Welcome to my blog, Jen, please make yourself at home. I've made a Victoria sponge cake with jam and cream which I hope you'll like, perhaps washed down with a good cup of English Breakfast tea?
You know, I've really enjoyed reading your latest book, Summer on Firefly Lake, and I'm so pleased you're here so I can ask you some questions about it!
Thank you for inviting me to chat with you again, Jean. I’m happy to be here and talk about my Firefly Lake books with you and your readers. As you know, I lived in England for many years and am a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). Visiting your blog is a virtual trip to my second home! Victoria sponge cake is my favourite and not well known in Canada, and I'd love a cup of English Breakfast tea too. Thank you!
1. Firefly Lake is a beautiful setting for a novel. Have you ever thought of living in such a place to get inspiration for your writing?
I’m glad you like the setting for my Firefly Lake books. I’d like to live in the fictional Firefly Lake, Vermont, myself!
In terms of the sense of community and inter-connectedness, though, I live in a small town much like Firefly Lake so don’t have to look far for writing inspiration. My town doesn’t have a lake, but there are many lakes and rivers nearby and in summer, I often go to such places to read and plot.
I’m rooted in the kind of small-town world I depict in my fiction so (with a large infusion of imagination), I’m in many ways ‘writing what I know.’
2. What influenced you to write about Kylie, the troubled twelve-year-old? And what sort of research did you have to do?
As part of finding my writing voice (and long before I was published), I read and wrote young adult fiction. Within the context of romantic women’s fiction, I still enjoy writing about younger characters and the joys, as well as challenges, they bring to the lives of adult protagonists. Kylie’s character was born from that interest.
I have vivid memories of being Kylie’s age, and although I was blessed to grow up in a loving and supportive family, I had schoolmates who weren’t so fortunate. Kylie’s character is loosely based upon their experiences, but I also read widely about fostering from the perspective of both child and caregiver and learned from friends who have looked after troubled youth.
3. Was it easier to write Summer on Firefly Lake when the scene was already set in The Cottage at Firefly Lake? Did it help, or did you feel restricted by it?
In some ways, yes, it was easier to write Summer on Firefly Lake because I’d already got to know Firefly Lake and some of the people who lived there in my first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake.
Nick and Mia, the hero and heroine of Summer on Firefly Lake, were introduced in Cottage so I already had a good sense of their characters, motivations and challenges. When I started writing Summer, though, they still surprised me, as characters always do, and new characters came on the scene and wanted their stories told.
Although I wouldn’t say I felt restricted by writing a second book also set in Firefly Lake, it did mean I had to be extra careful in double-checking details at every stage. It’s easy to use different names for the same secondary character in different books, or be inconsistent when mentioning eye colour and other physical characteristics. I’m grateful to copy editors and proof readers everywhere (and mine in particular) for catching little glitches I missed.
Suffice to say that for the future, I’ve learned the importance of creating a series ‘bible’ from the start!
4. I enjoyed reading about Gabrielle’s love affair. What inspired you to write about an older woman being in love?
Although much contemporary romantic fiction focuses on younger characters, I’m a fan of what in North America is called ‘seasoned romance’—stories with older heroes and heroines. The hero and heroine of Summer on Firefly Lake are both thirty-nine so are somewhat ‘seasoned.’ However, since I believe it’s never too late to find love, I wanted to give Gabrielle, the hero’s mother, her own happy ending as part of a secondary romance.
Since all my books take place amidst a network of families and communities, it made sense to include more mature characters and give them their own romantic storyline. Young people don’t have a monopoly on falling in love, and so far, Gabrielle was one of my favourite characters to write. It touches my heart that many readers have warmed to her.
5. The third novel in the Firefly Lake trilogy, Back Home at Firefly Lake, is out in the UK on 28th December 2017, can you say which characters from the first two books are in it, as it was great seeing Sean and Charlie from Book 1 in Book 2?
As a reader, one of the reasons I enjoy reading a series is because I get to know familiar characters, as well as their community. As an author, that’s the feeling I want to create in my books, and I love giving glimpses of previous characters experiencing their “happy-ever-after.”
Back Home at Firefly Lake takes place in the winter, and I hope readers will enjoy curling up with this story to experience the small town blanketed with snow, ice skating on the frozen lake, New Year celebrations and more.
Thank you for reading my blog, Jean. I’m glad the new series I mentioned sparked your interest. I enjoy baking and, when I travel, I seek out local bakeries. They’re often family-run and have a long history in their community.
6. In your blog, you talk about a new series of novels set in a family bakery. It sounds delicious! What made you choose this new setting?
When I started writing this new series, and as often happens for me, the bakery setting almost chose itself. Alongside a central romance, though, I wanted to explore multi-generational family relationships and a family bakery lent itself to that kind of story.
The small town where I live has a bakery that has been in operation since 1885. I can do ‘research’ on my doorstep and writing a bakery-set story is the perfect reason to sample sweet treats to ensure my fictional world is realistic!
Thank you so much, Jen, for spending time with me on my blog today. I can't wait for the Christmas Holidays to be 'Back Home at Firefly Lake'!
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