Saturday 26 April 2014

Blog Tour: A Place To Call Home

Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for A Place To Call Home, with an interview with the author, Carole Matthews.

Can you tell us about your new book?
This is my twenty-fourth novel. Have no idea how that happened! This is a book that I’m very proud of and is the story of Ayesha who escapes from an abusive relationship for the sake of her young daughter, Sabina. They find themselves living in a home of disparate characters but, somehow, manage to find the love and sense of belonging that they crave. When something happens to threaten their safety, Ayesha has to decide how she will protect her daughter - no matter what the cost. It’s sad, happy and, ultimately, uplifting.

What was your inspiration for A Place To Call Home?
I recently visited Sri Lanka and the people and country were so delightful that I thought I might like to base a story there. As it was, I spoke to a number of women who said that it was becoming more common for them to have to leave their villages to make arranged marriages abroad due to the shortages of eligible men. That gave me the kernel of the idea. I also wanted to tell a story about how a ‘family’ can be made up of members who aren’t necessarily blood relatives. I think it’s something that’s becoming more common nowadays.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
I’ve done some pretty amazing things over the past seventeen years, so there are a lot to choose from. I think being chosen as a book club pick in America has to come high on the list. My fourth novel, For Better, For Worse, was chosen by Kelly Ripa for her book club. It went from no 340,000 on Amazon to number 3 the same afternoon. It then went on to become a USA Today bestseller and was on the New York Times extended list.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write every single day. It’s the only way to develop your voice and to actually get a book finished. Even if you can only do half an hour, make sure that it’s productive time. If you have to book yourself a babysitter or a cleaner to give you some free time then do it. You owe yourself to give your book the best chance.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
What an excellent question and, sadly, one that I can’t answer. I have absolutely no idea. How tragic! Though I can remember what the first record I bought was and where I bought it! I have vivid memories of borrowing lots of books as a teenager and having a diet of Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins. The first book that strongly affected me was Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, but I don’t think that I bought it for myself. I adore bookshops, but can’t remember which was the first one I went into either. How awful. I shall now have a period of trawling my memories to see if I can recall. In my defence, I’ve done quite a lot since then!

What was the last book you read?
An easier one! I’ve just finished Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is about a woman who is having an extra-marital affair and then something truly awful happens to her. It raised an interesting dilemma. I’ve recommended that we read it at our book group as I think we could have a good old chat around it.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently doing the final edits on my Christmas book for this year which is called The Christmas Party. I’ve loved writing this one. It’s funny and sad and I have the best pantomime baddy in the book. It’s also the perfect excuse to eat mince pies in April. 

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