We are delighted to welcome Carole Matthews to the blog today. Carole will be known to many of our members for her bestselling novels and we interview her as she celebrates a special point in her writing life.
You have reached a milestone in your writing life with the publication of your 25th book, The Christmas Party. Congratulations! How did you celebrate this event?
My publisher gave me a lovely posh party at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London. It was a really great evening with many friends from the world of publishing and personal friends who have been important in my career. I’ve also been trying to take time and savour the publication of this book and have been looking back at the many things that my partner, Lovely Kev, and I have done over the years. It’s been quite a ride.
How long does it take from the first idea to filing the completed novel and do you find it easier to write now that you are an experienced novelist?
I write two books a year, so have a deadline every six months. It’s usually three or four months of solid writing in that. I’m not sure the writing process ever gets any easier. I’m currently writing book number 27 and that’s the trickiest one I’ve done in a while. Also, modern publishing requires you to produce a lot of promotional material, so I’m always writing short stories, articles and blog pieces. That takes up quite a lot of time.
How much research do you undertake when planning a story?
It depends entirely on the story. If I set them in a location that I don’t know then I like to make sure I visit it if I can. Or, if I’m writing about a particular job, then I like to shadow or talk to someone doing that job. To research a theme, I talk to people, gather magazine or newspaper articles, roam the internet. I just sort of know when I’m armed with enough knowledge and ready to make a start.
What would be a typical writing day for you?
I get into the office about eight to answer email and catch up with social media. Then I work from ten to one. I have an hour for lunch and then write again from two until six. I do that five days a week and try very hard not to work at weekends. Those who chat to me on social media will also know that I usually pull two ‘insomnia’ shifts a week. I’m not a great sleeper and if I’m awake, I generally get up and work through the night.
You make yourself available on social media to chat to your readers. Would you say this is important for all authors?
Crucial. But I also think that you have to love it. You can tell the authors who are on there only to promote their books and that’s annoying. Fortunately, I love social media and the opportunities it gives. I’d like to think that I’m building genuine relationships with my readers and I value their feedback and friendship.
Which of your books was your favourite to write?
I have several favourites for different reasons. Let’s Meet on Platform 8 was my first book and so I’ll always have a soft spot for that one. The books that I can’t leave alone are The Chocolate Lovers’ books - The Chocolate Lovers’ Club and The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet. I love the ladies in those books. They never leave my head and the books have been my best sellers worldwide. I’m currently writing another two in the series. Yay!
How many personal appearances do you make to promote each book?
It depends on many different things. I tend to do only the big events that my publisher organises now or, on the flip side, small ones that are local to me. I also organise outings with my readers - we’ve been on chocolate tours, out for afternoon tea and I sometimes drop in on them for a cuppa if I’m passing. The joys of social media means that you have friends everywhere!
What words of advice would you give to members of our New Writers’ Scheme?
Don’t follow trends. Write the book that you want to write and make it the very best that you can. Don’t be in too much of a rush to send it off to agents or to self-publish. I have many manuscripts come across my desk from writers who want to be published, but very few of them are finished to a professional standard. Write every day when you’re starting out, even if it’s only for half an hour. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Please tell us something about book number 25
The Christmas Party is a riotous story about one night at an office party. The heroine is Louise Young, a single mum, who is back in the world of work for the first time in five years. Unfortunately, she has a difficult boss, Tyler Benson, and is treading on eggshells with him in an attempt to keep her job. She goes to her first office party hoping to have the time of her life, but little does she know that it will be a night to remember for many reasons.
This story was great fun to write, full of misdemeanours, mischief and mistaken identity. Being the festive season I have a great pantomime baddy who you can boo and hiss on every page. Everyone has been to an office Christmas party, but I don’t think many people have been to one quite like this!
Carole Matthews is a bestselling author of twenty-five hugely successful romantic comedy novels. As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries and has sold over 4 million books. Her books Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both been short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year.
Previously unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. Carole’s latest book is The Christmas Party.
Thank you, Carole for finding time in your busy schedule to answer our questions.
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