Today, I would like to welcome a fabulous author Zara Stoneley to my Virtual cup of Tea/Coffee.
Zara is set to publish the first book - Summer with the Country Village Vet in a brand new series at the end of May so to celebrate this fabulous event I'd like to ask Zara a few questions about her writing life.
Can you tell us something the readers don't know about you?
I always wanted to be a vet - when I was six years old and had my first dog (I wouldn't take no for an answer!) I used to sit him on my knee and pull his puppy teeth out (only the very wobbly ones!).
Do you prefer Tea or Coffee when you write/ read?
Coffee every time! I'm a bit strange - tea gives me a headache, but I can drink lots and lots of coffee (I'm not fit for work until I've had at least one mug full). The only time I actually enjoyed drinking tea was when I was pregnant!
Can you describe your brand new book in one sentence?
City girl Lucy has to face up to her fears when she's forced to take a temporary job in a tiny village - but she soon discovers that there's far more to Langtry Meadows than she'd originally thought.
How do you usually select the names for your main characters?
That part is so difficult! I can't write the book until I have the perfect names. I often go on the internet and search for the most popular names around the year my characters were born, and that's my starting point - but the name has to fit the personality of the character and their background. For example, in the Tippermere books my main character was called Charlotte, but was always shortened to Lottie as it suited her totally loveable but scatty and disorganised personality. The actress in country rivals was called Pandora - she needed a slightly unusual name, but I hoped her name indicated that there was so much more to her!
In 'Summer with the Country Village Vet' I hope people can relate to Lucy. She's the girl next door, and like a lot of us sometimes lets things that have happened in the past influence her choices in life.
I have been known to get half way through a book, and had to change a characters name because they've developed during the story and as I've got to know them I've realised my original choice was wrong!
Why do you think there are so many books set in the quintessential English countryside?
I think there's something very comforting, and nostalgic about the English countryside, and our villages. I've always loved programmes like Darling Buds of May, All Creatures Great and Small, Doc Martin, and Midsomer Murders - those idyllic setting combined with some intrigue are compulsive watching. It's the same with books - the English countryside is that perfect escape, a promise, but at the same time it's accessible - we can all imagine being there.
What is the most favourite part of your writing process?
The bit at the very beginning when I have the first tiny nugget of an idea, and the characters and setting start to take shape in my head. I love all the notes that grow from that initial inspiration - it's the magical part of writing when anything could happen!
What is the least favourite part of your writing process?
When my deadline is looming and I'm stuck in the 'sticky middle! It doesn't seem to matter how many books I write, whether I'm pantsing (flying by the seats of my pants) or have plotted in detail, there's always a couple of weeks when I start to worry I'm never going to get to the end.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals before you begin a new book?
Not really, but I do always buy a new notepad, and set up a new folder on my laptop. I'm a pretty visual kind of person too, so I have to map out the location of the book and also get a really good feel for how my characters look and act - which usually involves pinterest and google ;-)
Who inspired you to become an author?
There isn't really one person who inspired me, although my grandfather and my mother both encouraged me to follow the dream. But I've always loved reading and I think it was all those fantastic stories I devoured as I grew up that were the real inspiration. Other great authors still inspire me. A good story is an amazing adventure, isn't it?
What do you think makes a great romantic story?
For me it's all about characters you can empathise with and relate to, and a story that's believable. But, and I think this is the bit that make a good story great, the couple really have to go through hoops before they get their happy ever after. Falling in love is rarely an easy journey, is it? When you read a great story you really, really want to see the characters work things out, because you love them, but there's always that doubt, those hurdles that you aren't quite sure they can get over...
Read my review of Summer with the Country Village Vet here.
Thank you so much, Zara! xo
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