Today we welcome Caroline James to the blog. Over to you Caroline...
It’s never too late to follow your dream.
A blog post here a little while ago suggested that hotels make great settings for novels. Having spent a life-time in the hospitality industry, I completely agree.
It began way back, when as an unhappy teen at an all girl’s grammar school, I left home, much to my parent’s horror and for a couple of years’, waited tables on the south coast. Deciding that hotel life was for me I studied, worked hard, took relevant jobs and eventually ended up owning my own pub, followed by a lovely country house hotel. I’d always wanted to write but having had a poor start with education, which I endeavoured to put right along the way, I thought I wasn’t good enough and that no one would want to read my work. Life was busy too, with a demanding job, frequent disasters, family to care for and many responsibilities. There was little time to indulge my fantasy of writing but the hotel was a perfect setting with an ever-changing cast as guests came and went and I never knew who was going to walk through the door or what would happen next. Confidences were shared over cocktails and as a hotelier, I learnt to be discreet, little knowing that ideas had been subliminally planted in my writing brain. The beautiful old building was a character too, constantly demanding in its upkeep and changing moods as the seasons came and went.
Five years ago, with the years creeping on, I had an epiphany. Start writing! A story set in an hotel had been in my head for a long time and would no longer be silenced. It demanded to be written and determined, I glued my rear to a chair and began. It was frustrating, exhausting and difficult as I snatched hours early in the morning and late at night until eventually, Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me was born. Next, I trawled through publishers and agents but no one wanted to know and in frustration, I self-published. I’m no expert in publicity, nor did I ever imagine that the story would take off but shortly after publication, it did. The book went to number three in women’s fiction on Amazon, was E-book of the Week in The Sun and a small publisher signed me for a follow-on. Three novels later and thrillingly, I have recently signed with the award winning independent British publisher, ChocLit, under their new imprint, Ruby Fiction.
My next book is all about mid-lifers making their boomer years the best. I want my characters to mentally run down the road to happiness as the years’ advance, not hobble through the fog of thinking they’re past it. The Best Boomerville Hotel is a retreat that offers courses from Clairvoyance in Midlife to Sharing with the Shaman, alongside Boomer’s Boot-Camp and a plethora of studies to enliven later years. If I still had my lovely country house, I know exactly what I’d do with it, a real-life Hotel Boomerville would be created. In fact, I’d want to be the first guest checking in.
I’ve learnt during this time not to give up, that it is never too late to follow your dream. My writing dream is coming true and if you are an aspiring writer, whatever your age, I hope that the same will happen to you.
Caroline’s Ruby Fiction debut, The Best Boomerville Hotel, set in the Lake District, is a fun retreat for mid-lifers and has been described as Britain’s entertaining answer to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It will be published in 2018.
Caroline has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications.
Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun. So, You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune: Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.