Blog Tour Interview
I would like to thank Carol Wyer for agreeing to answer some questions for me and appear on Chells and Books today!
- Please tell us a little about What Happens in France and where your ideas for the book came from?
It’s a feel-good story about Bryony Masters, a somewhat quiet and reclusive teacher, whose sister, Hannah, ran away from home when she was 16. Bryony blames herself for the incident and has over the years, tried to find Hannah, but to no avail.
When her father has a sudden stroke, she is propelled into taking more drastic action and egged on by her best friend, Melinda, applies for a televised gameshow in the desperate hope she can use it as a platform to find her sister.
The show is filmed in France and she finds herself teamed up with the gorgeous but unattainable Lewis, and a bunch of hilarious competitors, including a limelight-stealing pug – Biggie Smalls. With Lewis’s help she has to fight off the competition and take part in a series of wacky and fun challenges, not to win the prize but to get the winners’ ten minutes of air time at the end of the show each day, which she uses to find Hannah.
As for the book’s inspiration, well, it was a mishmash of things. My mother suffered very badly from St Vitus Dance as a child and relayed the horrors of her own childhood which gave me the kernel of the idea for the Hannah and Bryony plot. That led me onto how Bryony would manage to find her sister and in turn, took me down the gameshow route. Given our obsession with shows like Love Island and the like, it seemed an ideal solution, so I applied for a variety of gameshows to see what I could find out. I ended up on quite a few (all in the name of research) but they helped fuel my ideas for the ridiculous challenges and games Bryony and Lewis have to tackle.
Finally, I am an absolute Francophile and have lived and worked in France. Nowadays, I visit the country several times a year, renting small gites, so it seemed the perfect place to set the book. A few years ago, my husband, AKA Mr Grumpy, and I travelled around Brittany and the Loire-Atlantique and stayed in chateaux along the way. It was such fun we went back a few more times and saw as much of the regions as we could.
- Do you have a favourite character or scene from What Happens in France?
To be fair, I love all the characters who stomped around in my head for a good few months, with the exception of Prof. David Potts. He deserves a good slapping! They were all incredibly entertaining and I found myself guffawing at some of the incidents and lines they came out with. Yes, I know I’m making them sound real, but they are to me.
I enjoyed writing all the scenes that took place in France and especially the game scenes. Quite possibly one of my favourites is when Bryony, in their furry 2CV, is attempting to direct a blindfolded Lewis around a course using only French directions so they’ll avoid cardboard cut-out cows. It was fun writing the dialogue for that. It’s almost like a scene from ‘Allo ‘Allo.
- Tell us a little about your writing process and where your ideas come from and how they develop?
My head is constantly awash with ideas. I’m forever collecting names that I like, snippets of conversation I overhear, ideas from television or the newspapers. My mother always said I had an overactive imagination and I suspect she was right. Some of my ideas come to me when I’m asleep (a rare occurrence, as I suffer from insomnia) in the forms of dreams and I write them down on Post-it notes as soon as I wake up and file them to work on at a later date.
Before I begin writing a book, I’ll run a series of ideas through my mind. This usually happens when I’m lying in bed awake (as I mentioned earlier, I suffer from insomnia). I play them out as if they’re a film and over the coming nights and weeks, make necessary changes to the script, the endings and so on, until I think I have a novel. Next, I make character notes in a fresh notebook. Each character has a backstory. I probably won’t write down everything about them in the actual script but I need to know who they are – where they were born, if they are only children, what size shoes they take and so on to develop them into credible characters. I’ll then begin writing chapter synopsis so I know where the book is going and to keep me on track. Once I have those in place, I clear my desk and begin typing. I used to write the entire book out by hand into a series of notebooks, but nowadays I have too many tight schedules, so I use a laptop.
- What is your favourite type of genre to write and is one easier than the other?
I write both romantic comedies and crime fiction. I really enjoy writing both but romantic comedy is a lot easier! Crime fiction requires meticulous plotting, endless research to make sure you are factual and of course hours of coming up with red herrings and twists. I find it far more demanding whereas romantic comedy flows more easily for me.
- A day in the life of Carol Wyer + ?
This is where I prove I have no life!
5-8 .00 a.m. Get up, check social media and do some writing
8-8.30 a.m. Have breakfast with Mr Grumpy
8.30-9.30 a.m. Do housework or pretend to be doing housework and actually hide in my office, typing
9.30-11.30 Write or edit, depending where I am in my schedule
11.30-12.30 Go out for a walk. Mr Grumpy insists I go out for my health!
12.30-1.00 Coffee with Mr Grumpy
3.00-4.00 Write or edit
4.00-4.30 Afternoon tea with Mr Grumpy. (Mr Grumpy loves afternoon tea and cake!)
4.30-6.00 Write or edit
6.00-9.00. Cook and eat dinner and maybe watch an hour of television
9.00-11.00 Write or edit and maybe check social media.
11.00-3.00 Either lie awake plotting, get up and write because I’m in the middle of a script and hate leaving it or drop off to sleep for a couple of hours and then lie awake.
Reading this back, I realise how dreadfully dull I am. I do take days off if I haven’t got a book to write.
- What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?
Don’t worry about smashing out your front teeth… one day you’ll have a bridge instead of false teeth that keep slipping out and no one will any the wiser.
Thank again Carol. I have enjoyed having you appear in my blog today and really appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.