Café Cala welcomes Christine Webber

Hi Christine, welcome to Café Cala,

christine webber

 

I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I loved reading Who’d Have Thought It? It’s so refreshing to find another author who writes about older women. I’ve been making cranberry and walnut muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I’d love coffee, please

 

 

1 Where did you get the idea for Who’d Have Thought It??

As a health writer and psychotherapist, I’ve done a lot of television in my time, giving relationship advice or commenting on emotional situations, and one morning in 2010 I was asked to go on BBC Breakfast to talk about SWOFTIES. I hadn’t a clue what this meant, but it turned out that the Department for Work and Pensions had given this acronym to Single Women Over Fifty to identify the growing number of mid-life single women who were living for today and not worrying about saving for their old age etc. The Department was quite worried about it! So, I quickly mugged up the subject, and went on TV and discussed it – but on the way home, I realised that this could be a good theme for a novel.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I like tweaking. I like editing. I like fine-tuning.  I feel that, in my case, what first goes down on the page is pretty rubbishy, however I love playing around with words and re-shaping sentences. I also feel quite strongly about getting the rhythm of the text right. And I also enjoy tailoring dialogue so that I use expressions that feel appropriate for each of my characters. This is all very fascinating – if time consuming!  Also, I do enjoy the after-effects of writing a book when readers tell you that they enjoyed it or found it satisfying or ‘could not put it down’. All that is great!

3 How did you start writing?

I wrote a lot as a child. And I was an avid reader. But then life took me on a completely different path. But while I was a TV news presenter for Anglia TV, I read in Cosmopolitan that they were running a competition to find the ‘best first novel’. They were very keen on good books at that time. In fact, I went to a brilliant workshop that they held in London with fabulous speakers – including Maya Angelou, Angela Carter and Clare Boylan. Very sad to think that they are all dead now. I got a lot of inspiration from that day and decided to have a go at writing a novel. So I wrote In Honour Bound for the competition, which was actually being judged by the publisher Century Hutchinson. Needless to say, I didn’t win it! I think they were looking for something much more literary. But Century did contact me to say that if I revamped the book a bit, they would publish it. I was beyond happy! After it came out and did reasonably well, I did embark on writing another novel. But at that time I was leaving Anglia, becoming an agony aunt and health writer and later training to be a psychotherapist – and somehow fiction was edged out in favour of writing self-help books. Some 12 of those later, and 29 years after the first novel, I finally returned to fiction.

 4 What would you say has helped you most?

My husband, Dr David Delvin, whom I married shortly after the first novel was published, has been the biggest influence on my writing. He has mostly written sex and relationship books, and he was also a columnist in various magazines and newspapers when I met him. But whatever he writes, he does so in such a clear, concise and easily assimilated way that I find it really inspiring. Also, very unlike me, his first draft is perfect! So, he has helped me enormously. But I think what also has helped me is my own drive and energy. I can’t claim credit for that – I think I was born with it. But always being ambitious to try the next thing and to see it through is a useful ingredient for a writer.

 5 What are you working on at the moment?

I am writing another novel – again it’s about people in mid-life. But this time there are five main characters, so it’s quite a lot more complex than Who’d Have Thought It?

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

The first thing to say is that you just have to get on with it. There are masses of people who claim to have a book in them. But the ones who actually put pen to paper or tap away at a keyboard are really the only ones who can call themselves writers. Dreaming about it doesn’t get it done!

The other factor I think is that you have to find your own method, and your own style. Obviously, if you’re writing fiction it will help you a lot to read a lot of fiction and to train yourself to notice how seasoned authors get their plot across and handle dialogue and so on. But we’ve all read stuff about how you have to start before first light, and work in a shed in the garden, but that may not be your way. Maybe you have kids and you have to fit it in when they’re in bed. You have to bring you, your way of life, your free time, your body rhythms and your own characteristics to the table, as it were. You are not a carbon copy of anyone else. You are you.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I discover new authors all the time – often through the various social media writing groups I belong to. Currently, I’m enjoying Tightrope by an author I’d not encountered before called Simon Mawer. It’s apparently a sequel to another book by him, but it certainly stands alone perfectly well. I adored Clare Mackintosh’s first novel, I Let You Go. And I’ve just bought her second book, which is now out, called I See You. I am expecting great things from that. Also, this year I’ve discovered Jane Davis. I met her through the really brilliant organisation, ALLi. I loved her novel, An Unknown Woman.  And last week I finished Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata, which was a deeply satisfying and lovely book. Other real favourites are: Iris Murdoch, Helen Dunmore, Ian McEwan, John le Carré, Kate Atkinson and Patrick Gale

 

Who'd have thought it

Who’d Have Thought It? is a romantic comedy, though it does tackle some very challenging areas of mid-life – such as secrets that you might uncover about your ageing parents, terminal illness in people close to you, difficulties with adult children going off the rails and so on.

My main character, Annie, is a GP of 55, who is dumped by her husband of 30 years because he’s fallen for a younger woman. But the real action starts a year later when she wakes up feeling better about the situation and decides that – after all – it might be quite fun to be a SWOFTY. However, she quickly realises that being single in your fifties is totally different from being single when you’re young. So it is a book that looks at vibrant mid-life as a single woman – including some fairly disastrous internet dating – but acknowledges just how turbulent and busy that period of our lives can be.

Who’d Have Thought It? is available in paperback at £7.99 and as an ebook at £3.99. It is obviously available from all internet sources, but because it is being distributed by Gardners, it can be ordered

You can  find Christine at:

Café Cala welcomes Amanda Prowse

Hi Amanda, welcome to Café Cala,

Amanda PRowseI’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’ve recently discovered your books and love your writing. I’m looking forward to this next one. I’ve been making a raspberry and yoghurt loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Coffee every time. Unbearably strong without milk.

 

1 Where did you get the idea for My Husband’s Wife?

The seaside town of Woolacombe, where the My Husband’s Wife is set, has a special place in my heart.  My parents who are now in their seventies, spent their very first holiday there by the sea in the nineteen sixties and it was an epic journey from London in those days by all accounts.

It was while we were visiting for a week in the summer of 2015, sitting on the sand by day, strolling the town by night and wandering the coastal paths before stopping for fish and chips to be eaten al fresco, that I felt compelled to write about the magical place where the views and the sunsets rival any in the world!

I was sitting alone on a bench up on the Esplanade, watching the surfers claim the last of the day as their own, bobbing about on the waves like slick, black, inquisitive seals that I reflected on the glorious day we had spent.  I felt a surge of happiness, recalling the simple joy I had felt to be laughing and happy in the sunshine with those I love.

I started to think about what was important in my life and it was very simple, my family, my children, my friends; these are the things I hold dear, the things that make me happy.  Then I started to wonder, what it would feel like if I were to lose one of these things, or worse still, lose them all…  My mind began to whirr, as it often does and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ was born.  I placed my hand on the worn slats of the bench I was sitting on and imagined being Rosie Tipcott, coming up here for a chat to the world and a good old think during good times and bad.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I receive a LOT of messages via Social Media from ordinary women like me who have found their lives turned upside down one of the issues that are covered in my novels.  The best bit of my job is hearing from readers how my stories have helped them deal with their own real life problems as a result, or that they realise while they may not be fantastically rich, that they do have a lot to be thankful for in their own lives.

One of my novels ‘Three and a Half Heartbeats’ is a story about a condition called Sepsis (formerly referred to as Septicaemia) which is one of those diseases which kills thousands of people every year, but is perfectly treatable if detected early enough (like Meningitis).  Some readers have written to me to tell me that having read the book, they learned the symptoms and recognised them in loved ones, voiced their suspicions to medical staff and having been correct, saved the lives of family members.  Those were very special letters.

I also think that sometimes it might to be difficult to talk about how you feel about a situation, so I choose gritty, relatable topics that a lot of people find difficult to talk about and the write a book that explores an extreme case of it using an unlikely heroine and how she reacts to the challenges that she confronts.  All of my stories are uplifting, no matter how tough the subject matter and I think that this makes it somehow easier to talk about the issue with your friends and to realise that we all share the same fears, hopes and dreams.

3 How did you start writing?

I read English at University many years ago and always wanted to be an author but although I had always written for my own pleasure, didn’t have the confidence to put my work out there for criticism.  Then my husband who is a soldier returned from being away on an active duty deployment and was complaining about a book that he had read that hadn’t matched up to his expectations, he encouraged me to write my first novel ‘Poppy Day’ based on what it felt like for me to be a military wife while he was away and what it felt like.

I chose an extreme angle for the story – my nightmare would be what it would be like if the man I loved was taken hostage, so I wrote the story about that and after a long hard struggle to get it published, it went on to be a cult bestseller.  After I appeared on a lot of popular TV shows in the UK talking about it I was fortunate enough to be offered a global publishing deal and now I’m working on my fifteenth novel.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I am fortunate in that I have had a lot of different jobs where I have met thousands of people, all of which can contribute to my list of characters!.  I’ve worked as a cleaner, a management consultant and everything in between; I’m a mum, a cancer survivor and I’ve known what is feels like to lose close family members so I have a lot of human experience and emotion to draw on which I think has helped me to makes my books realistic and believable.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished a book called ‘The Food of Love’ about a happy couple with two lovely daughters who have a pretty perfect life.  Then suddenly they realise that one of their girls in her teens has a problem; she has an eating disorder that she has been hiding for some time.  Caught in the grip of Anorexia, the family have their work cut out trying to save their precious daughter, a difficult task as the condition is not widely understood and the cure, eating, is the very thing that the sufferer will go to any lengths to avoid.

It is an uplifting read despite the deadly serious subject matter and it raises awareness of a condition that increasing numbers of young women (and men to some extent) are falling prey to, in order to conform to social pressure.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Just do it.  Just start writing.  It doesn’t matter if it is in the middle of your story or near the end, just put pen to paper and start the process.  Don’t be too critical early on either – you might go back and change the whole thing, but get a decent amount of text down first and see where it takes you – you never know, it might be pretty good at the first draft if you give yourself a chance…

 7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I am probably the most prolific writer in the UK today and the problem that comes with that is that it eats into my reading time.  I love the classics like Thomas Hardy and could re-read those at any time and am a big fan of Jodi Piquolt, which I think comes through in my work.  I also love novels like ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak and  ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger.

BRAND NEW FROM THE NUMBER 1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR

My husband's wife.gifOnce a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

 

What people are saying about MY HUSBAND’S WIFE:

‘My Husband’s Wife is a gripping book that kept me glued to my seatfrom the start, I couldn’t put it down … Another brilliant Amanda Prowse story.’

‘Her writing will make you laugh, cry, shout and scream and you will be left more often than not an emotional wreck but yet deeply satisfied that you have read such an outstanding book.’

‘My Husband’s Wife was utterly captivating and brilliant!.

‘Emotionally gripping!’

‘My Husband’s Wife is emotional, amusing, heart-warming and entertaining … It is another Amanda Prowse triumph.’

‘Absolute gem of a book’

‘Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, does domestic drama like Amanda Prowse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Prowse is the bestselling author of contemporary family fiction and has written twelve books and six novellas that have been translated into dozens of languages all around the world.

Her titles include ‘What Have I Done?’ which was voted an Amazon Kindle editor’s book of 2013 and ‘A Mother’s Story’ that received the accolade of being the best family fiction novel by the Daily Mail. It also won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year 2015.

Her summer book of last year ‘Perfect Daughter’ earned a place in the Amazon hall of fame and was also selected as a prestigious World Book Night title 2016 by The Reading Agency who promote and manage the nation’s libraries.

Amanda is a regular panellist on the popular daytime TV show ‘The Wright Stuff’ and co-hosts the BBC Radio book club in Bristol in addition to narrating most of her own audio books. Amanda lives with her husband and two sons in the West Country, where she writes full-time.

Book Link: http://bit.ly/MyHusbandsWifeByAmandaProwse
Or: http://bit.ly/No1SummerRead

Website: www.amandaprowse.com
Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amandaprowsenogreaterlove