Hi Cathy! Thanks so much for agreeing to this Q&A and for being a part of this year’s International Chick Lit Month! Let’s start with a few questions about our main topic: chick lit. What does the term ‘chick lit’ mean to you?
For me, chick lit is about fun feisty females who readers can cheer for from the very first page. They will face challenges in their lives and whilst there will inevitably be a man somewhere along the line, they will find the strength from inside themselves to overcome their own problems.
How do you think about the negative connotations people often link to the term ‘chick lit’?
I don’t really worry about negativity. In fact I don’t really worry about genres either. I just try and write the most entertaining book that I can and hope it resonates with some people.
What are some of your personal favourite chick lit novels and why?
You cannot go wrong with Lucy Diamond novels. I have loved every single one. Lucy creates fantastic characters and wonderful plots. I love Me and Mr Jones, Sweet Temptations and I have just ordered A Year of Taking Chances to read next month.
What is the last chick lit novel you’ve read that you’d like to recommend to others?
I’m reading Angels by Marian Keyes at the moment. I thought I’d read all the books about the Walsh sisters but somehow this one slipped through the net. It’s about Maggie, the sensible one, who split up with her husband and ran away to LA and now she’s spending her time going to film star’s parties and leading an entirely surreal life in Hollywood. As usual with Marian Keyes novels, I’m totally hooked.
Do you have a favourite chick lit heroine?
I do! I fell in love with Izzy Randall on the very first page of Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan when she was sitting with her granddad in his room at the old people’s home. I loved her heart-breaking mix of resilience and vulnerability and I have read that book several times.
Which upcoming book releases are you looking forward to? Any books you definitely plan on reading?
Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas, The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood and Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond.
As an author yourself, what message do you hope readers take from your books?
Great question! I think my message is to be brave, take the occasional risk, plan rather than dream and don’t be afraid to let love into your heart. By the way, this is also the message I hope my daughters take from me.
Do you have certain writing rituals or habits?
I’ve learned the hard way to write everything down immediately; as soon as I get a thought, or phrase or even a single word in my head I write it down. The number of really good ideas I’ve forgotten by not writing it down is huge! I like to be at my desk early and check social media before I being working. I write every day, usually from nine until two and then I will have a think about the section I plan on writing the following day. I tend to plan out my novels in a lot of detail, even down to the rough content of each chapter and this rarely changes.
What do you know now you wish you had known when you started writing?
The first critique I ever had really knocked my confidence and I thought about quitting. Now I realise that a first draft is just that and everyone, even really experienced writers, have to invest quite a bit of time in editing. It’s all part of the process and it’s what turns an OK story into something special.
What book do you wish you had written?
The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. To keep the story of Becky Bloomwood growing and developing like Sophie has in an incredible accomplishment.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting news to share with us?
At the moment I am working on a new serial, Wickham Hall which will be published in four parts from this Summer. It is about a girl called Holly Swift who gets her dream job as an events organiser at an Elizabethan stately home but she soon finds that the future of the hall is in jeopardy and sets out to do something about it. As she gets drawn into the lives of Lord and Lady Fortescue, Wickham Hall’s owners, she discovers secrets about her own family that her mother has kept hidden away for thirty years. I’ve done the first round of edits and I’m now working on the cover design with the team at Transworld. Covers are my favourite part of the process!
Cathy Bramley is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies ‘Ivy Lane’, ‘Appleby Farm’ and ‘Conditional Love’. She lives in a small Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two teenage daughters and Pearl, the Cockerpoo. The last part of her 4-part light-hearted and feel-good e-book series ‘Appleby Farm’ was released on the 7th of May.