Today in the Library we have Sharon Booth, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
You are very welcome, Sharon, please introduce yourself:
Thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog. What do you want to know about me? Hmm, let’s see. Well, I write contemporary romance—”feel good fiction with heart”—and I’ve had two novels and a pocket novel published, as well as a short story in an anthology called Winter Tales, which was sold in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I live in East Yorkshire, with my very patient husband and our German Shepherd dog. When I’m not writing, I work for the NHS. I love Sherlock, Doctor Who, Poldark and The Musketeers. I eat too much sugar but I rarely drink alcohol. (I’ve been known to get up on the kitchen table and sing Abba songs into a hairbrush when I’ve had a couple of glasses, so best avoided, I think!) I’m one tenth of the Write Romantics.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I read non-stop as a child. Books fascinated me and I can still remember the first book I ever owned—Noddy by Enid Blyton. She was by far my favourite author in early childhood. Later, I progressed to pony books. I still have a lot of my childhood books even now. When I was about thirteen, I read my first “grown up” books. I discovered Barbara Cartland’s novels first, in the school library, and quite enjoyed them. Then I saw The Dwelling Place by Catherine Cookson on the shelf, and that was that. I was hooked. I read every book of hers I could find. I stuck with that type of book for some years until I was introduced to Jilly Cooper by my mother. She gave me a copy of Polo because she knew I was horse mad and loved pony stories! Little did she realise. That set me off reading a whole new type of book. I don’t read erotica but I do love contemporary romances with a naughty twist and lots of humour. I love reading books in my own genre, but I also love cosy crime, supernatural crime, literary fiction…I’m quite happy to try different genres.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Both. I self-published my two full-length novels with Fabrian Books. Initially, Fabrian was a small publishing company with two authors on its books. The plan was they would publish my four Kearton Bay novels and I would receive a percentage of the royalties. Then, after some discussion between us all, it evolved into an author collective. There are five of us now and we are each responsible for getting our own books ready for publication—hiring our own editors and getting our own covers made, for example—but we also help each other out. We may beta read for each other, help with cover design, formatting, or publicity. One of us runs the website and I take care of the Facebook page and Twitter account. We all have different strengths and it’s good to have people to share the journey with. I have also recently had a People’s Friend pocket novel published, and working with DC Thompson was a really easy and stress-free experience. It was lovely to see my book on the shelves in supermarkets and WH Smith. A dream come true. I hope I’ll have another pocket novel published by them one day. I’m working on it!
Which genre do you write in and why?
I write romance—as I said previously, it’s “feel good fiction with heart”. It’s contemporary and full of humour, but with a strong romantic story at the centre of it. I write the books I like to read the most, I suppose. If I fall in love with my hero, want to be friends with my heroine, have a few laughs and occasionally get a bit emotional as I’m writing, I know I’m on the right track.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I suppose every author whose work I’ve ever read has played some part. It’s hard to say, because I think, as readers, we absorb so much from the books we read, and I’ve read a lot! If I was going to choose one person, I’d say Enid Blyton. Not because I write like her, but because she inspired me to want to pick up a pen and write my own stories, create my own characters, go on my own fictional adventures. I’ll always be grateful to her for that.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
I think it probably has. I love the British countryside and tend to set my stories within its landscape. I think the British have a certain type of humour, too, and I love that. I suppose my heroes are distinctly British, although I hadn’t thought about it until now. They’re not exactly hot Latin lovers. They’re rather stoic and not given to dramatic declarations of love. Deep within them, though, is a core of passion that only the heroines can awaken. And, again, they have that humour. Interesting question! I honestly hadn’t considered the matter before, but now I can see the link.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
The first draft is a real chore. Forcing myself to sit at my desk and put words on the screen is so hard. When you first start a novel and it’s all very new and exciting, it’s not so bad, but as it goes on and you reach that horrible point when you just think everything you’re writing is rubbish and you can’t imagine why you’re bothering, then it becomes a real endurance test. The only way to overcome it is to get on with it. I make myself write and try to stay at my desk until I’ve written at least one whole scene. If I didn’t it would never get finished, so there’s no choice.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I write in the mornings because I’m at work every afternoon, and I’m too tired to write at night. The mornings are my best time, by far. I get up, make myself a cup of tea, and head into my office to get that scene written before I do anything else.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best thing about being an author is, without a doubt, getting feedback from people who’ve read and enjoyed my work. I’ve had some lovely reviews, which I’m so grateful for. People I know have been so enthusiastic, but it’s a special thrill when I get a message on Facebook or Twitter from someone I don’t know at all, telling me they’ve read one of my books and loved it. That’s just amazing and makes it all worthwhile. The worst thing is having no time to spend with family and friends. Social life goes out of the window, really. When you’re trying to write a book and you also have a job to do it’s hard to juggle everything. I feel permanently guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my husband and family. It’s hard to get the balance right.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I enjoy Facebook. I love chatting to people on there, posting pictures, sharing other people’s photos and news. I also have an author page, because I think it’s expected now that writers do have these separate “professional” pages. Twitter is a bit trickier. I find it hard to keep up with what’s going on there, and it’s not as easy to follow as Facebook. I am trying to learn more about it because I know it’s important, but I feel more comfortable with Facebook. I have Pinterest boards and a blog, and I’m hoping to get to grips with Instagram soon, but it is all very time-consuming. If I wasn’t writing, I wouldn’t bother with any of them except Facebook, but maybe if I understood them more I would enjoy them more. That’s why I’m making it my mission to learn, but I don’t want to give up even more of my precious time. That’s the dilemma.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
Still doing my day job, working in a health centre, probably—and being a much better wife, mother and grandmother. Maybe I’d even bake, as I used to when my children were little. No, who am I kidding? I’d probably just read more.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Oh, gosh! Really? How on earth do you decide that? A literary classic like To Kill a Mockingbird or Jane Eyre? Probably wouldn’t have time. A great love story? I don’t think it would distract me from my fate. A crime or thriller? I’d be gloomy enough already. I would probably go for an Adrian Mole book by Sue Townsend. They’re absorbing and easy to read, hilariously funny, yet terribly poignant at the same time. I think if Adrian Mole was my last thought, I could face oblivion with a smile.
Please tell us what you are working on or your latest published work.
A Kiss from a Rose is the second in my Kearton Bay series. It’s set in the same fictional village on the North Yorkshire coast as my first book, There Must Be An Angel, and features some of the same characters. However, it can be read as a standalone.
Here’s the blurb:
In spite of managing to get a black eye at her best friend’s wedding, Rose MacLean knows she’s never had it so good. As a partner in a thriving business, her financial problems are easing, and her eldest daughter has finally found employment, while her youngest is doing well at school.
But Rose’s life never seems to run smoothly for long, and, sure enough, her eldest daughter has soon walked out of her job, while her youngest appears to have had a personality transplant. To make matters worse, her mother is back on the scene, and she seems to be reliving her misspent youth with her oily-haired, horse-faced ex, Alec Thoroughgood.
With her best friend preoccupied with the arduous task of baby-making, Rose finds herself relying more and more on the quiet Flynn Pennington-Rhys, who seems to be everyone’s hero. But Flynn has his own problems, and as events take an unexpected turn, Rose realises that she may not always be able to rely on him.
Will the quiet man come through for her? Will her daughters ever sort themselves out? And will Rose ever get her bedroom back from her mother, or is she destined for a life on the sofa?
A Kiss from a Rose was published by Fabrian Books in September 2015. Amazon.co.uk
If you would like to know more about Sharon and her work please click on the links below: