I’m delighted to welcome Celia Anderson to my blog.
Hello Celia. It was lovely to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I find the RNA to be a wonderful place in which to meet fellow authors and affiliates, all of whom are eager to share exciting news about books.
When asked what your genre was, you said: 59 Memory Lane is classed as contemporary fiction, but has also been described as ‘Up-Lit’. This new ‘Up-Lit’ genre (new to me at least) is something I’m going to have to research.
But before we discover more about your latest release, 59 Memory Lane, 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 novel published and what did you learn from the experience?
Celia: After reading (and loving) The Keeper of Lost Things’ by Ruth Hogan, I decided to take my courage in both hands and approach her agent, Laura Macdougall, who is now with United Agents. Laura wasn’t altogether bowled over by the book I sent her but was encouraging about my next idea, so I put all my energies into finishing what was to become 59 Memory Lane before she changed her mind!
When she read the final version and offered to represent me, I couldn’t believe my luck. We worked on this novel together until Laura was ready to submit it, and that was when I discovered the art of patience - my biggest learning curve so far. Constantly checking my emails to see if Laura had had any replies from publishers, and then the exciting, nerve wracking journey to eventual publication with Harper Fiction after well over a year has taught me that good things are definitely worth waiting for.
Arabella: If you could choose, which would it be: A walk in the woods, a walk along a beach front to dip your toes in the sea, or a day shopping for clothes?
Celia: Definitely the sea. Living in the centre of the UK means I don’t get to paddle nearly often enough. 59 Memory Lane is set on the Cornish coast, so I escape there in my head as often as possible! My next novel involves maps and adventures, so the seaside figures again, and Cornwall was high on my list of places to include. Moving much further north, the atmospheric island of Lindisfarne features in it too. I love the wide expanses of sand in Northumberland, especially around Bamburgh. Perfect for a plotting walk.
Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, 59 Memory Lane?
Celia: This is a story involving families, friendships, memories and intrigue, and was inspired by a huge cache of letters discovered by my cousin Jill when her father died. He lived in Cornwall for all of his married life, and the Midlands family’s faithful correspondence with him dates back to 1945. Reading these words from the past has brought my mum and her siblings alive again for me. An emotional experience that also provided the jumping off ground for May and all her friends to appear.
Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Celia: Mostly in bed, although I do love to read on the train. Both daughters live in Brighton so I get a good four hours of reading in when I visit them, and since I signed with my agent and also got more involved with the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I travel to London on a regular basis – more kindle catch-up time.
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?
Celia: It’s a good job you can’t see me writing this, because I’m in my dressing gown and not looking my sparkling best. Five o’clock in the morning is my most productive writing time, and I usually start with a big mug of chai or peppermint tea. Then after breakfast I keep going for a while, if time permits. The early evening stint is massively helped by wine…
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?
Celia: I would get in touch with Laura and also with Charlotte Ledger, who’s my brilliant publisher at Harper Collins. Both are fantastic at replying quickly to emails and give excellent, forthright advice. I recently had lunch sitting in the sunshine at a pavement cafe with Charlotte as we dissected my next book, which had hit a very sticky patch. Laura had already given her advice, so we pooled all our ideas and then celebrated with some amazing Italian ice cream.
I’m very lucky to have a great set of writing buddies, most of whom revel in the collective name of The Romaniacs. Sue, Laura, Lucie, Debbie, Jan, Catherine and Vanessa (plus Mandy James and Christine Macpherson, my other lovely gurus) are just wonderful. Sometimes the answer to a problem is just staring you in the face, but it takes another writer to state the obvious!
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?
Celia: I don’t watch much live TV, it’s usually old box sets like Larkrise to Candleford, Sherlock or Jeeves, but if the TV is ever on in the day, I can’t resist property programmes. The Romaniacs were lucky enough to meet Kirsty Allsopp after Catherine won an afternoon tea competition. Cake and Kirsty – two of our favourite things. And she also had prosecco!
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?
Celia: My biggest tip, apart from everyone’s favourite of ‘just keep going and don’t mind the rejections’ is to get more involved in the world of authors. I joined the RNA in 2011 and have met some of the most fabulous people ever. I’m now on the committee, and organise the judging for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award which involves meeting lots of writers at different stages of their careers. The encouragement they give to each other is superb. Also, online forums are good for venting about the inevitable one star reviews and getting through those waiting hours. Writing can be a lonely business and there are lots of roles within the RNA that are crying out for enthusiastic volunteers!
Thank you so much for this opportunity to be interviewed on your blog, Arabella.
Celia - Thank you for being such an amazing guest. You gave some marvellous answers which I’m sure your readers and followers will have devoured with enjoyment.
And I must say...I’m in awe of your time management skills. Not only do you start writing at 5am, but you also mentioned you have been busy helping to organise this year’s RNA - Romantic Novel Awards and all the entries that have been flooding in!
A big thank you . . . to you and all the RNA members who willing devoted their time and energy to such happenings. It takes a certain sort of someone to do this! And I'm full of admiration for your stamina. I’d be exhausted!
Best wishes and lots of happy-ever-after writing…
About Celia Anderson
Celia Anderson lives slap bang in the middle of the Midlands and dreams of owning a cottage by the sea, or at the very least on a canal or river. She makes do with living next door to a pond full of ducks but often manages to sneak more impressive watery places into her writing. Celia loves walking, reading, having large bubbly baths, eating and drinking wine. Over the years, she has found that all of these activities bar the first may be done simultaneously, although this can be messy. Previously a teacher and assistant head, she now writes full time and keeps her feet on the ground by running children's clubs that mainly involve drama and cake.
Social Media Links:
Twitter - @CeliaAnderson1 https://twitter.com/CeliaAnderson1
Facebook –Celia Anderson Author Page https://www.facebook.com/CeliaAndersonAuthor/
Website – celiaandersonauthor.co.uk
Blurb - 59 Memory Lane
May Rosevere has reached the grand old age of one-hundred-and-ten, thanks to several slices of toast with butter every morning, a glass (or two) of port, and the wonders of the Cornish sea air – or so she tells everyone.
But there’s much more to May than her remarkable age. She has a secret. One that no one has ever discovered …
59 Memory Lane is published in both paperback and audio formats on June 27th 2019. The eBook came out on April 1st.