I'm delighted to welcome bestselling author Judy Astley to the blog today. Judy says that she can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to write, but at the staid and traditional girls’ school she attended, fiction was not encouraged. ‘It was feared that all we wild 1960s teenagers would go to The Bad without firm control over our imaginations.’ I’m happy to tell you that she didn’t listen to this advice, and continued to indulge her imagination, to the good of us all.
So, Judy, I know you are a devoted member of the RNA, can you tell us how you first heard of the organisation, and in what way it has benefited you?
It was Katie Fforde who told me about the RNA when we were doing a bookshop talk together in Guildford, several years ago (and talked so long in the restaurant beforehand that we were almost late, running in all puffed and pink at the last minute). She said I should join as the parties were great – a clincher for me! I’ve met so many terrific people and great friends through the RNA and I love how supportive it is to everyone.
Do you do much planning when starting a new novel? Would you call yourself a plotter or a pantster?
Where to you find inspiration for your characters?
Can you tell us a little about your next book?This new one, THE LOOK OF LOVE, is a good-fun one about Bella who, having suddenly lost three quarters of her income (plus her ex-husband wants to cash in his half of the home), rents out her house as a location for a clothes makeover show and ends up as one of the participants. There are actually three romances in it as Bella, her mother and daughter all have relationships under way. In fact, in a bid to give older women a better-than-usual deal with fiction sex, the mother gets a bedroom scene with her lover in the Ritz hotel, complete with champagne and cake. Bliss.
That sounds good. Three cheers for the older woman. And now to some lighter questions. What was your favourite book as a child?Anne of Green Gables. That and Anne of Avonlea. Both copies in our house had been my mother’s when she was young. I adored Anne and identified with her as my mother used to complain that I never stopped talking. I loved the constant trouble she was in, the wild imagination, the insecurity about how she looked (which I had too). It wasn’t till I was in my thirties that I discovered there were loads more books in the series and I read every fabulous one during a bout of flu.
Which were the first three ebooks you downloaded?
The first to the iPad was Jill Mansell’s ‘To the Moon and Back’, then Kate Long’s ‘Mothers and Daughters’ and Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’. I’ve got a good fortnight’s holiday’s-worth stacked up ready to read but I still actually prefer ‘proper’ books.
If you could choose to be something other than a writer, what would it be?
Have you trained your husband to cook for you while you write?
As a life-long feminist I’m a bit shocked at this question! This is 2012, right? Jon and I both cook, both shop, both deal with laundry. Having said that we do accommodate each other’s work deadlines. If he’s mastering a difficult album (he has a music studio in the house) I’ll do supper and likewise, if I’m on a roll with the book he’ll do it. All I really ask when I’m cooking is that he doesn’t talk to me during The Archers.
What is the most you’ve written in a week and how did you get through it?
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Judy. To find out more do visit her website at http://www.judyastley.com
Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at:email@example.com