Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Interview with a Vampire, I mean Reader!

Yes, she's not a vampire at all, I just figured you would be more familiar with that turn of phrase. A few months ago, I interviewed male reader, Andy Kelly, and he interviewed me, regarding my novel Sign of the Times. This time it's the turn of the girls!

So please welcome fellow Scot, Laura Cowan, who works for the NHS but is really a baker extraordinaire  - I seriously hope she is making my 40th birthday cake - hers look bloomin' amazing!
Here's one she made earlier

She'll need to add a few more years on it for me, I think!

Anyway, without further ado, let's check out these questions!

      What books do you normally read and are they similar in genre to Sign of the Times?

 I normally read fictional books, I like romantic comedy books, I got hooked into the whole FSOG genre and I'm happy to admit I totally love that kind of book now.  I like a book to grip me and make me want to read more.  When a book does grip me – like Sign of the Times did – I get very greedy and can not put the book down until I've finished it. 

      Who were your favourite male & female characters and why?
I think my favourite male was Dario!  Possibly because he didn’t have his own few chapters of the story.. it made him more interesting as you never knew more about him… thus making me want more detail about him. 

 My favourite female was a draw between Holly and Maria.    I loved the whole Holly and Dario storyline.  Holly struck me as a "you wont get away with messing with me" kind of girl.  Maria… I loved that she treated Czeslawa with 100% equality, especially with negative attitudes in modern society.  Maria as well with the hardships she's faced and she still comes out as one of the strongest female characters in the book.

        If you could ask your favourite overall character, three questions, what would they be? (careful of spoilers!)

For Maria

You're an amazing Mum, and business owner, how do you do it all and still keep sane?
             Maria replied:- Thanks so much, very kind of you to say so. Who said I was sane? I  
            am rushed  off my feet constantly, but as you know I love my kids and the business gives me

            For Holly

Any plans for more books?  Can I come in your suitcase the next time you do go?
Holly replied: Yes, there will definitely be more books. My contract has been renewed by my publisher, surprisingly, following that 'hiccup' at the launch. I think you can probably guess where my next book will be set, but only if you read right up to the last page of Sign of the Times!

         If you could spend a day with one of the characters, who would it be and why?

Definitely Lucy… she has the most fun!! Haha! J 


         How important is a cover to you, when buying a book? What kind of covers do you tend to go for?

     Ones that catch my eye…but its not that important… If I've heard about a book and been told it's a good read then I'll read it regardless of the front cover.

   As you now know , there will be a sequel to Sign of the Times.  Which characters would you like to see given more prominence in the sequel and why?

Holly, Dario (mmm yummy) and Jen and Ben… I would love to know what happens next with these guys


         Which sign are you and do you think you are similar in personality traits to the Sign of the Times character?

I'm a Scorpio… I'm definitely energetic… deep and passionate… and I know when something is up with my close friends… so you could say I'm also intuitive too.  I'm absolutely stubborn!! Lol Sensitive – yep that’s me… I bruise easily (in the metaphorical sense) wouldn’t say I'm career motivated – but you could say I am because I'm very passionate about the cakes I make.  I've got leadership skills – but that comes of being the oldest sibling of three! Haha!

    So yeah you could say that I share a lot of personality traits with Czeslawa….


         Like me, you’re Scottish. Did you enjoy the sections of the book set in Scotland more and if so, which in particular. If not, which was your favourite setting and why?

 I absolutely loved the book for this specific reason.  I read the book just after I had completed the West Highland Way so loved reading about the sections set in and around the areas surrounding the WHW.  This is because I could picture the scene better and helped with my imagination when reading the books as some of it was actual tangible places.

                 Is there anything that you feel strongly about that you would have liked to have turned out
           differently?  (careful of spoilers here!)

Not strongly no… I thought the book was very well wrapped up…  (With Laura's permission I have removed a potential spoiler here. Suffice to say it has a direct impact on the sequel/continuation)

   I know you are an excellent baker. If you were to bake a cake representing Sign of the Times or a scene from Sign of the Times, what would you put on it? 

Awe thank you, that’s very kind of you.  I would probably bake a cake in a rectangle with a light blue covering, with a copy of your image of the silhouettes of people from the front cover around the side of the cake. – On the top of the cake would be the name of the book and cut outs of the horoscope signs (if I can get a cutter in those shapes!!)


 Laura's questions to me:-

 What made you choose Italy as the place that Holly visited… you described it so well… have
you been there yourself?
Yes, I have been to Italy many times. I love it and in fact would love to buy a house there one day. I also used to work daily with Italians for 15 years and have friends there. I love Tuscany in particular and when I started writing Sign of the Times, I had been to Bibbiena the year before. Little did I know then...

            If you could choose one of the Characters that you could be which one would it be and why?

           Wow! One character. I think I would prefer to be an amalgamation of a couple of characters.  But If I had to be one, it would have to be Holly - Sagittarius, travel writer, loves books - kind of a no-brainer for me. Yet, I wouldn't mind Maria's life, but without the trauma.


         Did you enjoy setting your Characters in the local area?  What made you choose the West coast as the main scene?
         Yes, apart from of course the start, which is set in Italy, I loved the fact that the characters are Scottish. There aren't  so many Scottish writers amongst the mainstream women's contemporary fiction/chicklit writers, and I felt this was a gap. Plus, of course, I know so much about Scotland, living here. And, I used to work years ago, for the Tourist Information in Glasgow, and to a certain extent Scotland, so I have a lot of background knowledge. The other great thing was I could use local places, which I loved and dialect in my dialogue. I am also from the west of Scotland. I may change location in future books, but I quite like my main characters being Scottish. They might not always be from Glasgow, but that's what I know best!


         Which Character was the most frustrating to Write?
          I don't actually think any of them were frustrating to write. The whole novel was sometimes frustrating because of its complexity (12 main characters, with their entourage of supporting characters), plus weaving in all the timelines and ensuring all the ends were tied up. They are, albeit some of them subtly. I have to confess to loving writing all of the characters, and I can't wait to get back to them in 2013 when I start writing the continuation (rather than sequel)


        Can't wait to hear about SOTT 2 – any snippets of ideas you might want to impart to us? 
          Well, nothing is set in stone yet, but my intention is to bring back only some of the characters and perhaps introduce a few new ones (although I expect they would be minor). Some of the more minor characters in Sign of the Times, might take on a more prominent role, too. Holly, Jen, Maria and Ben will definitely return. More than that I won't commit to right now. But we will see some momentous events with Holly's love life.  There is also a good possibility that in 2015 we will see SOTT3, with some of the characters who don't make it into SOTT2 included. Depends what mood I am in!
          I fully expect there to be a travel element again, but haven't yet decided whether it will be Holly travelling again, or someone else. Quite frankly, I need to launch The Dating Game on 2nd November and then start writing my third novel, before I think much more about the continuation to Sign of the Times (my fourth novel)
          Well, thanks very much, Laura for answering my questions and asking questions I hadn't been asked before.
         As always you can buy Sign of the Times at the following Amazon links - (UK) & (US & other .com sites)
          Tune in on Friday for my review of contemporary women's fiction novel (definitely not chick lit this one) Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

 PS Thanks for bearing with me with my formatting gremlins today. Hopefully will be sorted by Friday!


  1. Great interviews! Oh, that cake...

    I cannot wait to read Sign of The Times, and it is next up on my Kindle. Writing 12 characters is a feat! Looking forward to the release of The Dating Game!

    1. Thanks Samantha!! I made that cake for my boss' daughter's birthday on Sunday there. I hope you enjoy Sign of The Times as much as I did!! :)

      Laura :)