Next in my series of interview with the winners of the Romantic Novel Awards 2021, I am delighted to welcome to the blog the winner of the Romantic Comedy Novel Award, Carole Matthews.
Carole, congratulations on winning the Romantic Comedy Novel Award in the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards 2021 with your novel Sunny Days and Sea Breezes and thank you very much for agreeing to appear on my blog during the entry period for the 2022 awards.
May I start by saying how much I loved the glimpse of the Queen behind you on the awards night, festooned with fairy lights! Is there a story behind her appearance on Zoom as you accepted the award? Does she live in your office permanently?
That’s so funny! We bought the cardboard cut-out of the Queen for a Diamond Jubilee picnic in 2012 and she’s been with us ever since. She does live in my office but comes to all my book events and has been borrowed to visit many schools in Costa Del Keynes! Sadly, she’s now held up with Selotape and good will.
Having attended the awards in London previously, having to watch it via video was an odd experience, and it was clear that this was true for everyone involved, who all did a great job in difficult circumstances. What did winning the award in this very strange year mean to you?
The online experience was hilarious. We couldn’t hear a single word. I was on my main computer, my husband was on one iPad and my publishing team were propped up on another one on my desk. The delay was made a lot easier by the box of six pre-mixed cocktails that my publisher had sent, but the first I knew I had won was when Kev said ‘You’re on screen.’ Hence the slightly mad acceptance speech but all credit to the RNA for trying to put something on – it was just a shame the company organizing it let them down. It’s a great award though and I’m really pleased to have finally won something after twenty-odd years and countless nominations!
I know I speak for many readers when I say that books are what have got us through these odd and lonely times, and I have read more over the last eighteen months than ever before. Light-hearted books, in particular, have been a haven of escapism at difficult times. How has it been for you during lockdown as a writer of romantic comedies? Has it been harder to find the humour, or have you found it has helped you through?
Thank you, that’s very kind. I haven’t written a thing for months. My concentration throughout lockdown was non-existent – both for reading and writing. Crochet and rubbish telly got me through! I realise how much I need to be out and about doing things to feed the soul and provide material for two books a year! I really admire people who have found their creative mojo during this time. It’s just not happened for me.
You have had a career spanning an amazing twenty-four years so far, with hopefully many more to come. What is the secret to keeping a successful writing career going for so long? How do you keep your ideas and your writing so fresh?
Yes, I celebrate my twenty-fifth anniversary next May. I had no idea when I first had Let’s Meet on Platform 8 published that it would lead to such a career. I hit the ‘chicklit’ wave just as it was starting to happen which was very fortunate. I’ve written thirty-four books now and would love to say that it gets easier, but it really doesn’t. There are so many pressures on writers now and I’m old enough to remember the days when we just had to write books! I’m never short of ideas – in normal times, they are everywhere – only the time in which to write them. I think the secret to a long career is that readers know exactly what they’re going to get when they buy one of my books – something light-hearted, funny but with a bit of reality underpinning it. I’m blessed that so many of my readers have stayed with me since the start of my journey.
As an aspiring author myself, I am always fascinated by the careers and writing process of authors I admire. Did you set out deliberately to write romantic comedies or is that just how your voice appears on the page? Do you write what appeals to you as a reader or do you have a secret, darker side in your choice of reading matter?
I’ve tried a few other genres just for my own entertainment, but what I write now is my natural voice and what comes easiest. I do generally choose much darker material to read. If I read books similar to my own, I tend to analyse them as I go, but if I read a ghost story or thriller then I don’t really do that and simply enjoy the read.
I am sure that winning this award will have drawn you a host of new readers, as well as delighting your existing fan base. What can your readers expect from you next?
I have a new paperback out in October, Christmas for Beginners. It’s a follow-on story from my book, Happiness for Beginners which was a real hit with my readers and has some fab characters and some very naughty alpacas. This was nominated for an RNA award last year.
Also my Chocolate Lovers’ Club series will be re-launch in August with shiny, new jackets. They’re a firm favourite with my readers and have been my most popular books worldwide.
Could you please tell us a little about your award-winning novel and what inspired the story?
I had a lot of fun writing Sunny Days & Sea Breezes. The idea came to me while we were staying on a houseboat in the Isle of Wight. It was such a beautiful setting that I felt inspired. We were staying on a very swanky boat and the one next door was rather more eclectic, shall we say – it was the perfect starting point for a story.
It’s about Jodie Jackson who escapes her London life to spend some respite time at her brother’s houseboat. She falls in love with the island life and is also very taken with her neighbour, wood sculptor, Ned. But when her old life comes knocking, Jodie has to make the choice – does she stay or does she go?
Carole, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me, I have thoroughly enjoyed this interview and I am sure the readers will too.
Carole’s award-winning book, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
When does time out become the time of your life?
Jodie Jackson is all at sea, in every sense. On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, she’s leaving her London life, her career, and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clocks, but she’ll settle for some peace and quiet on her brother Bill’s beautifully renovated houseboat, Sunny Days.
But from the moment Jodie steps aboard her new home, it’s clear she’ll struggle to keep herself to herself. If it isn’t Marilyn, who cleans for Bill and is under strict instructions to look after Jodie, then it’s Ned, the noisy sculptor on the next-door houseboat. Ned’s wood carving is hard on the ears, but it’s made up for by the fact that he’s rather easy on the eyes.
Bustled out of the boat by Marilyn and encouraged to explore with Ned, Jodie soon delights in her newfound freedom. But out of mind isn’t out of sight, and when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality. Will she answer the call or choose a life filled with Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?
About the Author
Carole Matthews is an internationally bestselling author of 34 hugely successful romantic comedy novels. Her unique sense of humour has won her legions of fans and critical acclaim all over the world.
All of her novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers and Happiness for Beginners was number one on the Amazon chart. She has been given an award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association for her Outstanding Contribution to Romantic Fiction and her latest novel, Sunny Days & Sea Breezes won the RNA award for Romantic Comedy novel.
Previously very unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after in Costa Del Keynes with her husband, Lovely Kev. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter.
Her next paperback, Christmas for Beginners, is out in October.
Connect with Carole:
Facebook: Carole Matthews Books