Romantic Novelists' Association

Clare London: Zest – An Accidental Baker Story

22 August 2019

I’m delighted to welcome Clare London to the Hot Seat today to talk to us about her latest release, Zest.

Clare, what was the inspiration behind your book? Can you tell us a little about it?

Last Easter I wrote a short story for the fun of it – a baking accident in a small parade of local shops, that accidentally brought new romance to four gay men. All very different, all at different stages of their life, but all in need of some loving care. I enjoyed writing The Accidental Baker very much, and it got a really good response from readers. But of course it was only the get-together, the tantalising hint of what could be. So I decided to write the four stories of each couple in more detail, to find out what happens! ZEST is the first of these follow-ups where the hapless baker Donnie – everyone’s friend, always helpful, and far too easygoing – has the chance of happiness with the new veterinarian Will. But Donnie needs to stand up for himself, to make the real-life magic happen.




How did you decide on the names for your characters and the setting for your book?

I live near a city, on the outskirts of a large town, but right by a small collection of friendly, useful, local shops. Just like Donnie and his friends and neighbours! I love writing about community and ordinary people with extraordinary-for-them romances. I like humour, sexiness, and romance in a world that readers can identify with.

Deciding on names always takes more time than it should! All I can say is, I wait for the character’s “voice” to tell me what their name is, or I trawl through baby name websites for inspiration. I then have to check I haven’t used the name too often before (I have my favourite initials, it seems!) and also watch out for author-ly problems – like two main characters with the same initial (can be confusing for the reader), or unusual spellings that make pronunciation awkward.

What was your journey to publication?

I’ve always written stories, filling plenty of notebooks during my school days, but I’ve watched with fascination how that progressed to publication, which is a whole separate thing. My one ambition when I started was to have a book on Amazon and hurrah! I made it in 2008. But before then I was writing for competitions, and also had some short stories published in local bookstore publications. I wrote a huge, epic bodice-ripper romance at one stage, and I’m proud to say it got me my first, treasured rejection letters from literary agents LOL. (Maybe one day I’ll resurrect it, if I can face all the grammatical errors I made in those days.) At about the same time I discovered online fanfiction – a huge portfolio of stories to read but, more excitingly, I realised I could try writing my own, upload them to the net, share them with readers, and get feedback. My thirst for publication began right then. After several years of fanfiction writing – which is based on existing characters, although you can give them storylines and settings all your own – I wanted to create my own characters, and started posting original fiction online. I also joined in NaNoWriMo in 2007, and got the bare bones of a new novel completed. Then that led to a conversation with a fellow author who had got a book accepted by Dreamspinner Press, a new independent publisher. I was encouraged to submit my novel, it got accepted, and off I went on my publishing career! It was an exciting time then, with Amazon Kindle launching that year, and the sudden and exciting rise in popularity of ebooks. The door was opened for many new authors, and I’m thrilled I was in on that new initiative.

Who were your favourite childhood authors?

I read all the Enid Blyton books, also historical YA adventure by authors like Henry Treece and Rosemary Sutcliffe. I enjoyed fantasy from authors like Paul Gallico and laugh-out-loud humour like in Geoffrey Willans’ Molesworth books. Then I progressed to reading my mum’s romance novels, and I read every single Agatha Christie book while I was still in my teens. I’ve always been keen on crime (that’s maybe my 2020 writing ambition…).

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

Learn better punctuation, because editing will be a horrible job later on LOL.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write! I know, I know, easy to say. But the more you write – and the more you read – the more confidence you build in being able to tell a story. Write for yourself to start with, no pressure, no need to seek readers or publication. Just for the fun of it! Because if you don’t enjoy the process of writing, you might as well spend your precious time on something that’ll bring a better reward. Writing is well paid only for the few! Write something that YOU would like to read, then read it back to yourself and see whether it’s still exciting on paper. And see where that takes you.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I’ve just started book #3 in the Accidental Baker series. It’s called WHISK and it’s Simon and Trev’s story. They’re two strong-willed, volatile bakers who live and work a few doors from Donnie’s apartment. They were brought together by Donnie’s delicious matchmaking chocolates, but can they now create a more lasting recipe for romantic success? Maybe the local fundraising Bake Off event will work in their favour – if they can handle being in competition!

Thank you so much for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading Zest, and Whisk sounds fabulous!

About the Author:

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her at all her social media.


Where you can find Clare’s books:

Amazon universal link:


Where you can keep up with Clare:

Website + blog:


Join up for her newsletter at






About the Interviewer:

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.