Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Born in South Africa, I grew up there and moved to the UK as an adult. After a few years we tore ourselves away from the Cotswolds and moved again. These days, I’m lucky enough to live on the French Riviera, on the doorstep of Provence and close enough to Italy for regular forays. I’m a writer, but more importantly – and the list is long ‒ a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, in-law, aunt and friend – life is pretty full!
What number book is this?
‘Life After 6 Tequilas’ is my second traditionally published book. My first was an historical romance, ‘The Wild Heart’ (June 2012), and I have a third book, the self-published romantic novella, ‘To Hear You Smile’, a tribute to the London 2012 Paralympics.
Everyone who writes knows it’s not easy – what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
If you don’t treat writing like a regular job – boring bits and unpaid overtime included – you’ll never get a book written. Just as you would probably lose your day job if you downed tools and went shoe shopping every time you didn’t feel like doing it. Stick to the writing and keep shoe shopping for evenings and weekends, or, if you must, order online during coffee breaks!
What’s your top promo tip for other authors?
Write more books. Also, think very seriously about the time you spend on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs etc. Never use these platforms solely to promote – advertise – your work over and over. Readers and writers alike will be put off. Rather spend that time writing. Also, build support by being kind to aspiring writers. If you’re nice to people, they’ll buy your books and spread the word, so don’t brag about how you write 5000 pure, perfect words 24/7, in case the rest of us are having a ‘freezing garret’ day. Be empathetic, and approachable
How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit around writing?
In the ideal world of normality and steady routine, ha ha, writing takes precedence all day, every day. Mornings are used for work i.e. research, typing up scenes I’ve scrawled on a paper serviette, social media, correspondence and chores. Afternoons are the clear water ahead for writing. If it’s Christmas, or time for family hols, I take a complete break. These are great times to turn your mind elsewhere and re-fill the well (so, always have a notebook handy).
Any craft books you recommend?
‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg
This amazing woman can save you a heap of grief by teaching you in the simplest way possible to clear the clamour in your head, open yourself to creativity and make a physical habit of writing.
‘On Writing’ by Stephen King
His simple analysis of writing as telepathy really did it for me.
‘Writing the Breakout Novel Handbook’ by Donald Maass
This is great for when your story is stuck on the page in an ordinary world. Maass will help you build plot layers, intensify conflict, and strengthen voice, point of view and character.
What was the most fun part of writing ‘Life After 6 Tequilas’?
‘Life After 6 Tequilas’ is set in London, in 2011, and some of the real-life events of that year shaped the story. It really focussed my mind and gave me direction in the most unexpected ways. I became a news junkie and kept notes on all the political and cultural events, most of which – you’ll be glad to know – I weeded out in the end.
Which of your characters would you like to be?
In this book, I’d have a go at being Lara Johnson. She’s a secondary character, and the heroine’s fearless mother. She’s a bit like a female Bear Grylls; a tall, bespectacled Audrey Hepburn-lookalike in combat gear, somehow always smelling of Chanel No 5. She’s a wildlife photographer, so ‒ hang on ‒ is frequently found wading in swamps, festooned with poisonous spiders, or freezing on rogue ice floes. Realistically, if I were Lara, I’d have to be carried, for the entire duration of whatever excursion, aloft, by bearers, because I don’t like stuff like cold water or snakes and all that goes with them. Oh, and I’d need dedicated, trustworthy bearers for my shoes and chocolate. Put it this way, I’d like to be Lara Johnson off-assignment.
Have you ever written a hero you’d like to run off with?
Ooh, yes, all of them, I’m afraid. I’m worried *pulls very concerned face* that if they’re not hot enough, my heroines won’t want them. They are tall, dark, handsome, courageous, loyal, impulsive, adventurous, intelligent and totally irresistible. What’s a girl to do? However, they’re all a tad young for me so I’ll stick with my real-life hero of several decades. He patiently reads every word I write, knows the exact moment when only wine will do, still knows what a date is, and lives by the motto ‘Keep Calm and Put Up With Gina’ – just four of the 901 407 reasons I love him!
Do you have any tips, tricks or sacrificial rituals you do when you hit a roadblock?
Yes, I change format. I stop the mad typing, pick up a notebook and pen and write longhand for a day. I write on the right-hand page and edit opposite, a few days later, on the left. For me, writing by hand changes the pace, shifts the creative process into a different gear. I find the flow between heart and brain, via the hand, onto the page, both soothing and productive. As the ideas gather, I speed up and it’s back to the keyboard.
Thanks so much for having me here today. I’ve really enjoyed chatting to you today. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and readers and writers are most welcome to join me there.
Beth Johnson, an upbeat, hardworking, single mum living in London takes the humorous challenges of life in her stride. Her career is fast-tracking but that’s secondary to baby Jacob – his care and development is paramount. When her impeccably-organized childcare routine implodes at the worst possible moment, she has no choice but to leave Jacob with unlikely ‘nanny’, Davit Kacharava, a Georgian migrant. Is she making an enormous mistake, letting this stranger into her comfortable world, even if he is gorgeous? She’s drawn to Davit but he resists, so why does she reveal to him the shocking secret that overshadows her life? And can she face the truth – do what’s right for herself, Jacob and Davit – before it’s too late?
Available now in ebook format (paperback coming soon from Amazon and Amazon UK.