Friday, August 8, 2014

Guest Post: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Please welcome author Jenny Colgan  She joins us today to promote her latest book, Sweetshop of Dreams.  Enjoy her guest post on how she generates new ideas for books!

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: August 2014

Rosie Hopkins's life is...comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn't seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie's not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?

Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie's mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what's comfortable might not be so great after all.

After writing 11 novels, how do you generate new ideas for your books?

Actually with one thing and another, I've now published 23 novels! Besides writing romantic comedy I also wrote a series set in a girl's boarding school, and I write for Doctor Who, which is a whole other ball game. 

They do say if you meet a novelist and you want to be friends with them, don't read their first novel- or at least, pretend you haven't! Otherwise you have a massive advantage in knowing about their lives; all first novels are autobiographical. But after that if you're lucky, you get to write about what interests you. For me, I never really set foot in the kitchen until I had children and moved to France.

In France, there are no ready-made meals, nothing that you just put in a microwave. There's no take-out either, apart from pizza, which can't really be a staple at my age I have found, to my eternal regret.

At a French market or the supermarket, there's just a big pile of ingredients: everyone cooks from scratch. You would never ever ask a French woman if she can cook. Mais bien sur! Plus, I wanted to raise the children to eat well, so I was forced to learn.

Oh, I made so many mistakes you wouldn't believe it, including cooking an ungutted fish, and somehow causing a chemical reaction that turned my lemon cake into actual chalk. But like everything else*, I got better with practice. At one stage, I had three children under five, and let me tell you, you aren't leaving the house unless you absolutely have to. So I started to bake, which is a good way of getting your children to eat every raisin in the house, and the books I write about food stem from that period of my life. Except everyone in my books is much, much better than me of course, because they're professionals. In fact, it's embarrassing, sometimes I'll be asked to judge baking competitions and so on, and every single person who ever enters those is better than me too. I can cook and bake now- and if I can, anyone can- but in the end, I like writing about it the best.


*except reverse parking

About the author:

A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.

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