Hello Mandy. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your new book, One Last Greek Summer and what inspired it?
One Last Greek Summer is a perfect summer read set on the Greek island of Corfu. It’s the story of newly divorced thirty-something Beth Martin and her friend, Heidi, having one last holiday before they both re-evaluate the next stage of their lives. Except Heidi has picked the destination they both first visited when they were 21, and there just might be a few familiar faces waiting for them…
How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?
*laughs* Seriously, it hasn’t changed that much! The only thing that has changed slightly is I now write two books every year as opposed to one when I first started out. I still initially come up with main characters and setting, the very bare bones of an idea, and then I literally start to write. I am not a plan it all and stick Post It notes around the room kind of writer, I just haven’t got that in me. I think if I knew the beginning, middle and end of each story I’d get bored writing it.
Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have two main places I write. I have an office at home and I also visit my husband’s office at Numeric Accounting in Salisbury three days a week to give me that true ‘getting up and going to work’ feeling. It’s amazing how productive you can be surrounded by a team of accountants… As for writing rituals, I don’t really have any of those, just keep the coffee coming! Oh, and we always go to the pub at lunchtimes on a Friday! That surely counts, doesn’t it?
How important is it to pick the right names for your characters?
This is SUPER important to me otherwise the characters don’t come alive or feel real to me. I remember one publisher (who shall remain nameless) at the very last moment, I think at the proofreading stage of things, wanted me to change the name and nationality of my hero. I was so shocked and I was absolutely not happy about it. I stuck to my guns and obviously I was right! It doesn’t usually take me long to come up with names but they do have to feel right for the characters.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently finishing writing Christmas! One Christmas Star comes out in e-book on 12 September and I am really excited about this book. It’s the story of schoolteacher, Emily and down-on-his-luck singer, Ray. It’s set in a festive London and involves a full-on school Christmas show – think Nativity meets A Star is Born – that’s how I pitched it to Aria Fiction.
What fictional world would you like to visit if you could?
I would have to say the town of Hawkins, Indiana and the Upside Down in Stranger Things. I am a huge Stranger Things fan. I’d want 11 to teach me some of her skills!
Which song describes you?
‘I Predict A Riot’ by The Kaiser Chiefs! LOL I’ve never been asked that question before. Or maybe ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les. Or ‘Zorba the Greek’. Anything you can sing or dance to.
What do you believe should come first; plot or character?
That’s a tricky one! Both I would say, simultaneously. I write seasonal romance, so one book is usually set somewhere hot (ordinarily Greece) and the other is set somewhere wintry. So, you are immediately thinking of storylines based on the setting because what would work for one location may not work for another. I generally have my setting and then I’ll think about the people who will be there and then it’s what they will do. Why are they there? What jobs do they do? Who are they going to meet? Why are they going to meet? I also take into account what people are talking about right now. What is important to readers, what is happening in their lives/the world right now? Are there are issues touching people I may be able to work with. My books are all escapist reads but there is, I hope, a bit of therapy in there too! My characters are hopefully all people readers can empathise with.
What elements do you believe make a good novel?
Writing romantic comedy, I have to have humour and a love story in there. Those elements are the most important, but I put a large dose of reality in there too. My books do have a lot of real-life issues in there – grief, divorce, mental health, adoption, alcoholism – you name it and I’ve probably put it in one of my books. I like to make my stories as relatable as I can and life is full of lots of ups and downs for everyone.
Any advice for new writers or someone suffering writers block?
My advice is always to try and write through it. If you’re stuck on a particular section of your novel try writing the next scene, something that excites you more than the bit you’re stuck on. You can always go back later. Or you could try writing a short story or an article, anything to keep the words flowing. Don’t stop writing!
Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.
About One Last Greek Summer:
Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…
Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls’ partied away their youth.
So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane…and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.
As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…