Thursday, 23 July 2015

Q & A with Karen Aldous

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I'm very happy to welcome the lovely Karen Aldous on Sky's Book Corner today. I had the pleasure of meeting her in London last March, she's such an amazing lady. Her newest novel The Riviera was published July 10th, my review will be part of her blog tour with Neverland Blog Tours in September. Thanks for answering all my questions lovely lady xxx.

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Simona, it’s a pleasure to be on your blog, thank you so much for having me here.

1.    Did you always dream of being a writer?

Only since my teenage years, people that wrote novels then were all very posh and highly educated. I began a novel in my early twenties which was set in London and Sri Lanka. My character had a PR company and she had to travel to Sri Lanka to work with a client and was forced back home due to political conflict – of course, a few years later there were serious troubles there with the Tamils. That was spooky! I also began one about a Russian girl wishing to flee communism and get to London. And, yes, how the world has changed since Gorbachev introduced ‘glastnost’ and ‘perestroika’. As have I, I didn’t have the confidence in my writing then.

2. Your newest novel The Riviera is published this month, what is it about?

The Riviera is a stand-alone but having read The Vineyard, you will know Lizzie and Cal. Other than that it is a stand alone. Their story continues a few months after they got together so after a blissful start, Cal has to go to the US to help his teenage son, Jack. Lizzie is very supportive, but of course, she hadn’t factored in his ex, Kelly being so close which creates the central conflict.

3. What was your inspiration for the book?

Readers. It was so lovely to hear they wanted more. Like me, many readers fell in love with Cal and Lizzie and were curious about how their relationship would continue. 

4. Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

After a broken relationship and humiliation, Lizzie escaped her life at university in England. She spent several years working summers at a campsite with a girl she met, Sophie who was training to be a doctor. Then after meeting a playboy Anton in Cannes, who also cheated on her, she stayed there to raise their son. Since having Thierry, her three year old son, Lizzie has been building a beauty salon business in Cannes, Beaute Dedans which means, beauty within. So with a history of bad boys, Lizzie is wary of getting involved with anyone.

Cal was in the Royal Navy when he discovered his girlfriend Kelly was expecting their son, Jack fifteen years ago. He was then devastated to learn that she had run off to the US with an older, wealthy businessman claiming the son wasn’t Cal’s. Horrified, he followed her to the states to maintain his rights as a father so kept contact and visits to Jack at least twice a year. After investing his money in an internet business with his father, the proceeds allowed him to leave the Royal Navy and follow his dream seeking a vineyard. When Caroline, Lizzie’s mother offered to lease him land in Kent, he jumped at the chance. It was just a few acres but it would allow him to experiment, creating a vineyard and all that it entailed. It was here he met Lizzie.

5. The story is set in the French Riviera, what makes this place so special in your eyes?

Who couldn’t fall in love with this stunning coast and Provence, the mountains and landscape with the Mediterranean for a backdrop – it’s simply beautiful and the light is amazing. I was so charmed by the hillside villages and the community feel, not to mention the food and wine and the aromas that float in the air.

6. Where and when do you write your stories?

I have a quiet study that overlooks the trees in the front garden and is easier to work when I have to plan and think but often you’ll find me writing at the hub of the house, at the dining table by the french doors to the garden. It’s where the grandchildren play and of course, closer to the kitchen where the coffee and chocolate live!!

7. What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy my grandchildren. I collect them from nursery or school or have them all day somedays of the week. So taking them to the park, or my golden Labrador, is a much needed daily escape from the desk. Great thinking time too! Also, I love to cycle, walk or ski with the family or friends as well as travelling with my camera.

8. The first time we hear about Lizzie is in The Vineyard, your debut novel, what is it about?

Having built a life in Cannes with her then two year old, she realised she had to mend her relationship with her family, and returned only to find a hostile mother with a boyfriend who had leased her land to start a vineyard. Whilst seeking a vineyard in France, Cal sought her out too and helped her through bad times when her mother was sick and fell in love with her. It was a tough year for Lizzie and her mother and, it took her a long while to rebuilt trust in her mother and Cal. So without putting a spoiler on The Vineyard, that’s all I can really tell you.


9. If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

I would love to switch with Sarah, the main character in Rebecca Raisin’s novel, The Bookshop on The Corner.  Imagine spending every day with all those books and meeting all those lovely readers and, she’s going to Paris for six months too to The Little Bookshop on The Seine.

10. What books have most influenced your life most?

As a child, Enid Blyton. Such great adventures The Famous Five and The Secret Seven had. These were an escape from school books and, so much more exciting. I had the pleasure of reading one of the Malory Towers to my grandaughter who’s five and grandson who is three recently and they were so engrossed. As an adult, Riders by Jilly Cooper and, A Woman of Substance series, by Barbara Taylor-Bradford. They not only ignited my passion to write but taught me women have a voice and can do business. Then of course, The Island by Victoria Hislop opened my eyes influencing me to the type of book I loved and wanted to write.

11. You’re second novel is called The Chateau, it’s set in Switzerland. Can you tell us about the story and what makes the setting so special?

A little experimental but, I enjoyed writing Gina and Ollie’s story, it had a quest so it was quite different from The Vineyard. One of the characters, Agnes-Francescia came to me in a dream but immediately I knew where she was! The Chateau de Chillon and Montreux had been beckoning me for years as I passed it to ski. It’s such a gorgeous setting with a beautiful promenade on the lakeside lined with an array of luscious blooms. I could walk or cycle for hours along there and along to the vineyards. I could so easily also switch with Gina, being so close to the stunning shores of Lake Geneva.

12. What are you working on at the moment?

My next novel for CarinaUK which I researched last summer. I can’t say too much yet but I can tell you the location will be beautiful.

13. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Creating my own worlds and the freedom it allows. Yes, it’s a business like any other which has it’s demands but I get to do things I love and dream about and allow others to escape with me.

14. You can have dinner with 3 authors, who would you pick and why?
Jill Mansell – I am so blessed to have met her but, if we had some time, I would ask her how she makes her writing flow so effortlessly. Liane Moriaty – She creates amazing frameworks for her plots and characters and paces so well. And, ooh, Charlotte Betts or Kate Furnville for historical research. They know how to blend the two so well. I think they could teach me a few things about research and language.

15. Imagine The Riviera would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

      Jessica Brown-Finlay for Lizzie Lambert
      Aiden Turner - for Cal McLaren
      Sheridan Smith for Sophie Pitou
      Colin Firth – for Charles
      Meryl Streep for Caroline Lambert

16. When you start a new book, what do you do? Do the characters come first, the story outline etc.?

The setting usually comes first – inspired from a location which grabs me. I like to seek out snippets wherever I go.


17. Coffee or tea? - Tea
18. Paperback or e-reader?  Now e-reader for convenience!
19. Mountains or the sea? Mountains – difficult!
20. Summer or winter? Summer – need winter to ski
21. Sweet or salty? Sweet
22. Switzerland or the French Riviera? Can’t choose out of these!
23. Cats or dogs? Dogs
24. Dancing or singing? Dancing – can’t sing but would love to!
25. Sunrise or sunset? Sunset – so romantic!

Karen Aldous – Author


Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!

Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and Lake Tahoe in US would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!


The Riviera - the blurb


The journey is only as good as its end…
It’s been a hard journey, but Lizzie Lambert’s life is a Proven├žal dream come true. Her business is wildly successful, and with her little boy and the love of her life, Cal, she is making a beautiful home on the vineyard for their blended family.
But when Cal goes to America to support his son through a teenage crisis, it becomes clear the kid’s not the only one with some growing up to do: Cal’s glamorous ex-wife wants to get her claws in him again. As Cal spends longer and longer away, Lizzie wonders, was it all too good to be true?

Escape to Provence with Karen Aldous’ The Riviera, the perfect read for an idyllic summer.

LINKS
The Riviera - AmazonUK - AmazonUS - KOBO - NOOK - Goodreads

Karen Aldous Author Info and Social Media –
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