And the Bride Wore Prada

 

katie

Hello everyone and a very Happy 2015 to you all. I’m starting my New Year postings with a guest spot. There will be a lot of fab books out this year and one of them will be ‘And the Bride Wore Prada’ by Katie Oliver.

prada

I met Katie when she first joined my author page and tweeted a lot about my own novels. It was a while before I realised that she was also a novelist. But you know how long it takes me to realise things.  Katie and I became good friends and I am delighted to welcome her onto my blog. Fortunately for us, Katie loves writing romantic comedy as well as reading it. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains. It sounds a bit like our cottage before the renovation.

Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. Katie and I could be twins. One day we’ll have to meet and swap boxes.  In the meantime I will hand over to Katie so she can tell you more about herself, going for walks and her own Mr Darcy. Catch her on her book tour this month.

ATBWP Blog Tour Banner

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

I love to take walks. And it appears I’m in good company.

Not only do plenty of people elect to walk (or ride a bicycle) these days; many fictional heroines did the same. 

Jane Eyre met Mr Rochester astride his horse while walking alone across the moors, and Mr Darcy shared more than one stroll with Elizabeth Darcy in the gardens of Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s estate.  And who can forget Mary Lennox and her outdoor rambles at Misselthwaite Manor, which led to her discovery of the sadly neglected secret garden?

As I walked our dog one day last December, and waited for him to do his business, I breathed in the cold air and admired the snow on the ground. Normally we don’t get much snow in the Washington, DC area, especially not before Christmas.  So I was pretty excited (chuffed, as you Brits would say).

Duke and I resumed our walk, and my imagination kicked in. I was no longer on a dead-end street in Northern Virginia with my Belgian terrier, but wandering somewhere in the snow-covered Scottish Highlands with a pair of deerhounds at my heels…

…returning to the family castle after a long, invigorating walk.

My thoughts moved as quickly as my feet. I had something to tell my family, something big. Something that would upset their lives, and mine, forever…

As I followed Duke down the hill, I had an epiphany.  Well, not an epiphany, exactly, but an idea for a new book. What if two of my characters – Natalie and her new husband, Rhys – are invited to Scotland to spend the Christmas holidays with Nat’s old friend Tarquin Campbell and his wife, Wren?

And what if a blizzard wreaks havoc with their travel plans, and they barely make it to the Campbell castle before the roads become impassable?  And what if there’s a gruff and mysterious groundskeeper, and a dark family secret, and-?

I was off and running (figuratively, not literally – Duke and I are far too lazy to run), and I eventually finished “And the Bride Wore Prada” a few months later and typed “The End” (which, as any writer knows, are the two sweetest words in the English language) and sent it off to my editor.

Last year, after I finished writing the first three of my ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ ebooks – Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark – I honestly thought I was done with those characters.  Finished.  I had nothing more to say.

Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

But thanks to that early snow, and Duke, and the necessity of walking (not to mention my very overactive imagination), the book – which kicks off a new series, ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ – is soon to be published.  It’s a prospect at once daunting and exhilarating.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wishing everyone a very happy New Year filled with love, laughter…and lots of good books!

 The Marrying Mr Darcy series.

What could be more romantic than Christmas in the Scottish highlands?

The first book in the Marrying Mr Darcy series, “And the Bride Wore Prada,” finds Natalie and Rhys Gordon headed to Scotland to spend the holidays with Tarquin Campell and his wife Wren. A mix-up at the Inverness airport leads Natalie to offer a ride to stranded rock star Dominic Heath and his fiancé, Gemma.  A blizzard soon makes the roads impassable, and the foursome barely make it to Draemar Castle.

When tabloid reporter Helen Thomas’s car slides off the road, she seeks shelter at the castle as well. She’s after an exclusive story on Dominic and Gemma’s not-so-secret upcoming wedding. But Helen finds a bigger story when she discovers Tarquin’s brother, Andrew, drowned years before. His body was never found. Is it possible he’s still alive? Her investigation yields more questions than answers.

Could Colm MacKenzie, the gruff groundskeeper with more than a passing resemblance to the Campbell family, be the missing piece to the puzzle?

Natalie and Rhys are recently married and blissfully happy…until Nat receives unexpected news that changes everything. Hurt by Rhys’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction, she wonders if their sparkling new marriage is over before it’s even begun…

You can find Katie by following the links below.

Website: http://www.katieoliver.com

Blog:  http://katieoliver.com/ko/?page_id=27

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/katieoliver

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01

Snickers, Fairy Cakes and Pink Willies-Whoops, Wellies

I met a lovely author recently named Sue Watson. Sue has written a very funny book titled ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes’ Check it out here. Sue invited me over to her blog for cake and coffee and this is what happened…

‘Pink Wellies, Flat Caps and Someone Else’s Snickers Bar’

 I recently read a very funny book – Pink Wellies and Flat Caps and just knew that the author would be my kinda gal. So having enjoyed a lovely session of book chat, coffee, cake (and a ‘mix-up’ over Maltesers) at her place, I invited the fabulous Lynda Renham over to mine. My mission was to discover her writing secrets, over copious coffee and cake.
DSCF6331 - Copy (2)-2
Lynda’s latest book is the best-selling ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps,’ and tells the hilarious tale of Alice Lane, who has everything; a wonderful fiancé, a responsible job and a lovely flat in Chelsea, but after a bra fitting her life goes tits up. Homeless, and with just a sparkling engagement ring as a memory of her previous life Alice accepts a live-in farm manager’s job and discovers that things actually can get worse. I was intrigued to know how Lynda saw Alice, so my first probing question was;

Lynda, I love Alice who is feisty, funny and bright. The character is so well written I felt like I was alongside her during her adventures in the country. So if Hollywood called tomorrow and optioned the book for a film, who would you like to play the part of Alice?
If Hollywood called tomorrow, the lost likely scenario is that I would drop dread from a heart attack and would never get to shout ‘Emily Blunt.’ In my mind I have no doubt that it should be her. I adored her performance in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and she is so versatile. She would be perfect and of course we would become best friends J Most importantly she is British and would understand the British humour.
PAW1001_Kindlecover_nobleed_198x128

Yes, I can definitely see Emily Blunt in the role, she would encapsulate the vulnerability, intelligence and fun of Alice.  It seems you have always been a writer, and were writing stories as a child. So when was the moment you decided to write your first novel?

When I was nineteen and I still have the original draft copy in a chest in our summer house. I have written many since then and have numerous unpublished novels knocking about the house. The moment I decided to go for it with comedy was after my humorous blog took off. I had just returned from Turin where I had gone to attend a wedding and where along with my mother in law we transported a wedding cake. From this whole experience a small germ of an idea was transplanted and later became ‘Wedding Cake to Turin’ My first comedy romance.
What a lovely story and around Italy too – such a romantic setting. So, your next book can you tell us what it’s about, what’s inspired you to write this, and when we can get our hands on a copy?
Ooh, always reluctant to talk about WIP. But I can say that there is a monkey involved, a few East End Gangsters, lots of misunderstandings and a touch of Downton Abbey and of course a gorgeous hero.
Sounds great! I know what you mean it’s always difficult to talk about a new book because you don’t want to give anything away – yet at the same time you can’t wait to share it with everyone. But with all that potential hilarity and a delicious hero, it sounds like a winner already.
The hero is definitely the most gorgeous yet I think…the book’s out in September and of course it also contains a huge amount of comedy.
I can’t wait! So while you’re slaving over a computer and spending afternoons busy with gorgeous heroes at your writing desk, what do you nibble on?
Whatever I can get my hands on… I even stole the builder’s Snickers bar from the fridge when they were building our extension.  I would also buy them doughnuts and then steal one or two for myself. Shameful but necessary for the creative juices to flow…
Absolutely! And as I always say, if it’s someone else’s chocolate it’s someone else’s calories.
Gma + Gdad's 70th 356Stolen Snickers Bar


So apart from other people’s food calling from your fridge what keeps you awake at night? 

Guilt at the number of doughnuts I’ve eaten that day and whether a spider may run over my face, as happened once, and oh yes the plot of my novel, of course…
Ah yes, doughnuts… but let’s not be side-tracked by soft dough yielding to wickedly sharp yet sugary sweet raspberry jam – as can so easily happen. No we’ll stay with writing…we will… for now. Back to books; a plot can cause many sleepless nights until it’s firmly nailed down and what with a fear of spiders and Snickers calling from the fridge I can see you may have your work cut out. So who is your favourite writer? Have any writers inspired your own pen?
I have many. Iris Murdoch I particularly admire as was lucky to meet her husband John Bayley and see her study. A new favourite writer is Kimberley Chambers, a good friend. I am a huge fan of Salman Rushdie, Jo Carnegie, and Ronni Cooper. My writing has been more inspired by films than by books and Richard Curtis I admire greatly.

Yes I am also inspired by films and as a writer of romantic comedy I can see how Richard Curtis films (Bridget Jones, Love Actually, Notting Hill etc) would be the perfect inspiration for you. Me too!

Do you have a favourite book or books?

Several. ‘The Heart Listens’ by Helen Van Slyke. I never forgot the main protagonist Elizabeth Quigley. ‘End of the Affair’ Graham Green. ‘Calico Palace’ by Gwen Bristow and ‘Blood Secrets’ by Craig Jones. I also loved ‘The Feud’ by Kimberley Chambers and ‘The Sea The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch.
Talking of favourite books, one of mine is Stephen King’s psychological thriller, ‘Misery.’ Paul Sheldon the novelist in the book has various rituals while writing and on completion of each novel indulges in a cigarette to celebrate. Do you have a special treat you enjoy when you finish that final sentence?
Not really because it is quite a worry knowing if it will be received well…But if it does go well, however, we would celebrate with some bubbly.
That sounds perfect! So until the new book is completed and you open that bubbly, more coffee? It’s been so delicious sharing cake and some of your writing secrets Lynda so while I put the kettle on, here’s a final, silly but extremely vital question; if you were a cake, what would you be?
A fruitcake, in fact sometimes my husband thinks I am one!
Ha ha… that reminds me, do help yourself to another fairy cake… and thanks so much for joining me.
112
To read more about Lynda go to her blog here.

https://lrcook.wordpress.com/tag/lynda-renham/

Follow her onTwitter https://twitter.com/Lyndarenham

And if you want to know more about Pink Wellies and Flat Caps (how could you not?)  Then pop over to Amazon

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and of course Maltesers

Meeting Sue Watson

007 (2)

There is nothing I enjoy more than talking to other writers. I love hearing about their writing process. And today I am chatting to the lovely Sue Watson. I’ve had to hide all the chocolate mind you and put a lock on the fridge but apart from that it has been an enjoyable experience having her on my blog. Sue is one very funny lady and if you haven’t read her book ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes’ then I suggest you pop over to Amazon right now and download it onto your Kindle. You won’t regret it.415WfYB9HJL._AA160_
So with no further ado, let’s crack on shall we and meet the lovely Sue. But be warned hide your Maltesers. She’s already gone through my stash.
First question to ask Sue after plying her with coffee is of course,
What made you first decide to write a novel? And have you always wanted to be a writer?
 I’d always wanted to write a novel, from being quite young, but I’m quite lazy and the idea of sitting down and writing 100,00 words plus was too daunting. I’d always been a writer in that I was a journalist before I became a TV Producer. And when it became clear there was a novel bubbling away in my head it was only a matter of time before I had to write it. Working in TV was great fun, I met some amazing people and had some hilarious times – and now I write about it. I still dabble in TV, and particularly enjoy working on ideas for new programmes but the novel writing has won through and that’s my main job now.

And we are thrilled it is too. Now I don’t know about other writers but when I get stuck, which seems to be often lately, the first place to get raided is the fridge. I’d love to say it was the fruit bowl but hey… So is Sue a girl after my own heart?
So Sue, what is your biggest indulgence when writing. We’re all hoping you say chocolate so as to make us all feel less guilty? chocs

While writing, I eat only a few organic salad leaves and a litre of water.

Oh no! I needn’t have locked the fridge and maybe it wasn’t Sue who nabbed my Malteses. I take it all back…

As if! Unfortunately working from home means I’m far too close to the fridge – and as I like my chocolate cold… well, you can probably guess the rest.

What a relief, huh girls?
Now for the question that always interests me. Computer or pen and paper and why?

Oh definitely a computer for ‘proper’ writing. I couldn’t even write a sentence on pen and paper now. I sometimes wonder how I would have coped in the past before computers. I use a pen and paper for notes and if I’m out and about and suddenly have a great idea for a plot or character I stop everything to jot it down, or I’ll forget. I will often pull the car over and delve into the detritus of congealed sweets old tissues and melted chocolate in my handbag to hunt down my note book. Being quite disorganised I can never find it and end up scribbling ‘vital’ stuff on old receipts. Much of this ‘literary gold’ is of course lost forever when I clean out my handbag and forget that the screwed up, chocolate stained receipt contains the best plot I’ve ever written!

So budding writers begin scouring dustbins now and email me for my address. I need that ‘literary gold.’

Talking of literary gold, tell us about your current novel.

Described as ‘a story of love, loss, friendship and cakes,’ Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is a romantic comedy about Stella Weston, a woman striving to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect career girl. She’s also desperate for the perfect body and torn between a desire for slimness and a passion for cake! When Stella’s life is suddenly turned upside down, she turns to the mixing bowl for comfort, in the hope that zesty lemon sponge with frosting will give her the courage to face an uncertain and scary future.

Worth a read I reckon. But I’m curious to know if the main character is based on you.

They say write what you know and there’s a lot of me in Stella Weston (even our initials are the same). Like me she works in the world of TV, is struggling with life and feeling torn between all the roles imposed on her. I think as workers, wives, mothers and daughters all women feel this way at some point and I certainly relate to Stella and the problems she faces. We also share a sense of humour a love of baking and a futile desire to be size ten!

Shall we move on from the size 10? You know, before we find ourselves crying into our chocolate cupcakes. Let’s talk about something less depressing. Finally having a room of one’s own at last and not feeling in the least like Virginia Woolf, I couldn’t help wondering if Sue writes in a room of her own or somewhere completely different.

When I gave up my job at the BBC with a rather naive plan to write a novel I didn’t know if I’d ever get published and it felt a little premature to even buy a desk, so I wrote on the kitchen table. I like being there as I’m not cut off from the rest of the family and can get their input if necessary, however this is a double-edges sword and sometimes hard to concentrate. On days when I’m struggling with a scene or a character and everyone’s asking me stuff and making a racket I think Virginia Woolf was right – a woman does need a room of her own to write fiction! Of course there’s a major advantage to working in the kitchen too – close proximity to the fridge (for chocolate), the oven (for baking), and the kettle (for coffee), a writer’s most important equipment along with a computer!

I’m obviously doing it all wrong and am much too far away from the fridge. So, enough of the writing malarkey how about a little more about Sue Watson and her lovely family and pets.

Originally I’m from Manchester, I moved to London in my twenties and now live in Worcestershire with my journalist husband, Nick daughter Eve and two cats. Harry and Poppy our cats are the same age both 7 and both lovely in their own ways. Harry is a big furry moggy with weight issues and a weakness for cheese while Poppy is a pretty little black cat who chats a lot.
We did have a rather glamorous swishy tailed gold fish called Eddie. However, my daughter decided she was a girl, so we changed her name to Edina. At the age of 3, having been resuscitated several times by my husband (‘the fish whisperer’), Edina passed away peacefully in her sleep last year. We take comfort from the fact she lived a full, fish film star life in a large tank with her own underwater castle and regular supply of fishy nibbles.

Do you have a work in progress, something for us to look forward to? I heard something about Nepal, did you go there?

I have been working on my current novel ‘Younger, Thinner, Blonder,’ for almost two years. It’s due out in the Autumn and is the story of Tanya Travis, a daytime talk-show host who enjoys all the designer handbags and high end interiors that go with fame and money… until one day her life spirals out of control. In the novel, Tanya visits Nepal, which is somewhere I haven’t been, but would love to go to. And having done lots of research and spoken to many different people, I feel like I know it very well.
In the novel is a reality show, a gay actor, a sex-tape star, a couple of gorgeous guys and some very expensive shoes. Yep, it’s my usual cocktail of highbrow, intellectual, issue lead writing, but essentially a about love, fame and how what we want is often different from what we need. I hope it’s a novel that makes readers think – but not too much!

I’m thinking another one worth reading…Talking of reading, who are your favourite authors?

I have so many favourites, and though I love chick-lit I also love darker, edgier crime novels too. I loved ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and have just downloaded Sharp Objects by the same writer. I’ve also recently discovered a great writer called Lynda Renham and having thoroughly enjoyed her latest novel ‘Pink Wellies and Flat caps,’ have started the fabulously titled, ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras.’

Ooh *blushes furiously* While I go off to fan myself can you tell us your all-time favourite book?

Oh that’s sooo difficult! From Jane Austen to Khaled Hosseini I love many, many books, all very different and all great in their own way. Can I cheat this question a bit and tell you about one of my favourite all time writers who’s written several of my favourite books instead? Jen Lancaster is a best-selling American writer who is irreverent, very real and very, funny. She has written several books about her life: ‘Bright Lights, Big Ass,’ ‘Bitter is the New Black’ and ‘Such a Pretty Fat,’ are all favourites of mine and though I don’t always agree with her politics I love her take on life and her humour. I was recently beside myself with joy and extremely flattered when an American reviewer on Amazon compared my writing to hers… what a moment!

How flattering is that? You have us intrigued us now and I for one will be looking up Jen Lancaster. Before you leave us Sue and eat me out of house and home can you answer two fun questions?
Sweet or savoury and why?

Mmmm. The honest answer to that would be just ‘food.’ My current obsession with salted caramels and salty sweet popcorn probably straddles all aspects of taste (and decency?). But if I really had to choose it would probably be sweet. I adore chocolate, fresh cream cakes, biscuits, ice cream, hot chocolate fudge sauce… I will stop there or this may become the longest blog answer in the world ever!
Stop there, yes please else I’ll be dribbling all over this blog posting.

Finally If you were a cheese what kind of cheese would you be?
Full fat cream cheese covered in chocolate – obviously!

Sue, thank you so much for coming onto my blog, I have enjoyed it immensely.

Thank you so much for having me, this was great fun! xxx

To read more about Sue go to her blog here.

Better still join her on Facebook Sue Watson Books on Facebook

Or Twitter  https://twitter.com/suewatsonwriter

And if you want to know more about Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, which of course you will. Then pop over here