We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it?
When school teacher Rose loses her dream job at a London primary school, her self-confidence takes a knock. Worse still, her stockbroker fiancé, Ollie, sees it as the perfect opportunity for her to join his firm, which only adds to the feelings Rose has that their relationship might be coming to an end.
An unexpected phone call, and an elderly aunt who’s taken a fall, means Rose must drop everything – including Ollie – and return to Blossom Heath, the Sussex village she grew up in.
With no job to rush home to, Rose decides to stay in Blossom Heath for the Summer, trading London for the idyllic countryside. Here Rose finds herself reconnecting to the village life of her childhood in more ways than one, including falling head-over-heels for local farmer, Jake.
So when her London life comes calling, Rose is faced with an impossible choice… to return to the high-pressure life of her past, or embrace the joy of a new life in the country.
How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you normally do?
I started writing Always By Your Side in quite unusual circumstances. In March 2020 I contracted Covid-19 five days before the first UK lockdown. It was a scary time but I remember thinking ‘once I’m better, I’m starting that novel’ and that’s exactly what I did! The writing process was such a lifeline during the various lockdowns that were to come and Rose and Jake’s story in the village of Blossom Heath became the perfect place to retreat to. I started writing in April 2020 and by October that year I had a very rough first draft completed. I love the fact that something so positive was able to come out of such a tough year.
What is your writing day like?
I’m definitely not someone with a clearly structured day mapped out, my writing times can be quite random. I run my own freelance copywriting business, so my fiction writing has to be quite flexible and fit in around my client work. This can be a good and a bad thing. I really like having the variety of writing in different formats, one day it can be all about my latest book and the next I’m back to working on client projects. The downside is that when I’m busy writing for clients, I might not have a chance to do anything book related for a few weeks and it can be quite tricky to pick up where I left off! It can take some time to get my head back in the story and remember where I was planning to take things next.
When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
It’s something I’ve always dreamt of doing, but I honestly felt as though it was more of an unachievable dream rather than a real-life possibility. I remember visiting a local book festival in February 2020 organised by fellow Essex author and RNA member Lizzie Chantree and chatting to some of the authors there about their own writing journeys. I think that was the first time I felt as though authors weren’t some kind of magical entities, they were real people who had achieved something amazing and maybe, just maybe, I could do the same. The following month the pandemic hit and we were all thrown into lockdown and I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands that I could channel into writing.
What was your journey to publication?
I feel incredibly fortunate as my journey to publication was a smooth one, which I’m very aware isn’t always the case. In January 2021 I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and the opportunity to submit to Books and the City came up in the February via the Digital Originals One Day submission partnership with the RNA. I remember that I’d just received my NWS feedback report and I decided to take the plunge and send the submission email to Sara-Jade Virtue at Books and the City. I never expected to hear anything back and I was amazed when Sara-Jade asked for my full manuscript and eventually went on to offer me a publishing contract. It really was like something out of a movie and to this day I’m still pinching myself and wondering how it all happened!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Never give up!! Becoming a published author doesn’t have to be an impossible dream, it is something that can happen, no matter how unlikely you think it is. Keep submitting, keep writing and keep going! Being part of the RNA has helped me so much in my writing career, I definitely wouldn’t have been published by now if I hadn’t joined the NWS in January 2020. If you love writing, just keep doing it!
Can you tell us what you are working on now?
Yes, of course. Always By Your Side is the first book in a series set in the fictional East Sussex village of Blossom Heath. I’ve just completed the first draft of book two in the series and I’m excited to see where that’s going to take me.
Julie Haworth writes uplifting stories about friendship and community, bursting with romance and charm, from her home in the bustling city of Chelmsford, Essex. Her debut novel, Always By Your Side, is being published by Simon & Schuster in August 2022. Julie is still pinching herself that she’s realised her lifelong dream of becoming a published author!
When she’s not busy writing or running her copywriting business, Julie can mainly be found shopping, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee and hanging out with her two rescue cats. Julie is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.
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