Intervew with Devika Fernandez

Author Interview with JO LAMBERT

What do you like most and least about being a writer?

Since I was a small child I’ve loved storytelling and I guess, for me, that is one of the pleasures of being a writer – creating your own version of the world for other people to read and enjoy.  I also love working with my cover designer to create that all important front image. And, I guess the best moment of all is holding the finished book in your hand and saying to yourself, ‘I did this’.

The worst?  Well that has to be the editing – checking, cutting, changing, and rewrites.  I know it’s an incredibly important part of the process but after the great buzz of actually writing the book it certainly brings you back down to earth! Thank heaven I have a brilliant editor!

I read and enjoyed your book “Summer Moved On”, and I think the title fits perfectly. How do you come up with titles and what do you think is important about them?

Apart from one, all of my books have been named after song titles.  I love music and my playlists, which are in constant use while I’m writing, are so important to me. It seemed quite natural then once the writing was completed to explore the idea of using songs for my book titles.

For my very first novel I chose When Tomorrow Comes by The Eurythmics.  My second book was more difficult and I eventually abandoned the song theme and came up with Love, Lies and Promisesinstead. However, I was soon back on the song title track – The Ghost of You and Me (BB Mak) came next, Between Today and Yesterday (Alan Price) and The Other Side of Morning (a slightly altered This Side of the Morning by Scottish band Del Amitri) followed. Summer Moved On came from Norwegian band A-Ha and my current WIP’s title comes from Swedish duo Roxette.   And…I know of at least two other writers who use this method, so I’m not alone.

What inspired the story of “Summer Moved On” and its underlying theme of new beginnings and second chances?

While my fifth book, the last in my Little Court series, was away being edited I decided to work on some ideas for my next project.  I’d had a lot of thoughts about ‘Life after Little Court’ but nothing I came up with made me feel I’d found the story I was looking for.  Then suddenly it was there – the idea of two people from totally different backgrounds meeting and falling in love and all the complications and drama that could bring with it.  On this occasion although I wanted to write a contemporary romance there were going to be similarities to my Little Court novels.  It would have a village background, involve family issues and have my trademark love-to-hate female antagonist.

This time I created the fictitious village of Lynbrook in South Devon, one of my favourite parts of the UK.  Once I had developed bios for my central characters – middle class Jess, gypsy Talún and the incredibly obnoxious Lily –  I sat down at the PC and began to weave a story around them andSummer Moved On was born.

Did you have to do a lot of research for your book? How did you do it?

Actually I needed hardly any for this book.  As I’m familiar with village life it was very easy to create and populate the fictitious community of Lynbrook with characters. The Black Bull was based on a country pub I know well and yes, it does have its own cricket team! The only thing I did have to work on was Jess’s career as a teacher. Luckily I have a good friend who teaches and she was able to give me a lot of help and valuable information.  When I initially undertook this research, Summer Moved Onwas planned as a single novel. However as I wrote it was evident from the rising word count and the way the story was progressing that it was going to spill over into a sequel.  When I came to fully plotting the second book, I tweaked Jess’s story slightly which meant I didn’t require the teaching information after all – but as I never throw anything away  it’s on file in case I need it in future!

Any hidden talents or crazy facts about you?

I confess to having a bit of a  ‘thing’ about notebooks.  In fact I can’t pass a stationery store without going in to check out the notebook section. I’ve a large collection, including project books, and yes, I do use them, but there are one or two special purchases which are so lovely I couldn’t bear to write in them.

Your book “The Other Side of Morning” is set in England and Italy. Is there any other country you’d like to write about?

Italy is one of my favourite holiday destinations – Tuscany in particular. I love the country, the history, the people and, of course, the food.  In my other books I’ve also used Spain, Bali, Gran Cayman, Australia, New York and California.  This means I’m already quite a ‘well-travelled’ writer.  However, I think a return to the States would be nice. New England in the Fall maybe?

Tell us about the one thing you can’t write without.

Music.  I can’t work without it.  I set up playlists and use them in the background while I’m working. Scottish crime writer Iain Rankin was being interviewed on Breakfast television the other morning and he was talking about his use of music when working.  He said it created a bubble, something that shut out the world and allowed him to concentrate on his writing.  I thought ‘yes, that’s exactly what it does for me’.

Oh and I couldn’t be without my muses.  I always have one for each of my principal male characters pinned to my notice board for inspiration while writing.

Do you have any advice for (aspiring) authors?

a) Read as much as possible, especially those books which are similar to your own work.
b) Stay focused.
c) A social media presence is a must – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and, of course, a blog and/or website.
d) Finally and most important of all – get the services of a professional editor.  They are absolutely essential.

If you were suddenly forced to marry one of the characters you’ve written, who would it be and why?

Oh it would definitely have to be Marco from The Other Side of Morning. Of all the main male characters I have created he is the ‘special one’.  He’s a tall, dark, good looking Italian who runs the European restaurant side of his father’s multi-million pound business empire. He is a man who loves women and knows how to treat them.  He’s also a great mix of masculinity and vulnerability – probably one of my best character creations to date.

What are you currently working on?

I’m 11,000 words into the sequel to Summer Moved On – Watercolours in the Rain.  We catch up with Talún, Jess and Lily six years after the end of book one.  During those years there have been quite substantial changes for all of them – and more to come as fate brings them back together again.