A Look Behind The Book With Ian Wilfred.

FullSizeRender 2.jpgIan Wilfred describes his perfect day as going for a walk on the beach with his dog, coming back and enjoying a lovely hot coffee and then writing.

Swap the dog for Freya and coffee for a hot chocolate and Ian and I are on the same page but we also have something else in common – having both adopted Norfolk as our home county.

Ian is the author of three books (so far), after publishing his debut in 2013 and then two more last year. I was so pleased when he agreed to be my first Behind The Book interviewee of 2018.

I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did.

Can we begin by talking about when you first started writing? Have you written since you were a child or is it a more recent discovery?

My first serious writing started in 2012 and led to me publishing Putting Right The Past in 2013. It all came about as I gave up work to become my dad’s full time carer and, with a lot of time on my hands, I thought this is the perfect time to get started. I had always written little bits but no one had ever seen any of it.

You mention you’re a fan of Mills and Boon. I also love them and think they are totally underrated (as a lot of romantic fiction is). What do you like about them?

Oh yes, I’ve always loved Mills and Boon, their books seem to have been in my life as long as I can remember. Back in November I was very lucky to have lunch with the Norfolk chapter of The Romantic Novelist Association (RNA) and at the lunch were two Mills and Boon authors who between them have written 200 books – I was a little star struck. Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing the new look Mills and Boon as 2018 is the year they are having a big makeover. Exciting times ahead, I think.

Was it Mills and Boon that inspired you to write romance/women’s fiction?

I don’t know if it was Mills and Boon that influenced me but what I write is sort of all I know. I don’t think I could write in any other genre.

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I’ve been trying to hunt down statistics for what proportion of women’s fiction writers are men these days but they seem to vary – although they are all on the small side. Were you ever put off by the fact that so few men seem to write that genre – at least under their own names?

In the beginning people thought it a bit strange but there are more and more of us out there now. I know of quite a few that write under female names or just their initials but I’ve stuck to Ian.

 

As you’ve said, you published your debut, Putting Right The Past, in 2013. What was that like? It seems to have been very well received, as all your books have, what did it mean to have people connect with your writing?

I have learnt so much since Putting Right The Past and some things I would change knowing what I know now but not the actual story.  The feed back was lovely, I enjoyed the contact on Twitter and the emails with the readers, bloggers and other authors.

Last year you published two more books, The Little Terrace of Friendships and A Secret Visitor To Saltmarsh Quay. Was it an easier process?

After my dad died we moved from the Midlands to Norfolk. For the first few years, our lives were taken up with getting jobs, decorating, gardening and not forgetting a lot of time on the beach with a new puppy but a few things happened in the family and I felt I needed to return to my little world of writing. I first re-read loads of little projects I had started and that’s when The Little Terrace Of Friendships was born. Everything about that book coming together was so lovely from writing it to meeting Rebecca Emin at Gingersnap Books who organised and formatted it, Nancy Callegari who edited it, Maureen Vincent-Northam, proofreader, and working with the very talented Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics on the cover. The icing on the cake was having it in the top 30 Amazon holiday chart for several months. It was such a happy time. I feel really blessed and I was so lucky to be able to work with these fabulous ladies again on my last book, A Secret Visitor To Saltmarsh Quay

Do you ever miss any of your characters? They take up such a big chunk of brain space and then suddenly they are gone, it must be like losing a friend in a way.

This is such a great question, Tara, I’ve never been asked this before and I’ve given it a lot of thought. One of the characters in Putting Right The Past was a women whose husband got his comeuppance for lying cheating and being a horrible individual but, as she wasn’t one of the main people in the book, we really didn’t know where her life could go. Perhaps one day I should return to her story and give her a happy ending but I find once I start writing something new I get involved with the new characters and they take over your life in a big way.

Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?

My next project (which at this point has three titles, not sure which one I like the most) is off to the lovely Nancy very soon. It is set in Norfolk and again with another fabulous female over 40 called Caroline whose husband has a secret and this leads to her starting a new and exciting life without him.

Do you have any writing tips to share please?

Me give writing tips? I’m the one always asking authors for their tips and they are so helpful and generous with their advice. The best bit of advice I have been given over and over again is keep writing everyday – even if it’s just a couple hundred words. I work full time so it’s not easy. I manage to write something about five days a week; anything from two hundred to three thousand words. I never go back I just plough through until I write THE END and that’s when the hard work for me starts – back at page one rewriting, cutting, adding, getting rid of characters that don’t need to be there and adding new ones doing this over and over again until I’m happy with it.

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Thank you very much to Ian for kicking off the 2018 series of Behind The Book, I love how modest he is – even with three very well received books under his belt. If you’d like to know more about him you can chat via Twitter or check out his page on Amazon here.

I’ve got some more fabulous authors lined up for this year so please pop back.

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Book Review: The Endless Beach.

endlessbeachI couldn’t have picked a better book than Jenny Colgan’s The Endless Beach to kick off my New Year reading.

Romantic, emotional, poignant, I could go on and on with a long list of all the things that make it amazing but I won’t.

What I will say is that while I was already a fan of Jenny’s work, this one is now my absolute favourite.

Here’s the blurb:

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend. 

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him. 

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

I like books set in shops (anything to do with food/chocolate, really) and I thought I had a good idea of what to expect but it completely blew that out of the water.

With a cast of characters who quickly got under my skin, I read well into the night, got up early to continue – and even read in the car and made myself feel a bit ill (that’s Mark’s driving for you) but it was all worth it.

The quality of the writing meant I felt Flora’s frustration and loneliness at Joel’s distance and Saif’s story actually had me in tears but I was heavily invested in all of them, including Flora’s brothers.

As Jenny explains at the start, she first wrote about the tiny island of Mure (where I now want to live) and its residents in A Distant Shore, part of the Quick Reads series, but I hadn’t read it and didn’t have any trouble keeping up.

I’m hoping there might be another book or three in this series, there is so much potential. If there isn’t one already being written I’m going to start a petition to set Jenny to work. As soon as you’ve read this one, I think you’ll join me.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £4.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

Book Review: Back Home At Firefly Lake.

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I like to think it was fate. Just as I settled down to read Jen Gilroy’s latest book, Back Home At Firefly Lake, snowflakes started to float past my window.

A light dusting of snow wasn’t essential to my enjoyment but, as it was summer last time I visited the lake, it certainly helped get me in the right mood for this winter’s tale.

Whatever the weather, I think I would have loved this wonderfully told heart-warming story  – and I was delighted to be invited to review the book as part of a blog tour to celebrate its release.

Once again Jen casts a spell on the reader, transporting us back to small-town Canada to a place that already feels like home.

Some familiar characters from the two previous books make a welcome return but it is Cat McGuire and Luc Simard who are the main focus of this final book in the trilogy (which can also be read as a standalone).

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Here’s the blurb:

She has a million reasons to leave. Can he give her the one she needs to stay?

Cat McGuire’s return to Firefly Lake is turning into much more than she bargained for. Sure, she missed the crisp pine-scented air and the comfort of having her family around her. But being home makes her feel less like the successful single mom she is–and more like the awkward teen who never fit in. It doesn’t help that hockey-pro Luc Simard is back in town, too. Luc was her childhood crush, the hometown hero who never noticed her, and yet somehow he still makes her heart skip a beat.

Luc’s homecoming has been bittersweet. He’s lost his wife and his career, but there’s no better place to start over than Firefly Lake. Coaching the local kids’ hockey team makes him feel alive again, and he thinks his life is complete–until Cat arrives. The shy girl he always wanted to protect is now the gorgeous woman who’s stealing his heart and making him believe in second chances. But how can he convince Cat that Firefly Lake is where she truly belongs?

I don’t know much about hockey but I do know Luc made my heart beat a little faster – even when he wasn’t on the ice. Pitched just right between macho and sensitive, Luc (I did have to look up how to say his name, was it Luck or was it Luke?) is definitely a book boyfriend to remember.

Slightly awkward Cat was easy to relate to and she made me nostalgic as I remembered my own high school crush. I really wanted Cat and Luc to work and found the various ups and downs they go through an emotional read. The relationship between Cat and her daughter was also really well written.

The story kept me engrossed right to the end – long after the snow had stopped – and the feeling I was left with was one of warmth; like everything was right with the world.

This was actually my favourite of the three books – and I really enjoyed the other two so I don’t say it lightly.

Thank you to Jen, her publishers, Forever, and Barclay Publicity for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.

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Format: Kindle.

Price: £3.49 on Amazon.

My rating: Five stars.

Jen was one of my Behind The Book participants this year, you can read her post here.