How did you become a writer? It’s a question which I am often asked. The truth is that from as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write stories. But the problem was that it wasn’t the kind of career you could easily train for like a teacher or a scientist.
I grew up in a place called Harrow Weald, a ‘green belt’ area about forty minutes away from London on the Metropolitan line. Despite its proximity to the capital, there were woods and fields which I would often walk through, making up tales about people and places I knew.
My school was one of the first girls’ schools in the country – very academic - and because I didn’t consider myself to be particularly bright, I took refuge in novels like Jane Eyre. I also longed to be one of the bubbly party set but that wasn’t to be! So I threw my angst into writing poetry. It seemed quite natural to read English at university – the only subject I was interested in – and then to become a magazine journalist. Again, it was the only job that seemed to have any relation with my ultimate ambition – to write a novel
But life has a habit of de-railing you! I married young and left my job on Woman’s Own to bring up my three wonderful children. At the same time, I freelanced furiously for a wide range of magazines and newspapers – mainly specialising in family features and celebrities. I was lucky enough to interview all kinds of famous people including Julie Walters and Barbara Dickson. Sometimes if I was desperate (childcare wasn’t easy), I would take my children with me to these interviews . Pam Ayres was particularly kind when I brought my then two year old along.
By the time my youngest son was three, I realised time was running out for that novel. So I wrote 100,000 words about a housewife who swapped place with a journalist. It was called Amersham Wives. I found an agent through the Writers & Artists Yearbook and thought I was made. However, although the novel had nice rejection letters, no one took me up. So, on my agent’s advice, I wrote another noel – and another. Finally, after writing a novel a year for ten years, I got my first contract. The book was called ‘The School Run’ and the publisher was Hodder & Stoughton. My agent suggested writing it under a pen name – Sophie King - in case readers mistook it for a non-fiction book (I’d already written quite a few of those by then).
My fifth Sophie King novel ‘ The Wedding Party’ was shortlisted for Love Story of the Year by the Romantic Novelists Association in 2010. That was wonderful!
Then I changed publishers to Random House and they wanted to re-launch me with a new name. So I became Janey Fraser (‘Janey’ is actually my real name although ‘Fraser’ isn’t). It’s rather odd having a pen name. In some ways it protects your privacy but in another, it makes you feel like someone you aren’t.
My fourth Janey Fraser novel is called ‘After The Honeymoon’ and has just come out. It’s about one honeymoon destination; thee couples; and six secrets. The first half is set in gorgeous sunny Greece and the second in a small English town where the couples come to terms with the first six months of married life!
In real life, I’ve had two honeymoons. My first marriage came to an end after twenty seven years which was very hard for all of us. Three years later, I went onto marry a family friend who is also the Godfather to my children. It means a lot to me that he’s known them since they were babies. My first husband has re-married too. My second honeymoon was more of an extended wedding reception in a beautiful country house hotel, set in the Lake District. I didn’t want to go away after that, as I wanted to be around for my then 16-year-old son.
Writing, for me, is a mixture of being a mum – even though the children are much older now – and having time to myself. My husband is very good at that. He never minds when I go up to my study for ‘a few minutes’ and come down several hours later…
If you want to write, I’d advise you to keep your eyes peeled for a situation that grabs you. Then think about what kind of people might find themselves in that situation and what problems they could encounter. Picture the place they’re in – use magazine pictures as a prompt – and smell it. You might also like to look at a book I wrote called ‘How To Write Your First Novel’ by Sophie King, published by How To Books.
Kaylie carefully unfolded the paper that remind her of the kind you’d tear out of your notebook to pass a message to your friend in class. Kailey held the note up to the one, dirty window in the basement in order to get a better view of the words. But even lit up by the peering light, the hand written note made no sense to her.
I’ve gone, I can’t take being here any longer. I hope you understand. I love you.
George whimpered, as if he somehow knew that the note said. Kailey passed the letter to Sam, whose face dropped in horror as his eyes quickly scanned the paper.
“He’s gone?” Sam said, shaking his head.
Kailey looked up at him, she raised both eye brows and shook her head. “No,” she said declaratively. “That’s not Max’s handwriting.”
“Are you sure?” Sam asked just as Kailey headed for the staircase.
“Of course I’m sure,” she muttered, hitting each step with determination. “He’s my brother.”
Kailey made her way back outside and looked around. She ran her fingers through her hair as she tried to calm herself down. Someone had taken her brother. Someone wanted to make it look like he left on his own.
Sam materialized next to her and wrapped his strong arms around her waist. She flinched and inches away from his grasp. “I don’t have time for this.”
“Don’t have time for what?” Sam asked, looking genuinely confused.
“For you,” she spat out. “For your weird mixed signals. You were the one who cheated on me and now you’re all over me? I called you to help me find my brother, not cop a feel in the forest.”
“I told you, that was a mistake.” His eyes suddenly flashing with anger.
“Oh yeah?” she countered. “Well so was calling you today.”
Sam shook his head. “You’re crazy.”
“And you’re useless,” she narrowed her eyes. “George! Come here boy!”
George came running over to her and she tugged lightly on his leash. Kailey took a few steps forward just as Max shouted out after her.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to find my brother,” she said without looking back.
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.
To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
There were a lot of strikes against this book for me at first. Number one, the cover. Don’t get me wrong, it’s stunning. Quite possibly the most beautiful cover I have ever seen, apart from the last book in his series, The One. But I expected this to be a pedestrian novel about a girl wanting to become a princess. What I got was so much more. This book was intriguing, full of heart, and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two days flat and immediately ordered the next two installments of the series. I highly recommend this book!
Hey everyone! Today I have Charlotte Ashby, author of Girls Like Us, talking about her career thus far, and what she has learned from all of her experiences!
A year ago, I found myself in the enviable position of not being the breadwinner for a while – 20 years later I had another gap year to fill. Naturally I had planned all sorts of life enhancing activities like flicking through ‘get the look’ sections of women’s magazines and removing hairballs from the corners of my kitchen.
I have always loved reading and studied English at university but had no serious intention of writing a book, until that is, my best friend came up with a suggestion. Send me one page she said, just one page and I won’t hassle you again. Looking back, that was fiendishly cunning. You can’t write the first page without inventing characters, scenarios, relationships and then once you’ve started, you can’t just abandon them. You’ve got to keep going and find out what happens next. I sent her a chapter a week and waited with baited breadth for a response, which wasn’t always flattering but she was usually right. I was obsessed, for the next 10 months, I would find myself driving with no clue where I was, utterly absorbed and distracted by the characters and how it could all work out.
Of course it helped that I had spent 20 years in a consumer PR agency, one of the most colourful and ludicrous workplaces you could imagine. There were graduate trainees running the marathon dressed as a pot noodle, brainstorms in sandpits, photocalls with abusive celebrities and all manner of harebrained stunts to grab the tabloid headlines. So Emily Brighouse, my hapless, slightly slutty, well meaning heroine, is only a slight exaggeration. Because I have hopped into the offices of the Daily Sport dressed as an Easter Bunny, I have abseiled down the side of a building for some nutty PR stunt and I too have been invited onto the Richard & Judy show to explain my offensive publicity campaign.
Nothing can describe the excitement of seeing the front cover for the first time – knickers on the chandeliers – need I say more! Girls Like Us was described by one newspaper as a ‘heady mix between Bridget Jones and Jilly Cooper’ and the next thing I know, I’m Sun ebook of the week. But the truth is, it was all worth it just to give my friend a laugh and every snigger I get beyond that is a massive bonus.
And what have I learnt from this strange, emotional, maddening experience? For every publisher or agent that turns you down, there is a kind tweet or review that keeps you going. If you can just write the first page, you can write a novel. It’s definitely OK to laugh at your own jokes and there will probably always be hairballs in the corners of my kitchen, because whether I like it or not, I will never stop writing novels.
In keeping with my Sophie Jordan themed weekend, my next post is a book review of the most recent New Adult novel I have read of her’s, Foreplay. The sequel, Tease, is out now.
Scroll down further in the site to check out the cover reveal for her latest Young Adult novel, Unleased.
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan
Published by HarperTeen, HarperCollins
Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs.
Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.
Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…
I am a big fan of New Adult books. Those and Young Adult (or Teen as they’re being called these days) have more heart and passion in them than most women’s fiction does. I am happy to day that Foreplay doesn’t not let you know. Besides being extremely well written, Jordan creates a story that you feel like you can step into. A lot of romance novels and very surface based. You can’t really relate to the characters, and they are really more for entertainment than for creating a great story. But Pepper’s character is completely relate-able. She is shy and insecure, yet still strong and intelligent at the same time. She is torn between her heart and her brain and it makes sense that all of this is happening while she is 19 years old.
I really liked this book, and will absolutely be reading the next installment.
What if the worst thing you ever did was unforgivable?
Davy’s world fell apart after she tested positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. She was expelled from her school, dumped by her boyfriend, abandoned by friends, and shipped off to a camp that turns HTS carriers into soldiers. Davy may have escaped, but the damage has already been done. The unthinkable has happened. Now, even worse than having everyone else see her as a monster is the knowledge that they may have been right about her all along. Because Davy has killed.
On the run from government agents, Davy is rescued by Caden, the charismatic leader of an underground group of rebels. Despite Caden’s assurances that the Resistance is made up of carriers like her, Davy isn’t sure she can trust them. Then again, she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself . . . or her growing feelings for Caden. But if she doesn’t belong with Caden and his followers, is there anywhere she can call home?
I thought being labeled a killer and losing everything—my future, family, boyfriend, friends—was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It’s not. Finding out they were right. Finding out that’s exactly what I am?
Hey everyone! Jill Knapp here to announce to you all that the cover reveal for my novel has finally arrived! Originally self-published and called Chase, my book is being re-released on July 24th by HarperImpulse, HarperCollins.
You can follow me on Twitter @JL_Knapp or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jill-Knapp/1488935691330000?ref=hl
When you live in the fastest moving city on earth, how do you decide-
What is worth the chase?
Life in the city gives 23 year old Amalia Hastings a ride she is not expecting… As she tries to find her way on the little island that never sleeps, she discovers she has a harder time navigating through life then she does the streets of Greenwich Village!
Amalia thought she had everything she wanted – a new apartment in Manhattan, a first-rate education at NYU, a group of fabulous friends and Nicholas, a boyfriend who she once believed was her soul-mate. But somehow, it isn’t enough.
Stumbling through her relationships, Amalia encounters Michael. An attractive classmate who quickly moves from being one of her close friends, to an inconsistent friend-with-benefits. After all, the only thing consistent about New York is its beauty.
Amalia is essentially torn between two men, and Michael is torn between two women. Her best friend Cassandra is being strung along by her “boyfriend”, Bryce, and even her friend Olivia is having a secret relationship!
After getting hopelessly lost searching for love in all the wrong places, Amalia finds herself asking – what happens to men when they move to Manhattan?!
HarperImpulse, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is an exciting new range of romance fiction brought to you from the women’s fiction team at HarperCollins. Their aim is to break new talent from debut authors and import the hottest trends from the US, bringing to market the very best in romance. Whether that is through short reads for your mobile phone or epic sagas that span the generations they want to proudly publish romance fiction that gets everybody talking.