🔦🔦SPOTLIGHT ON… CATHERINE FERGUSON🔦🔦
WELCOME TO TODAYS SPOTLIGHT ON… 🔦🔦
I am thrilled to welcome author Catherine Ferguson onto my blog today, her most recent title was the fabulous ‘The Secrets Of Ivy Garden’ which I recently reviewed on the blog tour, so without wasting anymore time heres a little bit more about Catherine…
Catherine Ferguson burst onto the writing scene at the age of nine, anonymously penning a weekly magazine for her five-year-old brother (mysteriously titled the ‘Willy’ comic) and fooling him completely by posting it through the letterbox every Thursday.
Catherine’s continuing love of writing saw her study English at Dundee University and spend her twenties writing for various teenage magazines, including Jackie and Blue Jeans, and meeting pop stars. Then she got serious and worked as a sub-editor at the Dundee Courier before moving to Surrey and setting up an organic veg box delivery business.
Her first novel, HUMBUGS AND HEARTSTRINGS, is very loosely based on Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL and was the launch title for Avon’s brand new imprint, Maze. Her latest, THE SECRETS OF IVY GARDEN, was published in April 2017. Catherine lives with her family in Northumberland.
(courtesy of Amazon)
Hi Catherine and welcome to IF IN DOUBT READ, thank you do much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions, its great to have you on my blog…
🙋🏽🙋🏽Firstly please can you tell us a little bit about yourself, in your own words?
trained as a journalist but always knew I wanted to write romanticcomedy books. I finally achieved my dream rather late in life, but
success is all the sweeter for that! I’ve lived all over – from
university in Scotland, to setting up a business in Surrey, and
finally settling with my family in beautiful Northumberland.
📚📚Can you name three of your favorites reads and what it was that you loved
1.The Secret Island – Enid Blyton inspired me to start writing
2. Persuasion – I love Jane Austen’s novels and I think her irony is
sharpest in Persuasion
3.Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes
👫💭Where do you find inspiration for your stories and characters?
It’s something of a mystery where the inspiration for my plots and
characters comes from! It’s certainly not from my logical brain – at
least, not at the start when the idea is born. It all pours out of the
subconscious, I suppose, where all of your life experiences are filed
away. An idea will occur out of nowhere and I’ll spend weeks pondering
it and refining it into a workable plot. I love that whole exciting
✍🏻✍🏻Are you a careful planner or prefer to start with a lose plot and see
where the story takes you?
I’ve found there’s no point trying to plan a book in great detail
because invariably, by the fifth chapter, I’ve gone off in a different
direction anyway. So I start with a loose idea of plot and let the
characters show me the way!
📝📝What are your top three tips for aspiring writers:
1. Read voraciously in your chosen genre
2. Learn to take the inevitable rejections as simply part of the whole journey
3. Remember it might take years to get there (it took me five) so DON’T GIVE UP!
🤔🤔What do you love most about writing and what aspect if any do you find
I enjoy every part of the process of writing a novel – from the
dawning of an idea that gets me feeling excited, to getting to know my
developing characters, and finally, that incredible sense of relief
and achievement when I sit back exhausted after completing another
90,000 word manuscript. Then the editing process begins, which is
quite scary because you now have to let someone else read what you’ve
been working on alone all these months. The relief when your editor
gives the thumbs up is enormous! There’s a structural edit and a line
edit to work on, then a final copy edit and proofread before the book
goes to production. The day you glimpse your book’s beautiful cover
for the first time is a real highlight – as is the moment a parcel
carrier delivers a box full of copies of your very own paperback. And
of course publication day itself is both hugely exciting and mildly
terrifying all at the same time.
I love most … when I’ve hit a snag in my plot then a flash of
inspiration hits which I know will transform the whole book
I love least … bad reviews! They’re so energy-sapping.
🍌🍒Can you give us three random facts about yourself?
1.I once owned an organic veg box delivery company
2. I hate cooked banana
3. My first car was a pea green Vauxhall Cavalier
(what’s with the weird fruit and veg link there?!)
📖📖And finally, are you working on a new project? If so can you tell us
anything about it?
I am a hug fan of Christmas, so I’m absolutely loving writing my
latest book. It’s called Christmas at the Log-Fire Cabin and it’s
about a girl called Poppy, who longs to cook for a living, and who
gets the chance to cater for the guests at a Christmas house party.
Her boyfriend has asked her to marry him but will she say yes? Or will
she find herself falling for the charms of Jed, the rather sexy hunk
who hired her? All will be revealed in October when the book is published …
If you would like to learn more about Catherine’s book or to a copy of any of her titles…
Heres my review of THE SECRETS OF IVY GARDEN and an extract
TITLE: THE SECRETS OF IVY GARDEN 🌳🌾🌻
AUTHOR: CATHERINE FERGUSON
PUBLICATION DATE: April, 3rd 2017.
I know I’ve cocked up again when Patty abruptly abandons the milk she’s frothing, and puts her arm around me.
I swivel my eyes at her in alarm.
My boss showers her dogs with love. But I’ve worked with her long enough – fourteen years to be precise, from being a Saturday girl at sixteen – to know that she’s fairly reserved when it comes to showing affection for actual people.
‘Oh, God.’ I bite my lip and throw a glance at the queue of lunch-time customers. ‘What did I do this time?’
Patty’s mouth quirks up at the corner. ‘You’ve just given poor Betty spicy tomato pickle with her fruit scone.’
I glance over in horror.
Betty, one of our elderly regulars, is removing her coat and settling herself at a corner table, clearly relishing the prospect of taking the weight off her bunions and tucking into a delicious home-baked scone with strawberry jam and cream.
She’s in for a nasty surprise.
Patty grabs me before I have a chance to charge over, and the empathy in her eyes almost floors me.
Ever since Ivy died, I’ve been walking around in a sort of stunned daze, doing things on autopilot. Which is why, I suppose, I gave Betty spicy tomato pickle instead of strawberry jam. And burned my hand on the coffee machine last week. As well as carefully spreading a mountain of rolls with gloopy baking fat before Patty noticed and stopped me. ‘Not sure our customers would appreciate the irony of having lard with their healthy salad sandwiches,’ she remarked dryly.
In all that time, I haven’t broken down in public even once, but all of a sudden, I’m perilously close to losing it in front of the entire café.
I dig my nails into my palms, which is meant to distract you from the emotion that’s threatening to knock you flat. It seems to work. And it’s also slightly less weird than crossing your eyes or rolling them around, other suggestions I found online.
I solve most of my practical problems online. Ivy was hopeless at DIY so I grew up tackling all the odd jobs around the house to save us money. I even fixed a leaky tap once with one of those step-by-step Wiki guides. As a result, I tend not to be daunted by tasks that other people would run a mile from.
My independent streak seems to baffle men. When they discover my parents died when I was four, they first of all think I must want to talk about it (which I absolutely don’t) and then they try to look after me and protect me from the big bad world. I should probably feel grateful. But instead, it makes me feel suffocated. That’s probably why my romantic history is peppered with fledgling relationships that I’ve ended because the guy wouldn’t give me the space I craved.
My latest doomed romance ended last summer after Adam, who I actually really liked and thought I might even be in love with, started hinting – after only three months – that we should move in together. He obviously took it as an affront when I said it was a little too early to think about that – because two weeks later, he left me for a glamour model he’d met at his local gym. I told myself I was fortunate to have found out about his shallowness so early on, and I tried not to mind when they got engaged a month after they met. Perhaps I was meant to be alone.
Ivy once told me I never gave romance a chance and she asked me if I thought I was running away from commitment. It would be natural, she said, after losing my parents so young, to fear the people I love might be snatched away from me.
Privately, I thought this was simply daft psychobabble. The guys concerned were just not for me, that was all.
‘Go and sort Betty out,’ Patty says. ‘And then go away and sort everything else out, okay?’
‘But . . .’ I glance at the queue of people, all staring at us expectantly.
She shakes her head, gently holding my wrists. ‘No buts, Holly. You were back at work the day after the funeral. Much too soon. And yes, I know the last thing you want to do is make the long journey back down to the Cotswolds and go through Ivy’s things . . .’
I swallow. ‘And get Moonbeam Cottage ready to sell.’
Just saying it makes my insides quiver. Moonbeam Cottage, in the heart of the Cotswolds, was such a huge part of Ivy’s life.
‘It has to be done.’ Patty’s tone is gentle but firm. ‘And the sooner the better, don’t you think?’ She pauses. ‘What would Ivy be saying to you now?’
I smile, tears filming my eyes. I can hear her in my head, speaking with that lovely West Country burr: ‘Don’t you stress yourself, my lover. Everything will be fine. Sooner you get down there, the sooner you’ll be back home again.’
When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…
I absolutely Blooming 🌺 ( sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙈), LOVED this…
A gorgeous book to curl up with, easy to read and a really lovely, heartwarming storyline, this has to be one of favourites I have read within this genre for a long time. I’m not a gardener, but then neither is our central character, Holly but I really enjoyed the descriptions of the flowers and the way that she got stuck in, driven by wanting to put right the destruction to her late grandmas beloved garden. ( Also the garden related names didn’t go unnoticed … lovely touch).
As Spring is arriving and the lush green buds and flowers are starting to emerge, it seemed a very appropriate time to read this, but even in the depths of winter the authors beautifully descriptive writing paints the images of the garden, the greenery and all the flowers vividly enough to transport you into another more colorful season!
🌺🌺🌹🌺The opening scene got me into the story straight away, I can always tell very quickly , within a page or two if I’m going to like the writing style of the author and if I feel it’s a story that is going to engage me, and I knew this one would. I loved the opening pages, a smattering of sadness and humour mixed together, the author got me emotionally invested in the story – FAST and I just knew that Holly was going to be a very likeable character who is down to earth and doesn’t take herself too seriously.
The story is well written and moves along at the perfect pace, its a fairly gentle pace, so a great book to relax with at the end of the day, but it never failed to keep me engaged and wanting to find out more.
I loved Moonbeam cottage and all the characters Holly meets and befriends in Appleton. They are all so likeable that by the end you feel they have become friends, I really was genuinely sad to finish this book. However the mystery of what secrets Ivy’s diary would reveal kept me riveted until the end!
Who is the mysterious Bee? And why did Ivy choose to keep these secrets?
A cosy, enjoyable read chock-a block with Great, quirky, colourful and engaging characters, a mystery diary that reveals the secrets of Ivy Garden , a beautiful setting in the Cotswolds ( The picturesque village of Appleton), several potential love interests- this fun, light hearted read gets a five star recommendation from me! Perfect for fans of well written women’s fiction…
I will certainly be looking out for anymore titles by this talented author.