🐶🐭🐮 BLOG TOUR Q AND A 🐶🐭🐮
TITLE: SUMMER WITH THE COUNTRY VILLAGE VET
AUTHOR: ZARA STONELEY
PUBLISHERS: HARPER IMPULSE
Thrilled to be taking part of the fab blog tour for #SummerWithTheCountryVillageVet and would like to thanks Samantha and the publishers for inviting me to participate. Today I’m excited to host the author on IF IN DOUBT READ for a getting to know the author behind the book Q and A session
Hi Zara welcome to my blog, firstly could you tell us a little bit about yourself in your own words?
I’m a country girl at heart, but I do like dressing up and being a bit glam sometimes as well (and love a glass of bubbly!). I’ve always been animal mad, which is why there’s always at least one dog, horse, or other animal in my books. At the moment my only four-legged friend is Saffy the cat, but there’s the pitter-patter of tiny puppy feet heading our way soon! I’m happier with close friends than in a crowd, and my perfect day would include a long walk followed by food and drink with family or friends, preferably on a sunny terrace!
How would you describe your writing style and was it easy to find your ‘ voice’ when writing?
I suppose I aim for a comfortable, easy-reading conversational-style that’s got humour, but also a serious side. It took me quite a while to find my ‘voice’ and it’s still developing now. In the early days I was trying too hard to write how I thought I should, rather than in the way that came naturally. Writing a book in first person a few years ago actually allowed more of ‘me’ to leak in, and it gave me the confidence to write ‘my’ way.
Can you name three of your favourite reads and what it was that you loved about them?
There are far too many for me to just single out three (you’ll notice I’ve cheated and sneaked a few more in), so I’ve picked reads that have resonated with me at different stages in my life –
So, one from my childhood –
1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Beautiful, moving, and totally believable when I read it as a child.
One from my twenties –
2. Riders by Jilly Cooper. The drama, the characters (the men!), the scandal. This, along with Lace, was a real favourite.
And one recent read –
3. A Boy made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. I didn’t expect to enjoy this, as I tend towards light, humorous reads (Bridget Jones is a fav), or psychological thrillers, at the moment, but I’d heard people raving about it. I loved the style of writing straight away. I have a son, who isn’t autistic like the boy in the story, but did used to be mad about Minecraft, so I could instantly relate. I found it very honest, insightful and touching.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories and characters?
Inspiration comes from just about anything or anyone (sorry, that’s not very specific!) that raises a question in my mind. The characters form from that first idea, quite often there’s a little bit of me or somebody I know in there, but they are never based on a specific person. With ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’ I knew I wanted to write a story about a vet. I read a column in a magazine about somebody who’d been forced to move to the countryside, and hated everything about it! From that grew my idyllic village setting, with two characters who had their own reasons for not wanting to be there.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I move around a bit! On a sunny morning I love to work in the kitchen as there’s a lovely view of my cottage garden to stare at when I’m pondering, and it’s the brightest room in the cottage. In the winter my favourite spot is on the sofa with the cat at my side. I’ve recently bought a lovely little writing bureau though and it’s fast becoming the top spot!
Just for fun-
Tea or coffee? Coffee – tea gives me a headache!
Sweet or savoury? Tricky! I’m trying to lose weight at the moment and trying to resist cake, so I should say savoury, but it’s hard to resist a chocolate brownie….
What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?
– Write every day. I know lots of people say it, but it is so important. It’s about discipline (you have to turn up to work every day) and getting into the story, finding your voice. You’ll only do that by keeping at it. I have a rule – at the start of the day I have to write 200 words before I do anything else (apart from make a cup of coffee). Set yourself a small challenge like that, at a set time that works for you.
– Imagine yourself in the story, in the setting, the characters heads – if you can immerse yourself in it, live the experience, then your readers will too.
– Know your characters, they’re the key to the story. If readers can’t relate to them, love them or hate them, or if they find them unbelievable then they won’t read on. Even in a plot, as opposed to character, driven story the central characters (even if they’re animals!) are the most important thing.
What is your favourite part of writing, and is there any aspect that you struggle with?
I love playing with the original idea, growing the one-liner into a plot. Without exception I always get stuck in the ‘sticky middle’ – however well I’ve planned, know the characters, love the idea, there’s always that ‘what the heck’ period when I get to the halfway point, when I really think this is the worst idea I’ve ever had, and it’s very hard to push on.
Can you describe your journey from concept to publication?
As soon as I’ve fleshed out my initial idea into a few paragraphs that capture the essence of the story I’ll run them by my agent and editors. Once I’ve got the go ahead I start to really think about the characters.
I’ve got cards, one for each of the main characters, to jot down notes about them – names are really important to me, as is getting the physical image of them in my head, but I need to know their likes, dislikes, what drives them, what they’re scared of etc., they have to become real people to me. I’ll also sketch out a map of the place if the setting is important (which it is in Langtry Meadows). I then roughly plan out the whole book before starting to write. Sometimes I’ll send the first few chapters of the story to my editor to check she’s happy with how it’s shaping up.
At some stage I’ll be asked to complete a cover brief – it’s really exciting when the first cover ideas are sent over! Once the story is complete, it goes to my agent, then editor and I start thinking about my next book to try and distract me from nail-biting.
The first round of edits are structural – my editor will send notes on any areas that need strengthening, maybe suggesting additions to the story, or deleting parts that don’t move it forwards. After these have been done there’s usually another round of edits, followed by more that look specifically at grammar, spelling, badly worded or ambiguous areas, incorrect facts etc. It’s quite a long process, but it is amazing to see how much the book improves at each stage.
At some point I’ll also be asked to send in a dedication and acknowledgements, and approve the cover – then finally the proof arrives. My last chance to spot errors. And then it’s time to plan publication day – I’ve had a few books published now, but release day is always special and it’s lovely to celebrate with friends on social media during the day, then relax with a glass of bubbly in the evening 🙂
And finally, are you working on a new project? If so can you tell us anything about it?
I’m currently working on edits for ‘Coming Home to Jasmine Cottage’ which is the next in the Langtry Meadows series. The story starts at the beginning of the new school year, in September, and runs through to Christmas, and so there’s lot of fun with the nativity (with live animals)! Charlie hits a crisis point with Maisie, and Lucy makes a life-changing decision of her own so life in idyllic Langtry Meadows is still full of surprises, and ups and downs.
Thanks so much Zara good luck with the book and enjoy the rest of the tour!!
If you would like to grab a copy click the book click the link below…