I met novelist Rosie Dean (aka Jan Sprenger) through the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK. We’ve always hit it off, and when we both decided around the same time to ‘go indie’ and publish our own novels, we set off on the journey together. Actually, Rosie was a few weeks ahead of me – so I was constantly picking her brains about how to go about things. After all, she had all that experience! A few months later, while I decided to accept a contract with Accent Press, Rosie opted to stay indie. She loves being in control, she tells me! Let’s find out more.
Hi Jenny. As you know, I write romantic comedies. The first to hit the market, Millie’s Game Plan, is about a workaholic who takes a grip on her future and draws up a plan to find Mr Right. When the first man to float her boat – Josh Warwick – doesn’t meet the criteria on her wish-list she moves on to a sexy wine merchant – Lex Marshal – who ticks all the boxes. But when Millie faces danger and betrayal, she wonders if her dream man might not be Mr Right after all. So, who will be…?
The second is Vicki’s Work of Heart. This is possibly closest to my own heart, as I used to be an art teacher and have a soft spot for vets – what’s not to like? They’re kind to animals and save lives. After being stranded at the altar, art teacher Vicki Marchant seizes her freedom and travels to France to paint. It’s her time. Nobody is going to get in the way of her ambition – definitely no men. Vicki learns two things: some men are difficult to resist, and choosing the right one is not always easy.
They sound good! Actually, I know they are good, because I’ve read both of them! What’s the latest one, and what inspired it?
Chloe’s Rescue Mission was sparked off when I was watching an episode of Dragons’ Den, in which a business woman accepted the offer of finance and support from one of the male dragons. When they shook hands and offered the obligatory cheek-to-cheek kiss, I sensed a spark of attraction. What, I thought, might happen if this business relationship turned into something else? And so the seed was set.
My hero is Scottish and called Duncan, but that’s where any association between the dragon and my character ends!
So you say! I’ll have to read it and make my own mind up. Talking of characters, do you see anything of yourself in any of your characters?
Absolutely – but only the good ones! Actually, that’s not strictly true, and certainly it’s not always in the heroine.
While I was writing Chloe’s Rescue Mission, I treated myself to a fancy coffee machine, which produces the best coffee. Poor old Chloe has had to move in with her mother and put all her stuff into storage. She can’t afford proper coffee so has to make do with instant. She pines for that lovely coffee from her beautiful machine, and remembers stroking its glossy red cover. Yep, that’s me!
I empathise with that! So, when you’re writing, do you work out all the plot points beforehand? How does it work?
I would so love to be a seasoned plotter. I’m sure it would make life easier. I do have a rough plot for the book, and for specific scenes. When I write those scenes, they flow really quickly. However, I really enjoy the alchemy of writing, where the mind suggests new routes I hadn’t previously considered. I once started to write a young adult novel with a certain goal in mind. Part way through the early chapters, I felt my character was becoming boring, and a scene developed where she shoplifted an item of clothing, much against my original plan. As a result, the whole story changed to become edgier and – I believe – better.
Is there another work on the go?
Yes – another romantic comedy in which my heroine, Gabriella Gill-Martin – Gigi – faces a whole bunch of financial challenges and compromises in her life, when her father is arrested. Coming from a privileged background, she finds it hard to swap champagne for fizzy water, and a top of the range car for a second-hand bike. But she learns life is not about having what you want but wanting what you have. I’m setting the book on the Isle of Wight, a beautiful and quirky part of the British Isles, where I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of my time. My hero is truly scrummy. Picture Aidan Turner with long curly hair and a beard. Oh. That IS Aidan Turner. This painting of Forelands Beach on the Isle of Wight is by a pal of mine, Charlotte Hodge Thomas.
As an indie you don’t have the advantage of an editor to advise and criticise your writing. How do you cope without one?
Actually, I do. My current editor is Hannah M Davis, whose opinion and insights I value very highly. I love being made to question my decisions – regarding character arc, pace or action – that aren’t working. Sometimes I stand by my choices but if my inner voice tells me the editor is on the money, then I’m very grateful for the chance to change and improve the original. I don’t think it’s wise to trust my instincts on a whole book. Another point of view gives me more confidence to progress.
I also have a couple of beta readers, who read the book very close to its completion. Both are book lovers and have worked in libraries. They give me a sanity check on the story, highlight any areas which don’t work for them, and pick up on grammatical errors.
Thanks for talking to me, Rosie – do come back in a year and let us know how the indie career is working out?
Rosie says: I write romantic fiction with a sense of humour and, sometimes, a sense of the ridiculous. Because we all know life and love aren’t exactly how we’d like them to be. Most of my books are set in Europe, with sassy British heroines. When not writing, I love to cook and to read, I even read in the car (talking books) and have notched up countless unnecessary miles as a result. Not one to spend hours in the gym or pounding the pavement, I prefer Yoga and Pilates, which means I can tone and tighten whilst watching TV. Twitter
To save her grandfather’s legacy – The Joshua Steele Theatre – Chloe Steele sells her services to the highest bidder. Enter leisure tycoon, business angel and playboy, Duncan Thorsen. But when the bank calls in the debts and the council enforces closure, just how much paparazzi exposure and wheeling and dealing can a girl stomach?
Chloe’s Rescue Mission – UK:
Chloe’s Rescue Mission – US: