Please join me in welcoming Phillipa Ashley to Debbie's Book Bag today! Phillipa is here to talk about her latest contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here. Check back tomorrow for my review of her book.
DEB: Phillipa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
PHILLIPA: I live in a tiny village in the middle of England with my husband who I jokingly call Mr Bennet. Our daughter is away at university and I still miss her. I’ve always adored reading and ended up studying English at Oxford and becoming a copywriter and journalist. But I only discovered the joy of writing romance six years ago. Until then I’d hardly read a romance let alone written one. It’s opened up an amazing new world for me.
DEB: Tell us a little about your book, Wish You Were Here?
PHILLIPA: It’s a tender second chance love story about a ‘holiday romance’ that becomes so much more.
DEB: What was your inspiration for this book? Have you always been interested in contemporary romances or do you write other things as well?
PHILLIPA: I love writing contemporary romance at the moment though I’ve written a slightly supernatural short story recently and I have an idea for a ‘paranormal’ novel. But it’s contemporaries for now – warm and fun, with lots of escapist settings and sexy heroes.
DEB: What type of research did you do for your book?
PHILLIPA: I went to Corsica! I’d already been once but I also wrote some of the scenes while on a second trip. Yes, I sat on a beautiful beach with a notebook and pen… I wanted to capture the atmosphere as it happened. There’s also is a mountain pool scene in the book and I went swimming in one of the pools so I could feel what it was like (but didn’t do what the characters do next!)
DEB: What is your normal writing day like? Do you have things that have to be in place to write comfortably?
PHILLIPA: I have several projects on the go at a time so I plan my day each morning. Sometimes I write in bed before I get up – I’m writing this on my laptop in bed! But usually each morning, I head up to my office to work. In the afternoon, I move onto the laptop. I have to have coffee, lots of it – and I try to go for a swim/walk/gym every day.
DEB: What was it like when you got the word that your first novel would be published?
PHILLIPA: I cried when Dating Mr December, my first book, got a deal in the UK in 2006. My agent had sent it to the publisher who asked me to write a new opening. A few days after she received the revised ms, my agent phoned and said: “Phillipa, are you sitting down?” She used the same words when she told me Sourcebooks had bought all four of my books. That book was made into a movie in 2009 and when I found out about that, I almost fell off my office chair.
DEB: Do have any advice for new writers?
PHILLIPA: Try to learn to love your own voice. Yes, you have to know your genre well but also have the courage to be yourself and not imitate anyone else. Readers want to feel your warmth, passion and personality shine through your writing. If you love what you’re writing, that will happen naturally.
DEB: When you’re not writing, what kinds of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite author?
PHILLIPA: Naturally, I adore romance (love Jill Shalvis and Rachel Gibson) and chick lit (Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Nell Dixon). But I also enjoy crime and historical adventures such as the Scarlet Pimpernel and Sharpe novels. And I devour travel books and guides especially about wild swimming, surfing and hiking. I love the great outdoors!
DEB: What are you working on right now?
PHILLIPA: A contemporary romance about a woman who’s devoted to her job as the manager of an island castle – then the gorgeous, ‘bad boy’ Lord returns home and announces he’s selling the property. As in all my books, the characters have lots of painful, past secrets to confront and there’s a scene with a cutlass that’s possibly the sexiest I’ve ever written…
DEB: Tell us one thing that people may not know about you?
PHILLIPA: I had my first surfing lesson just a few weeks ago. It’s always been a dream of mine and my current hero is a surfer. Writing has inspired me to do so many things I’d dreamed of but never dared.