Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Debut Spotlight: Caroline Roberts

One of the things I've loved since setting up the blog is interacting with authors, both existing authors who I have been a fan of for years but also meeting and getting to know new authors such as Caroline Roberts whose debut novel The Torn Up Marriage has just been published.

Caroline writes contemporary fiction; emotional stories about love, loss, betrayal and family, that explore how complex and yet beautiful love can be. She has dreamed of being a novelist from the age of 18, and has written for many years but went the long route, working in a bank, bringing up her family and helping to run a holiday park. The submission process to agents and publishers was a rollercoaster ride of rejections, but she held on to her dream, worked hard, and kept writing. Last year, after 5 years of submitting she was offered two deals with major publishers within one hour on the same day! She accepted with Harper Impulse (Harper Collins)- woop! Caroline lives in stunning rural Northumberland; its golden beaches, castles and beautiful countryside have inspired her writing. 

Why do we hurt the ones we love, and can there ever be a way back? 

“The Torn Up Marriage” is about betrayal, complacency, love and loss, and that key instinct to protect your family. But what happens when you tear that family apart? Kate and Michael are about to find out as they cope with the crushing fallout of his affair, whilst trying to protect their two young children. This powerful and poignant novel captures the explosiveness of everyday life and what it is to be human; to make mistakes.

Set in the historic town of Alnwick, Northumberland, with its stunning backdrop of castles, moorland hills and coastline, this relationship story of love and family takes you in a rollercoaster ride of emotions along with Kate and Michael. 

Michael’s mother’s battle with breast cancer shatters them all, yet shows them how precious life, love and family is. Can they find a way back and fight for their battered yet enduring love?
So, what would you do if it happened to you? Could you betray? Could you forgive?

Where do you get the inspiration from for your stories? 
I am intrigued by relationships and by the “messier” side of love – it’s more true to life. A magazine article initially sparked the idea for “The Torn Up Marriage”, detailing how difficult it had been for a family coping with the fall-out of an affair, but how they were trying to make it work. I wanted to show how everyone involved would feel, the betrayer as well as the betrayed, the children, the grandparents; the idea just grew. I have also had close friends who have been through affairs and break-ups. I think in any long term relationship there are ups and downs. I remember the early years when my children were very young being a difficult time. There are so many other factors involved, work, the demands of young children, feeling knackered most of the time, and suddenly you’ve been thrown from being a couple, with time and energy just for each other, into a whole new world.

Are you currently working on a new book?  What can we expect from you next?  
The next book is already written. I felt like writing something more uplifting with some flirty fun, as well as it touching on some poignant and serious issues too. It was inspired by the wonderful and quirky Tea Rooms at Chillingham Castle - again set in beautiful rural Northumberland. It’s about a girl in her mid-twenties leaving her safe office job and going to run the castle tea rooms for a year, fuelled by her love of baking and her dreams. Of course, there is an extremely handsome estate manager and a gorgeous love story about to unfold. 

Are you a plotter or do you prefer to see where a plot takes you? 
I have a good general idea of the plot and write down the start, the end, and key scenes. But other than that, I like to see where the story takes me. The best parts of the story often appear as light bulb moments as you are writing - that’s exciting. And often, something in real life will link in perfectly or give you an idea to develop.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?  
Persevere – Think of writing a book like a marathon,. Write as often as you can and write about something you love to keep you passionate and inspired. And once written, be aware that the submission process can be long and hard, rejection is never easy, so try not to take it too personally – easier said than done, I know - but keep going, persevere, and try and learn from any critical feedback you might get.

Best writing advice I received: “Don’t get it right, get it written!” Don’t worry too much about your writing being perfect on the first draft. You can always edit later.

What would  you say is the hardest thing about writing? 
The Submission Process – it’s so hard not to get demotivated when the rejections start piling in. Sometimes you can’t help but take it personally especially after all those hours (years!) of work. But most published authors have had many rejections. Determination will get you through, a belief in your own writing, and some good friends to support you. Find a local writing group or link with other writers in your genre – that support is invaluable. For me, the Romantic Novelist’s Association have been wonderful.

Have you anything exciting planned for publication day? 
I’ve already had a hectic and lovely publication day back on 5th March. I celebrated with family on the actual release day as it was my daughter’s Birthday too. We had champagne at home, then cocktails and a meal out, and there was so much buzz on social media, it was hard to keep up with it all. The next evening I celebrated with friends – lots of bubbly, chat and nibbles and they even brought me a cake made with the cover design of the book on! It was a fantastic two days. And a dream come true at last!

You can catch up with Caroline on Twitter: @_caroroberts
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarolineRobertsAuthor
And on her Blog – which has some great advice for new writers:  http://carolinerobertswriter.blogspot.co.uk/

“The Torn Up Marriage” is available on Amazon: http://t.co/uqMDVX57UH
Also on Kobo, and Waterstones Online.

THANK YOU, SHARON for having me on your spotlight!

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