Today I’m very pleased to have the very lovely Joanne Phillips, author of Cupid’s Way on Sheli Reads for an interview. You can read my review of Cupid’s Way here.
1. Hi Jo, welcome to Sheli Reads. Can you start off by telling us a little bit about your book, Cupid’s Way?
Hi Sheli, thanks for having me. Cupid’s Way is the story of Evie Stone’s fight to save the cute Victorian terrace where her grandparents live. The street – Cupid’s Way – is under threat from developers, and the residents are pinning their hopes on Evie’s efforts.
2. I’ve already read the book and really enjoyed it. Where did you get your inspiration to write about a street which needs saving?
There was a terrace near a place where I used to live that had been saved from demolition 20 years ago when the residents got together and formed a cooperative. That street gave me the inspiration, both for the threat to a piece of our housing history and also for how Cupid’s Way should look. I pictured brightly painted front doors and window boxes, bunting and quirky characters – although Cupid’s Way is of course different to the original street in Milton Keynes in lots of ways.
3. Who was your favourite character to write about?
I think it was Evie’s gran, Mavis. (Could you tell?) Her story was quite difficult to write, actually, because parts were very emotional, but I love her sparky spirit and her funky leisure suits. She’s how I want to be when I’m an old lady.
4. Do you write based on your own life experiences?
You know, I think I do even when I don’t realise it. I’ve led an eventful life so far – and I’m only 44 so hopefully lots more adventures to come! I have lots to draw upon, and one of the comforts for a writer is that no experience, no matter how harrowing, is without purpose. You can always tap into this well of emotions to help bring your characters to life.
5. As someone who is from Cardiff and attends a lot of environmental conferences, I have to ask where you got the idea from to include this in the book?
It was from my proofreader, actually. She proofread the first three chapters back in January, and I had mentioned that I wasn’t sure of the locations and the logistics of the train journey that sees Evie come unstuck early on. I had her travelling up to North Wales from Bristol. Jude suggested I set the action in Bristol – lots of lovely Victorian architecture there – and had the conference in Cardiff, and when I looked into this I realised it was absolutely perfect!
6. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer, but this wasn’t on the list of careers we were offered in school 😉 So I became a hairdresser, which suited my need to be creative and my fascination with people. I found I was really good at hairdressing, and did this for the next 10 years or so. But I’ve tried many different jobs, always coming back to the fact that I am rubbish at working for other people. I’m just too independent. Now I have my dream job, and I do feel very lucky.
7. Have you got a favourite place to write? Do you like to write in silence, or can you work surrounded by noise?
I have to write in silence – the quieter the better. We live in the middle of nowhere, which you’d think would be fairly quiet, but there are still tractors and noisy cows and sheep, and of course when my daughter is home from school there isn’t much in the way of silence! I have an office in the house where I write, and a summerhouse in the garden which is a lovely place to work.
8. Which writers from your genre do you look up to the most?
I really admire Miranda Dickinson – she’s professional, fun, and a really great writer. She works hard not only at writing but also at being approachable to readers and engaging people in what she’s doing. And she’s a lovely person too. Another writer I look up to is Linda Gillard. Linda writes amazing books, and went indie after being dropped by her publisher for being ‘hard to market’. She’s since demonstrated that there is a huge market for her style of writing, and she provokes an incredibly loyalty in her fans.
Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 20 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at www.writersjourney.co.uk