The very talented Rachel Dove is my author interviewee this week. I first got to know Rachel through The Writers Bureau many years ago and since then our paths have crossed through various writing means over the years. I finally met her at Harrogate Crime Festival this year, which was an absolute delight.
Q. Your new book, Summer Hates Christmas is due out on the 19th September. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
A. I wanted to write a book about Christmas, but going from my own experiences, and those of others, writing a really full on festive book didn’t sit well with me. I love the other books on the market, but I had an idea for a heroine who hated Christmas with a passion. Then, I thought, what if she met the polar opposite in a man? Who would change? This book for me is about family, and the one we make for ourselves when we need help, and love, and support. The idea just grew from there.
Q. You write romance novels. What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre?
A. Romance is a world of hopeful possibility. How many of us dream of doing something different, or getting out of a rut? Books in the romance genre inspire people, they make them fall in love with fictional book boyfriends, they quite often inspire real life changes. They make people happy, and help them to escape their own lives for a little while. It’s a modern, clever and witty genre that keeps evolving despite the odd knock from the media. Love makes the world go around, and in today’s ever increasingly scary times, these books are an escape hatch to a better world.
Q. Where do you get your ideas from?
A. Everywhere! People watching, reading newspaper articles or true life stories, from my own experiences or just from ‘what if’ lightbulb moments. Location is another character for me, that needs to be right, so I love to travel and research UK places and further afield, family in tow.
Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
A. My break was entering the Mills & Boon Competition in Prima Magazine. They were looking for their next writer for Flirty Fiction. I had an idea, so I wrote it up, sent it off, and thought nothing of it. I ended up winning, and that’s when my writing took off properly. My winning novel was The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, and my editor, Anna Baggaley at the time, was amazing and she helped me to shape that book into what it is today. I still pinch myself at times, especially since this month I finished writing my ninth novel. I look at the covers thinking, how?
Q. Which of your books is your favourite and why?
A. I love them all in different ways. The Long Walk Back is the one I still think of a lot, and Nice Guys Finish Lonely is a firm favourite. I feel like the character Rory in that book is real, and I just wrote up his story. Yes, it’s weird!
Q. What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?
A. Playing the long game. I get panicky and impatient sometimes, but the focus should always be on making the books the best they can be, and you have to have passion for the project. If you are bored writing it, your readers will put it down, not devour it. Also working from home with kids and animals, it’s not for sissies. My office junior is a bad tempered rescue cat and my tea boy dog is better at waking himself up while farting than doing any real work. When my husband is home, the headphones go on, and I disappear for a few hours to chat to my characters. Also, he’s a better cook, so we all benefit from his Sunday roasts!
Q. Do you get time to read yourself and if you do, what books do you read?
A. Not half as much as I would like, and I miss it. I use to read 2-3 books a week, but life got busier. This winter, I am planning to read more, once my MA is handed in and I have a life again!
Q. When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A. Reading, cross stitch, travelling with my family, walking the dog with an audiobook. I am a home bird, so once I am in my castle, I’m happy pottering around. I like interior design shows and magazines too. I help my local library group, and I married my best friend, so we are always giggling in some corner together or eye rolling at the kids.
Q. You have two lovely boys. They must be so proud of their mum. Do they write, too?
A. They get a little embarrassed, I think! My youngest son is 10 and he loves Tom Gates and Beast Quest books, and he was one of the winners in his class for Young Writers a couple of years ago, so his little book sits on the shelf beside mine. My eldest is 11, and he writes stories. He wants to be the next Stephen King, even though I won’t let him watch any of the movies yet! He reads a lot, and has written a picture book of his own, which is being illustrated at the moment and is out next year. I am super proud of them. They inspire me (and drive me around the bend) and although I moan, one day they will be 18 and out in the world, and I will have a ton of memories, grey hairs, and hopefully 18 books to show for the 18 years of parenting and juggling. That’s my own little target, and I’m halfway there! They get excited when they see my books out in shops, so that’s lovely to see.
Q. Finally, what advice can you give to writers who haven’t yet had the break they’re looking for?
A. Find the groups for your genre. Write romance? Look at the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Money is often a factor for writers, especially working class ones like myself, so don’t let it put you off. The RNA offer bursaries for their memberships and they have a New Writers Scheme which gives feedback and support to budding authors. Read a lot, anything and everything you fancy. Got an idea? Good – research it! Has it been done? What makes your idea different? Study the markets, read, enter competitions and write. There is no fancy formula, or secret handshake. You have to sit your bottom on the chair and get writing. Don’t look at other authors and think ‘why not me?’ – think ‘that’s a goal to work to.’ Every path is different. Just write and improve, and work hard. The rest you can’t control. Focus on your own story, you hold the pen.
Rachel’s amazon author page UK: