Today it's my pleasure to welcome QVC presenter and author Julia Roberts back to the blog, welcome Julia.
You've recently published book 2 of your Liberty Sands trilogy, If He Really Loved Me..., can you tell us a little bit about it?
If He Really Loved Me… is the standalone sequel to my first novel Life’s a Beach and Then… The book begins with a prologue in which we discover that Holly is now a happily married mother of a toddler, Rosie. Her new husband’s hands settle on her shoulders at the end of the prologue– but whose hands are they? The story then starts two years previously. Holly has yet to tell her twenty year old son, Harry, with whom she has an enviably close relationship, that she is pregnant. When he finds out, it unleashes in him a need to know about his own father who abandoned them before his birth. Once he knows his father’s name he embarks on a journey which takes him to LA and the Gower peninsula in search of the truth, uncovering a tragic story.
An extraordinary twist of fate brings Harry and Philippe, the father of Holly’s unborn child, face to face. Should he tell Philippe about the baby and risk damaging the relationship with his mother for ever?
The first two books in the Liberty Sands trilogy have featured quite a few destinations, both in the UK and abroad, how did you decide which locations to include? Were there any that you initially decided on but then excluded?
Mauritius was where the whole idea for the Liberty Sands trilogy was conceived. I was supposed to be on holiday but spent the whole ten days scribbling copious notes on plot and location. Holly’s occupation as a travel blogger meant that I could bring other exotic locations, such as Barbados and the Maldives, into book two, and book three may well see us visit Hong Kong and/or Cuba. We certainly visit Nottingham, my home town. All the places I have written about so far are places I’ve visited for work or holiday.
If you had to describe Holly in three words, what would they be?
How do you manage to combine your busy day job as a TV presenter on the QVC channel with writing?
I am lucky with my shift pattern at QVC. I work for eight days out of nine, which is quite tough, but it does give me a five day break every fortnight. These are my writing days as I like to be able to write for five or six hours at a stretch so that I can really get into the flow. I don’t mind editing on QVC working days though if I have time.
How's progress going with the final book in the trilogy?
The final book in the trilogy is called ‘It’s Never Too Late to Say…’ The first chapter was in the back of book two and is quite dramatic as we meet Holly’s estranged mother for the first time and start to understand the reasons for her alcoholism, and why she found it so difficult to love her daughter. I’ve written about 15,000 words so far so I need to get a wiggle on if it’s going to be ready for publication in May/June this year.
Why did you decide to go down the self-publishing route for your books?
To be honest, I didn’t necessarily want to self-publish, it just sort of happened. I had submitted to half a dozen agents over a three month period and although a couple of them liked my ‘voice’ none of them had signed me up. Whilst I was waiting to hear back I found I couldn’t concentrate on being creative and I needed to be getting on with the sequel. Around the same time, a novelist friend of mine had her fourth book published – she didn’t like the title, the cover or some of the editing changes she had been asked to make. That helped me reach my decision to self-publish. I was happy working with the editor I had been paired with for my memoir, One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, so I tracked her down and we worked on my first novel. Another novelist friend put me in touch with a cover designer and a formatter and I found that I really liked being able to have the final say on the presentation of my work. I’m very grateful for the help I was given but I’m not sure I would necessarily want to only self-publish once the Liberty Sands trilogy is finished.
Do you find that your experience of promoting products on TV helps you with promoting your books or is it a whole different skillset needed?
I think it is a totally different set of skills, which I’m not sure I possess, although having a strong Twitter following, thanks to QVC fans, has certainly given me a bit of a springboard to encourage people to read my books. It doesn’t help that I’m not very computer literate and I’m still a total novice at Facebook – but I’m trying!
How did your writing journey start?
I have always loved writing, ever since I came second in a short story writing competition when I was ten years old. I always believed I would one day write a novel, and tried many times, but I think timing is key. Just before my memoir was published in 2013 I had been diagnosed with a form of leukaemia and this brought a lot of things into perspective for me. None of us knows how much time we have available to us on this planet and I would have hated to go to my grave never having achieved my ambition.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Finish it. I had started writing several books previously that for a variety of reasons remain unfinished. Now I’ve finished writing three books, I don’t want to stop.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand whilst writing?
Apart from my notebook and computer, all I need are regular deliveries of water or fruit tea (courtesy of my partner of thirty-eight years, Chris) and maybe a candle burning.
Do you treat yourself to a reward once you have finished writing or published a book?
A reward? That’s a great idea. This is something I need to explore – I’m thinking a beach holiday …..
Thanks to the generosity of Julia I have signed copies of Life’s a Beach and Then… and If He Really Loved Me… to give away.
Giveaway is open to followers of the blog - all entries will be validated. NB. Please do not add details of this giveaway to other sites without my permission.
a Rafflecopter giveaway