Romantic Novelists' Association

A Shop Girl At Sea – Rachel Brimble

23 April 2020

Please welcome today author Rachel Brimble.

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 20 published novels including the Pennington’s department store series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).

In July 2019, she signed a three-book deal with Aria Fiction for a Victorian trilogy set in a Bath brothel which will feature three heroines determined to change their lives and those of other women. The first book is due for release in Autumn 2020.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. 

What was the inspiration behind your book? Can you tell us a little about it? 

A Shop Girl At Sea is book 4 in my Pennington’s department store series (all books can be read stand alone) and partially set on the Titanic. I’ve wanted to write a Titanic book for years, but the right characters and circumstances escaped me.

Until I was writing Pennington’s book 3 (A Shop Girl’s Christmas) and I realised the new head window dresser would be the perfect character for Pennington’s to send to America on a scouting trip of their department stores. The rest, as they say, is history! 

How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you do?

Each book I write usually takes me about six months – from initial idea to submission. As I am concentrating on historical novels these days, there is a lot more research to take into account so I usually spend around 3 or 4 weeks researching, choosing if I will include any real-life characters and events and if I do, research becomes even more intense.

I then start each book by trawling the internet for pictures of my hero and heroine as I am a very visual writer. Then it’s onto a chapter plan and 3-4 page synopsis. After that, I write the first draft without looking back which I love – the hard work comes in drafts two and three before I submit to my editor.

What is your writing day like? 

 As I am lucky enough to write full-time, I am extremely disciplined with my time as I never take this blessing for granted. I am usually at my desk by 8.30am and work on promotion/interviews etc until 10am when I take the dog for his first walk of the day. I then either write or edit depending which deadline is looming first until lunch at 1pm. I try my best to take an hour as I’ve learned the pitfalls of not taking a good break halfway through the day (a frozen nerve in your neck is VERY painful). I then continue work until 5.30pm.

Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write?

The hardest part to write was the scenes that take place on the Titanic – I wanted to make these scenes as authentic, both physically and emotionally, as possible without losing sight the story is a romance rather than non-fiction. I concentrated on including as much as possible of the real-life accounts I had learned during my research but not lose focus on the developing character arcs and their romance.

Hopefully, I got the balance right!

Who were your favourite childhood authors?

The first author I read constantly was Enid Blyton once I discovered her Secret Seven series – this series also cemented my dream to become a writer. As I grew older, I devoured anything by Judy Blume and then it was the Sweet Dreams books (remember them?!). It was these books that steered me towards dreaming of one day being a romance novelist.

If you could give your younger writing self any advice, what would it be?

The best advice I ever received was from fellow RNA member Julie Cohen! Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft ☺

As soon as I adopted this mindset my confidence and output soared – everything you write can be edited, just make sure you get the book finished! The rest will be taken care of during edits and polishing.

Can you tell us what you are working on now? 

I have just submitted book 1 of a brand new trilogy which takes place in a Victorian brothel – the series revolves around three women who live and work in a house in Bath. Each has their own history and problems that they need to overcome while surviving in a time when life was tough.

As I am writing book 2, I am falling deeper and deeper in love with these women and enjoying watching them grow and overcome adversity. I hope the first book will be released later this year. Watch this space!

A Shop Girl at Sea blurb & Links:

Bath, 1912.

Amelia Wakefield loves working at Pennington’s, Bath’s finest department store. An escape from her traumatic past, it saved her life. So when Miss Pennington sets her a task to set sail on the Titanic and study the department stores of New York, she couldn’t be more excited – or determined!

Frustrated with his life at home, Samuel Murphy longs for a few weeks of freedom and adventure. Meeting Amelia on board the Titanic, Samuel can’t help wonder what painful history has made the beauty so reserved. But he already has too many responsibilities for love.

Ruby Taylor has always kept her Pennington co-workers at a distance. Making sure her little brother is safe has always been her priority. But when that means accepting Victoria Lark’s offer of sanctuary, more than one of Ruby’s secrets is under threat of being revealed…

A riveting and uplifting saga, perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Fiona Ford.

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About the interviewer.


Catherine Lawless lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, daughter and their three border terriers. She writes novels, journals and children’s books. Catherine’s career started out as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. She toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK before settling down and following her childhood dream of writing books.