Thanks to both Miriam Wakerly and Carol Wyer, both of Love a Happy Ending, for tagging me in the ‘Next Big Thing’ round of blog posts. Because my current work in progress is still taking only faltering steps, I’m cheating a bit by telling you about my first novel which, despite the time it has spent ‘in the drawer’, still has a place in my writer’s heart. In fact I’m thinking of dusting it down and giving it another airing, so who knows? My last big thing might just become my next!
What is the working title of your book?
The book has had many titles. The first one, Love Me Tender was discarded since Elvis was not in the building or the plotline. The most recent is A New History of Love which I think mimicked other titles of the time. The book centres on the ‘Carte de Tendre’ or Map of Tenderness so maybe that’s what it should be called.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
We were on holiday in the Loire valley and one day we visited a little-known chateau. Only the grounds were open to the public, but the garden had been designed around a 17th century map of love. What a place for a love story, I thought, then (lightbulb moment!) what a setting for a novel!
What genre does the book fall under
It’s contemporary mainstream fiction. I call it a ‘literary love story’, a friend called it ‘up-market hen-lit’ – either will do for me!
What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition
Ooh, how delicious to imagine it all on the screen! My characters are not in their first youth, but I think Ewan McGregor could be good for Alec (sexy with just a touch of the swot!) I’d like Bel to be played by Juliet Stevenson, my favourite actress of all time, probably best known for Truly Madly Deeply. I also quite fancy Denis Lawson (EM’s real-life uncle now starrring in BBCs New Tricks ) as Alec’s roguish friend Ric . Of course, parts of the novel take place when these people are in their early twenties, so I might need two cast lists!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bel has a map of the garden of love, but can she find her way?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well as you may have guessed, a number of agencies turned it down in the past, but failing a call from Bloomsbury (or Hollywood!), I’d be happy to keep working with Thornberry.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am too embarrassed to say. Okay, probably 2 years for a draft that hung together, the finished article took even longer! In my defence, I started out with no idea of how to write a novel, a teenage family and a full-time job. I almost gave up on it more than once, but in the end it wouldn’t let me go.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, that’s difficult. I’ve read a few books set around gardens, but none that quite compares. I blush to say I was inspired in some ways by A.S. Byatt’s Possession and wanted my characters to have a puzzle to solve. But no way was I going to write poetry too (!) and just hope that my humble effort has a modest charm of its own!
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well, obviously, a walk in a garden, but it’s also about the deceptive intimacy of the internet. Maybe my real motivation was the challenge of writing the kind of novel I would like to read.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If your marriage had gone slightly off the boil and the man you considered to be the love of your life appeared on the horizon, what would you do?
Now I have the problem of who to tag, since many writer friends have already done their bit. Let’s see if soon-to-be-published Claire King, farmer/writer Kathryn Brown or choc-lit-lady Mandy James is interested!