Monday 20 July 2015

Author of the month Jane Linfoot interview

Today we are joined by Jane Linfooot, our author of the month.

Jane writes fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and lots of heart. She lives with her family and pets in Derbyshire, and loves hearts, flowers, happy endings and all things vintage.

Hello Jane and welcome to Booky Ramblings.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel was a happy accident, that happened when a friend from writing class asked me to co-write a book with her. Plotting for Beginners came out in 2006, and was a paperback best seller. It was in Waterstones, and Sainsburys, and even had it’s own window display at Heathrow Airport.

Writing chicklit novels happened by accident too, when I borrowed Kate Walker’s book on writing romance novels from the library. I was meaning to get some exercises for our writers’ group, but I read the whole book, and I was hooked. I used to work full time, doing up old houses, but after the property crash I suddenly found time to do the writing I’d always dreamed of.

For me writing is one of those things – the more of it I do, the more I want to do.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I write light books, which some people find funny, even though I don’t deliberately try to make them that way, with heroines who are strong. The nearest genre would be chicklit or romcom

Rather than writing for a set style, I try to write as myself. In real life I see the funny side of events, and that ironic humour comes through in my books.

When I first started writing I wrote poems, which taught me to try to use words in an original way, and I find it hard to leave that behind. At times I drive my editor round the bend with the unusual words I choose. I’m a very visual person too, so I like to add enough description to make the scenes come alive, without slowing the pace.

After my editor has chopped out my more exuberant rants, and most of the swearing, we’re left with something light and pacey, with a happy feel, emotional moments, and the occasional sizzle.

How did you come up with the title of your current/recent book?
A book’s title is crucial, but I never get attached to my own working titles, because the publisher invariably changes them. Once the manuscript is ready, the editorial team usually come up with suitable ideas, and we make the final deecision together. The Vintage Cinema Club title happened differently though – Charlotte Ledger named it very early on, in response to my one line pitch for the book.

Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want readers to grasp?
My stories are designed to give a reader an emotional ride, which leaves them feeling happy and uplifted by the end. So the first message would be: Set yourself free, be happy, read chicklit...

More seriously, the women in my novels are strong, and find the courage to stand up for themselves, and support each other. If readers are inspired to stand up for themselves in their own lives, that’s good too.

Are your novels based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I try to resist the temptation to put people I know into my stories whole. But some people have traits that are too interesting not to use, so I weave them into my fictional characters. In the same way, I use snippets of real life events too, but because they intertwine with the made up elements, it’s impossible for a reader to tell which is which.

I drew a lot on my love for vintage for The Vintage Cinema Club. I began buying retro furniture when I didn’t have the money for anything else, but vintage became a way of life for me, because the style fits in so well with living in the country.

Also my daughter got married earlier this summer, so for the last year I’ve been immersed in weddings. The inspiration for Luce’s bridal studio in The Vintage Cinema Club came from this. There are some darker moments in the book too, and many of these are based on my own experience.

Which of your novels have influenced your life the most?
How to Win A Guy In 10 Dates was my first book to be accepted by a publisher, and that contract marked a huge change in my life. I was so excited to be offered a contract by Harper Impulse, I hyperventilated for at least six months. At the time I had no idea how much I would learn, and how the process of being a published author would swallow me up, over the next two years.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Nora Ephron is an inspirational writer who most people will have heard of. Kelly Hunter is someone less well known, who writes fab books too. I definitely aspire to be like her.

What book are you reading now?
Wild and Free, by Wendy Holden, who is another phenomenal woman.

What are your current projects?
I’m at the planning stage of my next book at the moment, bouncing lots of ideas around, deciding which ones to run with, which is always very exciting.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d sort my planning better at the beginning, and save myself a lot of work! Also, the original ending was tougher, but my editor decided it was too sad. Part of me would have liked to keep that ending.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always had a feeling I would write books, but to begin with I wrote poems instead, because they were faster to write, and easier to fit on the back of envelopes.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is part of a scene from The Vintage Cinema Club, where Izzy, one of the three friends who share the vintage shop in the old cinema building, gets caught dumpster diving on a building site. This is her first meeting with Xander, the hunky hero, who happens to be a dead ringer for Aidan Turner a.k.a Poldark. *swoons*

‘Hey, you! Get out of my skip.’

Izzy froze, rammed her shoulder against the rusty metal container side, and crouched lower, cringing as the male voice resonated above her head and echoed across the building site.

Damn it. She kicked herself for coming back for one last look, when she should have got away. In some ways this afternoon’s bombshell news that the cinema building was up for sale made it more important than ever for her to get her hands on stock. They weren’t going to give up, they were going to fight to survive, and tonight’s skip raid was a symbol of that determination. Ever since she, Dida and Luce had launched Vintage at the Cinema, they’d dreamed of a time when business would be booming, and it was ironic that now it was actually happening, it looked as if it might be snatched away.

Something about tonight’s desperation spun Izzy back to the time when she’d first discovered the joys of skip scavenging, when her mum walked out on her dad. With four kids and an empty flat, skips had provided Izzy with most of her bedroom furniture. Those fledgeling finds had kick started Izzy’s love of rescuing what other people threw away. It turned out she had a flair for making old, unwanted things beautiful. At least one good thing had come out of her parents’ break up, and the talents she’d discovered back then had exploded with the opportunity of Vintage at the Cinema.

A stripped out cinema building was a big place to fill, especially when the furniture you put in there was flying out as fast as it went in. But ending up on a building site, in a skip, with some guy yelling at you, wasn’t the best of places to spend a Wednesday evening.

‘Oi! I said move it!’ He was still there then.

Izzy shuddered. Luce, always teased her about her compulsion for searching through skips, but it was true that Izzy found it very hard, if not impossible to pass a skip without diving into it. In her experience, there was often treasure to be found, but right now, with an angry man bearing down on her, she was wishing she hadn’t let that last glance into the second, almost empty skip, entice her. She closed her hand around the small carved plaster cherub she’d found lurking at the bottom. Dusk was no time to get caught in the act, even if she had okayed it with the builders earlier.

‘Think you can come round breaking my windows do you, just because the house is empty?’ Enter one apoplectic guy, who’d totally got the wrong end of the stick. He didn’t sound too close, but he only had to walk across, and peer over the skip edge, and she’d be done for. ‘Did you hear me? I know you’re there.’

Fierce and well spoken – they were the worst sort. Izzy grimaced, braced herself for trouble, and began to unfold her legs. Time to face whatever was coming her way. It was a daily hazard of skulking round skips – sometimes it was inevitable, you pissed people off. And Izzy couldn’t bear to see old pieces with the potential to be pretty being tossed away. It broke her heart to think of lovely old things being smashed up by ignorant people who didn’t know any better. As she saw it, she was on a rescue mission here, and no one in their right mind would object to that, once they saw reason. Although from the way Mr Shouty was limbering up, she wasn’t sure reason was going to have much to do with this.

Slowly, she unfolded, to get a peep at what she was dealing with here, and as her nose drew level with the skip edge, she got a full frontal view of the man she was annoying. Talk about chiseled cheekbones. Add in eyes the colour of darkness, a body that would have made most women she knew ache to peel off his well-cut clothes, and for a fraction of a nano second she fell resoundingly, heart-stoppingly, scorchingly in love. She’d always wondered what her friends meant when they talked about thunderbolts, and now she knew. Before she could say “oh my sweet jesus”, her lips had parted, and she was letting out a long, wavering sigh.

Smitten or what?

‘You little vandal.’ The guy’s scowl darkened as he whipped his growl into overdrive. ‘I won’t tolerate trespassing scumbags, get off my site, and I mean now.’

Phew. That went some way to blasting away the cupid dust

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Eliminating the mistakes and errors in the manuscript at the final stage is very hard for me. Some people are so good at turning in wonderfully clean manuscripts, and brilliant at spotting mistakes, but sadly, I’m not like that. It’s always harder rooting out the errors in your own work than in someone else’s.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’m thinking a book set in Paris would be a good idea, so I can justify a fact finding trip. It’s so much easier for me to write about places I know from, rather than places I research online. Google and Wikipedia can tell me a lot, but they can’t convey smells, or the tiny details that really make a book come alive.

Who designs your covers?
The art department at Harper Collins sorts out the covers for my books. I write a detailed cover brief, where I put forward ideas, and outline crucial points in the book. Award winning designer, Alexandra Aldern, designed the covers for How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates, The Right Side of Mr Wrong and High Heels and Bicycle Wheels. The Vintage Cinema Club cover was done by a fabulous cover artist called Jane Harwood.

What was the hardest part of writing your most recent book?
My editor asked for the book to be delivered very fast, which was pressure I hadn’t been used to before, and then we decided on major changes. It was agony at the time, but the entire process showed me I was capable of a lot more than I’d ever imagined.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
To other writers, I’d say, never give up. You need a lot of guts and persistence to succeed in this business. Very few people are an overnight success. So hang on in there, keep trying, and you WILL get there.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to say thank you so much to everyone who reads my books. I love talking to readers on Facebook and Twitter too, so please say hi on there.
And a tip for readers who want to go the extra mile for an author - please leave us a review for our books, because reviews help us so much.
And thank you for featuring me on your lovely blog today ladies xxx

Thank you Jane for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today. x

Author Links 

Personal Page Facebook Happy to have friends 
Twitter @janelinfoot 
Pinterest Lots of Vintage Cinema Club character pages on Pinterest 


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