I’m delighted to welcome Jessica Redland to my blog.
Hello Jessica – Thank you for taking time out from your busy family life, work schedule, and your writing activities to join me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, today. It was lovely to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The RNA is such a great supportive place where authors can share news of their writing journey. But before we discover more about your latest release, All You Need Is Love, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers and insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: We all love the creativity of writing – otherwise we wouldn’t spend hours at a keyboard pounding away in the hope someone will read and enjoy our novels. But what do you like most about our craft?
The editing and proofreading, the author/reader relationship, promotional book signings, or is there something else that has you hooked to the world of books?
haven’t experienced the promotional/signing side of things as my career as an
author only took off last year during the first lockdown but I’m excited about that
at some point in the future. Right now, there are two things I love the most:
1. When my characters fully come to life. I’m a pantser rather than a planner with my writing. For me, this means I know the premise and I know my main character(s) really well but I let them drive the story. I get a thrill when they do something that’s either unexpected or that connects several threads and it feels like the story has properly taken off
2. When readers get in touch to tell me about how much they’ve loved a particular story or even all of my books. I’ve found this particularly humbling and touching during the pandemic when readers have thanked me for giving them such valuable escapism. When I wrote those books, I could never have predicted what was about to happen in the world and how invaluable books would become.
Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, All You Need Is Love?
Jessica: In 2003-05, I took a career break from the world of HR to fulfil a dream of mine: to set up and run a specialist teddy bear shop. I’m an arctophile – a lover/collector of teddy bears – and am captivated by the artistry of proper, jointed collectible bears. My shop, Bear’s Pad, was in Richmond, North Yorkshire and sold collectible and plush bears as well as bear-related or Pooh Bear products like stationery, cards and cross stitch kits.
I always wanted to write a book that was set partly in a bear shop, drawing on my own experiences, but was mindful of not making it so bear-related that it could put off readers who might not quite get the idea of adults collecting teddy bears.
All You Need Is Love is a dual-perspective book which tells the story of Jemma and Sam. Jemma’s a curator at a children’s museum in London and her mum, Julie, runs a specialist teddy bear shop – Bear With Me – in the fictional North Yorkshire town of Whitsborough Bay. Life as she knows it is about to massively change for Jemma with two shock revelations. One of these brings her into contact with Sam who is a neurologist at a hospital in London. He's a lost soul struggling to come to terms with a tragedy from his past.
I loved the idea of writing a book where two characters start out with very separate lives but later meet and discover how connected their lives really are. All You Need Is Love explores the friendship that develops when they finally meet and whether either of them can move on after everything life has thrown at them.
As with all of my books, there’s a romance in it but a big focus is on relationships with family and friends.
Some scenes are set in the museum where Jemma works and others are in Bear With Me but neither of these are the main setting. I did love writing the scenes in the bear shop, though. It was lovely creating a new (albeit fictional) teddy bear shop and picturing all those gorgeous collectible bears.
Arabella: You are out for a walk and see a twenty-pound note (or a twenty-dollar bill, etc.) lying on the road. What do you do with the unclaimed funds?
Jessica: I’d pick it up and, if there was anyone around, I’d ask if they’d lost any money. Assuming there were no claimants, I’d let the police know and, if still no claimants, give it to charity. It’s not my money. I’ve found a lost purse and a lost wallet before, neither with ID in them, and informed the police both times. The wallet got claimed but the purse never did and I did keep that money … but it was only a small amount and I was a child at the time.
Arabella: Some authors cannot work without a business planner, others cannot write without an editing app… Are there any “essentials” you need to help your writing move forward?
Jessica: I write straight into a Word document but I have three tools of the trade that I need for all my novels: a calendar, a notepad and a weekly planner pad. Although I’m a pantser, I do develop my characters in detail before I get started and I use the notepad for that and any research I undertake. The planner pad (and calendar) helps me keep track of what’s happening on each date in the story so I can work out the passing of time between events and the spread of action over time.
Another essential for me is my support network of fellow authors. I’ve been part of an online group of ten authors for about eight years now and we have been there for each other through all the highs and lows of our writing journeys. They provide an invaluable sounding board and encouragement. I live a couple of hours away from one of the members and, pre-Covid, we met up halfway roughly fortnightly for a few years. I’ve missed that so much and can’t wait to resume it again. We beta read each other’s books and I love running plot points by her and getting a fresh take on something tricky.
Arabella: An Indian Curry, Italian Paste Bake, Fish and Chips, or ______?
Jessica: Ooh, I like all of them although it would be battered sausage rather than fish for me and I must have mayonnaise on my chips. I don’t really have a favourite food as it depends how my mood takes me. Unless you count cake. Mmm. Love a bit of cake.
Arabella: If the person of your dreams, (husband/wife/partner/or superstar), were to take you out for the day, social distancing restrictions permitting, where would they take you and what would you do?
Jessica: Right now, absolutely anywhere would suit me just fine! It’s been a long year hasn’t it? My husband is a very talented amateur photographer so he loves to be anywhere he can take a gorgeous landscape picture. I love beautiful scenery and it can trigger my imagination for future storylines. As we have such gorgeous settings surrounding us (we live in Scarborough), we’d take a trip along the coast. It would take in a walk along the promenade on Scarborough’s North Bay which is local to us but not quite local enough to justify the drive during lockdown so we’ve really missed it. We’d then head up the coast to Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes; all stunning seaside settings which have provided so much inspiration for my books.
Arabella: Do you have any great writing, publishing, or marketing tips you would like to share with “want-to-be” authors starting out on their writing journey?
Jessica: My tips would be about writing. If you want to write, write. You may not be great at it but you’ll never know unless you try. If you’re thinking ‘I’d love to write a book but I don’t have time,’ then stop right there! I didn’t have time – and I’m sure many authors would say the same – but I made time. I stopped watching the soaps on TV, I stopped lounging around, I wrote while commuting to work (I will point out that this was on the train; not while driving!) and I developed ideas while in the shower. Very, very few authors ever had the luxury of time when they were starting out, but they had a dream and they made it happen so you can too. Don’t feel you have to write every day but do think about it each day. I often develop dialogue and plot twists while in the shower, out shopping, or when driving.
Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and chit-chat, Jessica. I’m sure your readers enjoyed discovering a little bit more about your personal life…including your penchant for anything bear-related.
Wishing you all the best for your latest release, All You Need Is Love
About Jessica Redland
Jessica lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. Her home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets many of her books although the Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous new countryside setting in the Yorkshire Wolds.
She lives with her husband, their teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn't love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.
Her career was predominantly in HR as a trainer and recruiter. She had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage her own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing her debut novel on quiet days in the shop.
In June 2020, she became a full-time author. She’s so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books in whatever format, helping her fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. She still can't believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.
Website and Social Media Links
Book Blurb: All You Need Is Love
When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?
Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma's friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.
Sam thinks he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?
This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up.
Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?
Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.
This book was previously published as Bear With Me.
Also available on Apple, Audible, paperback, hardback, large print and via streaming services
Release Date: 11th March 2021