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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Author Q & A Christie Barlow

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books - after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

A romantic, funny and poignant story of living life to the full and finding love in the most unlikely of places. Fans of Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will adore this book!

Title:    Evie's Year of Taking Chances
Author:   Christie Barlow
Published By: Bookouture
Publication Date: 10th March 2017
Links:   UK: Amazon    US: Amazon

Author Q & A 

Today we would like to welcome Christie Barlow to Sincerely Book Angels blog.

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Evie’s Year of Taking Chances would never have been written if it wasn’t for a lady called Marie ‘Mim’ Deakin whose vintage café and book club in Cannock, Staffordshire provided the inspiration behind this novel. I was sitting in her café eating the most delicious Victoria sponge cake when the idea came to me. I wanted to write a warm funny comedy about a character who loved books that took the reader on a whole roller-coaster of emotions. The character Evie Cooper was born; her job as a librarian had always been her safe haven until one birthday her life is turned upside down when a mysterious parcel containing a book with a poignant inscription arrives for her. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie as she’s inspired to finally search for her real mother.

Did you always want to be a writer?
My writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Once hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the fast car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born. I self-published my first novel and will always remember the proud moment I showed my children the finished product. I stood in front of them, with a book that had my name on the cover and the message was loud and clear. If I could achieve something by setting my mind to it, then so could they. I would have been happy enough if my demonstration of what hard work and determination could achieve had ended there, but it didn’t. I knew that a strong social media presence would be necessary to promote it – and sure enough, it circulated quickly and became the talk of the town! Within a few months, the first novel I wrote became an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and the USA, then I secured a five-book publication deal and an agent. I now write women’s commercial fiction, specifically romantic comedy and am a full-time writer.

What other jobs have you had?
I have been a piano teacher for all of my life and still teach students today. I love every minute of watching my students flourish and achieving their dreams. A number of my pupils have gone on to have successful careers in musical theatre and pop bands! I’m so proud of each and every one of them.

How did you feel when your first novel was published?
I think the only word I can use is ecstatic! I stayed up until midnight and I watched the book change over on Amazon from pre-orders to available and I knew my book was now published for the whole world to read! I let out a huge whoop and drank a glass of champagne to celebrate.

Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story?
The only way to describe my publishing story is like a dream! After achieving the number one spot with my self-published book, this was when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent - I had just finished writing the sequel Misadventures of a Playground Mother, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with Bookouture for five books. I have recently signed a further contract with Harper Collins affiliate Harper Impulse and now have my own book column in a magazine too! I have written five books so far! A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother and The Misadventures of a Playground Mother (these are feel-good comedies about life at the school gates). Kitty’s Countryside Dream (a feel-good romantic comedy about life, love and family), Lizzie’s Christmas Escape (a sparkling Christmas romance) and Evie’s Year of Taking Chances (A heart-warming romantic comedy you won't be able to put down). Currently, I am working on my next release for September 2017.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I haven’t as yet, and fingers crossed it stays that way!

What motivates you to keep writing?
Apart from my gorgeous family whose support has never gone unnoticed, every day I receive numerous emails, tweets and messages to my author pages from readers and bloggers who have thoroughly enjoyed my books. The joy my books bring to these individuals keeps me motivated to keep writing. I absolutely appreciate people have chosen my books to read and all of their kind words and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing the job I love so much. The last three years in the land of books has been truly amazing.

Where is your favourite place to write?
For the past eighteen months, we have been building a house. The last two books (no word of a lie) were written sat on a pile of bricks on a building site but now I have my very own writing room with not only heating, a desk and all my knick-knacks but I have my very own life-size cardboard cut-out of Gary Barlow who keeps me company every day!

Do your characters’ moods ever affect your mood?
There’s a simple answer to this … absolutely! The characters in the books I write become my new best friends for approximately five months. I live and breathe every emotion I write. When I write, I can be laughing or crying. What I write I write from the heart, and this helps to connect with the readers. They really do become a huge part of my life and once I finish writing the book I often feel bereft.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
1. Always believe in yourself.

2. Always read and read widely.

3. Set time aside to write every day, that way there will always be continuity.

Which authors inspire you? 
There are so many but my number one favourite author has to be Katie Fforde. Her books are so heart-warming and I love them all, but as a child the biggest influence on my life was Enid Blyton. Her book, Five on a Treasure Island has stayed with me from the age of seven when I can remember sitting on an old trunk in my bedroom and not moving all day until I’d finished it. The marvelous characters and the adventures of the Famous Five I will never forget and I have introduced all my children to this series. All of her books in her back catalogue are absolute classics and every child should have the opportunity to read them; they are truly fantastic.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading Sister Sister by Sue Fortin.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
For Evie’s Year of Taking Chances I would choose Beautiful by Christina Aguilera.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of the book?
Keira Knightley would be perfect for Evie Cooper and the delicious Steven R. McQueen to play Noah Jones.

What is your next book about?
I’m currently writing book 6 which is due for release September 2017 by Harper Impulse. I don’t want to give too much away except that it features narrowboats and an old picture house. I’m loving writing every second of it and I hope you’ll love it too!

Quick-fire round,

Which book made you:

Laugh out loud?
Jon Rance – A Notting Hill Christmas.

Cry your heart out?
My own book! Evie’s Year of Taking Chances. I actually broke my heart crying while writing a couple of the chapters.

Want to read again?
Enid Blyton – Five on a Treasure Island.

Think more?
Again, my own book, Lizzie's Christmas Escape which I think gave out a poignant message which most readers related to.

Made into a film?
Misadventures of a Playground Mother, again by me! This would be comedy gold on the big screen.

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl.

Angela Marsons – Evil Games.

Thanks so much for joining us Christie and good luck with the book.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty's Countryside Dream, Lizzie's Christmas Escape and Evie's Year of Taking Chances. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK and USA. Christie also writes her own book column in Mama Life Magazine too!

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

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