I am delighted to welcome Vanessa to My Reading Corner as part of the Tea Time Tour for The Seafront Tea Rooms.
What would your choice of tea and cake/s be for a sumptuous afternoon tea and do you have anywhere special that you like to go to?
I’d go for Florentines, macaroons and lemon drizzle cake. With a slice of Battenberg thrown in too. Then Earl Grey or Jasmine tea. In terms of tea rooms, I really like Drink, Shop, Do in Caledonian Road, where I had the launch party for my previous novel, The Vintage Teacup Club. It’s a converted Victorian bathhouse and there’s a good dose of old-fashioned glamour but with quirky modern touches. For a more traditional tea, you can’t beat Betty’s tearooms in York, which is featured in the book.
I enjoyed your previous books, The Vintage Teacup Club and the follow up short e-story Tuesdays at the Teacup Club. What inspired you to write these books? Do you enjoy baking?
Thank you. So you’ve noticed that tea and cake are a common theme! They are what bring the women together, but actually it’s friendship itself that’s inspired me to write the stories. Good friends are there through everything – break ups, work changes, family crises – and somehow, often armed with just a warm cup of tea and a hug, they have the power to make everything OK. They can also drive you forward in life, to achieve ambitions you might have thought were out of reach – and that’s what I’ve enjoyed exploring in The Seafront Tea Rooms.
With each new book do you already have the characters planned in your mind before you begin writing or do they come to you as the story progresses?
With this novel, the characters were all really clear in my mind before I started. I had my baby son last June, and while I was keen to start writing, I also wanted to take time out for maternity leave. I’m glad I did, because in those six months, in the times when he napped, or when we were walking endlessly around the local park, I got to know Kat, Seraphine and Charlie really well! So when I started writing I already had a good idea of what they were going to get up to.
What is the most useful piece of advice you have received as a writer?
That’s an interesting question. I think it was to write the first draft for you. Sharing your work with people whose opinions you value can be brilliant, but you need to see what’s there and work with it yourself first.
I love that every day I get to escape into an imaginative world and stay there with people I like/am interested in enough to have created them! For instance today I’m in a cold house with a broken boiler, with unwashed hair and a cardigan that belongs in a charity shop, but for two thousand words this morning I was on a picturesque beach in Greece drinking a gin and tonic. It was bliss.
The thing I find most challenging is working alone so much. I write very often in cafes and the library, and chat with fellow writers, which all helps. But ultimately, whether it’s hitting a deadline, beating a bout of writer’s block or figuring out your ending – it’s down to you. I love it when a book comes out because my role changes and I get to be sociable again!
What do you do to relax?
The truth? Collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine and watch a DVD. Grab five minutes on Twitter while eating biscuits with one hand and steering my toddler away from the power cables with the other. As you can see, a writer’s life is all glamour!
Finally, what are you working on at the moment and are you able to share any of the story with us?
I’m currently writing my next novel for Sphere, The Beachside Guesthouse. As teens, Bee, Rosa and Joanne went to a Greek island and had the holiday of their lives – now in their late twenties, they’ve fallen out of touch. But when the converted windmill they once stayed in comes onto the market, Rosa is tempted, and she and Bee fly out to start reliving that dream. But is anything that easy? And can they ever forgive themselves for letting Joanne go?