My final author spotlight of 2015 falls on contemporary romance author, Sharon Booth. Sharon’s latest book is A Kiss from a Rose.
Flynn Pennington-Rhys is the quiet man of Kearton Bay, so when he finds himself entangled in the chaotic life of Rose MacLean, his whole world turns upside down.
Rose is at a low ebb. With one daughter clearly harbouring a secret, another who has morphed overnight from Shirley Temple into Miley Cyrus, and a mother hell-bent on reliving her misspent youth with her childhood sweetheart, Alec, AKA Red Rum, it’s no wonder her self-esteem is at rock bottom. But when, on top of all this, her best friend goes on ovulation alert, and her slimming club leader has a meltdown, Rose needs someone she can rely on.
It seems, though, that Flynn has his own secret, and as events take an unexpected turn, it’s no longer certain that he can be counted on.
Will the quiet man come through for her? Will her daughters ever sort themselves out? And will her mother ever move on, or is Rose really doomed to years of sleeping in the bath tub?
He smiled half-heartedly and tried again. ‘I do think you should sit down, Rose,’ he began.
She put her hands on his face, cupping it and staring at him intently. ‘You’re a gorgeous bloke, Paddington,’ she told him.
Heat spread over him. ‘Yes, well,’ he murmured, trying to prise her hands away from his face. ‘I wouldn’t say any more. You’ve had a nasty injury and a bit too much to drink.’
She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. ‘Don’t make me sit down, Paddington,’ she protested, her voice slurry. ‘I haven’t been held for so long, and you smell ever so nice. What are you wearing?’
‘I mean your aftershave, silly. What is it? It’s gorgeous. You’re quite gorgeous. Has anyone ever told you that?’
‘You, a few seconds ago.’
‘Oh. Well, I was right, wasn’t I?’
She lifted her face to him again, and they looked at each other for a moment. Flynn wished he could click his fingers and disappear. He’d never felt so embarrassed, and that was saying something. Then he noticed her eyes had dropped to his lips, and she was moving her face ever closer to his. His heart did a funny little jig, and then she was kissing him.
Warmth flooded through his cold body. All his synapses seemed to be firing at once; hot lava was coursing through his icy veins. Suddenly, he was kissing her back, and she held him tightly, as his hand cupped the back of her head, and he drank her in, like Meggie with a McDonald’s chocolate milkshake.
‘Oh, for God’s sake, Mother, pack it in.’
Flynn’s eyes flew open in shock, as Rose was torn away from him, and Fuchsia shot him an apologetic look.
Rose glared at her daughter. ‘Do you mind? Me and Dr Paddington Bear here were having a meaningful conservation. How dare you interrupt?’
‘Yeah, yeah, sure you were. I’m sorry, Doc,’ said Fuchsia, beginning to lead her away. ‘She always gets this stupid when she’s pissed. Just ignore her.’
Rose looked as if she was about to protest, but then crumbled and allowed herself to be led away.
Flynn was trembling all over. What the hell just happened? He had to get out of there.
‘Had enough?’ Joe asked, helping a sleepy Amy into her coat near the door.
Beside them, Mrs Travers was pulling on her gloves, while somehow managing to keep an iron grip on her sister’s granddaughter, Kylie, who was looking much the worse for wear.
Flynn felt dazed. ‘More than enough. I’m going home.’
Joe grinned at him. ‘Good looking woman, Rose MacLean. You could do worse.’
Do worse! Flynn left the pub without a backward glance.
It was just a kiss—a stupid, meaningless kiss. She’d have forgotten all about it by now. And maybe, by tomorrow, he’d have forgotten about it, too.
And now for my interview with Sharon:
Your first two books have been set in the fictional village of Kearton Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. Can you tell us more about what inspired you to choose this setting and whether future books will be set there?
When I started writing what became the Kearton Bay series, I intended to set it in Somerset. You see, the whole idea was born on a car journey, en route to our holiday in that county. I didn’t have a story planned, as such, just a few interesting, and very persistent, characters. As the story evolved, however, it became clear that these were Yorkshire folk. Not surprising, given I was born and bred in the county. So I started looking for a specific Yorkshire location that would inspire me. Initially, I set the first book in the Dales, but it never felt right. I needed somewhere else, somewhere that suited the characters and was the perfect backdrop for their stories. Then I remembered my visits, many years previously, to Robin Hood’s Bay, and it seemed the perfect place. I went back there to have a look around, and I just knew it was right. I used Robin Hood’s Bay as inspiration for my fictional Kearton Bay. As you say, the first two books were set there, and there will be two further books in the series. The name was in memory of one branch of my family tree—the Keartons—who, ironically, hail from the Yorkshire Dales!
Do you find it hard to come up with ideas for stories? How do you go about it?
I can’t say I find it hard to come up with the ideas. It’s getting them down on paper or on screen that’s the difficult bit! I don’t sit down and think, “Right, what can I write about now?” Ideas just pop into my head as I’m going about my ordinary life. I find that the more mundane the task that I’m carrying out, the more ideas I’m likely to have. Funnily enough, I get a lot of ideas when I’m at the day job! (Hope my boss never reads this.)
How long does it take you to write your first draft? How many more drafts will there be after that?
Well, the first draft of There Must Be an Angel, was written in thirty days exactly, because I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2011 and I was determined to finish it. I was supposed to reach fifty thousand words during the month of November, but in fact, I managed a full hundred and twenty thousand words. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t think I could do that again to save my life. Having said that, it was complete rubbish. At the time, I thought I’d finished it. Haha! Little did I know it was just the start. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many more drafts I did of Angel. I lost count after the first twenty. Truthfully, very little of that first draft made it to the final version, and it took me almost two and a half years to get it to the point where I was happy to publish it. Writing A Kiss from a Rose was a very different experience. I’d learned such a lot in those two and a half years, and it took me just seven months to complete. I mostly revised as I went along, then did another draft when I’d finished, a further draft after the beta readers had commented, and then the final draft after the editor had cast her beady eyes over it. It was a far less stressful experience than writing Angel, which at one point I’d come close to shredding!
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Definitely writing the first draft. Forcing myself to sit at my desk and staring at that empty screen and thinking, “Can I really do this?” To be honest, it’s horrible at times. I don’t know why I do it.
What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
When the words are flowing and the story’s really coming together, and I’m making myself laugh as I write, or I’m really feeling the character’s pain. It’s such a wonderful feeling to really immerse myself in the book. Oh, yes—that’s why I do it!
Is there a recurring theme in your novels or is each one completely different?
I was thinking about this, just the other day, funnily enough. With Angel, there was a strong theme of fathers and daughters. Then with Rose, it was mothers and daughters. With my next novel, it’s got elements of the father/daughter relationship, too. However, what I think runs through all of my stories is the theme of belonging—of finding a home, whether that’s a physical home of bricks and mortar, or a community, or that special someone who makes you feel as if you’re finally safe and you don’t have to look any further. I didn’t set out to make that a recurring theme, but it seems that’s what I write about.
Have you started work on your next novel yet? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
Book three is with my beta readers at the moment. It’s something new entirely—not part of the Kearton Bay series. It’s mostly set in the Yorkshire Dales, and it features an ageing rock star and his spoilt brat of a daughter, a naughty politician and his wife, a young woman who is caught up in something she can’t seem to get out of, and a rather gorgeous sheep farmer!
I see that you’ve recently had some stories published by People’s Friend magazine. Congratulations! Will you continue writing short stories along side your novels? Do you prefer one or the other?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a pocket novel published by People’s Friend, and I’ve just had a short story accepted by them. I was really delighted to write for them. People’s Friend is such a well-established and much respected publication, and I felt that it was a real boost to me when they said yes. I’d love to work with them again, as they’re so lovely to write for and it’s such an easy process. The whole editing thing is taken out of your hands, but you know you can trust them. They know what they’re doing, and they know their market. I’m working on a story now that I hope will be suitable for a pocket novel, and I will hopefully submit more short stories. It’s finding the time. I don’t really prefer one or the other. It’s nice to write all different lengths of stories. Keeps things fresh.
**Sharon also has a free Christmas short story up on Wattpad at the moment. It’s called The Other Side of Christmas and I can really recommend it!**
Sharon wrote her first book when she was ten. It was about a boarding school that specialised in ballet and, given that she’d never been to boarding school and hadn’t a clue about ballet, it’s probably a good thing that no copy of this masterpiece survives. Her first published novel was There Must Be An Angel, which is the first in a series of four Kearton Bay stories, set in a fictional village on the North Yorkshire coast, inspired by the beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay. She lives in East Yorkshire, with her husband and their dog, and regularly yells for tea and biscuits while writing, to remind them that she exists. She is one tenth of The Write Romantics, has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, is a devoted Whovian, and just a little obsessed with Sherlock, The Musketeers and Poldark. She freely admits that she would write more books if the BBC didn’t insist on employing such gorgeous men.
Find out more about Sharon here: