Interview with Paige Toon

Interview

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This is a n interview that I am re-posting from a previous post on Chellsandbooks.

Paige Toon was born in 1975 and she grew up between England, Australia and America. A philosophy graduate, she has worked on many magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. She us married and has two small children they all live in Cambridgeshire. Her father is also a racing car driver.

Paige is one of my favourite authors, She writes romance novels with a real modern-day feel to them. She kindly agreed to take some time to answer some questions for my blog. Thank you Paige it means a lot to a big fan and also I am hoping it will inspire others.

  1.  What inspired you to become a writer?

I don’t remember because I’ve wanted to write ever since I can remember!

  1. Describe a typical day in the life of author Paige Toon?

Once the kids are at school, I catch up with social media, which can take an hour or two and any other emails or work things I need to deal with. Finally, usually after lunch, I have time to write. My best work usually takes place about an hour before school ends, which can be a little frustrating!

  1. Do you have a favourite place to write?

I work upstairs in a tiny office with a beautiful view over the fields at the back of my house. It has to be clean and tidy or I can’t focus!

  1. What is your writing process?

So far I have always got the idea for a book when I’ve been writing the one before, so I have a fair few months to mull it over before I start writing. My publisher needs a synopsis so everyone on the team is familiar with my plot idea, but it’s actually a really good thing to do to help you finesse your idea.

  1. How do you come up with you ideas?

They come to me out of nowhere. For example, Adele’s Someone Like You gave me the idea for One Perfect Summer, a book about a boy who can’t stop thinking about the girl he knew before he became famous. This is Alice, and I tell the story from her point of view.

  1. From your novels do you have a favourite character?

I don’t because I love each and every one of them – they feel so real when I’m inside their heads, imagining what they’re doing and what they’re thinking or feeling. If you pushed me, I might say Lucy because she was my first and I was so happy to have a book deal and writing about someone who was also caught between two countries: England and Australia.

  1. Writers block, how do you cope with this when and if it happens?

Walking helps. I listen to music and let my mind wander. Eventually the characters start up conversations between themselves again!

  1. Finally, what are your top 3 tips to anyone who wants to become a published writer?

Consider journalism as a stepping stone – for a start, it’s usually great fun but it’s easier to be taken seriously if you’re already a working writer. Always write what you want and not what you think you should – if you feel connected, you’ll always have an audience who feels connected too. Grab yourself a copy of the latest edition of The Writers’ & Artist’s Yearbook – there are loads of handy tips in there!

Paige Toon’s new book is out now: Only £2.99 below

Summer with the Country Village Vet by Zara Stoneley

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Pre-published review.

Title: Summer with the Country Village Vet

Author: Zara Stoneley

Blurb: When Lucy Jacobs is made redundant from her inner-city teaching job she fears her career is over. Teaching is all Lucy knows and she’s determined to get back in the classroom as fast as she can.

Except the only job on offer is at an idyllic village school in the middle of nowhere – Lucy’s idea of hell. Where are the disadvantaged kids who need saving, where is the challenge?

But as Lucy finds herself welcomed into the warm-hearted community of Langtry Meadows, she begins to realise new challenges await – like frogs in the classroom, a rather difficult donkey, and a very brooding local vet…

Local boy Charlie Davenport has his own issues about living in the close-knit village of Langtry Meadows. His private life is already fuel for the well-meaning gossips and the very last thing he needs is to get close to the new school teacher…no matter how lovely she is.

But as summer days drift away Langtry Meadows weaves its magic, Charlie and Lucy both get the chance to turn over a new leaf and start anew…maybe with each other?

A fun, romantic story to make you smile and long for your own country escape.

Publisher: Harper Collins UK, Harper Impulse

Review: I totally fell in love with the people of Langtry Meadows. Lucy Jacobs arrives in Langtry Meadows out of necessity it is not a place she thought she would ever end up at again. She has to face up to thoughts and feelings she thought she had long left behind. I can relate to Lucy on so many levels I even have my own Charlie Davenport the only difference is he is not a vet. Lucy has become one of my favourite characters in the literacy world.

Charlie and Lucy have many things in common. They are both running from pain and having their hearts broken again, although the actually reason is different which makes for interesting reading and creates many links for the characters in the story.

It is brilliantly written and keeps the reader guessing. Just as one question gets answered another one appears. The other characters which the reader gets to know throughout the story are intriguing and as there is another book coming out in this series I am looking forward to getting to know them better. Especially finding out what Elsie has been keeping hidden in her past.

This is a great book and one I would recommend. It is full of romance, friendship, family and funny views that can only come from children.

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Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

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Title: Sweet Valley Confidential

Author: Francine Pascal

Blurb: For a start, Elizabeth and Jessica have had a falling out of epic proportions, after Jessica committed the ultimate betrayal, and this time it looks like Elizabeth will never be able to forgive her.
Suddenly Sweet Valley isn’t big enough for the two of them, so Elizabeth has fled to New York to immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious reporter, leaving a guilt-stricken Jessica contemplating the unthinkable: life without her sister.

Despite the distance between them, the sisters are never far from each other’s thoughts. Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forget her twin’s duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the ‘good’ twin, the one getting her headstrong sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…

Review: This read was a trip down memory lane. As a teenager I loved reading the Sweet Valley Twin/High series.

When bringing back such well known and loved characters it is always a risk I think. Will we still recognise them? Will the style of story have changed and if so will it be just as good?

I did enjoyed this book. It was interesting seeing how the twins lives had played out. They had a fallen out, which often happened from time to time but this time Jessica had done something that Elizabeth just could not forgive. They have separate lives but Elizabeth wants revenge and it was great to see Elizabeth taking on a new role and instead of being the good twin turning into a bad one.

While I read I thought it could have been better than it was, however it was really good and I enjoyed it. I love to go back to something I enjoyed earlier in my life and to see what has happened to the characters. It must have been exciting Francine to go back and revisit Sweet Valley.

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Interview with Zara Stoneley

Interview 2

I am delighted to have Zara appear on my blog and would like to thank her for agreeing to this.

Zara Stoneley was born in a small village in Staffordshire and wanted to be James Herriot when she grew up. After completing an IT degree, working as a consultant, running a dog grooming business, teaching, and working at a veterinary practice she decided she had more than enough material to write several books even if she would never qualify as a vet! She lives in Cheshire with her family and a very bossy cat, and loves spending time in sunny Barcelona. Zara is currently writing a new series, the first book ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, published by HarperCollins is available now – discover a hot vet and the most gorgeous country village ever!

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  1. Tell us a little about your new book?

Summer with the Country Village Vet. This was a dream book to write as I love animals, wanted to be a vet when I was younger, and can think of nothing nicer than living in an amazing village like Langtry Meadows! In the book though, Lucy has got a rather different view. She loves city life, but after being made redundant reluctantly takes on a temporary job at the village school. To complicate things further, the only cottage available to let has a condition attached – she has to look after all the owner’s animals! Her life is turned upside down and it isn’t long before she meets Charlie, the rather gorgeous local vet, who has a very good reason of his own for keeping himself to himself!

2. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 

Lucy is a normal girl who’s determined to make the best of life, but underneath her capable and controlled exterior she’s quite hurt. She always felt the odd one out at school, and never good enough – but she’s thrown everything into the career she loves and is now happy. By going back to village life she’s having to face up to her past, which is a really big step, but she realises that maybe it’s the only way she’ll ever be truly happy in the future. I love Lucy, she’s brave, capable and incredibly kind.

What inspired you to become a writer? 

I’m not sure because I’ve as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write. My grandad and mum always encouraged me when I was young, then I won a prize in a national short story competition when I was at primary school, and after that there was no stopping me!

4. Which writers inspire you?

The simple answer to that one is that there are too many to list! I love exploring different genres, Jilly Cooper was an early influence, and I loved Dick Francis novels. I love all writers who can make me care about their characters, and leave me wanting to live in the locations they create.

5. Describe a typical day in the life of author Zara Stoneley?

First thing I do is switch the kettle on – I need a cup of coffee before I can function properly. On a normal writing day I’ll spend an hour or so whizzing through my emails, catching up on twitter and Facebook, and sharing any news I’ve got. I’ll then write until late morning, and tend to have brunch rather than breakfast and lunch, as I’ve definitely put on weight since I’ve been a full-time author. I’ll have a stretch (my back seizes up otherwise) and then it’s back to writing. Mid-afternoon I do try to find time to go for a walk, but it doesn’t always happen if I’m working to a deadline. I find my best time for writing is late afternoon, some days I really get into it and all of a sudden I realise it’s late evening and I’m hungry. If my son is home from Uni then evenings are spent with him, but if I’m home alone then I quite often have the TV on in the background, and my laptop on my knee.

6. Do you have a favourite place to write? 

I either sit on my sofa with the cat curled up next to me (when she’s not trying to sit on the keyboard), or at my little writing bureau – I found it in an antique shop not long ago and love my tiny writing space! If I’m at the early planning stages of a story and jotting notes down then I often find being outside (on the beach or in my back garden on a sunny day) is really inspiring.

7. What is your writing process? 

I have to write a synopsis for my agent and publisher in advance, and sometimes we’ll meet up for a brainstorming session which can be fun and really helpful. When I’m fleshing out the initial idea, I like to use pen and paper – for some strange reason the ideas seem to flow better (although my handwriting is nearly illegible!) – after that everything goes straight onto the laptop. I set a target each day of how many words I want to write, which helps stop me getting distracted – although my most productive time is the late afternoon and evening, so sometimes I make very little progress for most of the day, then it all happens in a rush!

8. How do you come up with your ideas? 

I jot down ideas as they come to me (usually at very inconvenient times!). All kinds of situations give me inspiration, but most of my stories stem from a ‘what if’ question, which then leads to a ‘but’. Never be afraid of your ideas, however batty they might sound, I normally find that if I write an idea down and still like it a week later, then it’s worth exploring further.

9. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? 

I think the biggest difference is that I now have a wonderful editor to work with – it’s great to be able to discuss ideas with somebody, and have early feedback. I also now have to work to deadlines though, it’s a proper job, so I can’t have days when I walk away because it just isn’t working. I have weekly goals and so I know that if I don’t get much written one day, I’ll have to make it up the next day! I also now have to find time to write guest posts and promote my books on social media, and give talks at book clubs – it all means I have to be much more organised and disciplined than I was before my first book was published.

10. What was your first thought when you saw your first published book? 

Wow! It was incredible to be able to pick up a book and realise I’d actually written it. It took a while to sink in, as the road to getting published can be long and a bit lonely. Signing a book contract was very exciting, but seeing the actual finished book was amazing. I took it to bed with me!

11. What are your thoughts on writing a book series? You have the Tippermere series and this is also going to part of a series?

I love writing a series as it really gives me chance to get to know the characters, and watch their lives change – one book is never enough! They do involve a lot more planning, and I tend to have lots of notes that I constantly reference to make sure that the timelines work properly. I’d love to return to Tippermere at some point (in my mind there’s unfinished business with Mick and Lottie, and Pandora really does deserve a story of her own!), but for now I’m settled in Langtry Meadows – which I think is the most gorgeous of all my locations.

12. What is next for you? What are you working on next? 

The second Langtry Meadows book ‘Coming Home to Jasmine Cottage’ is with my editor, and that’s due out in September. In this book there’s much more focus on Charlie, although Lucy, the school, and animals of course play an important part! Both books can be read as standalone’s, but I hope after reading ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’ you’ll want to find out more! I’m also currently working on an outline for the third book in the series, and working with my editor and agent on a very secret project – more news soon!

Where you can find her- Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com Twitter: @ZaraStoneley Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

I am super excited to find out what that secret project is.

I am so glad to have Zara appear on my blog and excited to share this with all my readers. I wish her every success.

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

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Pre-publication review:

Title: The Summer House by The Sea

Author: Jenny Oliver

Blurb: Every Summer has its own story…

For Ava Brown, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella – once the heart of the sleepy seaside village – now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summer house by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…

Publisher: HQ

Review: This book is defiantly a holiday read. On a rainy day it takes you away right to the heat of Spain.

I really liked this book. It is about a sister and her brother who have got a little lost in life, and forget what is most important to them.  Being back in the heart of the community surrounding the Summer House reminds them of lost family happiness. I feel in love with all the quirky characters that come to dine at the local Café. This is the Café that with a little love gives back to the community and the Brown family.

This is a well written book and gives great insight into the characters minds their thoughts and feelings. I did worry at a point that it did this a little too much but it wasn’t a problem it brought so much more to the story.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes a romantic, women’s fiction set in sun drenched Spain.

A beautiful holiday read.

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Love in Row 27 by Eithne Shortall

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Pre-publication review

Title: Love in Row 27

Author: EithneShortall

Blurb: What happens when Cupid plays co-pilot?

Still reeling from a break-up, Cora Hendricks has given up on ever finding love. For herself, that is. To pass the time while working the Aer Lingus check-in desk at Heathrow, Cora begins to play cupid with high-flying singles.

Using only her intuition, the internet and a glamorous flight attendant accomplice Nancy, Row 27 becomes Cora’s laboratory of love. Instead of being seated randomly, two unwitting passengers on each flight find themselves next to the person of their dreams – or not.

Cora swears Row 27 is just a bit of fun, but while she’s busy making sparks fly at cruising altitude, the love she’d given up on for herself might have just landed right in front of her…

Publisher: Corvus

Review: This book came strongly recommend by other reviews on NetGalley. However I couldn’t get into it and I really wanted to.

The concept of the book is great. Setting up singles on a flight great idea and then to find love herself.

I feel that this is one I will come back to and read again. I do find sometimes that you need to be in a particular kind of mind set for some books especially when the author is new to you.

I recommend this book on its idea and will defiantly re-read it.

 

Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

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Pre-published review

Title: Just for the Holiday

Author: Sue Moorcroft

Blurb: Summer in the south of France. Think long, lazy lunches, endless days stretched out by the pool, and carafes of wine on tap. Perfect, unless you have the world’s most troublesome family…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

Publisher: Avon

Review: This is this first of Sue Moorcroft’s books that I have read and I was not disappointed I loved it.

This is a perfect summer read.

Sue has created amazingly real characters that face very modern and real events that effect their holiday. It parts it is very funny. Sue writes in such a way that kept me guessing about what will happen next, sometimes I thought I knew what would happen but what actually happens is so much better.

Leah is a great strong character with so many layers to her and I fell in love with her and really hoped she would find her happy ending. It starts of as a typical family holiday, lovely but then secrets soon start to appear. The pregnancy really sets the cat amongst the pigeons and what follows this revelation brings out another layer to Leah that even she didn’t realise she had. It just shows that whatever happens we always find away to cope and a handsome helicopter pilot who speaks French does help.

I was very sad to leave this family once the story came to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be seeking out more books by Sue Moorcroft to read.

This book comes highly recommended to anyone who likes a good holiday romance with added funny family twists and turn along the way.

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