Congratulations on your publishing deal with Digital Originals. Your debut novel is coming out soon. Please tell us a little about how you got the deal with your publisher?
Thank you! It’s all very exciting and the past year has been a complete whirlwind. When I signed the contract 22nd March 2022 seemed like forever away, but now it’s almost here. ‘The Cornish Hideaway’ was acquired through the Digital Originals One Day Submission event for authors on the NWS in September 2020. I pressed send on my manuscript fully expecting a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response so you can imagine how amazed I was when Sara-Jade Virtue asked to read the full novel! Then even more amazed that she loved it enough to acquire it.
Where were you when you found out about your publishing deal? How did you celebrate?
I found out in February 2021 when we were in the midst of 2nd lockdown. I’d just come back from my daily walk and had an inkling there’d be an email waiting for me – and there was! There may have been some happy tears and I celebrated by calling my parents to give them the news. It was a bit subdued due to lockdown, if not I would’ve been popping the champagne corks with all my nearest and dearest.
Your story seems full of heart, with the promise of a fiery romance. What was your journey to writing The Cornish Hideaway?
It’s been a long, almost 18 year journey to get the novel to this point. Back in 2004 twenty year old me watched a BBC documentary called The Divine Michelangelo and something about the portrayal of Michelangelo inspired me to create Angelo, a tormented artist who is on his own soul searching journey. The original novel was set in Renaissance Tuscany and during my early twenties I re-wrote it this way a couple of times. However, I am far too lazy to do the heavy research needed and despite writing a couple of other modern novels, this story was the one that always called me back. In 2014 I visited St Ives in Cornwall and the idea to base the novel in modern Cornwall was born. There was something about the small town hugged by rugged coastline, the bright blue sea that captured my heart. Not to mention all the cream teas!
Where did your inspiration for the characters come from?
As said above firstly from the Divine Michelangelo – I love that whole over the top, artistic, long haired bad boy thing, but of course being romantic fiction he’s got a deep, kind heart too. Freya started life as a farmer’s daughter who was desperate to see more of the world. Turning fifteenth century Alessandra into modern day Freya was the trickiest bit and several attempts at the modern version of the novel fell flat because I couldn’t get her right. Re-naming her Freya really helped me to recreate her. The name sounded more free spirited and artistic. Lola is partly made up of some of the fabulous empowering women I know, and also I love the vintage style. Sometimes I still can’t believe I created the gem that is Alf and his sidekick, Scruff the dog, he’s such a charming old man who also says what he means. I was lucky that the cast of characters really came together on their own.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of the creative process?
I love the creative process so there’s not much of it I find challenging. Maybe doing an actual detailed plot to begin with. I prefer to let the story brew in my head for a bit and then get the first few thousand words down to see how it takes shape before planning what happens in the next bits.
Everybody has a word (or two) that they completely overuse when they write that first draft. What is yours?
I actually have no idea!!! There didn’t seem to be anything flagged for overuse. That said I’m pretty sure in the next book I wrote I overused the word ‘sparkle’! My characters shrug a lot too.
What is your writing routine? Do you have a place where you like to write? Do you have any rituals?
I don’t have any rituals or ideal places to write – I just write when I can. I always used to write in the evenings but since the pandemic I’ve swapped to writing in the morning before work – that way I’ve already ticked it off my list and my brain hasn’t been polluted by whatever else is going on in the day. Writing really has become like a second job – I use before work, weekends, lunchbreaks to fit it and the editing process in. The main thing is that I enjoy it – from the very beginning where I get the idea, all through the writing and editing process.
Can you tell us what you are working on for book 2?
I have written a follow up, but that’s all I’m saying for now! There might be a 3rd book on the go as well – a story about two sisters who have to overcome their differences and the two men they fall in love with on the way.
Wordle. Yes or no?
I think I might be one of the only people left who’s like ‘what’s wordle’!
Jennifer has been speaking with:
Julia Boggio is a writer, photographer, mother, Peloton lover, runner, and Christmas card enthusiast. She is also an original You Tube star. Her wedding dance went viral, sparking a worldwide trend in choreographed first dances. She and her husband appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she danced with Patrick Swayze, BBC Breakfast, Richard & Judy, Sky News, and many more. She has two cats who hate each other.