TOUR: Carole Matthews on writing new novel Summer Daydreams
We're highly excited to have bestselling author Carole Matthews guest posting at Trashionista as part of her Summer Daydreams blog tour! Summer Daydreams is out on 24th May, and here Carole shares her experiences of writing the book, in which heroine Nell decides to start a business designing handbags.
To celebrate, Little, Brown are holding a fantastic competition. Enter here to win your very own design on a Helen Rochfort handbag.
From Tiny Acorns - How Books Can Creep Up on You
Research for novels can take on all kinds of forms. Usually it starts with a great idea for a book which requires some knowledge that I don't already have. So off I go to find out about it. My current fetish for baking cupcakes was spawned from an idea that I might one day write a book heavily featuring the excessive consumption of cupcakes. Until, of course, the lovely Jenny Colgan beat me to it with her novel Meet Me at The Cupcake Cafe. Drat and double drat. I still bake cupcakes though.
Sometimes a book might require more extreme research. My next-but-one Christmas book -due out in 2013 - has recently involved a trip to Swedish Lapland. I spent a week on a variety of activities including dogsledding, snowmobiling, building an igloo and staying at the Ice Hotel. All in minus 35 degrees. Brrr. Sometimes I do suffer for my art.
But, for my latest novel - Summer Daydreams - the research was much closer to home and didn't involve me getting cold or up close and personal with a husky once. It was more of a slow builder.
The idea for my future Christmas book hit me like a hammer blow and my outline was written and the trip was booked within a week. Yet, with Summer Daydreams, it wasn't for literally years that I realised there was a story sitting right in front of me, just waiting to be written.
It all started some time ago when a status photograph of Barbara Cartland popped up on my Facebook page. Assuming it belonged to another romance writer, I pootled along to check out the page. As it turned out, the owner wasn't a writer, but the lovely Helen Rochfort - a designer of totally gorgeous pop art handbags. Suitably impressed, I posted an admiring message. The next day she posted one back to say thank you and that she was going to read one of my books. There started, in a small and rather unexpected way, a friendship that has since blossomed.
We chatted back and forth for a while and then Helen designed some promotional handbags for one of my earlier books - The Chocolate Lovers' Club - and we ended up spending more time together.
Over lunch one day, Helen told me how she'd become a designer. It was a tough road and, from humble beginnings, is now a very successful designer who has had handbags in Harrods and Harvey Nicks! Her story is just amazing and she juggles the life of a glamorous designer with managing two children and a home. One minute she's at the Paris Fashion Week, the next at home reading bedtime stories to her two girls. It was a book just waiting to be written.
So, we've worked quite closely together over the last year or so to bring the story to life. The result is Summer Daydreams. It's a lovely tale and is loosely based on Helen's life and experiences. So I hope that it has a genuine ring of authenticity. I think you'll really warm to the character in the book, Nell McNamara - she's a strong, feisty woman who steps out of her comfort zone to make a better life for her and her family. it's a story that a lot of women will love and find familiar. So many women these days in demanding jobs and are also trying to juggle their home life too.
So, the research for this book was slow and gentle. So much so that I didn't actually realise I was doing it! The book sort of sneaked up on me. A lot of it involved just hanging out with Helen and her husband, Julian, who also works in her business. No pain there.
Driving a team of huskies was most of the most exciting things I've ever done. But getting to play with a lot of handbags in the name of research was pretty good too. And telling the story of my friend's success was even better.