all hell broke loose as there was an almighty yell from the back garden. No 2 had been holding the guinea pig when it jumped out of her hands and got lost in the garden. No 3 ran round to the neighbour's to see if it had gone next door, and was wailing loudly when said neighbour was out.

Ignoring the carer and mil I was trying to calm two hysterical children down, when I looked at my watch and realised now I really did have to go and fetch no 4...

As luck would have it, the GP turned out to be hiding under a nearby bush, so amazingly is still with us, but needless to say that night I was a gibbering wreck.

I have tried to put some of that chaos into Cat's life,but I don't really think I could throw as much as her as happened to me, because quite frankly I don't think anyone would believe it!

But like I say, A Merry Little Christmas isn't all about me and my family, but it is about friendship,family, marriage, motherhood and more besides. If you are kind enough to pick it up, I do hope you enjoy it!

And if you're a fan of Christmas stories, may I point you to the very lovely Carole Matthews, Milly Johnson and Scarlett Bailey who also have Christmas books out today? It's a privilege and a pleasure to be in their illustrious company!

And if you missed it last week, I did this on google hangout. Isn't the interweb marvellous?

And me talking about A Merry Little Christmas!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not just for Christmas...

Well best laid plans etc. Over two months now since I blogged. Sorry I think I fell in a time warp and just climbed out. I meant to blog about my summer, watching the Jubilympics, but it's a bit late for that now, so instead, I will give a very big fanfare to my NEW BOOK  A Merry Little Christmas, which is coming  out next week. Available from all good bookshops.

This is a book for all mood swings, as no 2 is about to demonstrate below.

It will make you smile...

It will make you gasp...

It will make you laugh...

It will make you think.....

It will make you weep...

And like a puppy, it's not just for Christmas.It's a book for all seasons...

Oh and if anyone's interested, I'm taking part in a google hangout tomorrow at 1pm with lovely editor Claire Bord, and lovely fellow Avon writers Claudia Carroll and Fiona Gibson talking about writing, inspirations, ebooks and anything you else want to know...