Interview with Ellie Holmes, author of The Flower Seller

contact1Q1. Could you tell us a little about yourself as an introduction?
My name is Ellie Holmes and I write commercial women’s fiction and romantic mystery novellas. Both Essex and Cornwall are very dear to my heart and I use those two places as the sources of inspiration for my writing.  Like most people I juggle commitments to family and friends with a part time job.  When you add writing into the mix it tends to make my days hectic and my nights long but when you enjoy what you do you don’t mind about the long hours.

Q2. When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
I have been making up stories since I was a child.  It was a hobby I felt compelled to pursue.  It chose me rather than the other way round.

Once I grew up, I continued to write.  After a few false starts, I developed a story I felt was potentially publishable and I decided to pursue the idea of writing professionally.  I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and went to one of their conferences and it was through that conference that I signed a contract with a literary agent.  We had several near misses over the years with different books I had written and after ten years of pursuing that elusive traditional publishing deal I decided to go the indie route and take my destiny into my own hands.

Q3. How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Flower Seller in your hands?
It was bittersweet.  My parents had longed for that day to happen and they were no longer there to experience it with me so the moment was tinged with sadness but I was also very proud of what I had achieved.

Q4. I love how relatable all the characters are in The Flower Seller. Did you spend time constructing character profiles, or did they just flow?

I do make character notes which I add to as a story unfolds in my mind – their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and dreams, the things they are most afraid of.  It’s a handy framework to refer back to especially if the plot takes a detour I hadn’t anticipated which often happens in my writing.

Q5. I found that the locations in the book also felt well researched and were easy to visualise through your writing. Especially ‘The Lodge’ and Wales. Are they based on real locations?
Thank you. I do work hard at making the settings of the book as realistic and relatable as possible.

The Lodge isn’t based on a real house but I had a very strong idea of how the outside would look early on and then conjured up suitable interiors.  I love interior design and home magazines and they are a good source of inspiration when you are putting together a look for a particular character’s home.

The holiday in Wales takes place in Hay on Wye.  It’s a place I have visited and I love the surrounding countryside.  Whenever I go somewhere new I always write up some notes of the look and feel of a place on the off chance it may appear in a later piece of writing and that’s what happened here. What Jessie could see from her hotel room window was pretty much what I could see from mine.

 Q6. Do you have a writing routine or any writing quirks?
Because I am limited with the amount of time I can devote to my writing I have to make the most of it so I aim for 5,000 words a week and then spend the rest of my time editing and working on the business side of writing which is less enjoyable but necessary.  I don’t know if you would describe it as a writing quirk but I have to write the book in sequence from beginning to end.  I know some writers who are able to write scenes out of order and then bring all the scenes together.  I couldn’t do that.

 Q7. What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
Coming up next I have a romantic mystery novella called The Tregelian Hoard which will be out in September.  It is the first in my Cornish Intrigue series and will feature intrepid portable antiquities specialist Jonquil Jones.

Then in June 2017 I will be publishing my next full length commercial women’s fiction novel White Lies which will tell the story of Sam Davenport as she struggles to reconcile herself to her husband Neil’s actions and we discover what happens when seemingly innocent white lies get out of control.

FLOWER SELLER_FRONT copyReview of The Flower Seller

The Flower Seller is one of those rare novels full of heart-wrenching realism, and author Ellie Holmes packs a punch with her talent at emotive writing; breathing life into her characters effortlessly.

Jessie has a life she always dreamed of. A husband, a daughter, a lovely home, and a building career as a lawyer. But has her focus on her job taken its toll on her marriage? Her world shatters when her husband William confesses to an affair and leaves her for a younger woman. As Jessie tries to maintain her decorum and get through each day faced with his betrayal, her friends and family help pick up the pieces and encourage her to move on. I enjoyed Jessie’s strength, as she clearly wasn’t going to let William’s affair dictate her future. She maintains a civil relationship for the sake of her daughter and looks to starting anew.

As she explores her new found freedom, Jessie meets Owen, the owner of a flower stall near where she lives. His clear understanding of her healing journey spurs her on to make a future for herself…with him included. Their romance blossoms and Jessie finds herself feeling like a new version of herself. But does Owen have a secret to hide and will Jessie find herself getting hurt all over again?

Meanwhile, William gradually realises he has made a huge mistake and vows to make Jessie realise that they belong together. Can he convince her that their future is together and that all they really needed was to work on what they had? Had they both just been lost for a while? Or has Jessie’s new relationship with Owen taught her what had been missing from her marriage all along?

I loved that this novel packed a punch of emotions and kept you gripped throughout. There really is no predicting which direction Jessie will take. A compelling and heart-warming debut novel from Ellie, who I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of, and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to what comes next.

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The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove

Today is very exciting, as we introduce our first ever author interview, and I am so pleased that our author is the lovely Rachel Dove, who is currently on a blog tour for her new novel, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, published by Mills&Boon. I was very lucky to be sent a copy recently, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Our review can be seen below.

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Welcome, Rachel. Perhaps you could start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am 34, have lived in Wakefield all my life (so far) and am married to a wonderful man called Peter. We have two boys together, and a cat and a dog. I would have more animals, my plan is to have a mini farm one day! I am a home body, and love nothing better than chilling out with my family, or binge watching the crime channel while the kids are at school. I wasn’t always like this, I used to be a lot crazier! I have worked in lots of different sectors, from school governor to nightclub manager!

When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
At school I think. I was like Matilda, head stuck in a book, always have been and I always remember writing lots of stories too. I have lots of files stuffed full of work at home, and I often sift through them for inspiration.

I did a Writers Bureau course, which was invaluable, and studied the markets, read A LOT, looked at blogs, and generally just studied for the job I wanted, which was of course, to be a writer. I have self published things, and am part of a fantastic group called Inkslingers, who together have released a number of anthologies and raised over £2,000 for charity. I love them all to bits.

I have entered competitions since I was young, it’s always good to enter things, to practice submitting, and any feedback you can get is brilliant. I never got anywhere though, so when I heard I was in the final 10 of the Flirty Fiction competition, I couldn’t believe it. I still never thought I would win though, I even checked that they had the right winner!

How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Chic Boutique in Baker Street in your hands?
Indescribable joy and disbelief. I have been writing forever, and this was something I always strove for, but never believed would happen. I spent the day stroking it, and I cannot wait to see it on actual shelves in shops, next to authors I have known and respected for years. It’s amazing.

In The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, Amanda leaves her life in London for a new life and venture in the Yorkshire countryside. Apart from being an author, have you ever dreamt of doing anything else?
I always wanted to teach, and when I was at primary school, I wrote an essay, which I still have, saying that I wanted to be an author and a teacher. I qualified to teach adult education last year, specialising in family learning, so when I won the competition, it was like my life goals had been achieved, and that was thrilling and scary, as I always think you need a goal to drive you. I taught for two wonderful years, and have now taken a year off to write full time and be home for the boys more, so we shall see what next year brings. To be honest, I quite fancy the idea of travelling some with the children, enjoying them being young. Who knows what will happen when they are older? I get bored easily if I am not kept busy, so I am sure some plans will form. For now, I am very happy as I am, after working so hard for so long.

Where do you find your inspiration when writing?
Everywhere. I like to study people, and I read a lot of magazines and newspapers, where just a line can give you an idea for a story. I always carry a notebook with me, just in case. I think that the place settings are just as important, so having a good strong location in mind helps. An excuse for some more travelling in my future too!

Do you have a writing routine?
I have a daily minimum of 500 words, which is quite low, but I often do more. I try to write when the children are at school and the house is quiet, but often when the house sleeps works better. I am a bit of a night owl, so tapping away in bed on the laptop is often the norm.

What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
I am currently writing a book which is very different from Chic Boutique, and I have plans for more tales from Westfield too. I have lots of characters that want to say hello! All I can say for now is…watch this space!

 

51AWPvSAqAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Review for The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove – 4.5*

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is a real feel-good rural romp! An ideal summer read and full of strong characters with plenty of personality. Rachel Dove has an exceptional talent with humanising her characters and it creates a great connection for the reader.

When we first meet our heroine, Amanda, she is a high-flying Lawyer working in London, attempting to conceal her love of craft and craving a simpler life. When she discovers her boyfriend is having a fling with his secretary, she finally gets the push she needs to create a life for herself. Taking a leap of faith, Amanda purchases a small shop and flat in the quiet Yorkshire village of Westfield. Changing her entire life overnight is a huge upheaval and when her instant impression of her new neighbours is not how she imagined, Amanda begins to wonder if she has made the right choice. The arrogant stranger from next door and local vet, Ben, seems intent on making sure she doesn’t ruin the sleepy village life and Amanda battles between their physical attraction and his obvious disdain for ‘city girls’.

Pretty soon Amanda has made friends with a group of fellow crafting ladies, but these busy-bodies have made it perfectly clear that they intend to play matchmaker for her and Ben. Amanda, however has plans of her own, and fully intends to play them at their own game, quickly noting the chemistry between the head of the busy-bodies, Agatha, and her life-long friend, Taylor.

As Amanda and Ben are forced to spend more and more time together, they realise that first impressions may not mean everything after all, but as they each battle their insecurities, the author ensures that she keeps you guessing until the very end!

Full of country charm and now much loved character’s, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is well worthy of 4.5 stars and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next offering from Rachel Dove.