Today we welcome Mandy Baggot to the blog to talk about her new release, Desperately Seeking Summer. I am honoured to have known Mandy for nearly a decade when we both joined the RNA. I have seen her career rise from self-publication, to authors such as Harper Impulse and Bookouture, to where she is published at present with Ebury. I’m keen to know how her writing career has developed and about a subject I find synonymous with Mandy; all things Greek.
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for welcoming me to the RNA blog!
Tell us what made you want to start writing novels and how that has developed into a career.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write in some form or another. When I was at senior school, I used to write an on-going Footballers’ Wives style drama involving my friends and the latest members of the England football team and pop stars of the day. I just loved to use my imagination and get creative – and I was a terrible artist, so words were a much better fit. However, I didn’t write my first full-length novel until I was on maternity leave with my first daughter (now 13). It was my escape from nappy-changing and milk-feeding, where I would spend time with my hero and heroine in… Corfu! Yes, even back then it was always Greece! Finally, after some hard-won self-publishing success, plus the fact I had zero childcare for school summer holidays, I left my job as a Probate paralegal and decided to try my luck as a full-time novelist alongside being a mum. I think it worked out quite well, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning. I have an amazing husband who brought home the bacon until I was earning a bit more than was needed for the bread to go with it! It does seem an amazing feat when I look back to how I started and where I am now (and hopefully where I am going to grow to next!). I’m very proud to have come from a working-class background, the daughter of a single-dad, scraping by with the help of my grandparents and learning that hard work and grit is the only way to achieve what you want in life. I’ve always been the determined kind because of this.
You have written an impressive 16 novels over a period of 10 years. How long does it take on average for you to plot and write a novel and what tips do you have for writers on being disciplined about writing?
What’s plotting?! I am the worst and least-organised plotter! My idea of a plot is simple. It’s knowing who my characters are, where the action is going to take place and the fact they are going to have their happy-ever-after… other than that I never have ANY idea of what’s going to occur. I think I would be bored if I did. Most of the fun of writing for me is not knowing at the beginning exactly where the story is going to take me. But what is important is word count and making sure you write most days. Otherwise I really wouldn’t get all those books written. And that would be my advice, if you’re working towards a deadline or you want to see the light at the end of the project – to keep in mind how many words you need each day or in bitesize chunks – but to also never be afraid of just writing something. You might not always write the perfect words but getting anything down on paper or laptop will keep your flow going, and you can always edit later.
At the moment I write two books a year for Ebury – one summer and one Christmas – so I usually get around four months or so to write each one. It’s not long! But I do only write one draft. Honestly, that’s it. One draft and it goes to my agent and editor. Scary, huh?!
I know, from social media, how much you love Greece, especially Corfu. Where did the love of Greece come from and how has it influenced your writing?
My first trip to Greece was my first holiday abroad with my husband. We went to Zante and adored it. However, we weren’t going to be those people who go back to the same place each time, so the next year we went to Corfu… hmm, we loved that even more and… we now have a house there. But don’t worry, I haven’t gone all infinity pool and champagne, we have a lovely little two-bedroomed home in the very traditional village of Pelekito with a gorgeous sea view and the best neighbours. And that’s where all my inspiration comes from. Every time I visit I find something else to write about. Ideas are literally coming so thick and fast I have a job to keep up. Corfu is my paradise because, for me, it has everything – the weather, the scenery, the food and these amazing Greeks who are the most welcoming, hospitable people you could meet.
And onto your latest release:
Desperately Seeking Summer
Abby Dolan is having a very bad day… In twenty-four hours, she’s lost her job and her boyfriend. Single and with nothing left to lose, she’s headed for a Corfu escape to spend time with her family while she heals her broken heart.
Only her mum and sister’s estate agency ‘Desperately Seeking’ is just that, desperate! Instead of the relaxing, sunshine holiday she’d hoped for, Abby finds herself spending her break helping get the business back on its feet. Determined to attract new clients and give her family a second chance at success, she finds the perfect property to sell in Villa Pappas complete with gorgeous gardener, Theo.
Perhaps working this summer could be a welcome distraction after all. But Theo has his own secrets and Abby isn’t the only thing he wants to take off the market…
Where did the inspiration come to write about a family estate agent in Corfu?
The idea for Desperately Seeking Summer came from a mixture of things actually. I am an absolute avid watcher of A Place in the Sun and when we were looking for our property in Corfu we went to the expo at London Olympia and I met presenter, Jasmine Harman. Fan girl moment right there! I also got an idea of how estate agents work in Corfu through buying our own house and I thought it would be a great set-up for my next book. But location was key too and when I went back to San Stefanos NE last summer – and gawped at Jude Law – it was definitely the right spot for me to base the Dolan family. The book has quite a boating theme to it too, so my trips around the island by speedboat came in handy there!
What have you in the pipeline next; more novels set in Corfu or are you going to take us to any other parts of the world?
I’ve actually just finished writing my 17thbook – a Christmas one – and then I am planning on taking everyone back to Corfu. I just love writing about the island I adore and spend so much time in. Plus, readers – especially readers who regularly visit Corfu – have told me I write with great authenticity and it’s nice to be able to do that. And there’s nothing better than researching a book in the sunshine with some chilled ouzo and a plate of Greek meze!
Thank you again, Mandy, for sharing your writing journey with us and for taking us to Corfu, I feel like I’ve been there just in this interview!
You can buy Desperately Seeking Summer from Amazon in ebook and paperback here.
Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer represented by Tanera Simons of The Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency. In 2017 she was signed by Ebury Publishing (Penguin Random House).
The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016.
Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor.
Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.