31 May 2012

Author Interview: Alison Lucy

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Alison Lucy, author of new book The Summer of Secrets for an author interview! I recently reviewed Alison's book which is the perfect summer read, and am looking forward to reading many more from her! Please enjoy the interview, and my hugest thanks go to Alison for answering my questions.

Q1. Tell me about your new book The Summer of Secrets.

The story came from a desire to write about a dream house, a place overlooking the sea in a hot country, with a big veggie garden and an outdoor kitchen.  The sort of place you imagine yourself running away to when the pressures of modern life or heartbreak get too much.  In the book the house - Featherbow - is left to three sisters, none of whom know about each other, and when they all go looking for their legacy they find a family.  There's plenty of romance and a dash of mystery too.

Q2. The book is set in sunny Mexico - is this somewhere you have been yourself, and how much research does it take to write a place realistically? What do you find is the best form of research for something like this?

In case it's not clear by now, I love Mexico!  It made a huge impression on me when I first ventured there as a teenager and I have to resist the urge to holiday there to the exclusion of everywhere else. I have been drawn to books, articles or recipes written about Mexico since I first went there, so I felt fairly well prepared to write about the country I love.  For a more detailed understanding of the traditions such as the Quinceanera (a girl's fifteenth birthday) or how to order coffee in Mexico City I love to fish around on facebook or blogs to try and find real life experiences and interesting details.

Q3. You've published this book under your married name of Alison Lucy. What made you decide to finally change your name on your books?

I have got married, that's true, but Alison Lucy is not my married name.  I have a new publisher and everybody felt it was a good time for a reboot.  A lot has changed for me personally in the seven years since I was first published and as Alison Bond never really popped as a well-known name in women's fiction there is no practical reason for me to hang on to the name.

Q4. You're with a relatively new imprint for this book - Canvas Books. Are you excited to be working with a fresh, new publisher?

I was very interested to see what the differences would be between the old place and this sparkly new one.  The most surprising thing is how much is actually the same.  People in publishing are -  in my experience - enthusiastic, switched-on lovers of books of all kinds, which makes them fairly cool people to work with.  They make it easy to love what you do.  Canvas are a breath of fresh air, coming into the women's fiction market just as Kindle takes off and revitalises the entire genre.

Q5. You must be thrilled with the cover for this book after the not-so-great cover you had for a previous book. Did you have much say in this cover, and how did you feel when you first saw the cover for The Summer of Secrets?

When I first saw the cover I thought 'wow' and then I thought '80's' and then I thought 'beach.'  I loved it.  The colours, the sailboat, the tagline, the font.  I have nothing bad to say about it, and yes, given that a previous cover reduced me to tears I was over the moon.  It's ace.

Q6. How do you feel about the bashing that chick lit takes in the press, and about the so-called 'Death of chick lit'?

I really don't understand it.  Honestly, I have found the only people who use the phrase chicklit are those who write it, those who read it, and those who sell it.  Everybody else looks at me blankly if they ask what I write until I add 'romance'.  It's like we are bashing our own shorthand.  I have never had it levelled at me as a derogatory or dismissive way, and even if I had I would like to think it's a horses-for-courses situation.   The word 'chick' as a substitue for 'woman' is not clever, but it's not aggresive or vile.  Then after the latest little wave (ripple?) of 'chicklit is dead' press the chart is stuffed with Jojo Moyes and Katie Fforde.  I would like the conversation to move on.

Q7. You're active on Twitter (@alisonlucy and @bondgirluk) - how important do you think social networking is for authors, and do you enjoy the interaction with your fans?

When I worked in an office you probably would have callled me 'the chatty one'  (possibly the annoying one).  I worked with a lot of interesting people and I had to close my office door to get any serious work done.  Twitter is like that for me, I can go on there and find out what's going on in the real world from time to time, but it is easy to close the door and get on with it.

Q8. What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing?

We recently moved out to the country to be near Mum and Dad and I have thrown myself into village life, community groups, fete committee, award winning tomato plants.  You name it, I'm all over it.

Q9. What are some of your own favourite chick lit books? Who are your favourite authors of all time?

I love Rachel's Holiday, I love Helen Fielding, I have been a massive Jackie Collins fan since I was fifteen.  My favourite authors of all time is a complicated question, so much depends on my mood, but I have been fascinated by Lucy Irvine and her real life tales of castaway adventures for a very long time, and I am a big Tales of the City fan too.

Q10. Finally, are you working on a second novel for Canvass?

I am, and I really should get back to it.  Thank you for the questions, Chloe, I enjoyed answering them.

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