I will save you the boredom of me blabbering on about how much I love publisher Choc Lit and their hugely talented authors – you already know that, right? Instead I will give a very warm welcome to Rhoda Baxter, who has stopped by to chat about her latest release, Please Release Me, which came out on September 10th. Rhoda is probably one of my favourite Choc-Lit authors (of which there are many!) and I highly recommend her novels, particularly Doctor January. And I’m not even saying that because she brought cake…I genuinely do love her books. Honest!
Hi Holly. Thanks for inviting to come and chat. I brought a chocolate cake. It’s a bit lopsided, but it tastes fine.
I’m Rhoda. I write contemporary romantic comedy with a hint of darkness, which is published by Choc Lit. I’m a firm believer in the attraction of the beta hero, so all my heroes are the sort of guy you would actually quite like to meet and chat to. (I’m lucky because I get to do that in my head!). In real life I’m a bit obsessed with cake, which means I’m having trouble making sure I’m not wider than I am tall. Given that I’m several inches short of five foot, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I am really excited about your new novel; Please Release Me (released 10th September with Choc Lit) Can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m very excited about it too. Let’s see, what can I tell you that’s not in the blurb…. There are three main characters – Sally, who is trapped in a coma; Peter who is trapped in limbo, not knowing if his wife is ever going to wake up; and Grace, who is trapped in a rut after being a carer for her elderly parents for many years. It’s set in a hospice (where Sally is being looked after). It touches on some deep themes like loneliness and grief, but there are jokes. Honestly.
I will be donating half my royalties from Please Release Me to Martin House Children’s Hospice, which is an incredible place. I went to visit them and was astounded to hear that they get very little money from the government, so I thought I’d do my bit to help.
Please Release Me sounds like a fantastic story and I can’t wait to start reading! What inspired you to come up with the storyline?
It started with an image of two women who needed each other (not just for practical reasons, they had an emotional link as well) but they weren’t exactly good friends. Frenemies, if you like. I worked backwards from there to figure out how they had come to that point. Sally and Grace have very little in common. Sally has her eyes on the prize all the time and Grace is all about helping other people. I found their relationship fascinating.
How did you go about doing any relevant research for the novel?
I do all my research on the computer, mainly using Rightmove or YouTube. I also like to ask someone who might know something about the backdrop to the novel to beta read parts of it for me.
For example, I had to write a scene with an abseil in it. As I’d never done that before, I watched a lot of YouTube videos of people abseiling to work out what was involved. Once I’d done the scene, I contacted the local climbing wall (Rock City, in Hull) and asked if someone would read it to check for accuracy. They were really lovely and did so. It turned out that all my technical terms were American. Which goes to show that YouTube research can only get you so far! The guy from Rock City sent me a list of the correct terms. It meant I had to lose a good crotch joke, but never mind. I’ve saved it for later.
I always start me new books in January. They take me about 9 or 10 months to write (Please Release Me took about 10). Then I do a couple of rounds of edits and send them off to beta readers. I had to be particularly careful with this one because of the sensitive topics it covered. Once I’ve got my feedback, I make changes until I have the final draft ready by mid-December. After a break for Christmas, it’s ready to send off in January.
What’s the best thing about writing romance?
The first kiss. I love that first kiss feeling. I’m not able to do that anymore in real life, so getting my characters to do it is the next best thing. They get to arrive at their first kiss in so many different ways, which is all part of the fun.
Have you ever experienced writers block? If so how did you overcome it?
Chocolate. Which is the answer to most problems, in all honesty.
*Eyes chocolate cake meaningfully*
Why, thank you. I’d love a slice.
I do get writer’s block. In the middle of every book I hit a patch where it feels like I’m totally stuck and about to give up. I usually go do something else for a while – write short stories, edit another book, do some manuscript critiques if I’m lucky enough to have some waiting. I just have to write through the block doing something else, and then get back to the story. Chocolate helps smooth the journey.
What has been your favourite read of 2015 so far?
That’s an impossible question to answer! I’ve read so many good books that I can’t choose. I can tell you the one I’m most looking forward to reading: The Shepherd’s Crown – The last Terry Pratchett book. I will read it with a mixture of joy (because I really enjoy the Tiffany Aching series) and sadness because there will be no more.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read a mixture of contemporary romance and kids’ books. The latter is out of necessity – at the moment, I’m reading the Harry Potter series to my daughter. It’s great fun revisiting that one! I read a lot of romance novels, but also like fantasy (although, these days I tend to only get around to reading Pratchett or Gaiman). I’ve just picked up a steam punk novel, which I’m looking forward to.
Oops, I’ve spilled a crumb or two there. Can I borrow a napkin? Thanks.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m currently writing a novel set in the Avenues in Hull, where the houses are gorgeous (see what I mean about Rightmove). It’s about a young man who is far from home and terribly homesick, a young woman with a secret and a new mum who is totally convinced that her new baby doesn’t love her one bit. I don’t have a name for it at the moment, nor an ending. I’m in that awful middle phase where the book looks like it’s going to have to be thrown in the fire. To get past this bad patch, I’m also writing a few short stories set in a fictional West Yorkshire town called Trewton Royd. It was one of those things where I wrote one story and had so much fun with the characters that I didn’t want to leave. I have also invested in quite a lot of Toblerone.
A huge chocolatey thank you to Rhoda and to Lu at Choc Lit. ♥ Don’t forget to download you copy of Please Release Me, available in eBook format NOW!
What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?
Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.
That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.
In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.
But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …
Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/pxtW7s
Amazon US: http://goo.gl/rpBhLI