Today’s post really isn’t about me, but when I re-launched Being Anne last year, I was so grateful for everyone’s support. One of my most loyal supporters was Ian Wilfred – re-tweeting my every post, always with a lovely comment of his own. When I thanked him and asked him why he’d chosen to help me, he said it was because he could tell how much it meant to me, and how much work I put into it (and that meant so much to me, I wiped away a tear…). Ian has published before, and his first book, Putting Right The Past, won him many friends, supporters and happy readers. And now, after a four year break, his second novel, The Little Terrace of Friendships, was published on 28th March, and is now available in paperback and for kindle (and that version is just 99p).
Maggie Hosking is in her early sixties, and she lived in Devon with a husband who never worked and took her for granted. But now Maggie is going to have an adventure of a lifetime taking her to London, New York and Martha’s Vineyard.
All her working life Maggie has been a cleaner in hotels and private homes. Maggie cleaned for actress Helen Heacham’s parents until their deaths, when Helen moved Maggie up to London to take care of her home. Helen lives in a beautiful terrace in Kensington along with famous and not so famous neighbours. Actors, writers, models and businessmen; they all seem to need a cleaner and that’s when Maggie’s adventure starts.
It’s not just Maggie’s life that’s changing but big things are happening for the other residents in the terrace; success, romance and fraud, but most of all friendship.
I’m really looking forward to reading it – and I was so thrilled when Ian agreed to pop in for a chat…
Ian, it’s been a joy seeing your excitement as you’ve approached the publication of The Little Terrace of Friendships. For anyone who doesn’t know you – at least a little – do start with an introduction…
Where do I start? I’m 50+, but in my head I will always be 39. I live on the Norfolk coast with my husband – we got married last year after being together for twenty years, and share our home with a three year old Westie.
After such a long break, what got you writing again?
When we moved to Norfolk three years ago, life was so busy – new jobs, sorting out a home and garden, and getting the dog – and I just put the writing on hold. I thought, I’ve had a go, so that’s that. Then just before we got married, the other half had a car accident, my brother-in-law had a heart attack – and that made me slow down and make time for my writing again.
Was this book a long time in the making? Where did the story come from?
Once I had made the decision to publish again, I spent weeks reading everything I had written (over many years!) and I kept coming back to Maggie’s story. I then started to chop and change characters and situations, so over 6 months I rewrote most of it.
And was the writing easy? How did you manage to fit it around life?
I think – if you really want to achieve anything – you have to just knuckle down, get on with it and get it done…
Was that beautiful cover your idea? I’d be attracted by it on any bookshop shelf…
Thank you – I love the cover! Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics produced it for me. I felt bad to start with, as I emailed a long list of what I liked and what I disliked – but she said the more info she had the better.
And it’s perfect! You pay tribute in your acknowledgements to all the people who helped with the book – want to tell me more?
The lovely author Debbie Viggiano encouraged me to get published, and she introduced me to the fabulous Rebecca Emin at Gingersnap Books who organised everything for me. Nancy Callegari and Maureen Vincent-Northam edited and proofread the book, and then Rebecca formatted it for Amazon. I like to say I wrote the story, and they added the magic!
So what makes a “50+ fella” want to write – and clearly enjoy reading – female fiction?
I love reading and always have, but I’m not one for murders and violence – everything in Ian’s world is a song and a dance, and I love female fiction.
Carole in Putting Right The Past and Maggie in The Little Terrace… are both on the downhill side of 50. When you’re an eternal 39 (in your head) – and male – how difficult was it capturing their distinctive voices?
Not too difficult. For forty years I’ve worked in retail and the hospitality industry, and worked with thousand of fabulous women who all seemed to have interesting lives with so many stories to tell.
There’s a lovely line in a review of your first book – “the author writes to their diary as if it were their best friend they need to tell all to, but manages to make the reader feel like a friend too”. I can see, from a quick flick through my copy, that the same applies to The Little Terrace. Was the diary format always the obvious choice?
I think this is the last diary type book. Both Carole from Putting Right The Past and now Maggie would certainly be my friends – warm, friendly and helpful, but also up for a laugh. Also I think they needed – in the beginning – for the diary to be their best friend.
When you were writing, did you have a reader in your mind? A certain background, or age group maybe? Were they exclusively female?
A lovely reader of my first book described it as ” the perfect read for a mature woman who’s family have grown up and left home and husband spends every hour watching sport on the tv and she needs to escape into an easy quick fun read”.
Planning, writing, editing, getting ready for launch – what’s been your favourite part of the whole process this time round? And the most difficult?
The most difficult is time – I would love an eight day a week, “and on the eighth day you will write”! As for my favourite bit, it has to be bringing Maggie to life and seeing her have fun. Also working with Rebecca has been so enjoyable.
And now tell me why you’ve become such a wonderful supporter of so many authors and bloggers… so many of us view you as a friend…
I love my twitter friends. I have to be honest – I only support authors and bloggers who I like as people, and enjoy their work, I don’t press RT for the sake of it…
And now I feel even more honoured! What writers do you particularly admire? If someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you really like them to mention?
I could go on forever about authors and books I have loved – over many years. Books, like music, have been so important in events and situations in my life. When I was nursing my dad – when he was really ill – I read Emylia Hall’s The Book Of Summers. Such a lovely story, beautifully written – and so very special to me.
So, will we need to wait another four years for the next book? Or have you got the bug again?
No Anne, not four years – I have the bug! I wish I had listened to the author Amanda Egan who said to me, after Putting Right The Past was published, “get on with the next – keep writing”. The next one has been planned, a synopsis has been written – and yes, a new female character 40+, and set on the beautiful Norfolk coast.
Ian, thank you so much for joining me – it’s been a real delight to “meet” you at last, and I wish you every success with The Little Terrace of Friendships, and whatever you do next! If you’d like to follow Ian on Twitter, you’ll find him at @Ianwilfred39: he also has an Amazon author page.