I am thrilled to be able to bring you a Q&A with the very lovely Christie Barlow today! 🙂
I recently reviewed Christie’s newest release, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, as part of her wonderful blog tour, last week. #HighlyRecommend
For those who don’t know already, Could you tell us about yourself and books please?
I grew up in Northwich, Cheshire where my parents still live today. After meeting my husband, we moved to Manchester where all of our four children were born but recently, we have moved to a gorgeous picturesque village in the heart of Staffordshire where I am the proud owner of chickens and a mad cocker spaniel called Woody. My writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Once hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the fast car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born.
I self-published my first novel and will always remember the proud moment I showed my children the finished product. I stood in front of them, with a book that had my name on the cover and the message was loud and clear. If I could achieve something by setting my mind to it, then so could they. I would have been happy enough if my demonstration of what hard work and determination could achieve had ended there, but it didn’t. I knew that a strong social media presence would be necessary to promote it – and sure enough, it circulated quickly and became the talk of the town. Within a few months, the first novel I wrote became an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and the USA. I landed a five-book publication deal and an agent and recently I’ve signed a further two book contract. I am a full- time writer of women’s commercial fiction, specifically romantic comedy.
I have written five books so far! A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother and The Misadventures of a Playground Mother (these are feel-good comedies about life at the school gates). Kitty’s Countryside Dream (a feel-good romantic comedy about life, love and family), Lizzie’s Christmas Escape (a sparkling Christmas romance) and Evie’s Year of Taking Chances (a heart-warming romantic comedy).
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
My ideas can be sparked from any every day situation. My latest book Evie’s Year of Taking Chances would never have been written if it wasn’t for a lady called Marie ‘Mim’ Deakin whose vintage café and book club in Cannock, Staffordshire provided the inspiration behind this novel. I was sitting in her café eating the most delicious Victoria sponge cake when the idea came to me. I wanted to write a warm, funny comedy about a character who loved books that took the reader on a whole roller-coaster of emotions. The character Evie Cooper was born, her job as a librarian had always been her safe haven until one birthday her life is turned upside down when a mysterious parcel containing a book with a poignant inscription arrives for her. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie as she’s inspired to finally search for her real mother.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Now there is a very probing question! My characters aren’t based on specific people but I have drawn on my own experiences and memories. It’s important that I am able to relate to my characters and love who they are – faults as well. It’s all part of creating these unique personalities that you put into your book. But as my favourite primary school teacher said, I have an imagination that knows no bounds! I think it’s why writers write and actors act – it gives us the opportunity to unleash our imaginations and create a fictional experience that pleases our audience.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
This is going to sound very morbid but I usually wander around the graveyard looking at the headstones. I particularly like old fashioned and unusual names!
Can you share your writing process with us in a nutshell?
After dropping the children off at school, I usually I go off for a brisk walk with my cocker spaniel, Woody. Then I come home to drink numerous cups of tea and settle down in my writing cave. I have read numerous blog posts about authors who have story boards and spend hours on mind plans, however I’ll let you in on a little secret … I write whatever is whirling around in my head at the time. I know my characters inside and out and the general gist of how I want the story to progress, but then I love it when all of a sudden the story goes flying off in a totally different direction than I’d originally intended. That’s the magic of writing! I write one draft from start to finish then I ping it over to my lovely editor and then go into complete melt down while I wait to hear her thoughts!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
That is such a difficult question! Katie Fforde, Enid Blyton, Sue Townsend, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would have loved to have met Enid Blyton. As a child I simply adored all of her books and I’d have asked her, out of the whole of her back catalogue of books, which was her favourite to write and why?
Were you a big reader as a child?
The simple answer to that is yes! Everywhere I went so did a book!
When did you start to write?
As a child, I wrote a diary every day up until my first child was born. All of these diaries are bound together up in the loft and one day will be discovered! But, I only started to write women’s fiction three years ago.
Is there a book you wish you’d written?
The Adrian Mole Diaries by Sue Townsend. I still love them to this day.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would invite Eeyore to my local vintage café for a spot of cake!
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently writing book 6; I don’t want to give much away except that it features narrowboats and an old picture house. I’m loving writing every second of it and I hope you’ll love it too!
Do you have a release date?
My next book is due to be released September 2017.
What do you normally do to celebrate publication day?
In the daytime I usually go for a spot of lunch with my friends and in the evening I spend time with my gorgeous family.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Readers can keep in touch with me via my twitter page @ChristieJBarlow My Facebook page, Christie Barlow author and my website www.christiebarlow.com
Is there anyone else you would like us to know?
The past three years have been truly amazing in the land of books and that is down to all the lovely readers, bloggers, friends and family. I absolutely appreciate that they have chosen my books to read and all the kind words and messages they send me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love, so thank you. If you enjoyed any of my books I would be forever grateful if you’d write a review. Your recommendations can always help others to discover my books.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Christie 🙂
Publisher: Bookouture (10th March 2017)
It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.
Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.
Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.
Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.
As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?
A romantic, funny and poignant story of living life to the full and finding love in the most unlikely of places. Fans of Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will adore this book!
What readers are saying about Christie Barlow:
‘An utterly gorgeous story, with an utterly gorgeous plot that kept me turning the pages … left me feeling full of happiness and hope.’ Becca’s Books
‘This is an excellent book which swept me along so well that I read it in less than a day. I loved the characters and the story and will definitely be reading more by this author. This is definitely a book to read curled up with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.’ Bookloverwormblog
‘A heart-warming and cosy countryside read with characters you will love.’ Rachael Lucas
‘I found this book really enjoyable, the author has an engaging writing style that managed to draw me into the storyline and the lives of our character. The storyline flowed at a great pace and I raced through the book in no time soaking up the wonderful detailed descriptions. I can see that fans of Cathy Bramley and Cathy Woodman would love this book.’ Rea’s Book Reviews
‘This will have you laughing and smiling one minute and then you’ll feel it pulling at your heart strings.’ Crooks on Books
‘I didn’t want to put the book down.’ Best Crime Books and More
‘A soul-boosting necessity. I have a suspicion it’s been sprinkled with a little bit of magic, as on the darkest days it’ll warm your cockles and make everything seem right with the world.’ Little Bookness Lane
‘A fantastic story, one that will keep you reading long into the night, just to find out what happens’. Rachel’s Random Reads
‘I was unable to put this book down. I read it within a day because I was so drawn in to the characters themselves it was like I knew them. I would completely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Definitely a huge 5 stars!’ Katie’s Reading Korner Review
‘This had me gripped from the first chapter. It will have you laughing, crying and will just give you a warm feeling inside.’ Laura H Book Blog