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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Author Q & A - Cressida McGloughlin

A wonderfully warm and witty novel from one of our favourite women’s fiction stars. We defy you not to love this’ Heat
The charming new bestseller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Canal Boat Cafe
Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Title:  The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse
Author:  Cressida McGloughlin
Published By:   Harper Collins
Publication Date:  29th June 2017
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

Hi Cressida and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog. 

Can you tell us what was the inspiration behind this novel? 
A couple of things, both stemming from holidays I’ve been on in the past. For quite a few years when I was younger we went to a tiny Dorset village called Burton Bradstock; it had the crumbling cliffs, the sandy beach and a typical seaside feel about it. And then, a few years ago, my husband and I went to Hastings for a few days, and stayed in a boutique hotel on the seafront, where all the rooms were themed around different countries. We stayed in Japan, which had a futon and a square spa bath in the corner. I started to think about a fictional village with a typical south-coast seafront, but also a wide, sometimes wild beach with looming cliffs, and about a guesthouse where all the rooms were themed around things that mattered to the heroine; a place inspired by her hopes, dreams and loves. These came together and The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse was born.

Did you always want to be a writer? 
No! I’ve always loved reading, but was much more interested in reviewing and critiquing books – I did English Literature at university and never imagined writing one of my own. It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties and had the opportunity to do a creative writing evening class that everything changed. From the very first class I was hooked, and decided that I wanted to write stories for a living. I made it happen, but it took a long time!

What other jobs have you had? 
My first job, a Saturday job, was in a local bakery, where we got to take home anything that hadn’t sold, as it wasn’t open on a Sunday. I’ve also worked in Sainsbury’s, for a recruitment agency and as a bid writer for a construction firm. For years before I became a full time author I worked for the local council, where I had varied jobs – waste reduction officer (much more fun than it sounds), PA, and roles in the communications and web teams. They’ve given me lots of story inspiration over the years!

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
The most amazing, unforgettable, pinch me moment. I still get those moments all the time; I can’t imagine ever thinking that being a published author isn’t a big deal. Every new cover reveal, publication day, good review, comment from a reader is wonderful. It’s the best job ever.

Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story. 
Very long and windy, involving lots of rejections from agents and publishers, four unpublished books sitting on my computer and an amazing, ice-cream filled book launch for Alex Brown’s Ice Cream at Carringtons, where I met her lovely editor Kate Bradley, and it turned out to be the day that changed my life. It was about six years between me deciding I wanted to be a published author and it happening. But it’s so worth all those heart-breaking emails and moments of misery; I believed I would get there one day and I persevered, grew a thick skin, and eventually it paid off.

What other books have you written? 
The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse is my third novel. All my books are published as a series, with four ebook novellas that become a full ebook and paperback novel. My first was the Primrose Terrace series, about a dog walker called Cat, who gets a bit too involved in her clients’ lives; the full novel is called A Christmas Tail. My second is The Canal Boat Café series, about Summer Freeman, who takes over her late mother’s failing café on a narrowboat in the sleepy village of Willowbeck. There is always romance, escapism, an idyllic setting and lots of cute animals.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I do sometimes get stuck on a bit of writing, but it’s usually because it’s not going in the right direction. I find stepping away from it, for ten minutes, an hour or an afternoon will help me sort out the niggle unconsciously while I’m doing other things, and then I can go back to it and fix whatever’s wrong. Tea also helps. I drink a lot of tea!

What motivates you to keep writing?
I love it - it’s as simple as that. I lose myself in the story, I love my characters and I always have in the back of my mind that, once it’s finished and polished and ready, readers will have the opportunity to lose themselves in the story too. Getting an email or a Facebook message from a reader who’s done just that is one of the best motivations to write. There are also lovely things like beautiful covers being designed specifically for your book, publication day celebrations, sometimes exciting sales figures that spur you on – lots of reasons to open a bottle of bubbly, which is never a bad thing.

Where is your favourite place to write? (can we please have a picture)
I have one of our spare bedrooms as my office, and I’ve turned it into my ideal writing space. It’s got lots of books, a sparkly lava lamp, postcards of Aidan Turner as Poldark and everything I could want to keep me going. I can write elsewhere – we have a lovely deck looking out over the back garden that I like to sit on to scribble notes – but my office is the most comfortable, the most creative space.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa? 
That’s such a good question! I’m sure they must do – I can sometimes find my character being more miserable than I would like, and try and work out what’s caused it, and I’m sure it’s sometimes my own mood. I also get very giddy when I’ve done a good day’s writing or editing, and I’m happy with the direction my characters are going in. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean they’re happy – it could be a gnarly or tricky part, but if it’s good for the story then it definitely buoys my mood!

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
1. Persevere. Not all writers go through years of rejections, but lots do, and if you love doing it, and you’re passionate about it, then keep going, grow a thick skin and don’t give up. 

2. Write first, edit later. You will never get to the end if you’re constantly going back over your words. Keep writing, however rubbish you think it is, and then, when you’ve reached The End, go back and make it better. 

3. Have fun. There’s no point doing it if you don’t enjoy it. The hours that go into a book, from the author of course, then the editor, copy editor, proof reader, and all the other people – sales, marketing, publicity, cover design – are too extensive for something that isn’t written with love. Of course everyone has bad days, days when the words don’t flow or you want to throw your computer or notebook out of the window, but if it’s always a chore, then you’re probably chasing the wrong dream.

Which authors inspire you?
Harriet Evans, Lucy Robinson, Kirsty Greenwood, Jill Mansell, Elly Griffiths. The list is so extensive, but those are some writers who inspired me when I was starting out, whose words I fell in love with. As I read more, and get sent more proofs I’m discovering new authors all the time, and two writers who I have recently fallen in love with are Helen Fields and Annie Darling. Helen Fields is a wonderful writer of gritty, gory crime fiction, perhaps not so relevant to my writing, but she weaves such brilliant stories and her characters- excuse the pun – are to die for. And Annie Darling writes, for me, the most pitch perfect, warm, funny, indulgent romantic fiction. If there were books I wish I’d written, then it’s the Little Bookshop series; The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts and True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Tattletale by Sarah Naughton. I love good crime and psychological thrillers as much as romantic fiction, and this one is brilliant so far – very dark, with a compelling premise and interesting characters. I’m keen to find out what happens!

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Where the Sky is by Ward Thomas, because I mention it in the book.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book? 
Well, I love all my characters, but if I was picking someone for Robin, then I would pick Emily Blunt to play her (said every author ever about their female main character). I also think James Norton would make a pretty good Will, though when I picture him he doesn’t really match any actor I can think of. Any suggestions very welcome – I love hearing how readers picture my characters!

What is your next book about? 
My next book is called The Canal Boat Café Christmas, and it’s a novella – just two parts. It’s a follow up to my second novel, The Canal Boat Café. It follows Summer and Mason, a year after the first book finished, and is about a journey that they make just before Christmas that turns out to be quite eventful!

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'

Which book has made you:

Laugh out loud?
Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood

Cry your heart out?
The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan 

Want to read it again?
True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

Think more?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Wish it would be made into a film?
Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today Cressida and good luck with the book.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things - other than writing - include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

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