Today Natalie Kleinman talks to Helena Fairfax on the release of her new novel, Escape to the Cotswolds.
Lovely to have you in the spotlight, Natalie!
Natalie: Thank you for inviting me.
Please could you tell us a bit more about yourself, how you got into writing, and your published books?
Strangely enough, I came to writing quite by accident. At a point in my life when I needed something new, something different, I enrolled in a ten week creative writing course. That was about fifteen years ago. I was like a child with a new toy but I decided very quickly that this was not something to play with or at. This was something I was serious about. I joined writing groups and progressed through hobby writing to others where members were as hooked as I was. I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to interact with other writers. Five years ago I was lucky enough to find a creative writing school, The Write Place, only fifteen minutes’ drive from home. No longer stumbling with no-one to guide me, I set about learning my craft, a sponge trying to absorb ever more water. Following publication of more than thirty short stories I turned to novel writing and joined the wonderful RNA New Writers Scheme. My first book, Safe Harbour, was picked up that same year and seven weeks after publication I saw my pocket novel, Honey Bun, on supermarket shelves. It was a heady feeling, I can tell you. That was in 2014. It’s taken another three years but I’m delighted that HQ Digital are publishing Escape to the Cotswolds and I love the cover they’ve put out. It even makes ME want to read it!
Your latest novel is set in a small village in the Cotswolds – the sort of place everyone knows everyone. Is this setting based on your own experience?
Only as a visitor. I’ve spent my life living in the suburbs of our wonderful capital city but I’m a frequent visitor to the area. Its peace and tranquillity (perhaps not so much in the towns during the tourist season) and its beauty draw me back time and again. And everybody smiles! If I could afford a holiday home, that’s where it would be.
Your heroine, Holly, is an artist. Do you have any experience in the art world, and are you good at painting yourself?
It’s funny you should ask me that. About six years ago I joined another council run course, this time art, to support a friend who was going through a bad patch and needed an outlet. I loved it and made more progress than I could possibly have imagined but…the thing is, painting is very time consuming. Writing is very time consuming. One had to go. I still have some of my paintings to remind me though.
Holly takes a trip to Pennsylvania. Is this a part of the US you've visited?
I’ve only ever been to Florida and California. I have Google, Google Maps and Google Earth to thank for providing me with so much information.
Are any of your characters based on anyone you know? (No need to reveal names!)
I think you always put a little bit of yourself into some of your characters but otherwise no, they are entirely fictitious.
How do you pick your characters' names?
This isn’t a question I can sensibly answer. Sometimes a name will just come to me and seem to fit. And sometimes that name continues to fit, but just as often a character will demand a change of identity and you know what, they’re usually right.
What's your favourite romance novel of all time?
I don’t have one. There are far too many to choose from and I do so like a good romance. I suppose it’s usually the one I’m currently reading. I’ve just finished Georgette Heyer’s Frederica for the umpteenth and she would definitely be a contender.
What is your next project?
Another romance set in the Cotswolds but this time actually two romances. It’s a dual time line and I have two heroines. And I love them both. Neither has yet demanded a change of name.
Nowadays authors have to spend almost as much time promoting their books as writing. Have you found this to be the case? Is there any particular promotion/marketing strategy that you think has worked well for you?
I joined Facebook in 2012 and it’s a medium I enjoy very much, both professionally and as a way of communicating with friends. Like many others, I was dragged kicking and screaming into Twitter. There are many of its nuances I don’t understand but I am booked to take a social media course in a few months and in the meantime – and especially of necessity now with promotion of Escape to the Cotswolds – I’m finding I enjoy it more and more.
If you weren't a writer, what would be your ideal career, and why?
I’d probably opt for painting and drawing. Like writing, it’s creative and a great way to express oneself. Unfortunately it’s not easy to make a living that way. But I can picture myself back in the Cotswolds or possibly the beautiful Lake District with my easel set up in the shade of a tree, committing memories of a wonderful landscape to something I can carry home and keep with me forever.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Wine. Red wine. By way of a coincidence publication day coincided with classes at The Write Place. It has become a tradition to take cakes when there is something to celebrate. No alcohol because most of us drive to get there but if you’d looked for me on the evening of 21st June that’s where you’d have found me. What better place could there be!
Can love blossom in the countryside?
Artist Holly Hunter is turning her life upside-down! She’s leaving the bright lights of London (and a cheating husband) behind her and hoping for a fresh start as she escapes to the peaceful Cotswolds countryside.
Men are off the cards for Holly. Instead, she’s focusing on her little gallery and adopting an adorable Border Collie puppy named Tubs. Or so she thought…
Because no matter how hard she tries to resist him, local vet Adam Whitney is utterly gorgeous. And in a village as small as this one, Holly can only avoid Adam for so long!
Buy link: Amazon
Thank you so much for interviewing me today. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.
Thanks so much for dropping in on your day off, Natalie :) It's been lovely getting to know a bit more about you. Wishing you all the best with Escape to the Cotswolds.
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