If my hubby interrupts me, I go into a right old strop even if he is just bringing me a cup of tea because I haven’t stopped all day. What an ungrateful old boot I am.
Carol E. Wyer – 17 December 2012
The Back Flap
Amanda Wilson is all geared up for an exciting gap-year, travelling across Europe. She soon finds her plans thwarted when she is abandoned in France with only a cellarful of Chateau Plonk, a large, orange Space Hopper, and Old Ted, the dog, for company.
Fate has intervened to turn Amanda’s life on its head. First, Bertie, the camper van, breaks down. Then her dopey son, Tom, who is staying in their house in the UK, is wrecking it, one piece at a time. Next, the jaw-dropping video Skype calls that her irrepressible mother insists on making are, by contrast, making Amanda’s humdrum trip even less palatable.
Finally, she discovers that her new-found, French friend, Bibi Chevalier, had engineered a plan to ensure that her philandering husband would never stray again; unfortunately, Amanda is unwittingly drawn into the scheme, becoming a target.
Meanwhile, on a beach in Sydney, a lonely Todd Bradshaw realises that his first true love, Amanda Wilson, is definitely the only woman for him. Can he get back into her good books and hopefully back into her arms with his latest plan? Or will fate intervene yet again and turn everyone’s lives upside down?
About the book
What is the book about?
A woman who desires to have some adventure injected back into her life discovers more than she bargained for when she ends up alone in France.
When did you start writing the book?
I had the plot and characters charging about in my head as soon as I finished writing my first novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, in December 2010. I tend to let the characters fight it out there for a few months and “write” the chapters in my head before I put pen to paper. When I was ready to start work on it, I couldn’t, thanks to moving house. It was a stressful time and I couldn’t fit in writing too. Once we moved at the end of 2011, we suffered disaster after disaster that prevented me from writing the book, until May 2012. By then, I just had to type it out because my head was ready to explode.
How long did it take you to write it?
Once I got going, it took me three weeks to complete it. I only slept for two hours a night. Some nights I didn’t sleep at all and I typed the entire time I was awake. I remembered to stop to eat occasionally, but large bags of Midget Gems saw me through.
Where did you get the idea from?
It just developed in my over active mind. I was inspired by my life in France and people I have met. My first book was about Amanda Wilson and her frustrated attempts to enjoy life even though she is middle-aged and this seemed to lead on nicely from the first book.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Only with the character Richard Montague-Forbes, a man who has issues, and who trawls the internet for women to woo. At first, I thought this might be an unlikely character but after I managed to create a spoof character, using the same method Richard employs to “catch” his prey on Facebook, and they were followed blindly by over 2000 people, I realised it was viable. I then got “stalked” by a male on Facebook too, much like Amanda does, so it all fell into place for me.
What came easily?
Writing about Amanda’s mother, Grace, who is rather like my own – a party animal even though she is in her late seventies. Everyone loves this character. Not a surprise, as everyone loves my chain-smoking, alcohol-swigging, fun-loving mother too.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
Grace is modeled on my own mother, as I mentioned earlier and Bibi Chevalier is based on a good friend I had when I lived in France. She actually went off with a plastic surgeon toy boy in real life and now looks about twenty years old. Ted the dog is 100% real and I go over to France to look after him regularly when his owners (Mark and Jeanette are very loosely based on them) go away.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
This may surprise you but I studied Old English and Old French at university. I loved all of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Candide by Voltaire. I think it was at that point that I started to appreciate books and novels that were ironic or humorous. Today, I enjoy books by Ben Elton and any author that has a sharp acerbic wit. I try to emulate that style in my writing too. I am one of life’s observers and quite probably a frustrated comedienne, so I incorporate all of that into my novels and articles.
Do you have a target reader?
Women (and men) aged 40+
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I am such a Luddite. Technology is still something I struggle with. I was brought up to write out essays, and lengthy essays at that, so I write out a plan in a notebook and then write out all my chapters in pencil. I then cross out, add, erase and make any changes. Only when I have two or three notebooks filled with illegible scribble, do I begin typing.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Only in brief. I draw a sort of spider diagram of where I am going with this book and put one or two ideas under each topic or chapter heading.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I am too busy getting all the ideas down to stop and edit immediately. If there are any glaring mistakes as I read back through a chapter I’ll rectify them but I begin editing only after completing the novel.
Did you hire a professional editor?
Yes. I believe in making the best effort possible. I am too close to my work to see errors, so I always hire an editor to check through, and ask people to be my beta readers. I also have appalling eyesight so my eyes get tired very easily, especially after I have been typing for days. When they are very bad I can’t see the mistakes, even with the screen magnified. I enjoy reading too much to have it ruined by bad grammar or typos. It irritates me and I don’t want to irritate others.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Even though I love music, I can’t bear noise when I am trying to get my ideas down. If my hubby interrupts me, I go into a right old strop even if he is just bringing me a cup of tea because I haven’t stopped all day. What an ungrateful old boot I am.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Yes, I did. I thought I’d “give it a go” but didn’t have high expectations. They are inundated with requests daily. I also submitted to small publishing houses. Imagine my delight when I had a positive response. In fact, I had four publishing houses want to take on Surfing in Stilettos and I almost signed with one of them. At the last minute I pulled out.
What made you decide to go Indie? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
I wanted to have control over my books. Royalties were much better going Indie too and I figured that if I had to do all my own publicity then may as well get all the financial benefits. Just having publishers interested in my work gave me the boost I needed.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
Being technologically challenged there was only one route for me. I had both my covers done professionally by an American lady who came recommended from jaybee creations.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I have become a marketing guru since I started writing. I have lists of contacts at newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. I send out press releases and articles regularly to them. I have loads of marketing tips and should write a book about how to get publicity. (Although I suspect many have already done that.) I have appeared on radio shows, here in the UK and the States. I have toured Europe on book tours giving an “Ageing disgracefully” talk. I have had articles in national magazines, appeared in national magazines and basically prostitute myself wherever needed. I have a marketing strategy for each of my books and am already getting ready for the release of my next book which should be out early next year. You have to plan in advance. I write posts from time to time about marketing for Indies Unlimited and share my tips.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Make friends online with fellow authors and reviewers. I mean “friends”. The people I have encountered are some of the most generous hearted people one could hope to meet and offer endless advice and support. Without them, I would still be writing my scripts out by hand and posting them to agents.
Where did you grow up?
My father was in the army so I was born and brought up in Germany. We returned to the UK when I was about nine.
Where do you live now?
Rural Staffordshire in between a lake and a field of cows.
What are you working on now?
I have just completed a humorous non-fiction book about dealing with Grumpy Old Men which should be out very shortly and have got stuck into a new novel. It is “hush hush” at the moment but is about authors!
End of Interview:
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