1) I live in a city - Vancouver - but I often set stories in small towns for the sense of community which echoes what I find in my downtown neighborhood. What about you? Where do you live and where do you set your stories? And why?
I live in Belgium in summer and move to Florida for the winter. Best of both worlds! I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and lived in the midlands of Ireland from the age of 22 until I retired aged 62 and moved to Belgium (my husband is Belgian). My first book Because We’re Worth It was based in a small Irish town. My second If The Shoes Fit is based in Dublin. The third A Year Like No Other is based in Paris, a city I love and know well. And my current book Behind Every Cloud is based back in Dublin, my home town. It was published on July 26th 2012. The next one, which I’m currently writing, is set in Florida – where else? I feel it’s very important to write about what you know and the places you know and I’ve tried to do that in all my books.
2) What's your favorite book ever and why? I have 2 or 3 books that I read over and over again - including Jane Austen's Persuasion. I love it because the characters are older and their relationship isn't easy, but you know, when they do finally get together, they're grown-ups and they know exactly who they are.
Gosh, I have so many favourite books that I read over and over, it’s hard to choose. I enjoy period books based in another time. I have read Gone With The Wind time and time again. It’s a classic and I love the characters and the setting in the south. It describes so well the devastation and horrors of the Civil War. A little known book that is also a favourite of mine is Storyville, by Lois Battle. I love it because it is based in New Orleans around the start of the 20th century and I became so fascinated by that colourful city that I felt compelled to visit it. It didn’t disappoint!
3) What's the story you've always wanted to write but somehow can't? For me, it's a story about World War I. I'm fascinated by the stories I've read about it but I'm pretty sure I'm never going to write a real war story. I've just finished a book that is set partly during World War I but a very long way away from the battles. I think that's as close as I'm going to get.
I’m a Francophile and love French history and have a longing to write a historical novel based on Napoleon Bonaparte’s family. They were a crazy bunch! However, I have a large readership base now and they seemingly want the same type of book from me every time. Ditto my publisher! (My writing has been compared to that of Maeve Binchy’s) However, I definitely intend to take a break and write my historical novel when I’ve fulfilled my current contract for six books.
4) Finally, do you have a routine? If so, what is it and how easy/hard is it to stick to it? I try to have one, but because I work as a freelance paralegal and teach paralegals occasionally, my schedule tends to change from week to week, if not actually day to day. I'm always buying lottery tickets, hoping to win just enough money not to have to work and write to a regular schedule though I'm pretty sure that even if I did have the money to write nine to five, I wouldn't, as I've been scrambling like this forever :)
Working nine-to-five is not for me. It never has been and it’s a bit late to start now. My way of writing is pretty unconventional, I guess. I never plot my stories so I never know how they’ll end. I generally develop my characters in depth first and when I bring them together, they seem to just go their own way. I usually think it out in my head, before I go to sleep, or when I wake in the middle of the night (which I often do). This is my most creative time. Then I usually can’t wait to get to the computer the next day to get it all down. I don’t set myself a schedule but for me, a day without writing is like a day without sunshine! I love it.
5) And by “it’s a bit late to start now” you mean?
I only started writing at age 63, after I’d retired, and my first book was published when I was 65. I like to think that this might inspire others to start, no matter what their age. I’m proof that it’s never too late. Because I’m retired, I have the luxury of time but strangely I’m as busy now as I ever was, raising five children and running two businesses. I play golf and bridge, I go to the gym and line-dance, I travel a lot but I always find time to write. It has given me a new lease of life.
Blurb For Behind Every Cloud
Who would have thought a wine course could be life-changing? But a group of people signing on for wine-expert Sam’s course are about to find out.
Ellie is planning her dream wedding to accountant David who has just been head-hunted by a prestigious firm. She detests social pretensions but he seems overawed by his elite new colleagues. Can they overcome these differences?
Rachel is the beautiful wife of newly elected politician, Carl. Perfect life, perfect home, perfect children – but is anything ever as perfect as it seems? Does Carl have a roving eye and is Rachel too fond of her wine?
Ronan’s marriage to shopaholic Louise is teetering on a knife-edge and, when he loses his job, things go from bad to worse. Then Sam offers him a job in one of his wine shops. But can he get his life back on track?
Zita, who works in television, is fiercely ambitious and has set her sights on Rachel’s husband to further her success. Will she be able to ensnare him?
Eight weeks later, they know their wines – but everything else has changed out of all recognition.
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