Aaaah, guys, I am so excited to have Juliet Ashton today on my blog! Juliet’s last book „These Days of Ours” was one of my favourite reads this year, it was in fact my first Book of the Month this year, and you can read here why I loved this book so much. Believe me, you don’t often keep such a gem of a book in your hands, so if you haven’t read this novel yet, please drop everything you do and go and buy it!
And I am really, absolutely thrilled to have persuaded Juliet to answer some of my questions about the book – and thank you so much for this, lovely Juliet! Here is Q &A with this brilliant Author:
1. I know that authors hate this question, but as „These Days of Ours” was such a complex, emotional book I would really love to know what inspired you to write this particular story?
I don’t hate this question. It’s the one I always want to ask other authors! The ‚spark’ of the story came from a relationship within my family which is very similar to the one between Kate and Becca. I was fascinated by the way my aunts chose one of my cousins to be the ‚beautiful’ one of the family, and never expected anything more from her, such as exam results or a decent job. Getting married was her job! This cousin is also incredibly bossy and interfering, but so good hearted it’s impossible not to love her. From this, the rest of the book just grew.
2. There are wonderful, true to life characters in your book, characters that you want to talk to and that you root for – are they totally fictional or are they based on real people?
As above, the dreadful Becca is based on a relative (who never reads any of my books so I should get away with it …) Kate has aspects of me, probably the aspects that most annoy me. For example, I do hold back when I should just leap, and I’ve seen how that has affected my life, so it was easy to put that into Kate’s story. Kate’s dad is more or less my dad – he really was that sweet and gentle and loving. Plus, I’m afraid, my parents were quite mismatched, although without the simmering tensions I’ve put in the book. Aunty Marjorie is all my wonderful Irish aunties rolled into one. Charlie is a little bit of one friend, a little bit of another. I worked very hard on making Charlie realistic and loveable – the sort of man you really would like to marry, as opposed to a Romantic Hero.
3. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance?
Very very carefully. I’ll add another very: very very very carefully.
4. What was your most and least favourite aspect of writing this book?
The best part was writing parties. They are so brilliant for getting all your characters into one room, plus the party feeling rubbed off on me. My least favourite – or, to put it another way, – the part I found most difficult was making sure that the passage of years rolled by smoothly, without leaving readers behind or confusing them.
5. What is your favourite scene in the novel? (I personally had plenty. PLENTY).
I’d love to know what your favourite scenes are!
I was very happy with the hospital scene between Kate and her father. I wanted it to be tender and true to life, without being depressing. The language flowed very easily, and I was totally involved. I wrote that scene so fast!
I also loved writing the Christmas party dinner at Angus’s club. I could really see the crackling fire and the panelled walls. The dialogue was easy, as all the characters had plenty to say. Plus, there was an important flashback right at the beginning which carried a lot of plot. Besides all that, I knew the lovely day would end darkly ….
6. You are writing under different pen names. Is it hard to keep on track and in what way do the books differ from each other?
I agree – I find it hard to keep track too!
For the moment there are no more Bernadette Strachan novels, although I might revive the name at some point. My Claire Sandy novels are pure chick lit, albeit with an emphasis on family life. There’s a farcical element to some of it, lots of romance and laughs. Juliet Ashton writes slightly more mature works, with deeper emotional content. Although there are a few giggles along the way too!
7. There are already raving reviews for „These Days of Ours” – What do people love most about this book? What do you love about it?
Readers have zoomed in on the Kate/Becca friendship. It seems to remind them of similar relationships in their own lives, plus everybody likes to boo a baddie, and Becca is certainly worth a boo or two. I love the book – is it OK to say you love your own book?! – because it talks about true love in a realistic fashion. People behave foolishly and badly, but they’re forgiven because they’re human. Deep down, the love doesn’t waver.
8. What did you want your readers to take away from your story?
The same I always want readers to take away – some smiles, one or two tears and a feeling that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this together.
You can find Juliet on her website!