~ Interview by Melina Kantor
It’s truly an honor to have one of my favorite authors, Carole Matthews, visiting the blog today. Her books are full of humor, romance, and exotic travel.
Read on to hear about her books, her experiences as an author, and some fabulous advice.
Q: What inspired you to write your first novel?
A: This sounds terrible, but I didn’t really have a plan to become a novelist at all. I’d always been an avid reader, but didn’t think that ordinary people like me wrote books. I thought you had to live in a glamorous place and have a Hollywood lifestyle as all the books I read were things like Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon.
At the time, I was working as a beauty therapist and was writing articles for magazines mainly on aromatherapy when – for reasons now lost in the mists of time – I entered a short story competition and, to my complete amazement, won. Then I did the most sensible thing I’ve ever done in my life, I spent the money, not on shoes and handbags as I normally would, but on a writing course. When the course came along, I thought that I should start a novel to work on. The tutor loved it and advised me to send it off to an agent. Fortunately, he loved it and sold it within a week. That became my first ever book – Let’s Meet on Platform 8. It was at the start of the whole chicklit wave in the UK and I was very fortunate to catch that wave again in the USA a few years ago when my book “For Better, For Worse” came out and went straight onto the USA Today bestseller list after being chosen as a Reading with Ripa pick on Live with Regis and Kelly.
Q: I have read and adored every single one of your books, but my two favorite are “With or Without You” and “Wrapped up in You” because of all the exotic travel. It seems you’re quite the traveler! How have all of your adventures influenced your writing?
A: Thank you so much! They’re two of my favorites as well. I do like travel to influence my books. I tend to set one fairly close to home and then somewhere more exotic. For my books I’ve been to the Masaai Mara, I’ve walked the Inca Trail in Peru, have travelled across China and, very shortly, I’ll be heading off to Lapland for research for my next Christmas book. I think if you try to visit the country you’re writing about then you can add a lot more color and authenticity to the book, plus the trip always seems to throw up plot points that I’d never even thought about. I write two books a year and that uses up such a lot of material. I do think that travel broadens the mind and we do meet an incredible range of people on our trips – train drivers, forensic scientists, you name it and we’ve probably met them – and everyone has their own story to tell. I think you have to be interested in life in general to be a writer.
Q: On your Web site, you have a link to “Child Action Nepal.” Can you tell us a bit about the charity?
A: “With or Without You” is set in the Nepal in the Himalayas and on our trip there we were just so taken by how kind and humble the people were when they have so little in the way of material comforts. We were also struck by the number of children living in terrible poverty, homeless on the streets of Kathmandu. When I came home, I happened to read an article in the newspaper about a lady called Florence Krief. Florence had done a similar trip to ours but when she came home she decided to give up her job as a city trade, sell her home and devote her life to bringing some family love to these terribly deprived children. I decided to contact her and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s very inspirational and now has two orphanages in Kathmandu each providing a loving home for twenty children. It’s a very small charity and we’ve tried to support it ever since. I like the fact that all the fact that all the money goes to the children and isn’t spent on fancy offices and lavish fundraisers.
Florence is a truly amazing woman. If you’d like to find out more about her work go to, http://www.childactionnepal.org.uk/
Q: What is your opinion of the term “chick lit?” Would you classify your books as chick lit? Why or why not?
A: I don’t mind the term chicklit at all, but what I do think is misleading about it is that it covers such a wide-range of books. Some people think that chicklit is all about teenagers dating and don’t realize the richness of subject matter it covers. My own books tend to feature women in their thirties and forties who are struggling with relationship or lifestyle issues, so they couldn’t necessarily be classed as ‘chicks’! The thing I love about chicklit though is it opened the door for women like myself to write about ‘ordinary’ contemporary issues, the things that affect millions of women. I was suddenly able to write about my home town and the things that bothered me, even though I didn’t have a yacht or a movie star boyfriend. So thanks very much for that chicklit!
Q: What advice do you have for the not yet published members of our chapter?
A: People often say to me that they want to write, but don’t have the time. If it’s important to you, then you must find enough time to sit in front of your computer and produce 100,000 words or whatever. Treat yourself to a babysitter or a cleaner – buy yourself those hours to write.
Don’t chase the market, write about what you really want to. More often than not, if you’re trying to write what’s hot now, then what publishers want will have moved on by the time you’re finished. I think that was madness lies. Think of the very best story you can and write that.
In the UK, it seems to be virtually impossible to get a book deal with the big publishers these days and I know a lot of writers who are self-publishing to ebook. It seems to be a good thing to do. It gets your work out there and you have total control over what you produce and how it’s marketed. I’m doing that with my own books now in the USA and I love it. I was publishing one book a year through mainstream publishers in the States and yet writing two. It was driving my lovely dedicated readers mad as they wanted more books from me and struggled to get hold of them. So my dearly beloved, Lovely Kev, is working his way through my backlist and all my titles will soon be available for downloading. My new book – “Summer Daydreams” – will come out in February this year at the same time in America as it does in the UK. We did the same thing for “Wrapped Up In You”. This is an exciting time to be published. I think writers should embrace it.
Thank you so much for visiting the blog today! I’m looking forward to your next book!
Carole Matthews is an internationally bestselling author of hugely successful romantic comedy novels. Her unique sense of humour has won her legions of fans and critical acclaim all over the world.
As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 30 different countries. Her novel Welcome To The Real World was shortlisted for the RNA romantic novel of the year award. She has recently been given an award from The Festival of Romance for her Outstanding Contribution to Romantic Fiction.
Previously very unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter.
When she’s not writing novels she likes trekking in the Himalayas, rollerblading in Central Park, taking tea in China or being cajoled up the Andes by Lovely Kev. More often than not, she can be found daydreaming in her garden shed in Milton Keynes.
“Wrapped up in You” is available to download on Kindle for 99 cents for a limited period.
A Christmas fling or has Janie found the real thing?
Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson’s single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realizes it’s time to do something dramatic with her life.
Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she’s mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right… but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide – and fully fledged Maasai Warrior – Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him?
Packed with unforgettable characters, romance and laughter, “Wrapped up in You” is your very own perfect Christmas Carole!
“Summer Daydreams” will be out in February 2012 on Kindle for $2.99.
What if you had always dreamed of something more…?
Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady but uninspiring job in her local fast food outlet. When the premises need a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve – and encouraged by the best friends a girl can have – Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to her dull job, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves! It seems Nell’s dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn’t come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it’s really possible to have it all…
Full of fun, love and laughter, soak up the sunshine with “Summer Daydreams”.