With only two weeks to go until publication day for my next novel, I thought I’d dust off the blog (which I have been remarkably lax about updating this year) to tell you a bit more about it and where I’m going from here.
I never set out to write Christmas books and I wrote a blog last year about how writing The Tearoom on the Bay came about (you can read it here). As it was so successful my publishers wondered if I’d like to write another and so A Bookshop Christmas was born!
It’s probably my last rom-com for a while and certainly my last Christmas book (more on that in a minute) and so I wanted it to fill it with all the things I love about Christmas and romance novels. For once I actually timed the first draft well so that I wrote it during December and January (I have learned my lesson about writing about snowstorms in a heatwave). A Bookshop Christmas is about Megan, who has hidden away from life since her husband died of leukemia three years before, and Xander, a writer who pretends to be someone he isn’t, and their friends and families. It’s my homage to indie bookshops, Christmas markets, Jane Austen, my favourite romance tropes and You’ve Got Mail (because who could write a bookshop rom-com without thinking about You’ve Got Mail?). It’s also the first book I’ve written entirely for myself since my debut and I adored writing it. I hope you like reading it! (Fun Fact: it also features a cameo from Ben and Ellie of Tearoom fame!)
So why is it my last rom-com? I mean, never say never and all that, but for now I’m taking a little bit of a change in direction.
Last year, during the fourteen months of shielding that us vulnerables had to do (newsflash: still being super careful), I thought a lot about my writing and what I wanted to write about and how writers will deal with the pandemic and lockdown in the future (I wrote a post about it here). I knew I didn’t want to write about the pandemic and I had some ideas about writing something new, something with multiple timelines, that examined the complexity of family dynamics and secrets and the past catching up with us.
Over the summer of 2020 I started writing a book that had been in the back of my mind for a long time. It’s set during three long hot summers – 1976, 2003 and 2018 – and it’s out next year. It’s called The Secrets of Summer House and is up on Amazon for preorder (thank you to everyone who has already preordered!). Here’s the blurb:
1976. Rushing out of the University Library, undergraduate Alice Kenzie bumps straight into PhD student Tristan Somers. There begins a whirlwind romance, and Alice falls pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. Then Tristan is killed in a car accident. Unable to cope, Alice takes her baby to Summer House, Tristan’s family home in Suffolk, leaves her there and disappears.
2018. Olivia Somers has always been told that her mother died in the same accident as her father. But when she finds a bundle of old letters in Summer House, everything she ever believed about her mother is called into question. Can she find her – and even more importantly, forgive her?
And what am I working on now? Well that’s mostly a secret, but if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been doing a lot of research into public bomb shelters, the English Country House after WW2, the coronation of Elizabeth II and the Great London Smog of 1952….