I’m delighted to welcome Sharon Ibbotson to my blog.
Hello Sharon. I’m so pleased you could join me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat this week as I can imagine your schedule is quite hectic – filled with family, friends, writing and life.
But before we discover more about you and your latest release, A Game of Desire, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: How did you manage to get your first novel published and what did you learn from the experience?
Sharon: You know something? I never actually intended to ever publish my novels. I would write them, cry over them, feel a rush of excitement over them... and then print them, stuff them into a Manila envelope and stash them under my bed. It was my husband who pushed me to try and get them published. I’d heard of the Romantic Novelist’s Association because of my lifelong adoration for Netta Muskett (who was a founder) and decided to join their New Writer’s Scheme. My novel was evaluated, and after I made extensive revisions, I decided to send it to the romance publishers I knew who had an open submissions policy. I was at an RNA event when the author Jane Lacey Crane told me that Choc Lit might be a good match for my style and genre.
She was right. I submitted to Choc Lit and they were very positive. I signed a contract within months and The Marked Lord was released in January of 2019, while A Game of Desire is due to be published on the 25th of June.
I suppose I always assumed that my writing would never be good enough for the romance market. It’s very nice to be able to say that I was wrong! It’s a big step for a writer to submit their work for consideration - but you should do it, because, like me, you just never know what might happen...
Arabella: If you could choose, which would it be: A walk in the woods, a walk along a beachfront to dip your toes in the sea, or a day shopping for clothes?
Sharon: This question makes me smile! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to walk, and walk everywhere if I can (I’m infamous in my family for saying somewhere is ‘only ten minutes’ away when I suggest walking there!). But between the woods, the beach and the shops (and without the option of meandering around an old city looking at historical buildings and monuments) I would take the beach any day. I’m Australian by birth, raised in Sydney, and I love the ocean. I live in London now, and I miss the beach. Nothing beats hearing the waves crashing on the shore, or lying in the sunshine on the sand.
Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, A Game of Desire?
Sharon: A Game of Desire is primarily a story about an independent, clever and kind woman overcoming hardship inflicted on her by men, by beating men at their own game. My heroine, Felicity, is a gambler by necessity, not choice; an unbeatable card player and mathematician trying to rise above the circumstances of her birth.
Felicity, I admit, was a long time in the making. I first had the idea for her story when I was around fifteen. My friends and I were rampant card players (in fact we played competitively at one point) and people were always so surprised when I played a trick hand or won a game. ‘But you’re so blonde and sweet,’ I remember one boy telling me, utterly shocked. ‘And a girl,’ he added, quite unnecessarily.
I remember thinking, ‘why shouldn’t a woman beat a man at cards? Why do my looks affect how people perceive my abilities?’ Felicity was born in that moment, albeit in a very early form!
Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Sharon: The correct answer is everywhere. I read everywhere and anywhere, so much so that I have one of those joke t-shirts at home with ‘readers do it seven days a week’ printed across the front. I have two small children and quite often I’ll be reading on my kindle app on my phone while stirring the soup I’m making for dinner, or while making school lunches, or while waiting to pick my son and daughter up from school. If I’m going into the city, I’ll be reading while standing on the tube. If I’m in a queue at the supermarket, I’ll get my phone out just to finish a chapter. Reading and writing are the great loves of my life, and occasionally I’ll go about with a wistful expression on my face and my husband will glance at me, and immediately remark ‘Good book, was it?’
My kindle app has liberated me to read as often as I please, and I love it. Of course, I love my paper books too, but my kindle definitely makes life easier when you’re as busy as I am.
Arabella: Some authors write at first light, others need a mug of coffee or a glass of wine before putting pen to paper. When writing, are there any “essentials” you need to help the words flow?
Sharon: It’s going to sound terrible, but I need to be away from my kids to write. If I try and write when they’re around me, or even in the house, I never get anywhere. My children are still very young, just seven and three, and they need their Mum. So, when they’re home, I’m always there for them, ready to dispense food, drinks, medical aid or cuddles when the situation arises. And I like to play dolls with my little girl, or help my son with his reading, or guitar or piano practice. I enjoy spending time with them, so I try and make that distinction between ‘work’ time and ‘home’ time.
Obviously, as an author I drink copious amounts of coffee, but I never write after drinking wine. So when I sit down to write I’ll have a coffee in hand, but when I’m done for the day I’ll have a glass of white. I’ve only ever tried writing after drinking once and when I woke in the morning to check what I’d accomplished it was just line after increasingly shaky line of gibberish. I envy those who can drink and write at the same time!
Arabella: You’re halfway through the work-in-progress, you’re about to kill off the hero and there is going to be no happy-ever-after. In other words, you’re stuck! If you had to contact an “author/publisher/editor friend” for guidance, who would it be?
Sharon: I’ve never yet been tempted to kill off a hero, but there are times when I have been horribly stuck on a WIP. I’ve always muddled through in the past, unable to approach anyone with my work for fear they’d find it ridiculous. But now that I’m published, I’m finding it easier to approach those in the business for help. With my current WIP, I reached a point last month where I wasn’t certain if anything I was writing was any good, or whether or not I should even continue with the manuscript. I ended up reaching out to an author friend (she’s a much, much better writer than me, but don’t tell her I told you this!) and sent her the first three chapters. Her enthusiastic response made me sit back, realise that there was something good in this story, and carry on with it. I won’t mention her by name, because I’m not certain she’d appreciate it, but if she reads this she’ll know it’s her.
Arabella: The T.V. is on and you’re in control of the remote. Which is it to be: A quiz programme…An afternoon of sport…A family soap…A romantic film you always wanted to see but missed when it was shown at the cinema?
Sharon: I don’t actually watch TV in all honesty. My kids do, and if you need any information on Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney princesses, Pokemon or the Paw Patrol I’m your girl. But actual grown up TV? I’m not so knowledgeable. I did watch Game of Thrones when it was on, but gave up on it after the seventh season.
However, I do love movies! The older the better too. My Dad raised me on Marx Brothers movies and the MGM and RKO back catalogues, and I still love them. I find a good deal of inspiration in actresses like Carole Lombard, Mary Astor, Jean Harlow and June Allyson when looking at developing my heroines.
So I guess, in the unlikely event that I were ever given control of our television, I would probably put on an old black and white film from the early 30’s, and salivate over Plunkett and Adrian designed gowns while eating peanut butter straight from the jar.
Arabella: Do you have any great writing, publishing, or marketing tips you’d like to share to “want-to-be” authors starting out on their writing journey?
Sharon: Joining Twitter was probably the best thing I’ve ever done as a writer. The access to information, which you can collate to your own interests, is superb. Hearing other writer’s thought processes and celebrating their new releases is fun and it really makes you feel at home in the romance writing community. I remember with my first book release being linked in a Twitter post with the lovely Julie Cohen (who I have just the tiniest crush on), Virginia Heath and Jill Mansell and feeling blown away that my name was mentioned next to theirs. And the book recommendations! My TBR pile is dangerously out of control most of the time, but Twitter has added a whole new dimension to it. Twitter is a social media must for most authors, and many authors very rarely blog because they use Twitter as their online diary, in a way.
Thank you for being a wonderful guest, Sharon. And WOW, that was quite some interview. I loved reading about your passion for ‘old’ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) films, featuring the long-ago stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age screen.
Good luck with your latest release, Game of Desire and do keep us updated on your website with news of books that are soon to come.
About Sharon Ibbotson
‘Sharon is an Australian/Geordie writer who lives in London with her husband, son, daughter and two cats. She can be found child-wrangling by day, coffee in hand, or writing furiously by night, wine by her side. She is a voracious reader and a lover of anything romance.’
Social Media Links:
Facebook: Sharon Ibbotson - author
BLURB – A GAME of DESIRE
The Queen of Diamonds never loses... Felicity Fox is a rarity for a woman living in the early 1800s. Not only does she frequent the ‘gambling hells’ where most ladies would not dare to tread, she can also beat any man at his own game. It’s no wonder she’s gained notoriety as the ‘Queen of Diamonds’.
Edward, Earl of Addington, despises gambling and is not exactly enamoured of Felicity Fox either, especially after she tried to swindle his family. Except now the Earl requires assistance from the Queen of Diamonds- and there’s everything to play for. But with Edward will Felicity find she’s involved in a more dangerous game than she’s ever played before?
Release date: June 25th 2019