I had just parked my car, at Chartwell House, when Adrienne Vaughan arrived in Scarlet O’Hara, her ancient red soft-top. She was accompanied by Winston and Wellington, adorable Cocker Spaniel brothers. The dogs were very friendly and happy to get out of the car, following a long journey from Leicestershire. Laughing as the boys bounded off to sniff out the venue, Adrienne removed an over-sized tweed cap to reveal unruly chestnut hair. Her vintage Harry Hall hacking jacket adorned with an elegant horseshoe brooch was perfect. The chocolate moleskin jeans with suede ankle boots, silk shirt and classic pearls completed the striking outfit. Adrienne looked very elegant, with ‘a touch of Hollywood glamour’, and she could have stepped onto a set of Dynasty, with ease. (I love this, my sister and I adore the Collins sisters, wonderful, talented, hardworking girls. Jackie was such a heroine of mine.)
Jessie: Wow! I love your vintage clothes. The brooch is stunning, where did you get it from?
Adrienne: Thanks! the horseshoe brooch was a gift from my husband, we attended the Derby as special guests of the organiser, he had a ‘good day’ as they say and the brooch has seven lucky diamonds embedded in it, I love it. I found the classic pearls for £10 in perfect condition, in their box in a charity shop in Lutterworth.
Jessie: What about the handbag?
Another collector’s piece bought for me by my mom in Dublin in the 1980s, when I first started working on magazines, it’s a ‘folded’ mag, called Papa Razi.
Jessie: I did expect you to be wearing a scarf rather than a hat.
Adrienne: Only the Queen can wear a headscarf with real style, although when I had my gorgeous dressage horse Marco, myself and the rest of the girls ALWAYS wore headscarves in honour of the Queen’s birthday
As we walked towards Chartwell House, we admired the lily pond reminiscent of Monet’s Garden. Stopping to take photographs, we took it in turns to keep an eye on the dogs but they were very well behaved. I carried a vintage picnic basket as we searched for a suitable spot to chat. Finally, we found a beautiful place in a walled garden. Wrought iron chairs and tables were arranged on a patio area with a stunning view of the garden. There were archways of roses and flowerbeds crammed full of flowers – a perfect setting for a romance novel.
Adrienne placed my vintage Bronte tweed blanket on the table while I started to unpack the picnic. I had prepared some homemade scotch eggs, coleslaw and sourdough bread. I had also made a fresh tomato salad with tomatoes from my greenhouse. I opened two bottles of Guinness as a nod to Adrienne’s Irish heritage.
Jessie: I assume that you like to drink Guinness.
Adrienne: I’m very proud of the fact I was brought up in Dublin 8 which is where Guinness HQ is based, but I must admit it’s not my tipple. I do love Irish whiskey, however and recently discovered one called Writer’s Tears … perfect! The food is great. How did you know that this would my favourite picnic?
We were so absorbed in the food, drink and the setting that we almost forgot about the interview. Adrienne is lively, fun and incredibly easy to chat with. Authors love to talk about their work so I prompted Adrienne by removing her book from my bag. The book is entitled The Hollow Heart and has a wonderfully tempting image on the cover.
Jessie: Summarise your book in two sentences.
Adrienne: Investigative journalist, Marianne Coltrane uncovers a devastating travesty of justice and with more than her career at risk, takes off to the west of Ireland to save her sanity. There, she meets Ryan O’Gorman, an actor seeking sanctuary from the media and a very dangerous fiancée. What can possibly go right?
Jessie: I haven’t read the book so could you read an extract to tempt me?
Adrienne: … the whole episode confirmed one thing; he was the love of her life, but love of her life or not, she would never play second fiddle to Hollywood, his career or anyone else besides.
Jessie: I know that your books are very popular. Let’s face it who wouldn’t like ‘romantic suspense with Irish roots and a touch of glamour.’ What do the reviewers say about your book?
‘The story is just wonderful, moving from the cut-throat world of investigative journalism, through glamour, glitz and mayhem, and on to the perfectly-drawn setting of Innishmahon, where it continues as a very moving love story with an uncertain outcome and a gripping tale of the lives of a cast of characters I really took to my heart.’ Welsh Annie, Top 500 Reviewer
‘Completely compelling from start to finish. Thoroughly enjoyed this novel, so many different depths and very unpredictable. Not your average romantic story, twists and turns throughout which leave you surprised until the very last page.’ Amazon Customer.
‘This book had me laughing, crying and hoping things would turn out right. If this is the author’s first book, things bode well for the next one.’ L.A. Topp
Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
I missed them all, desperately! Luckily my husband had read the manuscript, so when I told him I was busy plotting my next book he looked at me askance and asked, “Why? The Hollow Heart ends at a beginning. Go back, so we can find out what happens next.”
So I did … genius! Except A Change of Heart was so difficult to write I nearly threw myself off the nearest bridge. Luckily again, I have an earth angel, the historical novelist June Tate, my mentor, she managed to haul me back from the brink – all’s well that ends well.
Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
Meryl Streep. She’d read it and decide she just has to play Miss MacReady in the movie. Great! Because Meryl has the wherewithal to make that happen, and by the time it does, she’ll have roped in Pierce Brosnan to play Father Gregory and Aidan Turner to play Ryan. I already have Bill Patterson ‘signed up’ as Marianne’s gruff Scottish editor Jack. And as for Marianne, well, I’d leave that to Meryl. Though, of course, I haven’t really given it much thought, Jessie, as you can tell.
Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
It’s pure escapism and can be read as quickly or as slowly as you wish. First read, it’s a pager turner, a gripping, roller-coaster of a story that moves right along. The second read is more layered, with descriptions becoming more vivid and the reader’s emotional connection to the characters deepening – well, that’s what I’ve been told, which is extremely flattering and a bit humbling too.
What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
‘In the first glimmerings of daybreak, with the deathly moon merging its last candlelight in the blueing east, they walked slowly back.’ Sadly, not my work, but an excerpt from Demelza by Winston Graham. I’m late to discover this wonderful author, who allegedly described himself as ‘the most successful author no one’s ever heard of.’ He writes like a dream. I’m always jotting things down that I hope will inspire me to be a better writer.
What is the biggest challenge for an author?
In what today is an extremely crowded, shouty, ‘look at me, I’m the next best thing’ marketplace, I would say visibility. The Americans – brilliant marketeers – call it ‘discoverability’ – meaning how do authors find their readers? It’s more difficult for an indie author – like me – but still hard work even for those with publishers behind them who, at least, give them a shove onto what they hope might be the right platform. We’re very grateful to people like you, and indeed all book bloggers/reviews/flag wavers, without your support most of us would sink without a trace.
What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
‘Never, never, never give up!’ Winston Churchill and ‘Write Crap!’ Julie Cohen. I know Julie slightly better than I know Winston, obviously.
As Winston Churchill is one of her heroes, Adrienne asked to meet at Chartwell. Following the chat, we packed up the picnic and went on a tour of Chartwell. The interior of the house was bathed in light and so inviting. It was a joy to see Churchill’s painting. However, we were both struck by the atmosphere of the informal dining room overlooking the garden. There was a glint of mischief sparkling in Adrienne’s eyes as she looked around the room, and I could tell that she was imagining a dinner party.
Jessie: Who would you invite to dinner?
Oscar Wilde, of course and because we’ll have two Winstons – Winston Churchill and Winston the spaniel, I’d ask the author Winston Graham – to make three, we won’t forget any names that way and my other fave Agatha Christie – our cat is named after her (because we never know who she’s going to kill next!).
I’d be very quiet though, in total awe of all these ‘greats’ and might not be able to eat any lunch at all!
Have look at this. I love this picture with one of my heroes, Oscar Wilde, in Merrion Square Park, Dublin. I climbed up to give him a Christmas kiss and there, stamped across his laconic smile was a perfect print of pink lips. Someone had beaten me to it!’
… a writer of romantic suspense with Irish roots and a touch of Hollywood glamour.
… always leaping out of the bath to write down what her characters have just said to her, they do pick their moments
… is desperate to be able to write faster, but a book is like a painting, it’s not finished till it’s finished and only the author/artist knows when.
Adrienne: Thanks for the chat and the food – it’s been a fun day. I loved the Guinness but want to leave you with a bottle of Writer’s Tears to drink when you get home. I hope you’ll raise a glass to the release of my next book, Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel, which is currently being considered by a number of well-known publishers. The cover reads, ‘Every summer has a story, but how can one secret ruin so many lives?’
Adrienne was great company and made me laugh throughout the interview. She was forever telling a great yarn so effortlessly and with great humour. I predict that her books are very entertaining. I wish her every success with her new release.
You can contact Adrienne Vaughan at:
Facebook: Adrienne Vaughan
List of novels written:
The Hollow Heart
A Change of Heart
Secrets of the Heart
Fur Coat & No Knickers (Short story collection)
Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.