Your latest novel is called Mulberry Lane Babies. Can you tell me a bit about it and what has changed for your characters since the last novel?
New characters and new loves bring changes. Peggy’s husband returns to the lanes and she finds it difficult after being in sole charge of the pub. Janet has to come to terms with her life, and Maureen is busier than ever. They have heard of the new flying bombs the Germans have invented but as yet they have not struck.
However, life is hard enough for the residents. Maureen is the character who has the most to bear in this book. Her motivation is to succeed and hold her family’s business together while looking after her children and her husband. Janet also has too much pain to carry but will eventually move on and Peggy is caught in a dilemma but there is hope that she will be happy one day.
What are the challenges with writing a series of books?
Making sure that you get the continuity right and don’t bring in a character that was written out without having a good reason. You need to keep the characters true but they also need to grow and develop, because otherwise they become stale. Also, you need to bring in new characters but still carry on the threads of the earlier books. Most difficult of all is deciding how much of the previous book to retell. Just a hint here and there is probably best, but some readers want to be reminded and others don’t.
What was it that drew you to the historical setting? What was the planning process like?
I like the period of the Second World War, because it was poignant and tragic and I know it well. It is also very popular with readers who cannot get enough of it. First of all, you plan your main characters and the setting for their lives and then just decide how they will unfold.
What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?
I write every morning on a laptop. Sometimes I revise in the afternoons. I used to write all day but I find that the morning is when the best ideas come and work done in the afternoon can be laboured. No, I don’t have rituals. I just get on and write.
Which song would best describe you and why?
I don’t think I could name a song that describes me. I like country music as well as ballads.
Which fictional character is most like you?
I don’t consciously write myself into any of the characters, but I imagine that many of their thoughts and values echo mine.
Do you feel that plot or characters are more important and what elements do you think make a good novel?
I think they are of equal importance. I believe my books are probably character led, but you need drama, mystery and emotional scenes to grip a reader’s attention and hold it. While the characters must live and not be wooden or stereotype, the plot needs to move at a good pace. However, sometimes, it is necessary to start slowly so that you build the interest and then surprise the reader when violence or passion occurs. It is good if you can grab attention on the first page, but some plots don’t lend themselves to an immediate crisis. I think you can do that more in romance or erotic but in saga it usually needs a slower pace for a start, but that doesn’t mean dull. Catch the reader with something that they find intriguing and then build.
Which authors have influenced you most? Is there one book or author that is your favourite?
I believe many books entertain for different reasons. I suppose my all-time favourite story would be Gone With the Wind. I like lots of authors and it depends what I’m into at the time. At the moment I’m enjoying Viking books.
What is next for the characters of Mulberry Lane?
The war drags on and brings new people to the lane. Tragedy strikes for some of the residents and there is new love and new life.
Maureen has both sorrow and hope, proving how strong and resilient she is, and Janet will move on with her life. Peggy will be torn between love and duty.
Do you have any more advice for new writers?
First of all research the genre you want to write and the publishers so that you know who is likely to be interested in your work. Most main stream publishers will ask for you to be registered with an agent, but some will look at work you submit yourself. To save time research or ask. Some publishers like Aria advertise for submissions on their website and they are a good firm for new writers to approach.
Writing is something that comes naturally to a true writer but most will need to hone their craft. Having someone to read a bit of your work before you submit and give you an opinion is a help but not compulsory. The main thing is to feel the compulsion to write so that you are haunted by characters and plots that demand to be brought to life. If you sit for ages staring at a blank page, consider if you really want to write. It is not an easy job and hard work.
Even if a publisher actually reads and likes what you’ve done, you will be asked to do lots of rewriting and editing. So you need, in my opinion, to be driven. If that’s how you feel, you will just do it and even if for a start it comes out all wrong, you will learn.
I hope this has been of help and good luck to all new writers. It took years for me to become an established writer and so I know it’s easy to give up, but don’t.
About the book
1941 Mulberry Lane, London. War rages but new life brings new hope. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Cathy Sharp.
Times are hard for all on Mulberry Lane as the war rages into yet another year. Desperate times push people into dangerous situations, and the residents of Mulberry Lane are not exempt.
Menacing shadows lurk on dark street corners, threatening the safety of those who are alone and vulnerable. When Peggy’s twins are born early Maureen and Nellie are there to lend a helping hand.
The mothers of Mulberry Lane stick together despite the grim conditions of war-torn London and a shadowy fear that stalks their lives.
Neighbours and friends look out for each other and new life brings hope and joy to the Lane.
About the author
Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia.
Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.
Follow Rosie via her website: www.rosieclarke.co.uk and you can also say hi on Twitter: @AnneHerries
(You can also follow Aria at www.ariafiction.com, Twitter: @aria_fiction, Facebook: @ariafiction and Instagram: @ariafiction)