A big Yeehaw from the would-be cowgirl author!

Lottie Phillips 

 

 

 

The Little Cottage in the Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my holiday in Sussex, I managed to meet up with Lottie to discuss her delicious new book, The Little Cottage in the Country.  Lottie cycled out to the holiday cottage on a vintage red bicycle.   I had spent the morning setting up a temporary Books in Handbag Chat Room.  Lottie arrived on a gloriously sunny day wearing cropped jeans, a Gingham shirt and cowboy boots. Her beautiful book was peeking out of a fabulous leopard print handbag.  As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted with Lottie’s big smile.  She removed a tempting parcel of pastries that she had bought from the local bakers in the village.

The intense summer sun sent us inside the cottage. We drank a beautiful blend of coffee, as we savoured the freshly baked cakes.  Eating the cakes delayed our conversation a little.  The plump dried fruit enhanced the sweetness of the pastry and the oozing custard was divine.  Lottie walked around the holiday cottage and admired each detail.  The space, in the tiny holiday cottage, had been designed thoughtfully to create a sense of home.

Lottie handed her beautiful book to me, and we noted how the colours of the cover blended perfectly with the room. The book could have been photographed, in situ, as part of a magazine feature.

Jessie:  The book cover looks more delicious than the cakes that we have just eaten.  Please tell me what the book is about.  I challenge you capture the flavour of the book in a few sentences.

Lottie: Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution.

But very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Jessie:  Well, the book sounds like the perfect escape for me.  What have other reviewers said about the book?

Lottie:

‘It’s funny, witty and well -paced book that I highly recommend you to select as your summer holiday read! Fabulous debut!’ (Sparkly Word)

‘Highly recommended as the perfect summer read and I guarantee it will have you chuckling in no time!!’ (Karen Mace, Amazon Reviewer)

‘Loved it. I laughed my way through it!’ (Donna Orrock, NetGalley reviewer)

Jessie:  The reviews sound brilliant.  I’ll open a bottle of wine so that we can toast your success. Come on, read me an extract from the book that will tempt a reader.  Lottie’s eyes sparkled with mischief as she started to read the extract.

Lottie: ‘The conversation with Diane did not go according to plan: somehow (and Anna blamed the one bar of signal and not the fact she had polished off most of the Merlot).

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Lottie: I was bereft! I missed Anna, Linda and Diane more than words can say! They were incredible fun to write and had taken on a life of their own. In fact, between you and me, they’re still here * taps head * so watch this space.

Jessie: 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. 

Lottie: Anyone who needs a giggle and a feel-good book! Though if someone is able to put a copy in front of Graham Norton or Miranda Hart then my dreams would come true…

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag? 

Lottie Phillips

Lottie: I’ve had people tell me this book should be available on the NHS. If you are ever feeling a bit down, in need of a pick-me-up, reading even a paragraph of this book should hopefully put the spring back in your step. Call it a handbag-sized natural remedy… And who doesn’t love to read about a hunky Poldark fellow like Horatio?

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Lottie: It’s about the novel I’m currently writing and it reads: Tom, Hawaiian shirt, good-looking, makes dinner, OTT

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Lottie: Oh, tough one. I would say the biggest challenge is self-discipline… Twitter is fantastic as I can chat to my readers but, equally, it is amazing how much time I can waste posting GIFs…

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Lottie: I’ve had so much advice from so many wonderful people but the best piece is this: don’t ever stop writing (and reading), practice really does make perfect.

Lottie is….

…a rubbish baker but still harks after the cosy kitchen scenario where she expertly shows her child how to make the perfect cupcakes (with no mess and not one bead of sweat in sight)…

…obsessed with interior décor…

…in love with Country and Western music and wine (preferably together). One day she will go to Nashville, wear suitable cowgirl attire, swig beer with a sexy nonchalance and be an expert in line dancing (obvs).

Lottie stayed chatting into the evening.  It was a great treat to find someone who also admitted that they enjoyed County and Western music.  We sat in the garden listening to various tracks on my iPlayer as we finished a couple bottles of wine.  Lottie is great fun and that bodes well for any reader of her new novel The Little Cottage in the Country. Who doesn’t want to live in a Little Country Cottage?

 

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-08 07:00:22.

Meet the author whose characters make her leap out of the bath

Adrienne Vaughan

 

 

 

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!’

Adrienne is:

… 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:

Website: www.adriennevaughan.com

Twitter:@adrienneauthor

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.

Originally posted 2017-09-05 18:40:34.

Meet the author who created a piping hot novel in her Paris kitchen

Ally Bunbury 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a privilege to meet Ally Bunbury, at The Grand Hotel, Brighton, while I was on holiday.  Ally managed to escape from a project in London to chat about her debut novel. She arrived looking very glamorous in her favourite long sleeved, leopard print dress. She also wore her pearl earrings that were a present from her husband, Turtle. I experienced handbag envy when I noted the gold Longchamp clutch bag. Ally was a little self-conscious and shy at first, but she soon relaxed and lit up when she talks about the characters in The Inheritance.

Ally commented that her character, Gilda, would adore the Grand Hotel and we drank some Bolli in her character’s honour.  A man was playing jazz on the piano as we sipped the champagne in the conservatory as we looked at the sea.  Finally, we commenced out chat about Ally’s debut novel, The Inheritance.  The book is a celebration of romance, country houses, inheritance and celebrity. It a perfect book for the readers who like to indulge in Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper.

Jessie: Tell me about your glamorous book

Ally: The Inheritance is about an Irish girl named Anna Rose, who goes to work in London for the fabulous “PR Queen” Gilda Winterbottom. At an absurdly opulent party hosted by the Hollywood actress, Sofia Tamper, Anna meets George Wyndham, a dashing art dealer and heir to his ancestral estate in Scotland. Anna and George very quickly fall in love only to find themselves cornered into an impossible situation involving the ravishing but utterly spoilt Sofia, and with his inheritance under threat, George is forced to make a terrible choice. The story takes place in London, Paris, Ireland, Scotland and LA.

Jessie:  Capture your review with an extract from the novel.

Ally: ‘Turning away, Anna felt deflated at having lost what she thought might have been a chance with George. Then, seeing crystal photograph frames on a sideboard, documenting Sofia’s life, sun- kissed on a super-yacht, looking divine in a slinky dress at some sort of debutante ball, she had a reality check. Sofia was famous for being an IT girl who partied around the world; Anna couldn’t even begin to compete.’

Jessie: Your book is an entertaining peek into another world.  The story narrative sparkles with surprises and mischief.  I enjoyed writing the review but what have the reviewers said about The Inheritance

“Pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones this sparkling debut novels embodies the best of both.”

“A rollicking yarn.”
– RTE Guide

“With threads linking the London party scene, Anglo-Irish family life and a sprawling Scottish estate … there are private jets and Porsches pitted against old money and family tradition. The elite are up to their usual tricks, with sex, booze and back-stabbing aplenty.”
– The Irish Times

“Delicious escapism.”
– The Irish Examiner

“Jane Austin spiked with a dash of Made in Chelsea.”
– The Irish Independent

“This is a perfect indulgence read.”
– Sue Leonard

Jessie: Why should I put your book in my handbag? 

For delicious escapism.

Jessie: Why did you start writing? 

Ally: Sometimes the best moves are sporadic, and stepping off the London treadmill to live in Paris during my late twenties was one of them. My father had been ill for many months and when he died at home in Ireland, I needed head space that I couldn’t possibly have found if I had stayed in my PR job, no matter how much I loved it. A close friend suggested I should move to Paris and rent her apartment and I jumped on the opportunity, even though I had no idea what I would do there. And it’s hard to explain, but when I walked into my pretty Parisian kitchen, bright yellow with tall windows, I was felt utterly compelled to write. I sat down at the rustic wooden table and began writing, and as the days went on, I played the saddest possible music, from La Boheme to soulful jazz, and I can remember tears pouring down my face as characters discussed their lives, made choices, had dramas and found love. It was purely therapy and that was how The Inheritance began.

Jessie: Do you have a special writing place? 

Ally: At the kitchen table in my house, looking out onto the Irish Wicklow Mountains.

Jessie: Do you feel different, now that you are a published author? 

Ally: I feel like the stars aligned, whilst I wrote The Inheritance, and a number of conversations with my close friends (which includes my husband) made my book happen. The feeling of people being behind you, holding you up, really can make good, and even great things happen. I had always known the power of friendship was strong, but before The Inheritance came to be, I hadn’t realised just what a difference self-belief, due to others belief in you, can make. After ten years of marriage, and the arrival of two gorgeous daughters, now that I have started writing again I feel as if a strong flame has been lit inside me and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Jessie: How do you use social media to support you and are you a member of any forums?

Ally: I now Tweet, Facebook and Instragram – and I really enjoy it, though it does take discipline not to get too distracted by the news feeds!

Jessie: How do you manage to find the time to write when you run a PR business? 

Ally: The major difference between writing in Paris, and County Carlow, where we now live, is that I am now a mother, and I also run my own PR business, so writing a book in ‘my own time’ is certainly challenging – especially when a room of one’s own is the kitchen! However, having worked in a large open plan office during my PR agency days held me in good stead, as I find I can sit down and write when the children might play Twister or built an obstacle course for their hamster, Mr Nibbles. And if there is one piece of advice I’d like to pass on about writing a book, it is this – ‘If you want to write a book, don’t watch television.’ And it does require discipline, as sinking into a deep sofa to indulge in Netflix after a long day, can be unbelievably tempting, but once you get into the habit of instead settling in behind your lap top with a glass of wine or a mug of steaming tea, it is another form of relaxation.

Jessie: Where did you get the idea for the new novel and did you plan the entire narrative before commencing? 

Ally: I begin with a central character and build the bricks from there.

Jessie: Do the characters ever surprise you and take over the story? 

Ally Bunbury

Ally: Gilda wrote herself … literally … the works sprang from my fingertips before I could even give them any proper thought. She is such a fast, pacy character. I am currently working on my second novel and really enjoying it. I’m at the delicious stage of creating character detail and as it is a love story, I am feeling quite dreamy on a daily basis. The title is yet to be decided and it will come out in June of next year.

It was a delight to spend a gloriously sunny afternoon with Ally in the beautiful hotel. Ally was completely at ease in the glamorous environment and smiled at me when I insisted on capturing the setting in a photo.  Ally didn’t have time to stay as she had to get back to another celebrity party to rescue one of her clients.

A few words about Ally…

Born in 1976, Ally Bunbury was brought up with her three sisters, and a menagerie of animals, in County Monaghan. Following a serendipitous encounter at a dinner party, Ally landed a dream internship with a PR agency on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which, in turn, led to a flourishing career in London and Dublin. Ally now runs her own PR company and continues to create dynamic media campaigns for her clients. She lives in County Carlow with her husband, the historian, Turtle Bunbury and their two daughters, Jemima and Bay. From their house, overlooking the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, Ally wrote her debut novel, The Inheritance .  She is currently working on her second novel.

 

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-02 07:00:16.

 ‘Golden afternoon light’ and shadows lurking in my handbag

The Little Theatre by the Sea 

 

Rosanna Ley

 

 

 

 

For me, reading should enable me to escape, to travel and to inhabit another world.  And I was on that plane, travelling to Sardinia, with Faye taking in the sight of the ‘islands, rocky bays, boats moored in the almost circular harbour and turquoise water that looked more like the Caribbean.’  Instantly, seduced by Ley’s scene setting: I settled back to enjoy the journey.  I expected paradise but it wasn’t that simple.

As an armchair traveller, the only baggage I carried was high hopes for a romance with a perfect setting, and I was not disappointed.  I walked along ‘…cobbled streets lined by tall skinny houses painted every shade of vibrant turquoise to deep ochre’ and I was lost in the vibrant colours of the Mediterranean.   My senses were piqued by the ‘sweet, pungent smell of roasted peppers, tomato and garlic exiting every doorway.’  Lost in paradise, I meandered through the Ley’s setting and basked in the ‘golden afternoon light’, with Faye.

Beneath the beguiling canvas of Deriu there are shadows lurking.  Faye feels ‘a dark underbelly to this place’.  Ley’s story explores the shadows and searches beneath the surface of the paradise.  The Little Theatre is a symbol of: the town’s history, culture, the secrets and the way that the heart can wither if unloved.

‘The ravages of time and damp had left the theatre looking tired and unloved.’  And the ‘ravages of time’ have left scars on the community.  The Volitis morn for, Giorgia, their missing daughter. Pasquale still pines for the dream of a loved one that he could never obtain.  Time has taken Alessandro and Marisa’s parents, thus inspiring them to transform the theatre into a memorial.  Over time, the theatre has hidden secrets and even sheltered people from danger.  Faye’s parents, back in the UK, have also hidden a marriage that has been ravaged by time and secrets.  The theatre seems to be a symbol of the lives that also need to be restored.

If Faye is to restore the theatre, then she must understand what the theatre means to the people of Deriu.  However, it is uncertain if she will be able to succeed in the task that she has been given by the Rinaldis.  Alessandro Rinaldi is like a brooding Italian Healthcliff who seems wild and tormented by a mystery.  Surely, this is the beautiful hero with ‘navy eyes’ will fall in love with Faye.  Alessandro can be compassionate and mysterious, and Faye’s confusion is imprinted on the scenery that is ‘a jumble of roots and flower-ladden terraces; vines twisting around pergolas. Purple jasmine blossoming in a haze.’  Indeed, Faye’s feelings for Alessandro seem to be in a haze and the tension is overwhelming.  The interaction between Alessandro and Faye successfully drives the narrative.

The insight into Faye’s parents helps the reader to understand Faye.  There is a clever juxtaposition of what seems to be the end of a relationship compared with a potential new relationship.  Faye’s parents, Ade and Molly, both embark on an emotional journey.  These characters provide some poignant reflections on love and marriage.  Ade, who has been looking for adventure, realises ‘…it was the minutiae of life that kept couples together’.  Ley’s exploration of the way a marriage can veer out of control is thought-provoking. Molly’s epiphany is beautifully washed away in a memorable scene. Rosanna Ley examines how honesty is key in any relationship be it an established relationship or a new one.

Rosanna Ley

Faye’s parents live in a cold climate, by the sea, and are reserved and hide their feelings.  The villagers of……. live in a warm climate and they seem permanently angry.  The Sicilians are a ‘proud race’, they ‘shake their fists’ and ‘talk at the same time’.  It is difficult for Faye to understand the villagers but she must find a way if she is to be accepted.

An intriguing story about new beginnings, love, dreams and secrets.

 

Click here to buy on Amazon

 

Please see all my reviews at Books in Handbag or My Reading and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-26 07:00:55.

 A novel for Kate Middleton’s handbag

Emily Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily came to visit the Chat Room on a rainy day in Wales. She was wearing a floaty, floral dress and a raincoat.  I noted that her bag was an overflowing brown, leather Fiorelli bag. Despite the rain, Emily was very cheerful and happy to talk about her book. Whilst bouncing her little baby daughter, Florence, on her knee Emily was also keeping one eye on her son, Elliot. The mischievous toddler was heading towards a pile of books, with a pen in his hand and a glint in his eye. After refocusing the children onto their colouring activities, and trying to stop Elliot drawing on his little sister, we settled down for a chat.

We drank tea and ate Welsh cakes, as we discussed Emily’s debut novel, Letters to Eloise.

Jessie:  Why did you decide to present the novel in a series of letters?

Emily: As a child, I always wrote letters as I loved to receive replies. We moved around a lot as children so I kept touch with friends and family by writing letters, ever hopeful of that reply. There is nothing more special than receiving a hand-written letter. My late grandmother loved writing letters to me and even in her nineties she would send them. It seemed the perfect way for Flora to write to her unborn child.

Jessie: Capture the essence of your book in a couple of sentences.

Emily: Letters to Eloise is the warm, witty, and heart-wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams. The novel is a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.

Jessie:  You have received an incredible number of reviews.  Please read some extracts from the reviews.

Emily: Thank you. I have been so lucky to receive such lovely reviews.

At this point, Elliot was keen to show off his colouring so we paused to make another cup of tea. Emily took the opportunity to retrieve the reviews of her book.  It took some time as she has over fifty reviews.

‘It is a very emotional book. It’s utterly heart-breaking at times but, perhaps surprisingly, there is quite a bit humour in it too and it is also uplifting.’

‘What a beautifully written book. I enjoyed every page as the story unfolded. Sad at times but also uplifting – just like real life. Loved it.’

Emily Williams

‘I am so glad that I stumbled upon this book. I absolutely loved the entire thing. I’m a sucker for stories like this, stories about true love, and stories about the sacrifices we make for this love.’

Jessie: Have you got an extract from your book to tempt a reader?

Emily didn’t even need to read from the book, as she knew which words would hook the reader.

Emily: However, as soon as I saw that positive blue line seep along the window in the plastic casing of the pregnancy test, I knew you were the one to whom I will write my letters.

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Emily: I really did miss the characters and still do. Parts of the story still come to me and the words play out in my mind. I became so immersed into the story over the four years that I wrote the book that it was really hard to let it go. It was very emotional for me to write, after been told that I couldn’t conceive. Then when I became pregnant, the words of the book had extra meaning for me.

I felt a mixture of sadness and elation when the book was finished. Then pure fear that I would never be able to write anything like that again!

Jessie: 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. 

Emily: I would love Kate Middleton to read my story. I would hope that she would connect to Flora, having had two children herself, and I would love to know her opinion as the story unfolds

Kate, if you’re listening, DM me and I will send you a copy!

Emily Williams

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Emily: Letters to Eloise will connect with your soul after you read it (I hope). You’ll always want to keep the story close to your heart.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Emily: ‘I knew where he’d be; where he always was.’ This sentence is from my YA novel ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse. I mainly just have notes or mind-maps in the notebook rather than sentences but this is the last full sentence in the book

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an independent author?

Emily: The biggest challenge is being noticed in a sea of other equally fantastic authors. Writing quality is the first step but then finding readers willing to take to risk on an unknown author is very challenging.

I have been so lucky with the support of fantastic book bloggers and reviewers that have been so kind. I am hoping that one day I will succeed in getting my name known out there as an author but at the moment I am content when I receive the lovely reviews I have had for Letters to Eloise.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Emily: Believe in yourself and never give up!

A little more about Emily…

Emily Williams is hard-working and driven to succeed. She is passionate about her writing: she has adored writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up wanting to write novels.  Fortunately, a career teaching enables her to inspire children to use their imagination and writing skills to develop their own stories. Emily is ever thankful to her own primary school teachers for instilling her passion in writing and is hoping she can do her little bit to pass this on.

Emily has far too many animals, but aims in life to buy a farm so she can have some more!

Emily is currently working on her next novel, whilst looking after two children, and host of small pets and suffering from a poorly wrist after a riding injury.

Best of luck to Emily with her debut novel, she has already received an impressive number of accolades.  Emily’s unique storytelling hooks the reader from the outset.  I am looking forward to her second novel. 

Read my review of Letters to Eloise on My Reading page.

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

Originally posted 2017-08-19 07:00:14.