It’s Chrissssssstmaaaaaaaaas, to channel Noddy Holder. Well, not quite, but it is definitely the beginning of the Christmas party season and I cannot think of anyone who I would rather kick off the festivities by having a Friday Night Drink with than tonight’s blog guest, author… Jenni Keer.
Jenni, I am so excited to have you on the blog! First things first, what are you drinking?
My absolute pleasure, Julie. It’s been too long since I saw your smiley face and chatted to you about all things blogging. So, without further ado, shall I get a bottle in? I was going to suggest wine, but it’s been a long week. Let’s split a litre bottle of rhubarb gin?
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I would take you to the beautiful city of Norwich, full of history and charm, and littered with delightful places to eat and drink. I would suggest we cruised the city and tried a few out.
I have not been to Norwich for many a long year (since I visited the university, which I didn’t end up attending!) so I would enjoy that very much. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
I’m torn between inviting people who really knew how to party (a night with the Bright Young Things of the Roaring Twenties would be a blast), and people I might learn things from, but I’m going to go with Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle so I can quiz them about their clever plots and great characterisation. Hopefully, they’ll loosen up after a few gins, and we can have a riotous evening. I predict some amusing headlines in the local papers the following morning.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start writing and where do you want it to go?
I started writing when I was a stay at home mum to FOUR boys three and under – gulp. It’s also when I started reading a lot of romance novels and drinking substantially more wine! Reading and writing became an escape for me, and I quickly realised I wanted to take the writing seriously and put all my efforts into getting published. It took nine years to fulfill this dream but I was absolutely determined I would get there. Long term, I see being an author as my full-time career, and I want to get a substantial back list behind me. I am loving the journey and don’t ever want to do anything else.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment so far was when my debut novel, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker, was shortlisted for two awards, including the Katie Fforde Debut Novel. I am very fond of this book and it was great to see it recognised.
The hardest part has been during the pandemic when my first agent left the industry for personal reasons, (although I quickly secured the lovely Hannah Schofield from LBA Books). This coincided with a move away from rom coms to include historical threads, so there was an unanticipated hiatus in my writing and a gap of two years between published books. However, I used the pandemic to write more books and exciting things have been going on behind the scenes, but I can’t talk about them just yet… (I know, I’m such a tease!)
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I guess to have one of my novels made into a movie, even though the actors probably wouldn’t resemble the characters in my head, and bits of the story would inevitably be cut. But how fabulous would it be to have one of my novels out there in movie form?
What have you got planned that you are really excited about?
So many marvellous things are coming up; talks to W.I. groups, library panels, online events and a couple of author Christmas get-togethers. As writing is such a solitary occupation, I grab any opportunity to meet readers and other authors. But I think I’m actually most excited about my next book – which is now with my agent.
I can’t wait to see what is coming next! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
My favourite place to stay is a quaint little trullo (a white-washed traditional dry stone hut) in Puglia, Italy. I’ve been there a few times with friends and adore the Italian way of life; how family and food are everything. I don’t have anywhere in particular on my bucket list, but anywhere near the sea is always a winner for me – the hotter, the better.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’m part of a disco formation dance team – which considering I have all the grace and poise of an elephant, is quite an achievement. I always say that what I lack in talent, I make up for in showmanship. To be fair, it’s pretty much how I’ve managed to wing adulthood in general. Smack on a smile and everyone thinks you are in control.
That might be the best fact I’ve had on here and, when we have our night out in Norfolk, I insist it include taking in one of your performances! I would absolutely love to see you doing formation disco dancing. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
There are so many fantastic books out there that this is almost impossible, but Bridget Collins The Binding blew me away. I found it slow to get into but the concept was amazing, and the unexpected romance absolutely gave me all the feels.
Emmett Farmer is a binder’s apprentice. His job is to hand-craft beautiful books and, within each, to capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory.
If you have something you want to forget, or a secret to hide, he can bind it – and you will never have to remember the pain it caused.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and secrets – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of the volumes has his name on it.
This is another one which is on my gigantic TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
We certainly have – cheers! I’m very good at counting my drinks, always conscious I may have to drive the next day, but when I let myself go and perhaps have a few more shandies than I planned, I drink a big glass of water before bed, and just sleep it off. Bed is my favourite place in the world so it’s hardly a chore.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I’d love to visit some museums and National Trust houses – which I’ve missed doing during the pandemic. I’ve always been fascinated by history, and studied it at university. But being in these places and surrounding myself with artefacts from the past always sends shivers up my spine. My writer brain will also be looking for further book inspiration. Perhaps followed by a lovely meal on the Saturday evening, and then a wind-whipped day out at the coast to finish. Norfolk and Suffolk have some breathtaking beaches.
Thanks so much for meeting up with me for virtual drinks. Can we squeeze in a quick one before we go? Y’know, one for the road, and all that!
Always got time for another one with you, lovely, can’t wait until we can do that in person again. Thank you for joining me this evening, I’ve had a fab time (although a little disappointed that knitted Poldark did not put in an appearance!)
Jenni’s latest book, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Two houses, hundreds of miles apart . . . yet connected always.
When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.
But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Arts and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.
Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.
What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever . . .
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
Connect with Jenni:
Facebook: Jenni Keer Author