Hi Helen, Welcome to Café Cala and an especial welcome for being my first visitor. In honour of The Chocolate Affair, I’ve made some yummy chocolate brownies. Would you like tea or coffee with them?
Oooo, chocolate brownies? Yum. Thanks ever so for inviting me to Cafe Cala. I’d like a mugachino please – it’s ‘coffee-need’ time!
1 Where did you get the idea for A Chocolate Affair?
In my writing I need a challenge! Every November there’s a world-wide ‘coming together’ for writers. It’s called Nanowrimo (National Writers Month), and it’s a website encouraging writers to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is the sort of challenge I enjoy, so I have accomplished Nano eight times now. However, in 2011 I was faced with Nanowrimo and didn’t have an idea in my head, let alone a plot, and only 30 days to write 50K words of a novel! And no, I was not going to give up! So I decided to write about a writer who challenged herself to write a book in 30 days, despite all the romantic, family, and business problems destined to thwart her. And of course every writer knows the benefits of chocolate. So The Chocolate Affair was born. Here’s the plot: When Henrietta challenges her writers group to complete a novel in 30 days she encounters major difficulties. Can she write The Chocolate Affair despite the distractions of sexy co-writer Matt and his novel “Drop Dead Blonde”; daughters Louise and Allie with their teenage angst and disasters; and boss Jay’s encroaching garden business? All bets are off when Matt disappears, leaving her an astonishing legacy.
2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?
Writing is a pleasure for me. I love the journey. And writing The End on a manuscript is very special!
3 How did you start writing?
How did I start writing? Well, I think I began when I first lifted a pencil to spell a word in Grade 1! Over the years I’ve written practically everything – from newsletters, magazine articles, pieces on the antique markets of London, exhibition critiques, editorial content for charity magazines; to poems, theatre sketches, and a full stage adaptation of the story of Gilbert and Sullivan. I even edited a motor magazine, which is rather remarkable, considering I know absolutely nothing about cars. Lately I’ve extended my travel writing and travel books, but I’m now concentrating on my novels.
4 What would you say has helped you most?
My writers group has been the main help to my writing. These dedicated writers are a huge source of inspiration, encouragement and motivation. They’ve taught me not to be afraid of criticism, to look at my writing and evaluate it seriously, and to cut and burn where necessary. I love criticism – I also have two critique partners who are dragons (well not really) and I respect and admire them!
5 What are you working on at the moment?
What am I working on at the moment? I have three novels on the go. I’m a ‘pantser’ – I’m one of those people who write a novel without a plot, just a main character, a beginning, an ending, and a vague idea of what happens in the middle. I let the characters lead me through their world, and I’m often surprised where they take me! Sometimes they don’t take me at all, which is what happened in Queen of the Castle. They disappeared in a Scottish blizzard – and I’m working on their reappearance at the moment. I’ve nearly finished Men, and all that Nonsense, a fun look at six friends and their romantic disasters, and I’m editing War and Peace – the Musical, an amusing look at a country musical society where war and peace are part of daily life!
6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Far be it for me to offer advice to aspiring writers – all I can say is JUST DO IT. I wish I had become more dedicated in my younger days. Writing is an amazing adventure, and no matter how ragged your first story, keep going, for you’ll improve all the time as you listen to the advice of those already well into the journey.
7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?
I’ve always been a follower of Maeve Binchey, and, ages ago, after reading her lovely Light a Penny Candle I said to myself, “I can do that!” Hahaha. I’ve read all her books. I read any women’s fiction I can get my hands on, particularly chick-lit, love Catherine Alliott, but lately I’m reading more crime and mystery. I love a bit of drama in the lives of the characters.
Thanks you so much Helen, and I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading The Chocolate Affair.
You can buy The Chocolate Affair at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/228573 and for this blog Helen is offering it FREE. Just quote ED33L to purchase.