We are delighted to welcome Anita Faulkner to the blog today to talk about her upcoming debut, A Colourful Country Escape. Anita signed a publishing contract after meeting her editor during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s conference one-to-ones. Anita, tell us about your upcoming book. Where did you get the inspiration from?
A Colourful Country Escape is the story of Lexie Summers, a vibrant but penniless social media manager whose world collides with that of her new, wealthy, but seemingly dull boss “Beige Ben.” Think vintage campervan explosions, scary peacocks, and a whole lot of ruffled feathers.
The idea came from playing with opposites and getting curious about how they could initially clash, but then grow to complement each other. I’ve always been fascinated with money dividing us in love. (Hello, Mr Darcy!) The theme of colour sprang from that, as people talk about the colour of money. Then bright and sassy Lexie was born! Her life has been colourful without money, whereas Ben’s affluent existence has been comparatively pallid.
I forced them together with a mission to breathe life into a flagging paint business, and used our local Cotswold town of Tewkesbury as their backdrop. It’s full of black and white Tudor buildings to tie in with the colour theme and the idea that feelings aren’t always so black and white.
You had me at “scary peacocks.” What’s your writing day like?
I’m a big fan of a 5am start. I would never have called myself a ‘morning person’ – yuk! But now I’m a frantic mum, those early starts are golden time for creativity before the three year old crashes in. I juggle my writing with motherhood and running my own copywriting business. I usually write from my upcycled bureau, which was a little writer’s treat to myself. If I need an extra boost of inspiration, I light a candle and call on ALL the snacks!
Can you tell us a little about your relationship with the RNA?
Oh wow, the RNA and the New Writers’ Scheme have been everything for me. A lovely writer friend, Janice Preston, urged me to join and I can’t thank her enough. I was in my fifth year of the NWS when I finally graduated. (Who knew having a little boy would take up so much time!) My NWS reports were so thorough, encouraging, and full of incredible advice I felt like I came away with a full education in storytelling. The NWS readers really are magical beings.
Tell us all about the one-to-one that got you your book deal!
I had a written one-to-one, so I avoided the ‘scary’ prospect of a face to face chat! Phew. I didn’t have an agent at the time (I’m now represented by the brilliant Kate Nash) so I was keen to get in front of a publisher who I wouldn’t usually be able to approach without an agent. The RNA one-to-ones give us these rare and special opportunities. When I saw Little, Brown on the RNA list I jumped at the chance to submit A Colourful Country Escape. I had (quite literally) stroked the beautiful covers of Little, Brown romcoms in our local library, thinking I’d never even have the chance to submit to them. When I researched the commissioning editor, Rebecca Farrell (Bec), she seemed so lovely, talented and down-to-earth. And she is!
Give us all the juicy details about The Call!
It was a nail-biting process. Bec emailed me on the day of the one-to-one to say she loved A Colourful Country Escape and wanted to see the full manuscript – but the email bounced and I didn’t receive it! It could have ended badly. Thank goodness Bec politely chased me one week later. I’d spent the week thinking my submission must be too terrible for words, and Bec had probably wondered why I was hiding!
After reading the full, Bec suggested ideas for structural edits. I made the changes (which were perfect for the story) and resubmitted. And then Bec scheduled in ‘the call.’ I had no idea which way it would go. Did editors call to dump people? Who knew?!
I could barely breathe with nerves as the time approached, and I must have babbled complete nonsense when I finally picked up. But by some miracle, Bec made the offer to publish A Colourful Country Escape through Little, Brown’s Sphere imprint and it was all systems go. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Can you tell us a little about your online book chat group, Chick Lit and Prosecco?
My Facebook group Chick Lit and Prosecco was born of wanting to share the journey with other writers, and also to let readers see what goes on behind the scenes for us authors.
We have lots of RNA and NWS members onboard. We support each other, have author chats and bookish festivals, and promote our work in a way that feels fun. (Fizzy drinks optional!) We’re always excited to welcome new members in.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors working towards their first book deals?
If it’s in your heart, keep trying. Sometimes it takes a while for the stars to align, but when they do it’s magical. And make sure you celebrate every ‘no,’ because it creates space for your perfect ‘yes.’ Good luck!
Congratulations Anita on your amazing news! If you would like to know more about the Romantic Novelists’ Association or the New Writers’ Scheme, visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Anita Faulkner writes warm and fuzzy romcoms from her upcycled bureau near the glorious Cotswolds. Described by her agent Kate Nash as ‘a sparkling new voice,’ Anita is still pinching herself that her debut A Colourful Country Escape will be published by Sphere in June 2022. Most days you’ll find Anita surrounded by shiny objects, big dreams, and an abundance of chocolate wrappers which can’t possibly all be hers. When she’s not being bossed around by a small human or running her copywriting empire, Anita loves sharing her journey and cheering you on with yours. Come and join the fun at her website. Anita can also be found on Twitter – @anita_faulkner_ and Instagram – @anita_faulkner_writer. Also make sure to join her Facebook group, Chick Lit and Prosecco
About A Colourful Country Escape
When vibrant but penniless Lexie is dumped by her posh boyfriend who is looking for a more financially suitable match, she decides to pack up her beloved (and aging) orange campervan Penny in search of a new path. Stumbling upon a vacancy at a family-run paint company in the Cotswolds, Lexie believes she’s found her perfect match . . .
Armed with a falsified CV and campervan full of confidence, Lexie arrives at the imposing Nutgrass Hall, home of Carrington Paints, but it seems that the owner, Benedict Carrington, is less than impressed with her arrival. Crashing into wealthy Ben’s colourless world with a (campervan) explosion that scares his peacocks, Lexie realises she’ll have her work cut out for her if she’s to convince the stuffy “Beige Ben” to trust her with rescuing his out-of-touch business. But Ben has more on his mind than just the company – his mother is determined to find him a suitable wife worthy of carrying the Carrington family name, and if he doesn’t agree, she’ll cut him off.
As Lexie sets to work on injecting some life colour into Carrington Paints, Ben allows himself to be set up with Tewkesbury’s finest ladies. But the more time the pair spend together, the more they realise their feelings for each other aren’t so black and white. Will Lexie show Ben that life has more to fight for than his disapproving mother’s fortune before it’s too late?
Let yourself be whisked away with A Colourful Country Escape and fall in love with the cosy Cotswold charm, the colourful characters, and some heart-stopping romance. Perfect for fans of Heidi Swain, Jo Thomas, and Bella Osborne.
Anita was talking to Victoria Chatfield.
Victoria Chatfield originally hails from New York where she worked as a social media manager in the fashion industry. While she started out as a ghostwriter for magazine editors, she’s now a member of the NWS, writing romantic suspense and psychological thrillers. (She loves the really bad boys.) Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @vavazquezwrites.