Showing posts with label Kate Lace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kate Lace. Show all posts

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My Next Big Thing

I’ve been a fan of Karen Wheeler’s books about her life in France for ages so it was a pleasure to meet her on Twitter. I loved her latest book, Tout Soul, and I’m an avid reader of her blog, Tout Sweet, too. Her stories of how she hung up her fashion editor’s high heels and left chic west London to start a new life in rural France make me want to abandon grey, wet Oxford and cross the Channel right this minute.

This week Karen (@mimipompom1) invited me to take part in a web event called My Next Big Thing, where authors answer a series of questions about their latest project.

So I took a deep breath and here are my answers:

What is the working title of your book?
I am completely hopeless at titles but the working title is Three in the Morning.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
That’s such a hard question! My second novel, Moving On, was inspired by a newspaper cutting about two sisters who took over their family business. But for this one I had loads of ideas floating through my head, all of which became intertwined – family, bereavement, Fleet Street, Pendle Hill in Lancashire, teenagers, teachers… I’ve somehow blended all of them into the first full-length novel I've written since Taking Sides.

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary drama. It covers a multitude of sins but that’s the genre, I reckon.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The main characters are three sisters. So my choice would be Vanessa Kirby (she was Estella in BBC One’s recent adaptation of Great Expectations) for Jess, the youngest sister. Helen McCrory could play the eldest sister, Flo, and Claire Danes for the middle sister, Finn. They'd make a very starry line-up...

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The three Barker sisters never spend any time in the same country, let alone the same house – so how do they cope when a family crisis flings them together for the first time in years?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three years – in between novellas and journalistic work!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I love Marian Keyes’s books because they combine heart and humour. I only wish I could write like her…

What else about your blog post might pique the reader’s interest?
My first three books, Hard Copy, Moving On and Taking Sides, were published in quick succession. They’ve never been available electronically before but Piatkus is publishing them as ebooks in January, February and March next year (2013), which I’m thrilled about. Also, Endeavour Press has just published my second romantic novella, School Ties

And now I’m going to nominate four fantastic writers to tell us about their next big thing:

Kate Lace (@LaceKate) has written 15 novels, including The Chalet Girl and Moonlightingand two non-fiction books. Cox, her latest novel, is the unputdownable tale of two rival hotshot rowers and has been dubbed “Jilly Cooper in a boat.”

Liz Harris (@lizharrisauthor) is the author of The Road Back. Her debut novel is a love story set in a remote region north of the Himalayas. Liz writes contemporary and historical fiction and her blog is called Welcome to My World.

Jenny Smith (@jennysmithbooks) writes humorous fiction for children and teenagers. I adore Jenny’s titles. Her first book is Diary of a Parent Trainer and her latest is the hilarious My Big Fat Teen Crisis, both out now.

Kate Morris (@KateMorris1) is the author of three novels, The Single Girl's Diary, The Seven Year Itch and Seven Days One Summer. I love Kate's description of a writer's life on her blog - "I sit at my desk all day," she says, "trying not to get distracted by emails, Facebook, Twitter and what's going on outside my study window." Y

Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday book review - Cox by Kate Lace

My desk is piled high with review books right now. But there’s one particular novel that catches everyone’s attention. It’s Cox, Kate Lace’s latest book, which as well as the saucy title has an even saucier cover and strapline. Most important of all though, it’s a cracking story that deserves to fly off the shelves.

Fabulous magazine wittily called the book “Jilly Cooper in a boat,” and it’s the perfect description. If you like Cooper’s Riders, then you’ll love this tale of two rival rowers battling for a place in the London 2012 team.

One is the dark, brooding Dan (my favourite) while the other is the rich, arrogant Rollo (who I suspect Kate Lace secretly prefers). The pair went to the same posh school, though Dan’s mum was the dinner lady, while Rollo’s parents own a Downton Abbey-like pile with a tree-lined drive, lake, stables and scores of ancestral portraits. Dan and Rollo both won coveted places at Oxford, are both brilliant rowers and are now in fierce competition on the river too (though Rollo has a few dirty tricks up his sleeve to foil Dan).

Just to complicate matters further, they’re both keen on the same girl – Amy, a petite physiotherapist who works at Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital and is a rowing cox in her spare time. Misunderstandings galore, Lycra-clad men, thrilling races and loads of steamy sex scenes (starting on page one) make for a fun summer read – or to quote Fabulous again, an “oar-some” one.

Cox by Kate Lace (Arrow, £6.99)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Interview with Kate Lace - author of Cox

The writer Kate Lace (aka Catherine Jones) is a great friend of mine. We met years ago at a drinks party thrown by Piatkus Books (who’d just published our first novels). We talked 19 to the dozen all evening, and 15 years later, we do exactly the same every time we meet.

Kate has now written 14 novels (including The Chalet Girl and Gypsy Wedding) and two non-fiction books. She’s a former chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a quiz supremo and the best company I know. Her latest book, Cox, is a scintillating summer read about two rival rowers and is out on July 5 (review coming next month). The book promises “hot men in Lycra, thrilling races and plenty of steamy sex” – and yes, it delivers all three in classic Kate Lace style.

Kate kindly agreed to talk to House With No Name about writing, her favourite books and Cox.

Did you write as a child and did you always want to write novels?

Kate: Absolutely not! Never had any idea I could write and thought all creative writing at school was intensely boring and pointless. I did keep an excruciatingly awful teenage diary, which thankfully got lost in a house move.

You were a captain in the army before becoming a novelist. Did your army training give you the discipline to write?

Kate: I don’t know about the army giving me discipline but it gave me a huge fund of experiences and stories. I lived in loads of different places, including Cyprus and Germany and I learned how to do a bunch of weird and wonderful things from firing a heavy artillery piece to flying gliders. But I’ve always been quite self-disciplined. I was a terrible swot at school so parking my bum on a chair and just doing the work is something I’ve always be able to do.

Your first novel, Army Wives, was published in 1998. Can you tell me about the road to publication?

Kate: Actually, Army Wives was my third book although it was my first novel. I co-wrote my first book, about being a career officer’s wife, with a fellow army wife. For a self-published book, before the days of viral-marketing, Kindle and the internet, it did extraordinarily well. My co-author and I then co-edited a book all about getting on in other professions. It was all going terribly well but then the army posted her husband to Alabama and mine to Northern Ireland, and that was the end of that. So I decided to write a novel about army wives. It took me over a year to write and almost another two to find a publisher, but in this industry, luck plays an awfully big part. My book just happened to land up with an independent publisher starting a new mass-market paperback line. Right desk, right day, right book. 

Your new book, Cox, is a brilliant portrayal of the rowing world. How did you go about researching the novel?

Kate: Again, luck played a huge role. I’m friends with a family whose son rowed for Cambridge and I also happened to know a whole heap of army rowers. And even luckier, one guy used to cox for the army eight and is now a rowing coach. Between them they managed to straighten me out about the wonderful world of rowing. I expect I’ve still managed to get stuff wrong – but if I have, it wasn’t their fault

Cox has got a racy title and an even racier cover. What reaction have you had so far?

Kate: My mother is scandalised. (Wait till she reads it!) Almost everyone else thinks the whole thing is a hoot and most of my female friends seem to spend a rather long time staring at the cover model. I can’t imagine why. But I think I am sensationally lucky to have such a fab cover. I absolutely adore it.

How and where do you write?

Kate: It depends how hard I’m finding the writing. On days when it isn’t going well, the gardening beckons, the ironing pile looks inviting, I’ll even resort to housework. But on really good days I start at about nine and work through to five quite easily with just the odd pitstop for food, tea, emails and Twitter. When I have a deadline I try to do a minimum of at least 1,000 words a day and hope to achieve 1,500. My writing space is a revoltingly messy study – it’s total chaos – but I look out of a big window on to the front garden so I can see what’s going on. Now the kids are grown up I’m quite often alone in the house, which is bliss. When I started my first novel, I was having to move house six times in five years, with three children under five.  Life is much calmer these days.

Do you have any tips for writers working on their debut novels right  now? 

Kate: Yes, write it, put it in a drawer for several months, leave it completely alone and then read it. All the continuity errors, all those cups of coffee, pointless conversations, boring bits, plot flaws will shout at you.

What is your favourite novel? And are there any particular novelists who have inspired you?

Kate: Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. There are some spooky similarities with my upbringing (mainly a totally barking family background) and it makes me laugh and cry. If I ever get picked for Desert Island Discs, that’s my choice. As for inspirational novelists – I am totally in awe of Jojo Moyes.

Cox by Kate Lace (Arrow, £6.99)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

House With No Name Weekly Digest: From blogging boot camp to pyjamas at the school gate

Every Saturday the House With No Name blog features a few of the week’s highlights – and there have been plenty of those over the past seven days.

My best discovery of the week is a gorgeous new shop in the pretty Oxfordshire market town of Thame. Actually, I can’t take the credit at all. It was my writer friend Kate Lace, author of Gypsy Wedding (a great read, by the way), who tipped me off, so I was round there like a shot.

As always, Kate was spot on. What’s special about FROM is that everything stocked in the shop comes from a 20-mile radius of the town. There’s jam from Haddenham, soap from Hazlemere, china from the Aston Pottery , stunning screen prints from two sisters who work in Thame itself and much, much more.

The shop (above) is a vision of loveliness and the staff are super-friendly, clearly priding themselves on selling good quality, local-sourced products. As co-founder Steve Stretton says: “It’s so important to support local suppliers and craftsmen, particularly in these strained economic times. And what has been particularly rewarding is seeing the standard of talent in our area. Not only are we doing the right thing ethically, we have a shop full of lovely things.”

House With No Name goes to blogging boot camp: Handpicked Media Gets Social
House With No Name at the school gate: Pyjamas - what not to wear at the school gate
House With No Name on Twitter: Twitter helps writer Maria Duffy get a book deal
House With No Name on the London 2012 uniform: Uniforms - for work, school and the Olympics
House With No Name Book Review: The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark

PS. Twenty-six days into the National Blog Posting Month challenge. I’m posting a blog every day for the whole of November – and with just four days to go I’m on a roll.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Romantic novelists Katie Fforde and Kate Lace at the Chiswick Book Festival

I adore literary festivals. So I was over the moon when the organisers of the Chiswick Book Festival asked me to chair a talk on romantic fiction by bestselling writers Katie Fforde and Kate Lace. The session was called My Big Fat Summer of Love (an amalgam of their two latest titles – Summer of Love by Katie Fforde and Gypsy Wedding by Kate Lace) and covered everything from how they began their illustrious careers to their own favourite romantic novels.

The pair, who are great friends, were fun, informative and inspiring. They’ve both chaired the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the past (indeed, Katie is now president), and several members of the audience were so enthused that they came up at the end and asked how they could join.

The writers began the afternoon by telling the audience about their roads to publication. Kate Fforde said that when her children were little she had a “serious Mills & Boon addiction" – one book a day in fact – and decided to have a go at writing one herself. In the end she wasn’t published by Mills & Boon but it was a fantastic way to learn her craft. She hasn’t looked back since her first novel, Living Dangerously, was published in 1995. She also praised the “hugely supportive” RNA. Meanwhile Kate Lace began writing as a young army wife with three small children, first writing for an magazine for army wives, then non-fiction, including Gumboots and Pearls about life as an army wife, before turning to fiction.

They also discussed exactly what makes a good romantic novel. Katie reckons that the key is to create “a believable love story,” and stressed that the happy ending must be “credible,” while Kate said that there must be some “grit in the oyster.” When it comes to planning novels, Kate said she knows where her books are going to start and finish, but doesn’t tend to plot everything in advance. Katie reckoned that if you plan too much, you’ve already told the story and “sort of lose interest.”

They both start work early – Katie is on Twitter at the crack of dawn but then concentrates on writing for the rest of the day. Kate works from 9am till The Archers starts at five past seven. Kate said that “scary deadlines” keep her nose to the grindstone, but Katie emphasised that it's important to take time to think about her characters and where they are going. Sometimes her best ideas emerge when she’s gardening or cooking.

They’re both voracious readers, but asked about their own favourite romantic novels, chose utterly different titles. Katie adores Georgette Heyer while Kate reckons Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the “absolute best love story” she’s ever read.

Finally, the two writers gave us a tantalising hint of the treats we’ve got in store. Katie’s next book is called Recipe for Love and is set in a TV cookery competition (it will be out next year) and she’s currently researching another one set in the world of antiques. Meanwhile Kate is busy writing about the glamorous world of rowing. Watching handsome, Lycra-clad rowers in action, she added, is no hardship at all.

PS: Actress Isla Blair is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever interviewed. I spent a day at her house years ago with a stylist and photographer for a Country Homes & Interiors profile. The following session at the Chiswick Book Festival featured Isla talking to her son Jamie Glover, the actor and director, about her new book. A Tiger’s Wedding tells of her childhood in India during the last days of the Raj and I can’t wait to read it.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The fabulous RNA

Romantic fiction often gets slated – largely due, as Joanna Trollope once said, to snobbery and the genre’s pink covers, embossed lettering and “cartoon drawings of cocktail glasses and handbags and ditsy girls falling off their designer heels.”

But so much of the criticism is downright unfair. A total of 25 million romantic novels are bought by readers in the UK every year and romantic fiction boasts some of the most talented writers around. Marian Keyes, for instance, is a wonderful novelist and has covered everything from domestic violence and depression to alcoholism and dementia in her ten bestselling books. If you haven’t read Last Chance Saloon or The Other Side of the Story by the way, you are in for a treat.

But I digress. I had to write this blog after reading Claudia Connell’s sneery piece about the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s summer party in today’s Daily Mail. She claimed it made her feel as though she’d “accidentally stumbled into the Annual General Meeting of the Jam Makers and Knitted Toy Association” and described the guests as “the kind of ladies you’d find working in charity shops or arranging the church flowers.”

RNA members were outraged by her remarks. And I’m not surprised. I’m not an RNA member but I’ve been to lots of their parties and they’re a fabulous group of novelists, not at all the type she describes.

They’re impossible to pigeon-hole either. They range from young to old, from ultra-glam to not-so-glam and from writers just starting out to novelists whose books fly into the bestseller lists the minute they’re published.

New chair Annie Ashurst, for instance, is not only a highly successful Mills and Boon author (she writes as Sara Craven) but also a former Mastermind champion and member of the RNA team that stormed through to the final of University Challenge – the Professionals a few years back. Outgoing chair Katie Fforde has just had her 16th novel, Summer of Love, published to great acclaim while press officer Catherine Jones, aka Kate Lace, will see her 15th book, Gypsy Wedding, hit the book shops in August. Between them they’ve shifted loads of books over the years – and helped countless RNA members along the tricky road to publication too.

The image shows the cover of Fabulous at Fifty, a history of the RNA's first 50 years.
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