Today it's my stop on the It Started With a Tweet blog tour and I'm delighted to welcome author Anna Bell to the blog for a chat.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’m an author of heart-warming, romantic comedies. I started to write for novels when I was a military museum curator. After trying and failing to get an agent and a publisher, I self-published a book. When that started to sell, so I self-published two novels closely after. My third self-published novel caught the attention of a publisher and I got an agent soon after.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for It Started with a Tweet, what would it be?
Forced offline for sending a sexually explicit tweet from her work account, Daisy finds herself on a digital detox where she has to learn how to live and love offline.
It's suggested to Daisy to get away from it all and do a digital detox, where did the inspiration come from? And is this something you have done yourself?
The starting point for the book was wanting to write a love story that centered around two characters writing to each other. I love handwritten letters and I feel that they can be so much more romantic than text messages or emails. I wanted to find a reason for my characters to correspond using a pen and paper rather than text so I had to come up with a way to keep them away from their phones - and that was how the digital detox was born. Recently my two kids (aged two and four) and I underwent a three day digital detox. I was expecting tears and tantrums (mostly on my part), but they never came. I personally found it liberating and it was such an eye opener to realise how much time I waste on the internet. It’s definitely something that’s going to stay with me and I’ll be planning many more mini-detoxes or digital free Sundays.
Describe Daisy in three words
Obsessive, determined and resourceful.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Read widely. The more you read in your genre, the more you’ll learn about what works well and what doesn’t. Think about the books you read critically - what would you have done to make the story even better? Also, read other genres, you can always learn something that you can carry through to what you write. Thrillers are great for twists and pacing, auto-biographies are good for getting inside people’s minds and travel biographies are great for understanding how to create a sense of place.
If you get a block during the initial writing phase, how do you work your way through it?
Nothing frustrates me more than when I get stuck writing one of my books. I find the best thing to do is to get away from my laptop. I take the dog for a long walk and as I think everything through. By the time I make it back to the house I’ve usually thought of a new idea to try. I don’t know if it’s the walking or the fresh air but it always seems to work.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
Whenever I start a writing session I have a hot drink and snack next to me. The most important thing for me when I’’m writing is to be comfortable, so I’ll always make sure that I’m dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a snuggly hoodie. I’ve also always got a notebook for the book I’m working on next to me, as often I jot down ideas for later parts of the chapter or ideas for later in the book so they I don’t forget them.
What writers inspire you?
Every time I read a great book I feel that it inspires me a little - pushing me to dig deeper and to write better. I think that both Lindsey Kelk and Jane Green are hugely inspiring to me as a women’s fiction author. Not only do they write brilliant books but they also have such a great social media presence and you can see them connecting with their fans.
If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you like to go and why?
I live in rural France, so I’m used to long walks in the country followed by quiet writing sessions (as long as the kids are at school or nursery), so for me I’d love to go on a retreat to New York City. I adore New York, it’s got a buzz and energy to it that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I’d love to go and write in the numerous coffee shops and pretend I was Carrie Bradshaw as I tapped away on the keys.
Do you treat yourself to something to celebrate the publication of your books?
No, but I should do! My publishing career seemed to coincide with the arrival of my little children and timing wise there always seemed to be either a tiny baby or a baby bump which seemed to stop me from having a big celebration. My husband and I instead made do with a celebratory bottle of something with fizz and a cake from a fancy patisserie.
And finally what can we expect from your next?
I’m currently writing a novel about two childhood friends who had one of those ‘if we’re not married by the time we’re thirty’ pacts. The two meet up post-thirty and decide to put the pact into action - and it’s a real-will-they-won’t-they novel with lots of humour and a fair bit of soul searching going on.
Facebook: Anna Bell writes
Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . .
Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria. Soon, too, Daisy a welcome distraction there in Jack, the rugged man-next-door.
But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village?
And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?