IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO WELCOME ERICA JAMES TODAY AT MY BOOK ADDICTION AND MORE…..
WELCOME, PHILLIPA ASHLEY!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phillipa Ashley, a travel writer in a former life,
>wanted to add as much authenticity as possible to her latest novel, so
>she dragged her husband along for a research road trip across England! > > > >Ashley studied English language and literature at Wadham College, >Oxford before working as a freelance copywriter and journalist. Her >first novel, Decent Exposure, won the 2007 RNA New Writers’ Award and >became a Lifetime TV movie. She lives with her husband and daughter in Staffordshire. >
MBA: Phillipa, what are a few of my favourite holiday memories?
PHILLIPA: Well, the first year I began writing fiction, Christmas almost passed me by! I’m ashamed to admit it now but that year, having recently discovered the joy of writing, I was so obsessed with my new ‘toy’, that I’m sure I didn’t show my usual enthusiasm with the decorations, cards and festivities.
These days, I still love writing but I wouldn’t dream of letting work get in the way of a proper Christmas break with my family. One reason is that my daughter now lives away most of the year as she’s studying at for a PHD at university. She’s coming home for Christmas at the weekend and my husband has just finished a very long hard year at work so I want to make the most of our time together.
Our Christmas tree is now decorated. We always collect a fresh tree from a forest centre a few miles from our home and set it up in the dining room where we all enjoy a family lunch on Christmas Day. Both sets of our parents come around and we all share in the preparations and cooking. My mum orders and cooks the turkey while my father in law grows all the vegetables for the dinner table.
Last year, my daughter had been to the traditional Christmas markets in Cologne, Germany and brought back a little ’smoking’ elf for the dinner table – weird but cute! We try to get a jokey present for the each person to open at the table and of course, we have Christmas Pudding, silly hats and Christmas crackers.
In fact, one of the jokes in my cracker last year actually gave me an idea for a holiday-themed short story. Yes. Right there and then at the dinner table, I had one of those light bulb moments and by New Year I’d finished the story.
Bet you want to hear the joke?
How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?
Deep and crisp and even.
Funny really, how ideas come to you out of the blue just like the premise of Carrie Goes off the Map . I was listening to the radio one morning when the DJ played the old Yvonne Fair track, It Should Have Been Me. That’s the song where the jilted and slightly crazy woman goes to her ex’s wedding and shouts out when the preacher asks if anyone has any objections to the marriage.
I thought: wow, what a state of mind to get into. Would any woman really be driven to do that? What would make her so angry and upset? And how would she ever come back from that point? And the next thing you know, I’d written an outline and a book was born.
I wonder if any new story ideas will come to me over the Christmas dinner table this year?
Thanks for having me at MBA&M – I’d like to wish everyone at the blog and all the readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Visit with Phillipa Ashley at http://phillipa-ashley.com/
Publisher:Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (December 1, 2011)
Book Description(from Amazon)
About Erica James: The author of fourteen bestselling novels, including >Gardens of Delight, which won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, and >The Queen of New Beginnings (Sourcebooks, 2011), Erica James now >divides her time between Cheshire, England, and Lake Como in Italy.
MBA: What’s the hardest thing about writing romantic fiction? Is it harder to write romantic dialogue or the actual sex scenes?
ERICA: That’s a difficult question to answer accurately because my UK publisher wouldn’t really define my novels as romantic fiction, they’re simply stories that encompass matters that concern us all, such as relationships, work and family problems. I see myself as holding up the mirror to every day life, which, of course, does include sex and romance!
So to answer the second part of your question, I love writing romantic dialogue and I frequently do this with a light touch of humour as I think the two make a wonderful combination. The same goes for sex scenes in my novels, which I think would be described as romantically written rather than full-on erotic. For my style of book, both have to be handled carefully and lightly. I think that so long as you’re writing within your comfort zone, it comes easily, and more importantly, naturally. The reader will see through anything that’s been forced.
MBA: Do you think romantic fiction and ‘chick lit’ get the respect they deserve?
ERICA: If I had a pound or a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be as rich as Midas! The answer is probably no, and I don’t see it ever changing, not when literary snobbery is such a deeply engrained mindset in certain quarters. I think it’s a great pity that there are those who feel they should only read novels that are a ‘challenge’ and will describe anything else as enjoyable but an ‘easy read’, thereby damning it with faint praise. Frankly, I have no time for such divisive attitudes; I read what I read because it pleases me and for no other reason.
MBA: Your website says you love to talk to strangers for inspiration. I bet you’ve had some really interesting encounters! What’s one of your favourites?
ERICA: This is not exactly a description of an actual face-to-face encounter, but an example of people-watching that came in very handy. Some years ago while I was on holiday there was a couple staying in the same hotel as me and I was so fascinated by them, I was practically stalking them! The man had the most incredible comb-over and smoked a pipe, he never spoke, and was permanently attached to his laptop, even while sitting on the sun lounger. The woman had shaggy hair piled messily high on top of her head, and every day, drink in hand, she wore a swimsuit that was covered in diamante crystals and which was obviously not designed to go near water. By the end of my holiday, and unable to resist it, I’d worked them into the novel I was working on at the time, appropriately called The Holiday – their fictional names were Silent Bob and Dolly Babe.
As I always say to aspiring authors, you never know when you’re going to come across something useful for your writing, so stay alert!
MBA: Do you have rituals about your writing – where you write, when you write, your cup of tea at the ready? Do you change those up when you feel stuck?
ERICA: I have many, many, many, and here are just a few of them:
My writing schedule (when I’m not promoting a book or caught up in other activities that take me away from my study) is 8.30 a.m. until 7.00 p.m. I drink endless cups of tea all day and always from a bone china mug, which I select with great care and use every day while writing. My sons have grown up with my strange habits and know the score all too well and would never use one of my ‘magic writing mugs’ for themselves or anybody else.
I use the same pencils for making notes in the margins of my manuscript (I hate anyone else touching them) and use a fountain pen with blue ink for creative writing (if I don’t have my laptop with me and I want to write) and black ink for signing books.
I use the same red files to put my manuscript in and always have music playing when I’m writing, whether it’s the radio or a CD. If I don’t have music in the background, I find it harder to crank up my brain and be creative.
Well, that’s the tip of the ritual iceberg and no I don’t alter things if I feel stuck. Goodness, the thought terrifies me just thinking of it!
And now, some fun stuff:
Which are scarier: zombies or vampires?
Neither. Looking at myself in the mirror first thing in the morning is far scarier!
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A bit of both. Depends on my work schedule.
Favourite footwear: sexy stilettos or sensible shoes?
Pretty ballerina pumps and gorgeous Baldinini boots with a comfy low heel.
Best meals: dining out or cooking at home?
If in Italy then eating out, but in Cheshire, I’d prefer to stay at home with something good on the television to watch.
More important (in life or in a book): great romance or hot sex?
Sitting on the fence again, a bit of both, please!
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your readers a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Publisher:Sourcebooks Landmark; Original edition (November 1, 2011)