Coming Home to Seaside Cottage Audio Extract
About the Author:
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.
Jessica’s Twitter @JessicaRedland
Jessica’s own website
Buy The Books:
Coming Home to Seashell Cottage
My Q&A for Jessica:
1) My first question is:
Of New Beginnings at the Seaside Blooms, Finding Hope at Lighthouse cove and Coming home to Seashell Cottage, which was the most enjoyable to write and why?
I had such a different experience writing all of them. New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms was the very first book I wrote so it was enjoyable in that it was amazing to get to the end and think, ‘I’ve done it! I’ve actually written a book!’ But it was also very painful because I learned my craft as I went and rewrote it more times than I care to remember.
Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove was exciting because it was a new project but with characters I already knew. It was also the most developed story in my head so it was quite easy to write.
But my favourite is Coming Home to Seashell Cottage because Clare’s my favourite character. She arrived fully-formed as quite a spiky and distant individual and I didn’t really know why but, as the series developed, bits of information came out. It was therefore an absolute joy to write her full story and delve into her past to find out why she had become that person. By the time I wrote it, I had studied my craft a lot more and felt much more confident about my abilities as a writer.
2) Did you encounter any problems when writing these books? What were they and how were they overcome?
It’s quite ironic that Sarah’s story is now called New Beginnings… because my biggest nightmare in writing it was the beginning. I couldn’t decide where the story started. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had about 40 different versions of the starting point and I mean significantly different versions!
I also had a rogue character. Thanks to the discovery of a re-discovered clairvoyant reading, Sarah believes she’s going to meet the man of her dreams and he’s called Steven. In an earlier version, I had her meeting someone called Simon and falling for him, convincing herself that Simon is close enough to Steven for him to be the one. I’m a pantser, letting my characters take me where they want, and Simon suddenly became a stalker and turned up at Sarah’s shop with a knife. Eek! That wasn’t what I wanted for the story or the genre so I ended up completely ditching that plotline and having to do a major re-think.
My other huge problem was that I originally imagined New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms to be Sarah’s story told from her perspective only but that Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove would be told from Sarah’s and Elise’s perspective, with the final part – Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – being told from three perspectives. I wrote Finding Hope… like that originally but, when I came to Coming Home… I found I was making things happen to Elise just so that she could occasionally have a point of view. It really wasn’t working. Luckily, my publisher challenged me on this and suggested I keep it clean with only one perspective per book. It was a lot of rework but absolutely the right decision.
3) Where do you get inspiration for your novels?
It comes from a variety of places. It could be personal experience, a song lyric, a setting or a title simply popping into my head.
The idea for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms was something that happened to me. I was told by a clairvoyant that I was going to set up my own business and meet the man of my dreams called Steven. I did set up my own shop and I did meet lots of Stevens … just not any I dated! Much of that story is inspired by real-life events.
The premise for The Secret to Happiness came from a song lyric and I’m brewing another idea and have a work-in-progress both driven by lines from a song.
Bear With Me came to me because I wanted a story set in a specialist teddy bear shop (because that’s the sort of shop I ran) and the story grew from the setting.
One of my Christmas stories, Charlee and the Chocolate Shop started as a title. I created Charlee and her story developed around her.
4) Is there a particular order to read your novels in or can any be read as a standalone? If so, which ones are best read in this way?
All four books in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series are complete stories i.e. they don’t end on a cliff hanger. Book 1, Making Wishes at Bay View, is a prequel which was originally intended to be a short story before the release of New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms to give away for free as a sample of my writing and as an introduction to the world of Whitsborough Bay. At the start of New Beginnings… Sarah helps her auntie make flowers for a wedding so the story was how the bride and groom met. Only I don’t do ‘short’. It became a novella and I later had an idea for a sequel to it so they both combined to create book 1 which can be read at the start but could be read at the end if preferred.
Books 2-4 are designed to be read as standalone books but I would very strongly encourage a reader to read them in order for maximum enjoyment. I have had readers say they’ve read them out of order and enjoyed them but I personally would say stick to the order otherwise secrets get revealed in the ‘wrong’ order.
As for my other books, Bear With Me, is standalone although it introduces one of the protagonists of The Secret to Happiness. There’s not such a major impact if these are read the other way round.
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is set before Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café and I would recommend them being read in that order (both will be reissued as fresh re-edited versions by Boldwood later this year including several new chapters for Choc Pot) but Charlee and the Chocolate Shop is standalone.
5) Tell me about your journey towards becoming an author.
I’ve always loved writing. English and any essay-based subjects at school were my preferred subjects, but I never considered writing a book. It never entered my head as a possible career choice even though I was an avid reader. I had a manager at work who would comment on how my reports read more like stories and jokingly suggest I write a book. I liked that idea but didn’t know what to write about. Then I had the real-life experience with the clairvoyant reading that triggered the idea. One idea became several and I put fingers to keyboard and had a go.
I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association via their New Writer’s Scheme in 2012 and my first two novels went through that, giving me invaluable feedback and self-belief that I could do this.
I then got a 3-book publishing deal which extended to four books with the prequel novella. Unfortunately the publisher ceased trading. With my rights back, feeling a bit bruised, I released the books again as an indie author and stayed indie for a few years. Nine books later, I decided I was ready to look for another publishing deal and was thrilled when Boldwood Books took me on in their first batch of 20 authors. I couldn’t be happier with them.
6) Do you have any characters or scenes you particularly like in these novels? Which are they and why?
In book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay View – I love any scene involving my two older characters, Ruby and Iris. They wind each other up and I love their banter. Ruby is my favourite character across all the characters I’ve created (Clare is a close second).
In New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, I absolutely love the scene near the end where Sarah has found her HEA and some new information is revealed. Sorry for being cryptic for anyone who hasn’t read this but I don’t want to give away the twist. It’s also based on a real-life event.
In Elise’s story, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, I adore any of the scenes involving the mischievous Curtis who manages to stir things up big time, particularly at the party. I also love the New Year’s Eve scene.
And, for Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, I love it all. Does that sound bad? I just enjoyed writing that book and that character so much and I still get excited when I think about how the story unfolds.
7) Do you have any tips on writing in this genre as well as just general writing tips to help me on my own journey?
Wishing you every success, Katherine! My tips for you or anyone else considering writing would be:
• If you want to write, write. You may not be great at it but you’ll never know unless you try
• If you’re thinking “I’d love to write a book but I don’t have time”, then stop right there. I didn’t have time but I made time. I stopped watching the soaps on TV, I stopped lounging around, I wrote whilst commuting to work (I will point out that this was on the train; not whilst driving!) and I developed ideas whilst in the shower. Very, very few writers ever had the luxury of time when they were starting out, but they had a dream and they made it happen
• Don’t feel you have to write every day. But do think about it each day. I often develop dialogue and plot twists while in the shower, out shopping, or when driving
• Learn how to write. Being good at writing in day to day life v writing a book are two very different skills. There’s a lot to learn but there are some amazing self-help books, courses, and qualifications out there to help. I spent ten years learning my craft whilst writing my debut. To be fair, I had a lot of years where I didn’t write anything as I married, had a baby, opened and closed a business and changed job several times during that time, but I never lost sight of that goal and never stopped learning
• Take the NaNoWriMo approach of just getting on with it. You can edit it later. You might ditch a lot of it later. But if you don’t get the words down in the first place, you’ll have nothing to edit
• Don’t write because you want to make a fortune. Most writers don’t. Most still have a day job. Some only make enough for a cheap night out once a month. Write because you have stories to tell and you couldn’t imagine not sharing them
• Keep a list of ideas. It could be a book title, a plot point, a piece of dialogue or a quirky character. It may not be a fully-formed novel just yet but it could become it one day
• Enjoy the journey and try not to compare yourself to others (much easier to say than do!)
For the genre specifically, I’d suggest:
• Develop characters that feel real – could be you, me, or one of our friends
• Think about the type of book you want to write i.e. do you want to have a lighter romcom approach or do you want to be contemporary fiction? In my opinion, both can cover deep issues – romcoms don’t have to be ‘fluffy’ – but it’s the emotional angle that changes. Don’t worry if this changes during your writing journey as you evolve as a writer
• Find a setting you feel passionate about so you can bring it to life. You may set one book there or you may set them all there – completely up to you – but if you love it, your readers are more likely to
• Don’t try to chase trends; write the story you want to tell. You might become the new trend!
8) From the synopses and extracts, these novels all seem relaxing and escapist. Any tips on creating this type of atmosphere in books?
Thank you. For many people, including me, reading is one of the best forms of escape. You can push aside any worries you might have or any of the challenges in the world today and live a different life. I write the sort of books I would choose to read and it’s critical for me that there is a happy ending, no matter tough my character’s journey has been. My characters are always very real – normal people doing normal jobs – and therefore I think readers can relate to them which helps them engage and feel part of the journey. I build the emotions and many of my books bring tears, but I also have elements of humour too and I think that mirrors real life. It’s never all bad or all good
9) What do you love to do when not reading or writing?
I wish I had a really exciting answer but I massively struggle for time because I have a day job on top of writing. I was a Brown Owl for 7.5 years which I loved but I needed to step down from my perch a couple of years ago when I decided to study for a Masters in Creative Writing. I’m now qualified but I haven’t found a replacement activity. I like to walk along the seafront with my family and dog, but I don’t do that nearly as often as I should. I also love watching romcoms
10) Who is your favourite author? What is your favourite book? Why?
My favourite book is the first ‘grown-up’ book I ever read – Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. I was thirteen and a friend loaned me it, then I bought it myself so I could read it again and again. I devoured the whole of the series as well as the Heaven series. I read each book so many times that the pages fell out! These books were absolute page-turners; such gripping stories full of twists and turns and I was completely captivated by them.
In the present day, I have so many authors I love, some of whom are good friends, so the list could be very long!
11) Which of the book titles do you prefer, the previous titles or the new ones?
Ha ha! What a question! I’d better state the original titles for those who don’t know: I had Searching for Steven, Getting Over Gary and Dreaming About Daran, and the prequel books (which combined to become the new book 1) were Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish.
I do love my original titles, especially Searching for Steven. The premise actually came from me saying to a friend “I’m going to be searching for Steven” after I had my clairvoyant reading, then it suddenly dawning on me that I had a title and an idea for a book. This was 18 years ago now so that title has been with me such a long time that it is hard not to think of it by that name.
When Boldwood offered me a contract to take on the series, I always knew that the titles would change to give them a complete refresh and I was happy with that. The new titles were a collaboration of ideas and I do love them because they work more commercially for the genre. They still sit together with a theme, like the original ones did, but they are very different.
I’m conscious that I haven’t directly answered the question but it’s really a case of me loving both sets but for different reasons.
Thank you so much for some brilliant questions! Really made me think. Wishing you all the best with your journey into writing and please do let me know if I can help you in any way.