JO LAMBERT BOOKS WELCOMES SPECIAL GUEST LYNDA RENHAM

 

lyndaTell us a little about yourself.

I wish there was little of me. But alas. Well, I was born in Essex, so I’m a real Essex girl, although no one believes me. I think the accent got knocked out of me. I use to teach but writing was always my first love. I’ve been writing since I was seven. So when I was able to write full time that was a dream come true. My second husband rekindled the writing bug in me.

 What is your happiest childhood memory?

Trips to Club Row in London with my Dad. It’s a market and they used to sell lots of puppies and kittens. I would spend hours playing with the animals and asking if we could take them home. We never did but they may have had something to do with the fact we already had three cats at home!

When did your writing career begin? What made you decide to write Rom Coms? 

I’ve been writing for many years and published serious novels but they didn’t do very well. One day I had a really bad migraine and I watched ‘The Holiday’ and it occurred to me that maybe people would like a rom com book. A novel that would make you feel good while reading it and also make you laugh. So I had a go and I haven’t looked back.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there any other genre which appeals to you as a writer?

I would like to write erotica at some point but not right now as there just isn’t enough time. The honest truth is I don’t really know. The ideas often come to me while in bed and I have to grab my phone and make notes right away. Other times in the car or while chatting to my husband but at other times I could struggle for ideas. So I have learnt to wait until they flow on their own.

You have just returned from holiday.  Is there any part of the world which you haven’t been to and which you would include on your ‘bucket list?’

Yes, there are loads of places. I still want to visit Singapore and Malaysia. Plus I am interested in all places Asian. I love the culture and the people.  I would like to go to Prague at some point and Vietnam which is on the cards for next year I believe. There are just too many places aren’t there?

When you have some chill out time, what kind of books do you read?

I usually read psychological thrillers. I’ve just finished ‘The Mistress’s Revenge’ by Tamar Cohen which was very addictive. It’s the only genre I really enjoy. I have read some crime but I don’t really enjoy them. I like the classics too. I never ever read romantic comedy as it can affect my own writing. And the truth is I don’t really enjoy romances. I always think that rather funny considering I love writing them.

And lastly, you’re hosting a dinner party.  If you could invite five famous people who would they be and why?

Ricky Gervais, because he is so interesting, outspoken and honest. Paul O Grady but as his alter ego Lily Savage as he is so raw and funny and down to earth. Julian Clary because he is just so camp and funny. Salman Rushdie, simply because he is a genius and is so interesting and finally Iris Murdoch, because she is or was the greatest British writer ever and a brilliant philosopher. I knew her husband and was always saddened never to have met her.

LYNDA’S LATEST BOOK, FIFTY SHADES OF ROXY BROWN IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON   http://amzn.to/1hmtw0e

FiftyShadesOfRoxieBrown

Bag yourself a great read on Amazon – currently two of Lynda’s e-books -Fifty Shades of Roxy Brown and Pink Wellies and Flat Caps are only  99p

LYNDA’S LINKS:

Facebook author page: http://on.fb.me/1ba7mmf

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1E1jbRu

Webpage www.renham.co.uk

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/IxzzMY

TUESDAY TALK CATCHES UP WITH BOOK BLOGGER RACHEL GILBEY

Today I’m hosting Rachel Gilbey talking about her favourite authors, book blogging and holiday destinations…

Tell us a little bit about you… Rachel Illusionarium

I’m 31 years old and having had various jobs in the past, including working as a Children’s rep for a top holiday company for a few summers, in Mallorca and Zante. I am currently working part-time for a trading card game dealer, mainly sorting out cards and trying to create a role for myself where I’m irreplaceable!

In my free time I have three main hobbies. The first is obvious, which is reading, I love reading, have done since I was very young, and have a habit of buying more books than I can ever have the time to read. My other hobbies are far more expensive, one is going on holiday, I try to take at least 2 holidays a year when I can, if not more. And my last hobby is going to the theatre, mainly to musicals in London’s West End. I am very lucky that I live in London, and thus can get to shows quite regularly.

How long have you been blogging and what made you decide to start a book blog?

I have only been blogging since April, so around 4 months, although I can barely remember what life was like without my blog now.

I’ve always been an avid and fast reader, and can usually be found with a book in my hand, or in my bag. I was originally just reviewing the odd book that I was able to get from Netgalley (a fabulous source for bloggers), and then at the start of 2015, I was getting more involved with bloggers on twitter, and started to take part in a review challenge that some bloggers were running, and got into the habit of reviewing almost every book that I read.

From that I was invited to Rebecca Raisin’s launch party, and after meeting her and a whole bunch of friendly bloggers, the seed of should I join in was sown. After a few weeks, when I was asked a few more times, the couple of reasons I had for not blogging, no longer seemed important, and Rachel’s Random Reads was born.

Who is your favourite author and why?

How can you ask a book blogger to just name one favourite author. As much I have enjoyed The Other Side of Morning, Joanna, I am very sorry to say you aren’t my favourite author (yet!).

I have been reading both Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews’ books for as long as I can remember, definitely throughout my adulthood, and am always excited to see new releases by both of them, so they are definitely two of my absolute favourite authors.

I do though feel that for different sorts of books I have other favourite authors, Dorothy Koomson always comes to mind for a favourite of books with a more serious feel to them, Victoria Fox, Tasmina Perry and Nigel May are amongst my favourites for bonkbuster style books. I love Nicky Pellegrino for books based in Italy.

As you can see I am incredibly indecisive, and there is a very large list of authors that I would happily read every single release of as they are released.

If you were planning to write a book which genre would you choose and why?

I have no intention of writing a book, but if I had to, since they say write what you know, it would probably have a travel theme to it, possibly based on holiday reps, and would probably be a chick lit book – although I have no idea if I could be funny enough to cut it.

Where has your favourite holiday destination been and what it is that has made it so special?

There are two destinations or holidays that really stand out to me..

Last year for my 30th Birthday I went on my first ever cruise, and since then I am hooked on cruises. I can’t wait for Saturday when I am off on another one! Last year, I went to the Caribbean, and on my 30th I spent the day in Cozumel, Mexico, swimming with Dolphins, which has always been on my bucket list. And to top the holiday off, the following day, while on board, I won a Caribbean Cruise for 2, which I took later in the year.

My absolute favourite destination, is the Hotel Playa Pesquero in Cuba. It’s an all inclusive hotel that to me is paradise on earth. It meets everything I want in a hotel and so much more. The staff are always friendly (and remember you from previous visits),  the climate is brilliant, and I’ve had some of my best holidays in that hotel. Unfortunately as I love the hotel so much I can’t really comment on the outer resort, or the country as a whole.. but since everyone wants different things from their holidays, and I can spend the days there reading on a sun lounger, while staring at gorgeous men working in the entertainment team, getting cocktails from the swim up pool bar, and then spending the evenings watching some shows in the hotel’s stage before being dragged into the nightclub, I find the destination my favourite and hope to go back there again soon.

If you were holding a dinner party and could invite four guests, who would they be and why?

I think this may be the toughest question you have asked..

.. I’m thinking I would need to invite Jamie Oliver, as my cooking skills are awful, so would definitely need a fabulous chef. I would also invite Neil Patrick Harris (Barney in How I Met Your Mother), as he seems to be very entertaining, and is a star of musical theatre, which is a love of mine too. I would also invite Take That, as they are my favourite group of all time. I have been a fan since the early 90s so a chance to meet them would be brilliant.

Since I am counting the 3 members of Take That as 1 guest.. I think I get to invite one more person to this dinner party, but I am not sure who to invite. Thinking logically I feel a female is needed to balance the numbers, and since I love books, I think I would like to invite you, Joanna, to my completely fictional dinner party, as I think we would probably get on quite well and we could talk books (and you can give me all the gossip about your fellow authors!).

 

Rachel’s Random Reads – http://rachelsrandomreads.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gilbster1000

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/rachelgilbey1/rachels-random-reads/

Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RachelGilbey/posts

TUESDAY TALK WELCOMES AUTHOR JENNIFER BOHNET

Today we are crossing the Channel to France to chat to Jennifer Bohnet  whose latest book, The Little Kiosk by the Sea, has just been published.unnamed

Tell us a little about yourself

First, thank you Jo for inviting me. I’ve lived in France for 16 years now. Five years ago we moved from the south to a quirky little cottage in rural Brittany. I love living in the countryside but miss the sea, I eat too much chocolate, spend far too much money on dvds and I love having visitors. I really hate curry.

How did your writing career start?

I’ve always scribbled from a very young age. My mother won £500 pounds in a competition when I was about 17 and bought me my first typewriter, a brother, and that was when I started seriously. I remember typing away up in my room for hours, making stories up and trying to write features. Of course it took me years to get anything published – my first success was a short feature in a motoring magazine about a moped. (Don’t ask how that happened!)

You live in France, have you never been tempted to write something similar to Peter Mayle, about your life there?

The only time I considered doing something similar was after we finished cycling from Roscoff via the canal paths down to the south but at that time I couldn’t interest a publisher. Maybe now’s the time to think about it again! But I do prefer the freedom writing fiction gives me and besides there’s only one Peter Mayle. Love his books.

You had your own newspaper column for several years in Devon, tell us something about that.

Oh that was fun. It was a lifestyle column for our local paper in Dartmouth where we lived at the time and I was given carte blanche to write about anything. Children, mothers-in-law, education, boats, local characters, holidaymakers, weddings,, weather forecasting, favourite things – I just had to provide 500 words of copy. It was a real thrill seeing my name in the paper every week for nearly three years.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

That’s a hard question Jo. There are so many authors out there I enjoy reading, but there are a few whose new books I look forward to and buy without hesitation. Veronica Henry, Erica James, Marcia Willett, Jill Mansell are four writers I admire hugely. They draw you in from the first page, their characters are superbly drawn and their stories just flow.

If you weren’t a romance writer, is there any other genre you would be interested in?

I don’t really consider myself as a romance writer at all, as to me a romance book focuses mainly on the love affair between the hero and the heroine. There is a romantic element in my books but it’s not the dominating focus of my stories. I hope I write women’s contemporary fiction with a love interest in the storyline.

Last question, if you were stranded on a desert island, what four things would you like to have with you, and why? –

Number one and most important would be my husband Richard. I wouldn’t survive long without him. He’s made of sterner stuff than me and that would have him building a cabin, fishing and foraging for food and probably ignoring any sightings of a rescue ship because he likes the challenging life! Number two – a box of matches to light a fire to cook on and also hopefully to be seen by the rescue helicopter that will surely circle overhead because I really don’t do desert islands! Number three – a good supply of notebooks and pens – unless they’ve invented a solar laptop by then, in which case I’ll have that. Number four – a camera to record the scenery and to jog my memory when we’re safely back home and I’m writing about the experience.

Jennie's cover

THE LITTLE KIOSK BY THE SEA

One summer they’ll never forget…

Meet Sabine, desperately fighting to save her little kiosk from closure whilst turning down her friend Owen’s proposals, time and time again.

Cue Harriet, returning to Dartmouth after thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by a legacy that threatens her relationship with her journalist daughter.

Enter Rachel, the mysterious newcomer who has an unexpected chemistry with a local widower, and who sets in motion a chain of events she could never have predicted…

One thing’s for sure, as the autumn tide turns, there’ll be more than one secret laid bare!

Author FB page:  goo.gl/6hsfZw

Amazon link   goo.gl/MwMFa0

Website (is currently being updated. I’m hoping it will be up and running soon!)

http://www.jenniferbohnet.com/

 

FACT OR FICTION?

Tuesday Talk will be back next week.  To fill the gap this week (yes I know it’s Wednesday)  I’ve decided to slip in this post, posing the question ‘How much does real life influence your writing?’

DSCF2883 (640x480)From my personal viewpoint the answer is quite considerably. All my books have had a rural backdrop and writing about country life has been easy for me as until the age of 12 I lived in a small Wiltshire village.  Remote and sitting on the edge of Salisbury Plain, a heavy fall of winter snow could cut us off for a week.  With no buses able to run and without a shop, this meant the local farmer had to take his tractor and trailer across the field to collect basic food supplies from the next village.  This was before town dwellers were looking to escape to the country; when several generations of the same family lived in close proximity to each other. For years little had changed.  Seen through my young eyes it was a peaceful, idyllic way of life. Winters could be harsh but that was more than compensated for by summer months where grass, wheat and barley fields formed a glorious patchwork across the landscape.  There were also rolling hills,  and sheep and cattle dotted everywhere. The most wonderful place for a child to grow up.

When beginning to put the components together for my very first book, therefore,  it was very much an environment I knew I could create P1040137 (640x480)and feel comfortable setting my characters in. So I set about taking pieces reality and incorporating into my fictitious landscape. I love woods too (what would a village be without local woods?) and those across the valley from where I live were the inspiration for ‘Hundred Acre’ which sits above Meridan Cross.

he village pub in  my latest book, – The Black Bull – is in fact, based on a local in a village a few miles away. My previous OH actually grew up there and as an adult played for the pub’s cricket team.  Like the Black Bull it now has a great restaurant while still retaining a traditional bar with flag stone floors.

Google Maps are another really useful tool.  In one of my books I had to ‘walk’ one character around Verona.  Not having been there for many years, I could visualise the Arena – the Roman amphitheatre where concerts are held.  I also remembered visiting Juliette’s Balcony.  In order to bring some realism into my character’s visit, however, I needed to be able to describe where she was walking and what she was seeing. So I simply toured Verona’s streets via Google Map – perfect!

Talking of characters, a few of mine have been ‘borrowed’ from real life too’.  I guess the most important one of all from that first trio of books was the owner of Little Court Manor, Laura Kendrick. She was based on a lady called Marjorie Welsh, who lived in the manor house when I was a child.  A lady of mature years, married with grown up children, she had been a debutant in the days when they were presented at court. Very much the local benefactress, upon arrival she automatically took responsibility for the villagers – running the elderly to hospital appointments, having them all up for tea and cake on occcasions and even wheeling a barrow full of logs through the snow to a young couple whose baby was imminent. There was absolutely nothing patronising about her. A very genuine public spirited lady. Later as an adult, if I was visiting my grandparents I’d drop in and see her.  On one occasion I found the whole family in the kitchen preparing food for a dinner party that evening.  She’d deliberately given the kitchen staff the evening off, wanting them to do all the food prep themselves. The villagers who worked their had the greatest respect for her, all agreeing she was a fair and generous employer.  A unique and lovely lady, her character was absolutely perfect for Laura.

Another village character I borrowed was Tom Stone or ‘Brusher’ as the locals called him.  This was on account of the very heavy black moustache which hung over his top lip.  He worked on the railways and owned this very large black and white dog called Toby who could bark for England. It almost seemed the animal ran on batteries – he never shut up!  When creating characters for my first book I borrowed Brusher and turned him into the local poacher, ‘Doggie’ Barker, whose faithful friend was – yes – Toby.  The real Toby was a ‘Heinz 57’ as my grandfather used to refer to him, a dog of indeterminate breed.  Fictitious Toby, however, was to have the elevated status of a Border Collie.

By book four I was moving my backdrop abroad.  The Costa Del Sol, a place where we’d spent quite a bit of time before mass urbanization overtook that part of the coast, seemed ideal. Orlando Flynn, an enigmatic character central to the plot, lived there and had a small dark moustachioed Spanish ‘gofer’ called Elvira.  When asked how the two of them had met, Flynn, as he was referred to, said he’d rescued him from a life on the streets being paid by drivers for moving industrial waste bins to free up parking places.  Does this sound far fetched?  Well in fact it wasn’t.   While wandering the streets of Seville, believe it or not, I actually saw this happening.

So do any of you writers out there use fact to help you create fiction?  For me it works well – would be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject though.

THE WAY WE WERE…

Unless you are posting on a dedicated blog, coming up with a new idea usually involves a lot of hard thought, note scribbling and lots of discarded pieces of paper before it eventually comes to life on the screen.

As often is the case, though, inspiration comes in very mysterious ways. Last week we drove down to Christchurch in Dorset for a few days on the coast to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Our journey took us through the Wiltshire town of Melksham, about 13 miles away from where we currently live. One of the town’s biggest employers, Avon Rubber Company (now Cooper Tires after an American buy out) was where I had my very first taste of full time employment. As we got nearer, lots of forgotten memories came flooding back and suddenly I thought…yes, that’s it.

Finishing college at 18 with good shorthand and typing speeds and a business diploma, I successfully  landed myself a secretarial job at Avon. In those days they were considered one of the best local employers around with excellent pay and conditions. On my first morning I arrived, signed in at the security desk and was shown up to the large first floor reception area to wait for someone from HR to collect me. In those days the company pooled their intake of ‘freshers’ from college and a decision on exactly where they would be placed was taken nearer to their start date. So you can imagine as I sat there I was wondering where I would eventually end up. Sales maybe? Or Finance? Once I’d completed the necessary paperwork in HR, all was revealed. I was to be the new secretary to the Technical Manager and his team.

Avon Factory, Melksham way back when
Avon Factory, Melksham way back when

The department was situated in a huge first floor former store with dark stone floors and high ceilings. As you can imagine it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer and when it rained, yes you’ve guessed it, the roof leaked! Today, of course, no way would anyone be expected to work in those conditions. Back then, however, it was what it was and people simply accepted  it. Technical employed over forty staff, and only seven of them, including me, were female. A bit of a baptism of fire for a girl whose only experience had been in predominantly female environments – as a Woolworth Saturday girl, a waitress and a six weeks summer holiday stint at the local Ross food factory on the packing line. I needn’t have worried though, all the guys in the department were amazing; really supportive, great fun and incredibly kind to the newbie in their midst.

My boss was David Hartley, who was related to the Hartley jam family. He was around forty; a larger than life character with unruly dark hair he always seemed to be pushing out of his eyes. You could hear his loud footfalls echoing down the corridor as he returned from lunch in the Manager’s Dining Room.  He was always calm and never appeared to be fazed by anything.

David had responsibility for six other sections – Tyre Design, Product Performance, Quality, Tyre Test and two laboratories which worked on creating new tread compounds. I shared a small corner office with Diane, the department’s copy typist who was five years older than me. We became close friends and still have a regular lunch meet a couple of times a year. She warned me my office chair was known as the ‘Fertility Chair’ because those who occupied it left the job pregnant. I believe I was the first to buck that trend. The other five female members of staff were Ruby and Maureen in the Patents section, Sandy and Annie who provided the admin support to the two laboratories and Sarah who was a tracer. She worked with the department’s draughtsman Geoff Baines – now, of course, technology has come on leaps and bounds and it’s all done by CAD.

That first Monday David held his usual department heads meeting where, before they started, he introduced me to all of them. The next morning he called me in to dictate the minutes which he felt was much easier than me trying to take dictation a room full of people all talking at once – his meetings, I discovered, were pretty informal and quite noisy!  At college, as you can probably guess we had simple dictation like ‘Dear Mr Smith, Thank you for your letter of…’ On that second morning I became acquainted with a whole new language. Words like sipes and squeegees, Bag-o-Matics and polybutadiene were added to my vocabulary.  It threw me for a while but I eventually got used to it and writing these new shorthand outlines soon became second nature. There was a large amount of copy typing which Di covered, although I helped out if I wasn’t busy.  I took general dictation from David and also the Tyre Design Manager and there were occasions when we had to put submissions together for people like Ford and Jaguar. It was a very busy office and quiet days were rare. We had 15 minute refreshment breaks morning and afternoon when a  trolley arrived from the canteen with coffee, tea and snacks.  If David had a meeting or visitors I would have to collect trays from the main canteen – a bit of a juggling act sometimes given the weight of the tray in the hands of one small secretary!

Occasionally David needed to make an international call, usually to someone in Goodyear Tires in Akron, Ohio. When I think  today we simply pick up a phone and dial, what we had to do back then must now seem quite Fred Flintstone in comparison. The call had to be booked first thing in the morning, usually for three in the afternoon because of the time difference in the US. Switchboard would then ring me back at the agreed time and put the call through.

Everyone, apart from managers, got paid weekly in cash. Every Friday after lunch I would go down to the payroll office and collect the pay packets. Returning to the department I’d then distribute these small brown envelopes to each member of staff. Having actual money in your hand at the end of the week was, in those days, simply the way people expected to be paid.  Three years after I joined the company they announced changes.  Everyone over 21 would have their money paid directly into their bank account each month.  Only those working on the factory floor would still receive weekly pay packets . As there were nearly 2,500 people working for the company, paying everyone by cash was not only a labour  intensive job, having that much money on site was also a high security risk.

The next most important thing to pay, of course, were holidays.  What did we get? Well actually it was two weeks  – Managers got three.  Now I know above I said above that Avon offered excellent pay and conditions and you might well be thinking – that’s not very good, but actually anyone having more than two weeks’ holiday in those days was unheard of.  Also at the time, New Year’s Day was treated as a normal working day for everyone and it wasn’t until. eight years after I started work that it became a Bank Holiday and we could all go out and party properly!

5873426888_ff3cd7572f_zAs tyre production could be a highly combustible process the company retained its own on-site tender together with trained volunteers. The picture on the left is very similar to the vehicle they used. It was usual to hear the claxon sound half a dozen times a day and see the vehicle accelerating between the buildings with its bell ringing loudly. I’d been there about six weeks when late one afternoon there was a fire alert. We had a new apprentice start in the department that day and he looked absolutely panic stricken. ‘Don’t worry,’ one of the guys reassured him, ‘this happens all the time.’ Well, yes it did, apart from the fact, on this occasion it was a really bad fire. One which burnt down the Finished Goods store and badly damaged several of the houses in Scotland Road just behind the factory. Several brigades ended up attending.  My then boyfriend had the day off, helping his brother with harvesting nine miles away high on the edge of Salisbury Plain and the the smoke could clearly be seen from there.1118068

Two and a half years later I decided it was time to move on. Although I had loved working in the department things had changed. Not only had Di had left to have her first baby, David had too – being promoted to Original Equipment Sales Manager. I eventually  got a job in HR in training. I didn’t forget them all though, I’d still  made a point of calling in to see them occasionally during my lunch hour (usually with cake) to catch up on all the news.

Looking back, HR could not have given me a better job to start my working life.  I still treasure fabulous memories of this amazing group of guys (and girls)!

TUESDAY TALK WELCOMES TARA MELANIE KERR

This morning I would like to welcome Tara Melanie Kerr.  Not only  has she written a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, her life is very much involved in all things Regency.  In her words..’sewing her own petticoats and dreaming of Colin Firth.’

First of all, my usual opening question – tell us a little about you

Kerr MelanieI  studied linguistics, English and theatre at the University of British Columbia and law at the University of Alberta. I am a reckless lover of clotted cream, a staunch defender of the semi-colon and a fierce opponent of unpleasant music.I proudly live in Edmonton, Canada, where I raise my three babies, sew my own Regency costumes, organise Regency costume events, blog on all things old and English, endeavour to take over the world and occasionally practice law. I also write novels inspired by my love of Jane Austen.

 When did you first become interested in the Regency Period and Jane Austen? 

15 years ago, I was introduced to Jane Austen and the channel for all my interests became clear, for in her work, drama, make-believe and grammar came together in a charming, intelligent and escapist way that captivated my imagination. I have been sewing my own petticoats and dreaming of Colin Firth ever since.

 Is there an official society for Jane Austen and all things Regency in Canada?

The Jane Austen Society of North America fills that role in the US and Canada, though they are particularly focused on the works of Jane Austen, and by extension the Regency period. I attend their local chapter meetings here in Edmonton when I can. Otherwise, I think there is basically just me (see answer below). 

Earlier this year you organised The Calgary Regency Springtime Ball.  Do you organise many events like this and if so, who attends?

This was actually the third ball I have put on. The first two were in Edmonton, and it was due to their success that we thought we would try expanding to Calgary. Last year, I thought it would be fun to see if I could pull off a Regency costume ball, complete with English country dancing and live music and cards, all in period costume. It wasn’t sure how it would go, but it was so popular, we had to expand into a larger ball room! Since then I have tried other events as well, including a murder mystery and garden promenade under the trade name Regency Encouters (www.RegencyEncounters.com). We are holding another ball in Edmonton this September as well.

At this event where were the costumes hired from?  And in the case of the ladies were any dresses made by the wearers?

I was really impressed with how people got into the costuming actually. Many people made their own entirely from scratch, and to a really high standard. I have a small stock of costumes from attending the Jane Austen festival in Bath a few times several years ago, and I rent them out as well. People also custom order their outfits from local costumiers. I even had one person order a gown from the UK. Although dress code is strictly Regency, I allow anything that comes close, including reinvented modern clothing, and I post videos on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIn1Mil6l-w4f3pPD9wm6WA)of how to get a Regency look without any sewing skill or budget. 

You have written a prequel to Pride and Prejudice – Follies Past.  What made you decide to undertake a project like this?

Book Cover Brown smallEssentially, it was a book I wanted to read. I had tried reading a few of the more popular Fan Fiction novels, and they just were not what I was looking for, so I decided to write it myself. One of the great things about Jane Austen’s storytelling is the way she ties everything up into a deeply satisfying ending. We all want the books to go on and on, but extending the characters and the plot after the final chapter felt to me like interfering with that perfect ending. And it would all have to be speculative. Nobody knows what happens after the close of a book, but Jane Austen herself tells us what happened before Pride and Prejudice. In Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, setting out all his dealings with Mr. Wickham, Austen gives us that history, and on that foundation, I built my novel, Follies Past.

I thought if I extended the story backwards in time, I would be able to explore more of her world, spend more time with her characters and create the experience I longed for as a reader, but without offending anyone’s ideas about what might have happened. Everyone ends up exactly as they are at the start of P&P.  Also, I love the history of things. I love the depth that a prequel can give to an original story, not that P&P needs anything from me, but just to expand on the back-story, to delve into the history, felt really exciting.

The book also contains a story of its own, to create the arc and structure of a Jane Austen novel, the kind of plot that I, myself, like to read. Because everyone knows how the Wickham and Georgiana story ends, I have woven it with another story with some mystery and drama to keep the pages turning.

Have you any plans to write another book?  If so, will it be linked with another Jane Austen novel?

I am actually in the middle of writing my next book. I had planned to write another Jane Austen prequel, this time to Sense and Sensibility, but I was approached by a publisher soliciting a submission of a manuscript like Follies Past in style, theme and tone, but not fan fiction. I agreed to write one for them, and that is what I am working on. It is called Mary Green and should be released next March. It is set in Regency England, and is written in the language of the period. It is the story of an orphan who is raised by a wealthy family but must strike out on her own and find her own happiness. 

 And lastly, if you found yourself shipwrecked on a desert island, what four things would you want to have with you and why?

Aside from the basics of survival, like water and food, I would say firstly a couch. I always need a couch. Secondly company. I won’t be too specific, but I would need company, good company. Maybe that’s cheating, because it’s meant to be a desert island, but really, nothing else would help me if I didn’t have people around. Third, a dairy cow and fourth cake.

SYNOPSIS FOR FOLLIES PAST

Caroline Bingley is convinced of Mr. Darcy’s affection and determined to convert his regard into advantageous matrimony as swiftly as propriety will allow. Young Georgiana Darcy has just been taken from the innocent seclusion of her country school, and is about to be sent off to face the rigours of town, to complete her education in all the ways of society before entering upon it. Mr. Darcy intends an alliance between his young charge and his closest and most affable companion, Mr. Bingley, who, in all his self-effacement, betrays no knowledge of the scheme. Colonel Fitzwilliam has his own ideas about Georgiana’s future, while Lady Catherine regards the whole affair with all the disdain and suspicion befitting of her rank.

As the cast turn their faces to London, to that mire of all things perilous and enticing in the way of public balls and morning calls, one gentleman awaits them with all the charm and breeding that a handsome face and merciless ambition can beget.

200 years after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, this new novel treats readers to the complete and dramatic history of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham.  To read it is to step back into the charming world of Jane Austen’s England, to pass a few more hours with some of her beloved characters, sympathetically portrayed as they might have been before ever they came to Netherfield. With language convincingly reminiscent of Austen herself, and a meticulously-researched Regency setting, Follies Past is the book Austen fans have been waiting for.

DETAILS:

Print Length: 280 pages

Size: 1663 KB

Publisher: Petticoat Press

Sold by Amazon and Createspace

Language: English

Genre: Regency Historical Fiction/Jane Austen Fan Fiction

Format: eBook and Paperback

LINKS:

Amazon link: http://amazon.com/dp/B00GD76KJY

Createspace link: https://www.createspace.com/4524790

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18993650-follies-past

Website: http://www.folliespast.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/folliespast

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/folliespast

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIn1Mil6l-w4f3pPD9wm6WA

Praise for Follies Past 

“Kerr manages to evoke the essence of Jane Austen in the first sentence of this book, and carries it through to a satisfying ending with humour, intelligence and heart-warming characterisation…. The language is exquisite, and so Austen-like I found it hard to differentiate between them.” Historical Novel Review

 “…by far the best Austen spin off I’ve had the pleasure of reading… a novel that reads like one of Austen’s own making… Kerr does an excellent job of taking the small tidbits of information we know about characters and giving them a full and lush back story without straying from our vision of them… beautiful and brilliant, and I cannot imagine an Austen fan who would not love it.” Anakalian Whims

“Well-written and extensively researched, Kerr captures the essence and style of nineteenth century England… While there are many prequels and sequels relating to Jane Austen’s classics, Follies Past is one I heartily recommend reading!” Compass Book Ratings

“…admirably maintains the tone and tenor of Austen’s original work, her bygone era lovingly resurrected with an infallible eye for detail and a keen ear for dialogue… a genuine joy to read… There is the jocularity, craving and indulgence that attests to the timeless allure of Austen.” Book Viral

“From the first two paragraphs it was clear to me that I was to become a captive audience. The language was beautiful and very similar to Austen’s…  a fast read and what a delightful fast read.” Bibliobetty Reviews