A very warm welcome to Victoria Cooke to the blog today. Victoria has joined us to talk about her latest release, Single Mums’ Book Club. Victoria, could you tell us about it?
The Single Mums’ Book Club came from a fleeting idea that a few other mums and I had one evening over a glass of wine; we’d set up a book club. A little while after, a WhatsApp group was formed and we were on track to doing something fun that was children-free and just for us. Fast forward almost two years and we still haven’t read a book together never mind sat down and discussed one and so the idea for The Single Mums’ Book Club was born. Like my situation, the characters in the book are all busy mums with plenty going on in their lives and they don’t always get around to reading the books they’re supposed to but the book club becomes so much more than just reading books. It’s a way for three women who are each struggling in some way to come together and offload. It’s about women supporting each other and moving on with their lives but there is a bit of book discussion in there too. Since it’s a romantic comedy, there is of course a love interest who comes in the form of Edward, the village vet but you’ll have to read the book to find out how that pans out.
What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story?
I’ve mentioned above where the book club idea came from but the ‘mum’ element came from spending such a huge amount of time with my children in lockdown 1.0. Don’t get me wrong, I loved spending time with them and even enjoyed homeschooling for the most part (I may or may not have done a happy dance when Zoom-school started up) but it wasn’t without its challenges. Juggling my own work and their timetable whilst floating in a sea of global uncertainty was a strange time for us all and I think we saw the best and worst of each other so I tried to include that in the book because of course, families aren’t perfect. I actually dedicated this book to my children since they inspired it a little.
How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you normally do?
The Single Mums’ Book Club took around five months to write. I’ve written a book in two months before but my debut took around three years to complete so I don’t really have a norm. Once my first draft is complete, I read through it tweaking the plot and then read it again to check the wording before a final tidy up. When I’m happy (read — at the very end of my deadline) it goes off to my editor who does all of those things again, much more thoroughly and finds lots of things to change that I hadn’t thought about. I then get a month or so to work on the structure including the plot, themes, and characters and so on. For me, this is the hardest part of the whole process because small changes to one part of the story can have a knock-on effect throughout the rest of the book. It’s also where we writers ‘kill our darlings’ (sob).
If my editor is happy, it will then go through line edits and for me, that’s the fun part. The line edits are where I really get to show how much I know my characters and pick out actions or dialogue that are wrong for them. It’s also where my editor and I get to improve the text, iron out any clunky sentences and fix typos. This part of the process normally takes me two weeks.
If everything is alright at this stage, I’ll send it off and that will be the last I see of the manuscript before publication but it does go to a professional proofreader then too.
What is your writing day like?
I’m not a morning person so before I do anything I need all the coffee. I do yoga three mornings a week, which helps me get into the right mindset (and posture) for a day pounding the keys of my laptop. Then, I do tend to procrastinate in the mornings. Even if I’m sat at my laptop, I have a tendency to fall down a social media rabbit hole emerging only at lunchtime when I’m alerted by a loud tummy rumble. After lunch is when I get most of my words done. I normally have a good four hours of writing before it’s time for the school run. After that, there’s no chance of being able to concentrate. As long as I have coffee and snacks, I’m quite happy.
What kind of research did you do before beginning the book?
When I’m deciding on a setting, I always go on Rightmove and choose my characters’ houses. I have to think about their financial circumstances, their personalities and the rest of the plot and have lots of fun searching relevant locations for something that works. For this book, I also had to research the novels included in the book club discussions. I have read them all but had to make sure I didn’t get any of my facts wrong and inadvertently annoy any diehard fans. Aside from that, I also had to reach out to a police officer friend to ask some questions about suspected trespass and arrests but again, you’ll have to read the book to find out what that’s all about.
What book do you wish you had written?
A few years ago, I’d have said Twilight and not just for the bazillion dollar royalties, global fame and movie rights sales, I loved the story when I read it the first time around and I’ve never been as consumed by a book as I was by that one. Now, however, I’d love to have written something really witty and funny, along the lines of a Marian Keyes book or something hugely imaginative and scary like Pet Sematary.
Can you tell us what you are working on now?
I have another single-parent romantic comedy in the works along with some other projects in other genres. Watch this space.
Thank you for joining us today. I can’t wait to read the book!
About the Author
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of her career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters. When she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria has always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel in 2016.
Buy Links – Amazon UK
Victoria was talking to Ruby Moone
Ruby Moone lives in the wilds of Lancashire with her husband and writes historical and contemporary romance. At school, her teachers said that she lived with her head in the clouds and if she didn’t stop daydreaming she would never get anywhere. She never did stop daydreaming, and after years of happily living in the clouds, decided to write the stories down.