Thursday, 12 February 2015

Debut Spotlight: Bella Osborne

It's publication day today for Bella Osborne's debut novel It Started at Sunset Cottage and it's my pleasure to welcome her to the blog for a chat.  

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember. Her first story, written when she was nine, was about a thief who stole the crown jewels and this sadly remains unpublished. However, undeterred, she continued to write stories for adults and 'It Started At Sunset Cottage' is her debut novel.

She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

For more about Bella, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @osborne_bella.

Kate Marshall is slowly getting her life back on track after losing her fiancĂ©. As an author she has been able to hide herself away from the world and its expectations – but now one of her books has been optioned for a film and Hollywood suddenly comes knocking on her door! 

When Kate is given the opportunity to stay at a beautiful country retreat and concentrate on the screenplay, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. Encouraged by her best friend, sharp-tongued single mum Sarah, Kate sees it’s finally time to stop letting life pass her by. 

Looking for confidence and inspiration in the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, the last thing Kate expects is for Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, to turn up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal! But after a rocky start, with Tim narrowly avoiding death by watering can, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim. 

As an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, and with circumstances repeatedly throwing them together, is Sunset Cottage where both Kate and Tim’s lives will really start?

Hi Sharon, many thanks for having me under your debut author spotlight!

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel It Started at Sunset Cottage?
It Started at Sunset Cottage has two strong women at its core. Kate is an author and is consistently calm, reserved and measured whilst Sarah is a sharp-tongued single mother who acts first and thinks later.

After losing her fiancĂ©, Kate is slowly getting her life back on track when Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, turns up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal. But after a rocky start, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim.
Sarah on the other hand is trying to hold down two jobs and shut her ex-husband out of her life. When he goes missing she thinks it’s the answer to her problems until Sarah becomes number one suspect.

As It Started at Sunset Cottage features the film industry, let's have fun casting... who would you cast as Kate, Sarah or Timothy?  
Ooh great question! When I am writing I can picture the characters quite clearly and they act it out for me. So I would have to say that Kate would be played by Keira Knightley (in her long golden hair phase – obviously), Anne Hathaway would make a perfect Sarah once she’s had her hair cut short and dyed blonde and Ian Somerhalder or someone equally gorgeous would play Tim. I did have a young Clive Owen in mind as I was writing Tim but, to be honest, I’ve found I have either him or cake in mind regardless of who I am writing about!

Did you have to do much research about screenwriting to enable you to write that element of the storyline? 
I was very lucky to have a friend of a friend who is a screenwriter and she very kindly fielded my many questions so I could check my facts.

What can we expect from you next?  
My second book is about Charlie, who spent her childhood in foster care and finally finds the family of her dreams as their Nanny. Tragedy strikes leaving Charlie to decide whether to look for another job or do all she can to keep the children she loves out of the care system. So it is quite different to Sunset Cottage but I think there are strong similarities in its structure as there are two parallel stories, which are intertwined, comedy in unlikely places and an underlying menace.

If you had to describe It Started at Sunset Cottage in one sentence, what would it say? 
Think Notting Hill meets EastEnders Christmas Special!

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I was lucky enough to meet Trisha Ashley at my first RNA party and she told me I had to go to the RNA Conference. I’m so glad that I did as I learned loads and also met my editor there.

Can you remember what you were doing when you heard that Harper Impulse wanted to publish your novel? 
I was late home from work and was scrolling through emails whilst making dinner and there was an e-mail from Charlotte Ledger at Harper Impulse asking if she could call me and it had been sat there for hours! Thankfully she was still in the office.

Are you going to treat yourself to something nice to celebrate the publication of your first book?
I hadn’t planned to but now that you mention it that is a great excuse, I mean reason, to treat myself!

Have you anything exciting planned for publication day? 
I am having a few drinks and nibbles with some of the lovely friends and family that have supported me and there will, of course, be cake.

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