For those who do not know you already, I’d like to start with some ‘personal’ questions. If that’s okay with you? *Carol nods.* (She can’t answer, because she’s just stuffed her face with my chocolate brownies.)
Are you a traveller, or a rooter? i.e. have you always lived in the same place?
Great first question because I love travelling. I was born in Germany thanks to my father being in the army, and moved about all my young life, rarely staying anywhere longer than a year, so travelling is in my blood. I get itchy feet if I stay somewhere for too long.
As soon as I finished university, I went to Morocco to teach. I came back to the UK because I was offered a very good job at a private school. My intention was to stay in the UK for a couple of years, make enough money to leave again and head for Japan. My plans went awry when I met my husband-to-be and instead of jet-setting off around the world, I stayed in the UK. We compromised though and for eleven years I spent a quarter of each year living in France. Nowadays, we travel as much as possible. See that’s what love does? It messes up your travelling plans!
How do you feel about getting older?
Haha! I actually grinned when I read this question. I don’t actually mind getting older. As my father used to say to me when I teased him about getting old, “At least I can say I have enjoyed all these years.” I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my life too and although getting older can mean you are faced with challenges, such as failing health and sadness, it comes with its rewards. I can now behave as badly as I want and get away with it! My mother is a wonderful role model for this because even at eighty she still manages to be the life and soul at parties. She could drink a Navvie under the table and outparty a seventeen year old.
I’ve found some golden oldies that would love to meet her.
I have aches, pains and poor eyesight. I have whiskers and wrinkles but inside I am still that youthful person who enjoys Disney films, eighties music and who will giggle at silly things. That helps me as I get older.
You’re my kind of woman!
Were you always this bubbly and generally fun person?
That’s a very nice way of putting it as I have been called “irritatingly cheerful” on more than one occasion and am the sort of person you dread seeing if you are not a ‘morning’ person. So, in brief I guess the answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’ If you need a laugh…I’m your girl (or should that read woman…ageing dowager?)
Hahaha, keep ’em coming. 🙂
Can you tell us a bit about your path leading to this writing loop we’re stuck in, and is writing all you do nowadays?
The path is long and I don’t want to bore you all but I have written for many years. I started writing children’s stories when I lived in Casablanca in my twenties with great titles such as Humphrey the Camel and the Dustbin Cats. When I lived in France, I wrote a series of animal stories that taught French to younger children and even produced a cassette of songs to accompany them. (No, I didn’t sing the songs. I sound like a dustbin cat.) They stories were used in schools to teach French to children aged three and worked very well.
Following a change in career, I then worked on a wonderful project—a book about how to lose weight, become super-fit and more youthful. It went to a publishing house that liked it hugely but then a celebrity came out with a similar book from a rival publishing house, and my book was rejected because I wasn’t famous enough.
I began writing for adults when my son left home. By then it was number one on my ‘Things I have always wanted to do but life got in the way’ list. My first novel Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines became a best-seller and earned me a lot of media attention including a whole page feature in Woman’s Own, one of our top magazines. The rest is history. The paperback version of my third novel is out 15th November and my second non-fiction humorous book Grumpy Old Menopause will be out 1st December with more books to come next year.
That sounds like you’ve really made things work for you, but to have your talent to spin a yarn in a way that makes you smile to say the least does help.
What is the best thing that could happen to you on any given day? And what is the best thing that happened to you so far?
I was tempted to say Tom Cruise popping by for coffee in answer to the first part of that question. This response is going to sound connived but in all seriousness if someone sends me an email or writes a review about one of my books, saying how much they have enjoyed it, I’ll be on cloud nine all day. Obviously, if I got a call from television centre saying they needed me for an interview on a prime TV show, then that would make me squeal loudly and frighten my husband. One of the best things that happened recently was discovering that my non-fiction humorous book How Not to Murder Your Grumpy has made it through to the finals for the People’s Book Prize in May 2014. I am ridiculously excited about that.
That’s not ridiculous at all, I’d be yapping about it all day to everyone if that happened to one of my books. So good for you!
For those that want to know more about you, Carol can be found online at:
Thanks for answering my questions with such zeal. I love a woman who can handle a good joke. Hahahaha. But that’s not all you are here for, is it? I guess you want to tell us about your writerly things.
So, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
It must be an age thing. I had to check my titles to see which one we were talking about. Just Add Spice is my choice today.
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
I have to confess that I asked my followers and friends for ideas with this title and for confirmation that they liked it. I am the worlds worst at choosing titles. My first book was A Twinkle in Your Wrinkle until twenty-four hours before it was published. Writing the book is no trouble, but titles worry me. I become very indecisive. It’s because I know how important it is to have a gripping title. I go into meltdown and worry the title isn’t good enough.
I am very happy with this title though because I am someone who loves playing about with words so the title, as do all my titles, serve a dual purpose. Think “Sugar and spice and all things nice…” and you’ll be getting close to it. Cinnamon’s mother used the rhyme to name her daughter after a spice, but of course, life changes Cinnamon into a dark character. Obviously, Dawn desperately needs some spice in her life. Put the two together and read the end of the book and you will have the answer!
Tell me more! Give us a taste of it, pretty please?
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
I wonder if I could get away with calling it a light-hearted thriller? Conform? Me? I don’t generally conform to anything.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
An air punch and Snoopy dance followed by a bag of Jelly Snake sweets. Mr Grumpy my husband doesn’t understand my excitement so I keep celebrations low key.
What don’t you like about writing.
Being disturbed I HATE being interrupted. My poor husband doesn’t appreciate that I am absorbed and I don’t want a coffee, walk, watch television or to eat dinner but insists on dragging me away from the computer.
What do you think you are going to do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to books?
It’s more a case of what haven’t I tried for marketing. You name it and I have had a go at it. I found that a good radio interview or major magazine article attracted the most attention to my books and I make good sales when I do virtual book tours. I’m doing two month long book tours in November. One is UK based and the other is USA based. That’ll keep me busy.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
No, but scoff endless packets of sweets when I am writing. I used to eat Midget Gems, a hard chewy sweet, but after each book I had to go to the dentist and have my teeth fixed, so now I eat softer jelly sweets
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
I am a lousy cook but I can do excellent stews, especially French stews. They are easy because you only have to throw all the ingredients into a crock pot slow cooker and leave it for a day or two. That means I can spend more time typing. Slow cooked Boeuf Bourguignon is my favourite dish. If you want the recipe, click here.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
The only reason I wouldn’t write would be because I had a mammoth hangover and the noise of the typing was making me feel sick. Or, I was diving all day. That sea water can play havoc with your notebook and pencil.
Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
I’m not sure I have any blab material left. I am always blabbing in my books and on my blog. However, because it’s you and I know you won’t tell anyone, I can divulge that thanks to my father’s connections, I once had Boxing day lunch at the Houses of Parliament. It involved a lot of wine and joviality and a private tour around afterwards. We were shown all the prestigious parts that the public generally can’t visit. I weaved about and we ended up at the House of Commons. We went into one particular area that is roped off and out of bounds to everyone–the throne that the Queen sits on when Parliament begins each session. Yes, before you could say “crown jewels”, fuelled by a bottle of wine and several glasses of port, I was on that throne, waving imperiously and imitating her Royal Majesty. There is photographic evidence of the event but my mother has that and periodically pulls it out to entertain her friends.
I am known for behaving mischievously. Another episode involved a day trip to Venice. I was on a bus filled with tourists for a trip. When we got off the bus we were told to follow the tour guide. She held up a large rolled up umbrella so we could see her in the crowd. She didn’t go anywhere I wanted to go and after a dull hour in front of some building listening to her monotonous voice, I thought I’d inject some fun into the proceedings, so while she was dealing with map and not paying attention; I casually picked up her umbrella and walked off waving it in the air. I managed to get most of the coach to follow me all the way to a smart bar on St Mark’s square before she caught up and took it off me. Seems I wasn’t the only one who was bored.
Hahaha, that sounds like the end of a tour I would have enjoyed. Thanks Carol for being here and answering all these questions. Do come back if you have more news, or just a fun article you’d like to offer me for publication.
My question to the readers is, “Do you have enough humour in your life?”