I grew up in Hampshire and lived in Reading before moving to the beautiful riverside town of Dartmouth in Devon. And I still feel like I’m on holiday. I trained as a journalist, then went into teaching (kept meeting the sixth form students in the pub, awkward!). After that I ‘fell’ into recruitment, spending more years there than I care to mention, where the most creative thing I did was to create a sexy top line for job adverts! Since moving to Devon, I set up my own business offering virtual administration and recruitment services, worked for an accommodation company and am currently moonlighting in the local bookshop… Also, COYS, Cats, Metal. Underneath this preppy exterior beats the heart of a rock chick.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I’ve always created characters and stories – maybe that has something to do with being an only child and having imaginary friends! My first forays into writing were trying to emulate the Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High type stories when I was about fifteen. I still have the rejection letters somewhere… And I always wanted to write a book that I would read.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? If I have a day when I’m solely writing and nothing else, I have a lovely writing desk in our spare room that was a Christmas present from my husband last year and that’s where I’ll be. I’ll start around 10am and work through until around 1pm, have some lunch and start again around 2pm. I tend to be more productive in the mornings though. However, I’ve scribbled notes and plans while at work in the bookshop – and then had to make sense of them later!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Yes. At the start of this year, I couldn’t write anything. I didn’t think I had the time or the inclination and anything I did write was rubbish! I ended up going on a bit of a writer’s detox with prompts and wrote something every day for a month. Some days it was ten minutes, some days it was half an hour. But it got me back into the habit of writing again and that helped. I will sometimes force myself to try to write something – even if it’s only a few hundred words. Because at least you can go back and edit that!
4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story? Maybe a ‘plotser’! There is a plan with major plot points, but there’s not a plan to the nth degree about everything. There are Post It notes (other sticky paper is available) with a few words for scenes or chapters and quite a lot of the time that’s all there is. Sometimes I quite like the surprise of not knowing exactly what will happen – although I do have a vague idea!
5.Are you traditionally or self-published? I’m self-published. I wrestled a lot with what I call ‘assisted’ self-publishing versus ‘pure’ self-publishing, i.e. having someone hold my hand and do all the formatting for me and taking a share of the royalties versus stepping up and doing all the techy stuff myself and walking away with all the royalties. In the end – with some words of advice and inspiration from other self-published authors – I did it all myself. And I couldn’t be more proud.I write in a saturated genre, so to get an agent and be traditionally published when I’m not a celebrity or an already known author ‘writing as’ is always going to be a challenge. And I know there are people out there that will enjoy what I’ve written. The support and feedback I’ve received since publishing has certainly proved that.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? It was a massive learning curve! I Googled a lot and went on a lot of Createspace and KDP forums to make sure I was doing it right. And asked other authors who had already done it a LOT of questions. I had a really good support network, which I think is invaluable, from beta readers to other authors who had gone through the same process. I think the key things I learned were to make sure you get a good editor and invest in a cover designer (if you can afford it).
7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? As well as holding the real-life paperback I created, I think it’s seeing myself on Amazon. And just laughing to myself that I’ve actually done it!
8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals is my first novel. It’s a contemporary women’s romance novel and if you like Jilly Cooper or the late Jackie Collins, this is probably for you! It’s set in the rock music world and is the kind of book you can read by the pool or on your commute to work as a bit of escapism.
“She couldn’t stop thinking about Nate, how they had talked and talked. And connected. Had things been different, she would certainly have left him her number.
With a sigh, she put on her headphones and pulled a copy of Roccia from her bag and idly began flicking through the pages to pass the time. A short article in the news section about North Ridge caught her eye. She took a large sip of wine a read on, always interested to read about new local talent.
Recently signed to Numb Records, Alik Thorne and the rest of the Blood Stone Riot boys play their last gig at The Vegas in North Ridge next week before decamping to record their as yet untitled four-track EP at the renowned Newcomen Farm studios.
Set for release in the next few months, the band are also to film their first video to accompany the title track, “Bleed Like Cyanide,” in addition to playing a number of low-key showcase gigs in preparation for their debut appearance at the Wilde Park Festival.
Caro almost spat out her wine in shock as she re-read the article and studied the picture that accompanied it more closely. There was a black and white photograph of a singer, caught by the camera snarling into the microphone. He was wildly attractive, with chiselled cheekbones, eyes flashing with passion, and bare-chested, showing an array of tattoos and a nipple ring.
She knew she had seen him before.
Knew that she had recognised his voice from somewhere.
In the magazine shot, he was clean-shaven and his hair was shorter, and he wasn’t wearing glasses; looking totally different to the man she had left in bed that morning. But she certainly recognised the tattoos, having spent time up close and personal with them.
He had lied.
His name wasn’t Nate.
Suddenly Caro was acutely aware of the fact that she had just slept with one of the hottest new properties in rock music.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) I’m very much still in the learning phase here, so if anyone has any tips to share I’d be grateful! This is something I am working on getting better at. I find it quite easy to do the kind of social media ‘chatty’ marketing, where I’ll talk about what I’m doing in regards to events or how I’m getting on with Book 2. But I know I need to do more in regards to advertising, either through Facebook ads or BookBub or similar.
10.How long on average does it take you to write a book? Cocktails, Rock Tales &Betrayals took two years. Although if I’m honest, it was six months of hard work, a year of procrastination and six months of hard work. However, there are parts of it that are over ten years old, so it’s been around a while. Book 2 will take less time as I have already set myself a deadline of the end of April 2017 to publish again.
11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. Through my author network, I knew of a cover designer that had done a fantastic job for one of my friends. She read an early draft of the final manuscript to get a feel for the story and came up with an initial design based on that. We had a few discussions on the overall look and feel for the cover and she designed the ultimate guitar hero for me! I also love the champagne drinking lady and I think that the cover gives a good idea of what to expect from the book.
12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Well, as the book is set in the rock world, music is a big thing for me. I am a rock chick and later this year (in the space of about four days) will be seeing Frank Turner and Biffy Clyro live. I am hoping that Guns n’ Roses will be at Download next year and I can finally see the original line up. I’m a big football fan (and have the bones of a novel set in that world for the future) and support Spurs. I also love cats and did some volunteering work for Blue Cross, which basically entailed letting cats sit on your lap for the afternoon – such a hardship!