#AuthorTalk – A Room at the Manor by Julie Shackman @G13Julie #Interview #BookBlog @AllenAndUnwin

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  • Love
  • Family 
  • Humour
  • Women’s Fiction

Room at the Manor FC - 27 April 2018

| Synopsis |

A story of love, family, hope and trust, A Room at the Manor will delight anyone keen to find their place.

When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview, heartbroken yet determined. Instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tearoom True Brew.

Lara’s life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty’s elderly customers, the Laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost 300 years, and, although it’s in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and his grandson currently make it their home.

There’s something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird’s faith in Lara.

| Interview |

Julie Shackman Photo 1 - May 2018
  • What book from your childhood still has a place in your heart today? 

I used to love the Enid Blyton “Mallory Towers” series and devoured all of those. I have fond memories of those books. It’s not a childhood book, but the first “grown-up” blockbuster I remember reading at the age of about thirteen, was “Princess Daisy” by Judith Krantz. I loved it and remembered thinking, “Wow! Someone’s job is to sit down and write such wonderful stories!”

Image result for Enid Blyton

  • Which fictional character stayed with you long after you finished the book?

A few have, but one that has particularly, is Jack Wolfe, from one of my favourite books, “Who’s Afraid of Mr Wolfe?” by Hazel Osmond. He is dangerously attractive and confident and the author really brought him to life. It is the sort of book that you just fall hopelessly for all the characters, which is a very special writing gift.

  • Can you tell us a little about your journey with your new release?

Oh, my goodness!

It has taken a long time for me to be able to hold my first published novel in my hands – and nothing prepares you for the thrill of it. My first two books were published digitally by a London based e-book publisher, but like many writers, I always dreamt of securing a traditional publishing deal.

After I had written my third novel, I submitted it to agents and despite receiving positive comments, nobody would bite.

I, therefore, decided to move on and write Book Four (A Room at the Manor) and began the submission process again.

I read an interview with the amazing Selwa Anthony and knew I had to approach her. To be honest, I didn’t really expect a reply, but when she responded two days later, to say she had enjoyed the first ten pages and synopsis and wanted to read the full MS, I was shocked and delighted.

Selwa promised me she would get back to me with her decision within two weeks and it was awful, trying to distract myself and not get too optimistic.

Then, on Day 12, Selwa emailed me to say she wanted to have a chat. When we spoke and she said she loved my writing and wanted to offer me representation, I remember bursting into tears and talking incoherently for about the next ten minutes!

My message to all writers out there is to please persevere and NEVER give up.

  • Do you get an emotional connection to your character’s? 

Oh yes, so much so, that I often find I’m talking to them in my head or wondering how they would react to certain problems and situations. I’ve even been in shops and thought, “Oh, Vaughan would look good in that waistcoat!” I’ve been reliably informed by other authors that this is normal though…!

  • Can you please, share a photo with us that tells a story.

Honeybee Bakery

I have attached a photo of my favourite tea shop, which is where I sit and write every weekday. I find it very difficult to write at home and concentrate, so I go there. I arm myself with my notebooks and pens and sit and write for a good couple of hours; sometimes a little longer. The atmosphere is lovely; the staff have become good friends and it was this place that gave me the idea for Thistles, in A Room at the Manor.

  • What was your favourite read of 2017?

Oh my goodness, these are great questions! I am an avid reader and have lost count of the many wonderful books I’ve read, but I would say my favourite one last year, was “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” by Jenny Colgan. She could write the phone book and have me enthralled! I love all her characters and how she describes settings and scenery. You feel like you are part of her stories.

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  • If your book came with a theme song what would it be?

That is an excellent question! Listening to music while I write is another thing I have to do as it seems to inspire me and I would choose the wonderful Jon Newman’s “Come and Get It” as the theme song for A Room at the Manor. As soon as I heard it the first time, I imagined Vaughan and Lara’s chemistry and him daring her to take a chance on him. It’s a very sexy, passionate but fun song with terrific lyrics.

  • Is the genre you write your favourite to read?

Yes, it is. I do like to read other genres and really enjoy  Wilbur Smith and Jodi Picoult, but women’s commercial fiction/romance is my favourite genre to read and also write.

  • If you could ask your readers anything, what would you want to know?

I would like to know what draws them initially to a new book in a bookstore – is it the cover; the blurb or a combination of both?

  • What are you working on now? 

I’ve written the first drafts of my next two novels and have just started writing the one after that. I also write captions and verses for greetings card companies.

All I can say about my next two novels, is that the first is about it never being too late to fall in love and accept yourself for who you are; the other addresses the importance of never judging people on face value and for sticking with your beliefs…! And as for my WIP, it’s about finding out someone isn’t actually who you thought they were and how you move on from that and learn from it.

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