It’s always such a pleasure to feature an author on publication day, and today I’m really delighted to introduce you to the lovely Sharon Booth. Once Upon A Long Ago, the third book in the Kearton Bay series, is published today for kindle, and looks really gorgeous. Sharon has been such a great friend of Being Anne, and a constant supporter of other authors, so it’s so good to turn the spotlight on her today just for a change. Let’s take a look at the story…
Lexi Bailey doesn’t do love. Having seen the war zone that was her parents’ marriage, she has no interest in venturing into a relationship, and thinks romance is for fairy tales. As far as she’s concerned, there’s no such thing as happy ever after, and she’s not looking for a handsome prince.
For Will Boden-Kean, that’s probably a good thing. He hardly qualifies as a handsome prince, after all. He may be the son of a baronet, and live in a stately home, but he’s not known for his good looks. What he is known for, among the residents of Kearton Bay, is his kind heart, his determination to fund Kearton Hall — and his unrequited love for Lexi.
While Lexi gazes at the portrait of the Third Earl Kearton, and dreams of finding the treasure that is reputed to be hidden somewhere in the house, Will is working hard to ensure that his home survives. When he goes against Lexi’s wishes and employs the most unpopular man in the village, she begins to wonder if he’s under a spell. Will would never upset her. What could possibly have happened to him?
As plans take shape for a grand ball, Lexi’s life is in turmoil. With a secret from Will’s past revealed, a witch who is far too beautiful for Lexi’s peace of mind, and a new enchantress on the scene, things are changing rapidly at Kearton Hall. Add to that a big, bad wolf of a work colleague, a stepmother in denial, and a father who is most definitely up to no good, and it’s no wonder she decides to make a new start somewhere else.
Then she makes a discovery that changes everything — but time is running out for her. Is it too late to find her happy ending? Will Lexi make it to the ball? Will Buttons save the day? And where on earth did that handsome prince come from?
And I’ve managed to fend off all the “you’re too busy to bother with me” objections – I’ll be reading and reviewing this one and her forthcoming Christmas novella here on Being Anne in the next couple of months. Let’s meet Sharon:
Sharon, I feel like I’ve known you for ever, and it’s a real pleasure to welcome you to Being Anne – would you like to introduce yourself to everyone?
I know! We seem to have been Facebook friends for ages. I’m delighted to be here on your wonderful blog, Anne. Thanks so much for inviting me. I live in East Yorkshire with my long-suffering, very patient husband, and our German Shepherd dog. I write contemporary romance with a good sprinkling of humour (hopefully!) and I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and blogging group, The Write Romantics.
So, book three in the Kearton Bay series with Once Upon A Long Ago – tell me about the inspiration for the books…
The Kearton Bay series came about when three almost fully-formed characters popped into my head while I was day-dreaming on a car journey to Somerset. I should point out, I wasn’t the driver! I have no idea where these three people came from. One minute, I was admiring the scenery, the next these characters were right there, clamouring for my attention. When I reached our holiday home, I grabbed a notebook and pen and jotted down all I knew about them. From those characters, the idea for the whole series grew. They eventually became Joe, Will and Lexi. Bit by bit, other characters formed, and I started to figure out who they all were, and what had happened to them. I had never started a story with the characters before. I’d always come up with plotlines first, so I knew this was different. I also knew, somehow, that I would actually finish this book, and it wouldn’t end up in a bin like the countless chapter ones I’d written over the years. I knew Will was in love with Lexi, and she saw him as just a friend. The intention was to write their story first, but when I started to delve deeper into Lexi’s psyche, I realised she had a lot of baggage, and then her father started to interest me. I decided it was important to start with him, and so There Must Be an Angel was born.
I’m quite ashamed I haven’t read your books – just too many books, too little time. Can I read just one of these, as a stand-alone, or do I need to read the series?
They can definitely be read as stand-alones. Each book features a different main couple, with former “stars” being relegated to smaller roles in subsequent books. Any crucial information from previous novels is woven in, but they’re separate stories. I know what you mean about too many books, too little time. My Kindle has gone on strike, and refuses to download any more until I’ve read some of the ones already on there. It assures me it’s for my own good.
And there’s another book – This Other Eden – set in fictional Skimmerdale. Will this be a series too?
Yes, that will be a series of—probably—three books.
I know Kearton Bay and Skimmerdale are fictional, but based on places you love. Tell me more about those settings…
Kearton Bay is based on the real life village of Robin Hood’s Bay, which nestles on the North Yorkshire coast, a few miles south of Whitby. It’s a gorgeous place. I’ve been there a few times, and it never ceases to delight me. It’s all whitewashed cottages and red roofs, and is steeped in history. It was a smuggling stronghold years ago, and has a bit of a Cornish feel to it, somehow. Skimmerdale is based on Swaledale. My paternal ancestors lived in the area for centuries, and the villages I describe in This Other Eden are loosely modelled on Thwaite and Muker, with Kirkby Skimmer standing in for Richmond, but with an abbey rather than a castle.
I’ve seen you describe your writing as “fun-filled fiction with heart”. Does it have a distinctive Yorkshire flavour and accent too?
Undoubtedly. I’ve set all my books in Yorkshire, because I love my home county and there are so many beautiful places there that I never run out of settings! Also, I know Yorkshire people, and they are a real contradiction—friendly, morose, warm-hearted, blunt-speaking, realistic and so, so funny. I can’t help but give my characters those characteristics, and I know the accent, so that helps! Even the covers are pictures of the areas the books are set in. The scenery is so beautiful, it makes a great cover illustration.
Tell me more about you and your writing. Did you always want to write? How did it turn into a reality?
Ever since I knew how to actually form words on a page, I wanted to write. Back in those days, though, it never occurred to me that I could write for a living. Real authors, as far as I was concerned, were like Enid Blyton. They lived in big houses in the country, sent their children to boarding school, and were quite elusive. I never thought that someone from a working class background could be an author, although that never stopped me from writing. When I wasn’t reading, I was scribbling away at endless first chapters of adventure or pony stories. I gave up writing when I had children, and only started again in my forties. I did a degree in literature with the Open University, which included a module in creative writing. That rekindled the spark, and I began writing again—just a few short stories. When the idea of the Kearton Bay characters hit me, I was determined to see it through this time, and signed up for NaNoWriMo to get the first draft finished. Then I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and the rest, as they say, is history.
Do you write full time now? Or are you fitting it into the corners around a busy life?
I wish I could write full time! Maybe one day…At the moment, I fit writing in around a job in a medical centre. I also have five grown-up children, four in-laws, and seven grandchildren, as well as a sadly neglected husband. It’s all one big juggling act, to be honest.
And I know you’re one of that lovely group, the Write Romantics – Helen was telling me about them just a few weeks ago. What does the group mean to you?
Everything! I can’t imagine life without them. They’re a bunch of really talented writers, and they’re all so supportive. When any one of us is feeling down, or insecure, or needs an opinion on something, or is searching for a piece of information, or has some brilliant news to share, we head to our group page and pour it all out, and within minutes, I can guarantee someone will have responded. By the end of the day, a whole conversation between the ten of us can be filling the page. You can start off feeling gloomy and unsure of yourself, and end by feeling you can take on the world! They’re always there to cheer you on, and I just couldn’t do without them.
You and I have something in common – I say “I absolutely loved this book” quite a lot, as you do in your reviews! What writers do you particularly admire? If someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you like them to mention?
Oh, crikey! What a tough question. I admire so many writers for different reasons. I love Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Jilly Cooper and Enid Blyton. That shows how diverse my tastes are. I love the supernatural thrillers of Phil Rickman, the fantastically funny books of Sue Townsend, the gritty northern sagas of Catherine Cookson and Valerie Wood, the sparkling Blandings books of PG Wodehouse, and the bonkbusters of Fiona Walker and Jo Carnegie. I adored some of the classics I studied with the OU—Middlemarch by George Eliot, Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I love A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations by Dickens, and my favourite book of all time is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. In my own genre, I read Veronica Henry, Trisha Ashley, Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews, Jill Mansell…I’m going to kick myself when this comes out, because I’ll be saying, I forgot so-and-so, and I love her books! Too many to name. And I read so many fantastic books by the Write Romantics, and Facebook friends such as Valerie-Anne Baglietto, Louise Marley, Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan and…Oh, crikey. I would honestly be happy if my writing was compared with any of those people. Truly.
And those all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes – is it still Jamie from Outlander, or has someone new caught your fancy?
Haha, I’m such a fickle person! I have major crushes on the damn-near-perfect Jamie Fraser, Mr Darcy, John Thornton, Mr Rochester, Sherlock, the Eleventh incarnation of The Doctor, Poldark and The Musketeers! Truthfully, the biggest crushes I get on fictional heroes are on the ones I create myself. I completely fall for every single one of them. I’m shameless.
So what’s next? A Kearton Bay number four? Back to Skimmerdale? Or something else?
Coming up next is a Christmas novella, which is a bit different to my other books. It started life as a People’s Friend pocket novel, so it had a very different style and feel to the Kearton Bay or Skimmerdale novels. I’ve reworked it so it sounds more like me, with less formality, and set it at Christmas, as it was such a gentle, cosy story it felt just right for the festive season. The large print rights of the original version have been bought by Ulverscroft. That edition will hopefully be published next year, and will go into libraries, which is exciting! My Christmas novella, which is called Baxter’s Christmas Wish, should be out in late October. After that, I’m starting work on Skimmerdale book two. I can’t wait to get back there. My sheep farmer hero does look an awful lot like Aidan Turner. Not that that’s got anything to do with my eagerness to return, obviously…
Sharon, thank you – many congratulations on the publication of Once Upon A Long Ago today. I’m so looking forward to reading it! For more information on Sharon and her books, she has an excellent website: you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.