Veronica Henry recently wrote a lovely story called A Kitchen Supper for us here at Sophie Allport and we were delighted to find out a little bit more about her, her writing and her new book, A Wedding at the Beach Hut. Read our Q&A with the Sunday Times bestselling author...
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I started off as a secretary at the BBC typing scripts for 'The Archers' and timing the episodes as they were recorded, which was a brilliant learning curve. I then became a television script editor, before becoming a scriptwriter for shows like Heartbeat and Holby City.
How did you get into writing novels?
I'd always wanted to write a book, and started writing Honeycote, a book about a glamorous family who own a brewery in the Cotswolds. My TV agent shared it with a literary agent, Araminta Whitley, who got me my first book deal and is still my agent today, twenty years on.
On average, how long does a novel take to write?
I usually write a book a year, so probably ten months of the year is taken up with writing, polishing and editing, with two months for promotion and publication and having a bit of a rest before starting the next!
Where does your inspiration behind your books come from?
Everyone and everywhere! I usually get a lightbulb moment, when the theme or the setting comes to me and I get a little ripple of excitement. It's usually a place that lights the spark. And by spending some time there the characters start to appear, which is my favourite part of the process.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely going on the Orient Express from London to Venice, to research A Night on the Orient Express. I still can't believe I went on it. It was truly magical, as was Venice. I can't ever top that as the setting for a book.
How would you describe your new novel A Wedding at the Beach Hut?
It's about a couple who want a very simple wedding at their family beach hut, with just close friends and family. But there's no such thing as a simple wedding! It takes a look at everyone involved and where they are in their life - a wedding often makes people take stock, and make changes. Whilst there is drama and conflict, it is ultimately uplifting, and celebrates the power of love, family and friendship. All in an idyllic seaside setting!
Reading is a form of escapism for some people, how has reading and writing helped you?
Reading has always been an escape for me. I was a bookworm as a child, and got teased for having my nose in a book all the time. I'm so delighted and honoured to be able to provide that escape for other people. I love it when they tell me how my books have got them through a hard time.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I live by the sea and so it starts with a walk on the beach with my dog, Zelda. Then it's straight to the laptop. The word count increases as the deadline looms, though I try and write between one and two thousand words a day. And occasionally I get a night in London as a treat, if I have a meeting or an event. I love that as it means getting dressed up and I try and tie it in with meeting friends.
What’s your favourite book?
Impossible to choose!! I love books with lots of characters all intertwined. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, Rivals by Jilly Cooper and the Godfather by Mario Puzo would be my top 3.
Do you have any tips for aspiring novelists?
Read widely. That's how you learn. Keep an eye on what books are being published and are popular through social media, but don't try and just copy what's successful. A fresh voice will always win over something that is the same as what else is out there. It's a tricky balancing act. But most of all try to enjoy what you are writing, as that will shine through.
Why not sit down and read Veronica's new book A Wedding at the Beach Hut, while lounging on one of our new picnic blankets? The perfect summer combination. If you haven't already check out Veronica short story A Kitchen Supper.
What's your favourite book by Veronica Henry? Let us know below in the comments.