Sunday, 29 January 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A With Sharon Booth

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Thank you, Rachel, for having me on your blog. I write contemporary romance with a good sprinkling of humour—"fun-filled fiction with heart". I live in East Yorkshire with my husband and our German Shepherd dog, Tessa. I'm one tenth of blogging group, The Write Romantics, and a full member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. I've published five books and I've also written for The People's Friend. My PF pocket novel is due to be published in large print by Ulverscroft in April. I'm currently working on my sixth novel. I love books, chocolate, and I'm shamefully prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes. 

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

My first book is called There Must Be an Angel. It's the first book in a series, set in the fictional village of Kearton Bay, which was inspired by the beautiful Robin Hood's Bay near Whitby. Here's 
the blurb:

When Eliza Jarvis discovers her property show presenter husband, Harry, has been expanding his portfolio with tabloid darling Melody Bird, her perfect life crumbles around her ears.

Before you can say Pensioner Barbie, she’s in a stolen car, heading to the North Yorkshire coastal village of Kearton Bay in search of the father she never knew, with only her three-year-old daughter and a family-sized bag of Maltesers for company.

Ignoring the pleas of her uncle, chat show presenter Joe Hollingsworth, Eliza determines to find the man who abandoned her mother and discover the reason he left them to their fate. All she has to go on is his name – Raphael – but in such a small place there can’t be more than one angel, can there?
Gabriel Bailey may have the name of an angel but he’s not feeling very blessed. In fact, the way his life’s been going he doesn’t see how things can get much worse. Then Eliza arrives with her flash car and designer clothes, reminding him of things he’d rather forget, and he realises that if he’s to have any kind of peace she’s one person he must avoid at all costs.

But with the help of beautiful Wiccan landlady, Rhiannon, and quirky pink-haired café owner, Rose, Eliza is soon on the trail of her missing angel, and her investigations lead her straight into Gabriel’s path. As her search takes her deeper into the heart of his family, Eliza begins to realise that she’s in danger of hurting those she cares about deeply. Is her quest worth it?

And is the angel she’s seeking really the one she’s meant to find?

It's a story of love, friendship, and new beginnings, of home and belonging, and finding out who you really are. Oh, and there are donkeys. And marshmallows!

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I always wanted to write, and really looked forward to English lessons at school. I was the annoying kid in the class, who actually wanted to write stories, poems and plays. In fact, I occasionally wrote my classmates' stories, too, if they couldn't be bothered. I more-or-less stopped writing anything when I had children, except shopping and to-do lists, sometimes managing a "Chapter One" but rarely getting beyond that point, before throwing the thing in the bin and giving up. One day some characters popped into my head and just wouldn't budge. I had to tell their story, and I used NaNoWriMo as an incentive to make sure I finally finished my first novel. 

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

Well, the first draft took thirty days. Throughout November 2011 I wrote solidly, and finished NaNoWriMo with a manuscript of a hundred and twenty thousand words. Done, I thought triumphantly. Ha, how naïve I was! Little did I realise that the work was just beginning. I can't tell you how many changes I made to that first draft. I lost count. In all, I was editing and re-writing for well over two-and-a-half years.

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

I don't think I'd change anything about how I went about writing it. It was incredibly frustrating at the time, and I can remember almost giving up on several occasions. It actually reduced me to tears! But, at the same time, I learnt so much from the process of pulling the thing together. I took advice from a creative writing tutor, and I submitted a draft to the Romantic Novelists' Association as part of its New Writers' Scheme, receiving a very encouraging and useful report, which helped me to understand where I was going wrong, and what I could do to improve the book. I also asked three other writers to read through it and give me their honest opinions, which they did. Their advice was invaluable, and it was wonderful to have people to discuss it with. All that writing, rewriting, chopping, changing and refining was a fantastic experience, and I'm glad it took me that long to feel happy with it. I read There Must Be an Angel a year ago, to get me back in the "Kearton Bay vibe" as I was about to start writing the third book in the series, and I will admit there were a few things I would change. I think it's inevitable that, as you get more experience, you see how you would improve your previous work. However, I wouldn't change the storyline, or the characters. I actually enjoyed reading it, so that must say something!   

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

Angel was self-published. I always wanted to self-publish, and intended that the whole time I was writing it. I was encouraged to seek a publisher, and did submit to half a dozen small publishing companies. Angel was being considered by one when I had an offer from a fellow writer, who was setting up an author co-operative, whereby several writers would publish under one imprint and we would pool resources, advice, and help each other with publicity etc, but keep our own profits. It seemed the ideal solution to me, so that's what happened. The situation with Fabrian Books has evolved since then, and continues to do so. We're now going in a different direction, so that will be interesting. I've also had a pocket novel published by People's Friend, and that's due to be published in large print by Ulverscroft in April, so it's been a nice balance.    

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Write! Just keep writing, even when you want to give up. Get support and take as much advice as you can get from people who know. If you write romance, join the RNA's New Writers' Scheme. The joining fee is worth it for the critique alone. Writing is lonely, so make friends online with other writers. There's a massive writing community on Facebook and Twitter, and it's very welcoming. Read how-to books. Don't be in a rush to get published. Most of all, though, just keep going. If you really want to write, you will.  

Tell us about your first…

7) Book you bought

I can't remember the first book I bought, though it was probably a pony book from WH Smith. I can remember the first book I was ever given, though. It was Noddy by Enid Blyton, and I still remember the wonder I felt when I unwrapped the present and held that book in my hands.

8) Memory

Looking out of the dining room window into the garden and feeling sad. It was my third birthday. I can't remember why I was feeling sad. I just remember that feeling, and watching the rain pouring down.

9) Person you fell in love with

Probably Jimmy Osmond when I was nine years old!

10) Holiday you went on

Primrose Valley on the North Yorkshire coast. A whole crowd of us went—Mum, Dad, me, my sister, possibly my brother (though I'm not sure if he was born then), Nanna, Grandad, auntie, great-aunties and great-uncles, and half-cousins. We stayed in caravans or bungalows, and we'd walk along the beach to Filey each night for fish and chips, and my Nanna and great-aunt took me and my sister winkle picking on Filey Brigg. Dad got sick eating too many winkles! Happy days. 

11) Prize you won

A diary from WeightWatchers in a raffle, unless you count merit badges and certificates that I got from primary school for being good. I was a very well-behaved child!

12) Album you purchased

The first albums I bought with my own money were for other people. The first one I remember buying was a Vera Lynn Christmas album for my mother, who pretended to be thrilled. I was persuaded by the shop assistant that it was the ideal Christmas present for her. Hmm. I think I was conned. My mum was only in her very early thirties at the time! The first album I remember having bought for me by my parents was Donny Osmond's Too Young. I can't remember the first album I bought for myself, but I suspect it was probably by Abba.

13) Sport you enjoyed participating in

You must be joking! Unless Cluedo counts as a sport. I did love watching show-jumping, though, and used to follow all the famous nineteen-seventies show-jumpers. Dad used to take me to the annual local show, where the likes of Harvey Smith would be competing. It was amazing. Anything horsy was thrilling. Netball and hockey meant nothing to me.

14) Embarrassing moment you can remember

Being told off in front of the whole class for going to get a toy from the cupboard in the classroom, and playing with it while the teacher was telling us a story. "This is story time, Sharon, not toy time," she said crossly, taking it from my hands. It must have been a very dreary story, because usually I preferred story time to anything!

15) Pet

A Yorkshire terrier called Sooty. She was my best friend. Really. I remember all that teenage angst, and crying into her fur while I poured out all my troubles. She never tried to move away. She always listened. She died when I was fifteen and I was devastated. I still miss her.

16) Time you were in trouble

I can't actually remember, though knowing me, it was probably because I was late.

17) Choice of alternative career if you weren’t an author

I work for the NHS, but that wouldn't be my first choice. If I had my time over again, I would start writing seriously much earlier, but I'd also like to do something similar to my friend's work. She teaches creative writing to people with depression and anxiety, and other mental health issues. The writing really helps them, and I'd love to have done something like that.

18) Time you had any independence

Well, I left home at just sixteen, so I was pretty independent very early on. I remember, though, being allowed to go on the bus to my Nanna and Grandad's house all by myself. It was a thirty-minute bus ride, so I felt quite accomplished about that. Also, I remember being told that I was old enough to walk to school and back on my own for the first time. I was about five. That was quite scary. I wasn't sure if I could remember the way, but the sense of achievement when I did was exhilarating.

19) Toy that you recall loving

A navy-blue Silver Cross twin pram, complete with two Tiny Tears dolls, dressed in red velvet coats and white tights. A Christmas present from my Nanna and Grandad.

20) Time you felt like an adult

I'm still waiting for that to happen.

21) Time you realised you were good at something

When I got double A for English on my school report. I usually only managed Bs or Cs for most subjects, so that was a real thrill, and the comments made me start to think maybe there was something I could actually do at last.

22) Dish you cooked

I'm not sure, but I do remember the first Christmas dinner I cooked. I still remember the pink turkey legs. It's a wonder we survived.

23) Time you were really scared

I was bullied at school by a girl in another class, when I was about eight. I didn't even know her, so I don't know why she decided to pick on me. She pushed me into a huge puddle after school, and I was dripping in mud and slime. My school project was completely ruined. My mum went into school the next day to see the headmaster, taking my mud-soaked clothes with her. I think I was more scared about her turning up and making a fuss than I was about being bullied!

Thank you so much for that comprehensive interview, Sharon.  I laughed at the album you bought your mum, I think you definitely were conned, and such a shame your earliest memory is being sad on your birthday.

Purchase and social media for Sharon Booth

The Kearton Bay series:

Skimmerdale series:

Christmas novel:

Find out more about me at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for allowing me onto your blog, Rachel! Great questions. X


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