Friday, 3 July 2015

Author Interview: Karen Swan

Over the years I have become a massive fan of Karen Swan's writing having enjoyed reading most of her books although I still haven't read last year's Christmas book Christmas in the Snow which is still waiting patiently for me to read it.  

So when I was asked to be part of the blog tour for her latest book Summer at Tiffany's, which was published yesterday, I didn't hesitate to say yes so it's my pleasure to welcome Karen to the blog for a chat. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book Summer at Tiffany's? 
It’s a sequel to Christmas at Tiffanys although it can be read as a standalone story. It picks up on where we left off with the characters eighteen months earlier – Cassie and Henry are newly engaged, Suzy and Archie are new parents, Kelly and Brett are newlyweds…Everything’s bright and shiny but shadow spots are appearing in all their lives and when, one day, there’s a terrible accident, their prettily-laid out plans are thrown into the air. One character’s life hangs in the balance, relationships hang by a thread and there’s a devastating clash between past and present.

It's been a few years since we first met Cassie in Christmas at Tiffany's, had you always planned to write a follow-up or is this something that has crept up on you over the years?  I never had any intention of writing a sequel, although the clamour of calls for it from readers was deafening. To be honest, I thought the story of the Christmas book was so well crafted, I couldn’t possibly do justice with a follow-up. I didn’t want to dismantle the almost-fairytale aspect to Cassie and Henry’s relationship or create farce with Suzy and Arch but tension has to be engineered somehow, in order to get those pages turning, and as far as I could see, that was what it would involve. 

But then I took a closer look at the reality of the issues they’d all been facing – Cassie had just spent ten years in another marriage and even with someone as wonderful as Henry to love her, there’s still going to be fallout from that. I realized that I could take a grittier angle on their lives without undermining the strong bonds I’d created in the first book. 

The book is set partially in North Cornwall, what inspired you to set it there?
I knew I didn’t want to set it in a city as London, Paris and New York are so iconic and so dominant in the first book, there needed to be a completely different feel. Cornwall immediately appealed with its sequestered sea-lying position, contrary micro-climate and wild landscapes. Splendid isolation is exactly what Cassie needs as she finally faces up to her truest desires.

Describe Cassie in three words?
Brave, naive, optimistic.

As with your other books we meet a variety of characters in Summer at Tiffany's, which was your favourite to create?... Cruel I know asking you to pick!
It is cruel but actually, forced to say it, I love Suzy so dearly. She’s far too bossy and opinionated of course but also big-hearted and loyal, with a vulnerability that I loved developing in this story.

What can we expect from you next? 
The Christmas book is all edited and ready to go now. It’s set in Primrose Hill and centred around a rather quiet girl, Nettie, who’s lived there her whole life and has no intention of moving out, moving up or moving on. Only, her horizons become much bigger – global, in fact – almost overnight, when a freak accident turns her into an internet sensation. Her online following attracts the attention of one man who knows exactly what it’s like to be adored by millions and as Nettie’s propelled into his orbit, she has to decide between heart and home. 

What do you think are the essential ingredients that make a good women's fiction book?  
Heart, humour and characters you can believe in - you don’t necessarily have to always like them, but they must ring true.

Have you any plans to try your hand at writing something different in the future? 
Actually, I’ve got two story ideas at the moment that I just can’t seem to fit into the Karen Swan brand, so I’m considering doing a screenwriting course and getting them down that way.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?  
Bum glue. Sit on that chair, stare at that screen and don’t move till you’ve got something to show for it- even if it’s just a paragraph. Inspiration doesn’t just randomly strike. It has to be sought, quarried and mined out of you.

Do you have set writing hours or is it a case of fitting writing in when you can?
The closer I get to a deadline, the more it becomes a case of just fitting it in when I can! I do try to write during the day when my children are at school but life has a habit of getting in the way (a lot!) so I very often work weekends and evenings in the run-up to finishing a book.

What books inspired you as a child?  
All the Enid Blytons – Mallory Towers, Famous Five – and Roald Dahl; I particularly liked The Twits. I also, during my ‘wanting to be a vet’ phase, read any book that had an animal on the cover, so Tarka the Otter, the Incredible Journey, Watership Down…I’m currently reading to my own children, The Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell and I have / shall insist on them all reading the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Philip Pullman.

If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would  you like to write with? 
My 8 year old daughter. Last week, when describing herself, she said she ‘laughed as much as she breathed.’ I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more beautiful line. Actually, I want to copyright it.

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Yes, it usually comes in a lovely large swirly box from Matches but for God’s sake, don’t tell my husband! Your secret is safe with me ;)

A wedding to plan. A wedding to stop. What could go wrong?

Cassie loves Henry. Henry loves Cassie. With a Tiffany ring on her finger, all that Cassie has left to do is plan the wedding. It should be so simple but when Henry pushes for a date, Cassie pulls back.

Henry's wild, young cousin, Gem, has no such hesitations and is racing to the aisle at a sprint, determined to marry in the Cornish church where her parents were wed. But the family is set against it, and Cassie resolves to stop the wedding from going ahead.

When Henry lands an expedition sailing the Pacific for the summer, Cassie decamps to Cornwall, hoping to find the peace of mind she needs to move forwards. But in the dunes and coves of the northern Cornish coast, she soon discovers the past isn't finished with her yet . . .

And thanks to Karen's lovely publicist Katie I have a copy of Summer at Tiffany's for a follower to win (sorry UK only due to publisher restrictions). The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter and contacted for their postal address so that I can pass onto Katie to post the book to you.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Looking forward to reading this. Thanks Lx

  2. This sounds fantastic. Another for the wish list. It is growing every day. I love reading your blog. Xxx

  3. Never read this author before, good interview and thanks for another fab giveaway


  4. Just had a holiday in Cornwall so would love to read this

  5. Loved Christmas at Tiffany's! Can't wait to read this one!