Hello Susan, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little about A Little in Love and how the idea originated?
A Little In Love is the tale of Eponine from Les Miserables – an account of her childhood, and of her own role in the events of Hugo’s classic book. The idea was not, in fact, my own: I was approached by Chicken House and asked if I’d consider writing of Eponine for them. But as soon as the idea was shared with me, I loved it. I accepted very quickly – because of all the characters in Les Mis, it’s always been Eponine who I’ve found the most intriguing. She’s complex, feisty, flawed, selfless – and yet she is only peripheral in Hugo’s tale. It has been a joy to spend time with her, and finally give her a voice.
What were the challenges of writing a book around a character that was already so established and well known?
The most intimidating part of the project was the idea that I might create an Eponine that others wouldn’t like – that she might not seem like their Eponine, the one they’d always imagined and loved from the book, musical or play. We all have our own idea of what a character looks like, sounds like or behaves: instinctively, I think, we can be protective of them! I knew who my Eponine was, but would she be other peoples’? I’m also aware that Les Mis has an extraordinary following and fan base; it has inspired passion in so many, and fierce loyalty. All this was quite overwhelming! But ultimately I felt that all I could do was treat Eponine with tenderness and deep affection, and to stay as faithful to the novel as I could.
Have you ever given up on love?
When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.
Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there’ll just be one love in his life: New York.
At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships.
But the city has other plans . . .
Bea James and Jake Steinmann have both found themselves coming out of serious relationships. Bea has ended it with her boyfriend, Otis when he lets her down too many times and Jake has most recently moved back to New York after his wife unexpectedly files for divorce. After meeting at a party, Bea and Jake decide to make a pact against relationships.
The characters in this book are wonderful. I fell in love with Bea and Jake and immediately wanted them to be a couple. Bea is a lovely character and like Jake, she is lost after the end of her relationship and is trying to find a way to stop herself getting hurt. I found Bea a very relatable character and I love the sound of her bookshop. Some of my favourite parts of the book (apart from her developing relationship with Jake,) were the e-mail/letter exchanges she had with her grandmother. I think these really added another element to the novel.
Jake is also a warm, likeable character and I did feel so sorry for him. I liked Bea and him together and so wanted to keep reading to find out whether it would be a happy ending for them and what would happen before they got there.
We are delighted to welcome Joanna to our blog today. Her new novel, Red Rose, White Rose focuses on Cicely Neville and her half-brother, Cuthbert. It was released by Harper on 4th December 2014. Joanna talks to us today about what inspired her to write Red Rose, White Rose.
Red Rose, White Rose: It only takes one little fact to set off a chain reaction…
When people ask what inspired me to write a novel about Cicely Neville they are surprised when I say it was the discovery that she was the youngest child in her family. Nothing very unusual about that you may think but when I add that the family consisted of no less than twenty-two children perhaps you might begin to understand why my curiosity was piqued? Then consider the following additional facts; that fifteenth century England was about to plunge into the Wars of the Roses, that the Nevilles were staunch Lancastrians (Red Rose) and that Cicely married the Duke of York (White Rose) and I think you might appreciate that this struck me as the framework for some fascinating historical fiction.
Cicely’s father was the Earl of Westmorland, which used to be a county in north-west England but has now been subsumed by the county of Cumbria and no longer officially exists, except in the name of a local newspaper and a motorway service station on the M6! However, in the fifteenth century it was the heartland of one of the kingdom’s most powerful families, the Nevilles. Ralph Neville was granted the Earldom of Westmorland by King Richard II towards the end of the fourteenth century but when Henry of Lancaster usurped Richard’s throne in 1399, Ralph had recently taken Henry’s half-sister Joan Beaufort as his second wife and therefore felt obliged to support his new brother-in-law. It turned out to be a good move because the new king heaped honours and wealth on those lords who had backed his seizure of the crown.
Harper, December 2014
In fifteenth century England the Neville family rules the north with an iron fist. Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, a giant of a man and a staunch Lancastrian, cunningly consolidates power by negotiating brilliant marriages for his children. The last betrothal he arranges before he dies is between his youngest daughter, nine-year-old Cicely, and his ward Richard, the thirteen-year-old Duke of York, England’s richest heir.
Told through the eyes of Cicely and her half-brother Cuthbert, Red Rose, White Rose is the story of one of the most powerful women in England during one of its most turbulent periods. Born of Lancaster and married to York, the willowy and wayward Cicely treads a hazardous path through love, loss and imprisonment and between the violent factions of Lancaster and York, as the Wars of the Roses tear England’s ruling families apart.
Red Rose, While Rose is told from two points of view – Cicely who ends up married to The Duke of York, Richard (who is not the easiest man to live with,) and Cuthbert, her illegitimate half-brother. I liked the fact that there were two points of view as it gave me an insight into both sides. Cicely on her own would only have been able to take the story so far and so Cuthbert gives us an insight into the time on the battlefields – information Cicely would have no knowledge of as her story is from the domestic side.
I love it when fiction is mixed in with fact. Cuthbert is fictional but I found that I really liked his character and I connected with him in a way that I didn’t quite with other characters. He felt very real in my mind and the author has done such a great job giving him a voice. I found his situation interesting. He is seen to be accepted into Cicely’s immediate family but has to fight for his legitimacy as far as everyone else is concerned.
The two points of view also gave a very interesting account of how different it was for men and woman but in my opinion, it also shows how much importance the women’s behaviour had on their husbands and how they were forced to make difficult choices once married.
Harper, film tie-in edition, October 2014.
Sometimes fate just can’t stop meddling…
Best friends since forever, Rosie and Alex have shared their hopes, dreams, awkward moments – and firsts. But their bond is threatened when Alex’s family move to America. They stay in touch, but misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck seem to be conspiring to keep them apart. Can they gamble everything – even their friendship – on true love?
(Warning: review may contain spoilers.)
I remember reading this when it first came out in 2004 (released as Where Rainbows End.) I had been a huge fan of P.S I Love You previously so it wasn’t surprising that I would read Cecelia’s second novel. I loved it and since then, it’s been my favourite of her novels.
As it had been ten years since I’d first read it, I decided to give it a re-read when it was released with a new title (Love, Rosie,) and cover to tie in with the release of the film. I actually saw the film which then made me want to re-read the book. The film was great (Sam Claflin was perfect as Alex especially,) but the film only spans a small amount of their lives (until they are in their 30’s,) whereas the book spans from childhood until their 50’s which felt more realistic. I know you can’t fit everything into a film and it’s hard to age the actors but the book captures their lost love perfectly.
What I love about Rosie Dunne is that she is ordinary. She has dreams, plans and an idea of what her life was going to be like and then it suddenly throws her a curve ball she wasn’t expecting and she has to remap her life around it whilst her best friend is on the other side of the world living the life she could no longer have but somehow, through everything, they manage to sort themselves out in the end.
Carla Curuso lives in Adelaide and as well as being the author of Catch of the Day, Mommy Blogger and Unlucky for Some, she is also involved in the Adelaide Chick-Lit Book Club and the Life, Love & Laugh blog. Her novel, A Pretty Mess is available on Amazon and Pretty Famous will be available on 1st February 2015.
Carla shares her five writing tips…
1. Don’t follow trends.
2. Be yourself and find your own unique voice.
3. Write every day – it’s the best way to keep ‘inside the head’ of a story/character and stay excited by it. Even if you only write 300-600 words a day, it’s amazing how the word count builds up overtime. I find I can only write in a few-hour blocks anyway, then I’m not inspired anymore! It’s a marathon not a sprint. Plus, you’ll have a better story if you have ‘creative thinking time’ in between, pushing the novel in different directions you might not have thought of earlier.
4. Write the kind of book you’d feel excited to pick up from a shelf. (Sophie Kinsella said something like that and it’s so true!)
5. Write your ‘own’ story. Your life experience might seem boring to you, as compared to, say, Gwyneth Paltrow’s life, but it’s actually a goldmine. Nobody has experienced exactly the same kind of things as you have – the people you’ve met, the places you’ve been, the emotions you’ve felt. Draw on it and you’ll write authentically and keep people captivated!
Read our interview with Carla.
Find Carla at www.carlacaruso.com.au and information about her latest works at http://www.harpercollins.com.au
The Adelaide Chick-Lit Book Club is on Facebook and the Life, Love and Laughs blog can be found at http://www.lifeluvnlaughs.blogspot.com.au/