Today I am talking with Carol Thomas who writes for both adults and children: Her contemporary romance novels, have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads; while her children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.
Could you tell us about yourself?
I live on the south coast of England with my husband, four children and Labrador. I was a playgroup leader, and primary school teacher, before dedicating more of my time to writing. I have a passion for reading, writing and people watching, and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on my next book.
When did you first decide to write and what got you started?
I did a little creative writing in college and kept notebooks as a result, but it wasn’t until a friend published her first book that I felt inspired to start my own. I was taking a break from teaching in 2012 and decided to seize the opportunity to take the time and write.
Which is your favourite genre to write and why?
I write contemporary romance and romantic comedy. These are also the genres I predominantly read; I enjoy the escapism. There is enough gloom and uncertainty in the world, and so it is good to spread a little happiness.
Motivated by my years of teaching and my desire to encourage early reading skills, I also write for children. I have four children and two grandchildren; it is always a pleasure to snuggle up to share a good book.
Do you have any inspirations for your writing? Other authors / people / events?
I am inspired by Mhairi McFarlane’s ability to sum up a situation in a single sentence aptly. I enjoy Tracy Bloom’s sense of humour, and I adore Sarah Morgan’s ability to create perfect heroes, and settings that make me wish I could live in the world she has created. I am inspired by snippets of life and single sentences that make me stop and think, laugh out loud, or shed a tear.
What is the best part about writing, and the worst?
The best is when it all comes together, when you are writing with a smile on your face and you are lost in the moment.
The worst is when you are wracked with self-doubt, and the ideas aren’t flowing (usually about the thirty-thousand-word mark for me) I know it happens and so have to push through.
Tell us about your most recent book “Maybe Baby” – great title 🤗
Thank you. Maybe Baby is the second book in the Lisa Blake series, published by Ruby Fiction. While the story follows on from The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1) and promises new antics from the characters and pets readers have previously enjoyed, it is also a standalone story of personal growth, friendship and love.
Lisa Blake is back with her first love, she’s reunited with her best friend Felicity, and life is looking good; even her pet sitting skills are improving – everybody knows you can’t believe all you read in the local Gazette, don’t they?
Felicity is on the cusp of achieving her perfect wife-mum-life balance; Her husband, Pete, is being wonderfully attentive, and her four children are getting older and wiser (sometimes too much wiser) by the day.
But just when they think that maybe, just maybe, they have everything sorted, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of unexpected surprises!
Can you tell us how you came to publish with Ruby Fiction?
My first novel, Crazy Over You, was self-published via Matador. The experience of self-publishing taught me a lot about the publishing process and helped me to build my author platform.
After writing my second novel, I attended an event held by Choc Lit – an award-winning publisher of romance books – that included the opportunity to pitch to an editor. As a result of my pitch, I was asked to submit my completed manuscript.
Three months later, I got the call to say they wanted to move forward with publishing The Purrfect Pet Sitter, under their new imprint Ruby Fiction.
When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next? By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?
I edit a lot as I go along, and have two trusted beta readers who read and advise as I write. Before I submit to my publisher, I do a further edit and read through, and listen to the story. If accepted, the story is then edited in house for an additional two rounds.
I start marketing early on before the book is finished, by mentioning the inspiration and so forth on social media. I then build on this towards publication day and beyond. Marketing is very much a part of my daily activities.
Ruby Fiction has the final say on my title, they design my covers and write the blurb. While I can have some input, the final decision on each of these aspects is theirs.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out on a writing career?
Read your genre, think about what works and why.
Do you have an office or ‘space’ where you write from and is it at home?
I have an office in Arundel, a small market town not far from my home. The much-conserved town has a medieval castle, which I can see from my office window, beyond a host of higgledy-piggledy (rustic) rooftops. It is beautiful and inspirational. When I am not there, I write while loitering in cafes or in my car by the beach. I find it hard to write at home as there are too many distractions.
If you could sit down with any author dead or alive, who would that be and what would you chat about?
William Shakespeare, my dissertation was based on gender and sexuality in the age of Shakespeare. It was terribly scholarly and very different from my writing style now. In it, I analysed representations of the body and gender and compared them to representations in Shakespeare’s plays. I wonder what he would make of the theories surrounding his work; I think it would be fun to share a drink and a laugh while he debunks them.
If Maybe Baby were made into a film, who would you pick to play the hero?
My vote for the lovely Nathan Baker would go to Chris Hemsworth – sigh! His blond hair, blue eyes and muscular build fit Nathan perfectly. I used a picture of him as the muse for Nathan, early on in the writing process.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing, marketing, or being involved with your book business? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I love to read and to go to the cinema (watching films in a range of genres). I volunteer in our local Cancer Research UK shop, and, as I have a slightly crazy Labrador, a good deal of my time is also spent ensuring he doesn’t eat things he shouldn’t.
Any fun facts about you that you would like to share?
As I know you are in Australia, I will confess that I have watched Neighbours since it started and have subsequently managed to hook three of my four children into watching it too. I don’t watch English soaps as I find them too dark and miserable. At least when Neighbours tackles darker subjects it is usually balanced with humour, I like that!
Thanks Carol – for taking the time from your schedule and dragging yourself away from the delightful view from your office to chat today.
You can contact Carol through her website and on social media.