Romantic Novelists' Association

Kate Frost On Writing An Island In The Sun

21 February 2023

Cover of An Island in the SunWe are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Thank you for having me! And yes, An Island in the Sun tells the story of successful songwriter Tabitha Callahan, who’s escaped heartache in the UK to travel around the world looking after people’s pets while they’re away. After a year of bouncing from place to place she ends up on Madeira, house sitting a cat and two gorgeous Cavaliers in a luxurious villa with a tropical garden, pool and ocean views. It’s the perfect place to reflect on her past and perhaps reconnect with an old friend, but she hasn’t factored in an unexpected, yet rather good looking, surprise house guest…

What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? My own experience of having house sitters to look after Frodo, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, when we went away in 2019. It got me thinking why someone would leave their life and travel around the world pet sitting – it seemed an intriguing premise for a novel. We sadly lost Frodo in 2021 but it was cathartic to write him into the story in the form of Fudge, one of the Cavaliers, and it’s ended up being one of my favourite stories to write. The book’s dedicated to him too.

How did you decide on the names for your characters and the setting for your book? The setting was easy because the location is really important in my books, I treat it like another character and it very much informs the story. With An Island in the Sun, I knew I wanted somewhere that felt remote but is a location tourists flock to. I wanted somewhere beautiful, green and rugged, and Madeira with its volcanic interior and nearly year-round sunshine fitted perfectly.

I always find character names are harder to pick than the setting! I have lists of possible names and trawl through them when I’m in the planning stages of a book. For the main character I usually narrow it down to three or four names that I like before considering the character’s age and the little I know about them at the start of the story and pick the one that fits best. Tabitha is a name I’ve wanted to use for a character for ages and it felt right with this book, because of her occupation and traits. I always name the main characters before I start writing, but some of the secondary characters are often called ‘Blah’ until I think of a suitable name for them later in the process!

How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you normally do? From starting to write it to sending it to my editor, just under six months. I wrote the first draft in 12 weeks by sticking to a rigid weekly word count, but I write incredibly rough first drafts! I then spend as much time self-editing and rewriting sections before it’s ready to send to my editor for her structural edit – and of course there was more editing to do after that, followed by copyediting and the final proofreading stage.

When did you realise you wanted to be an author? I’ve wanted to be an author since I was seven – following open heart surgery for a hole in my heart, I spent months off school and had a home tutor. I remember her teaching me about dinosaurs and how to write stories and I’ve been hooked on writing ever since.

What was your journey to publication? It’s been a long one! I started writing my debut novel twenty years ago on the Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University, but it took another ten years before it was published in 2013. I’d tried the traditional route and had interest from five agents who all read the manuscript, liked it but not enough to take me on, so I ended up self-publishing. It took years of grafting and trying things out before I found success as an indie author with my Romantic Escape series. Those books then caught the interest of Boldwood who in 2021 offered me a six-book deal to write romantic escape books for them. So I’m now a hybrid author of fifteen novels and feel incredibly lucky to do what I love full time and earn a living from it.

Can you tell us what you are working on now? I’m currently editing my fourth book for Boldwood, which is set in magical Iceland, a place I was lucky enough to visit exactly a year ago this week!

About the Author
Woman with dark hair and glasses in dark shirtKate Frost is the author of bestselling romantic escape novels including One Greek Summer, An Italian Dream, The Baobab Beach Retreat, The Amsterdam Affair, The Love Island Bookshop and The Greek Heart. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

In 2021, Kate signed a six-book deal with Boldwood for a series of standalone romantic escape novels. The first book, One Greek Summer, was published in March 2022 and spent eight weeks in the Amazon UK Kindle Top 100.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband and son. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a children’s book festival that she co-founded in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books.
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