Carina Author Week: Interview with Samantha Tonge
Hello Samantha, I’m delighted to have you on my blog today featuring the Carina Author week with a Q&A.
Thank you so much for having me, Isabell!
How was your publishing route with Carina?
My agent subbed to several publishers and we were lucky enough to land two offers. I decided on Carina because of the Harlequin reputation and their covers are just so beautiful – and I am so glad I made that decision!
You have incredible seven books called Doubting Abbey, From Paris With Love, Mistletoe Mansion, Game Of Scones, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding, How to Get Hitched in Ten Days and Breakfast under a Cornish Sun, in the pipeline since you signed a deal with Carina. How did it feel to publish your books and what has your experience since then been?
I feel blessed to have had so many books published in just under three years – although it has been hard work! I have learnt a lot about editing, marketing and promotion and it has been a wonderful process to watch the germ of an idea evolve into a full-fledged story and then to see the product with a fantastic cover sitting on a Kindle or bookshelf.
Do you think there’s any way you could ever run out of ideas for books?
No! I always have too many ideas. People inspire me. Media inspires me. Places inspire me. I wish I could dictate my manuscripts like Barbara Cartland used to, then all of my ideas might actually see the light of day!
Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?
Deciding on a title is really important first of all. Then the main character’s first name. Next, I loosely determine the plot. Finally I do all of the research. For Doubting Abbey I learnt a lot about stately homes. For Game of Scones I read about the Greek way of life. For my new Cornish book I looked into some of the emotional challenges my characters face. Then I start writing with a vague structure but the flexibility to just see where it goes.
What made you want to start writing?
Reading voraciously as a child. I adored Enid Blyton and used to read her books in the bath. Beano comics as well. Christmas was so exciting – the first thing I would do in the morning would be to open my Beano and Beezer annuals and lock myself in my bedroom to read them.
Do you write lots of drafts? What is your editing process?
I write the first draft. Then I do a rewrite – often restructuring it as I have a really annoying habit of dropping a load of backstory into the opening chapters. Then I will do another read-through before sending it to my agent to read. After that the editor wields their knife!
If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?
Cooking. Travelling. And I have recently discovered adult colouring! But most importantly I would just spend more time with my family.
What is your ideal holiday?
Ooh, hard one. I went to Japan a couple of years ago and thought that could never be beaten. Then a few months ago I visited Rome. Wow. Stunning. The history, the food, the weather… I can’t wait to go back. Although I do love Cornwall, where my new book is based- the tidal scenery, the amazing pasties and fish n’chips, the Cornish accent… so much to love.
Any advice for anyone out there thinking of writing a book?
Don’t expect your first effort to get you that deal (this was a learning curve for me!) – yet realise that NO work is ever wasted, because you learn so much from each project you take on, even if it never gets published. Oh, and get yourself a close network of writerly friends. They will sympathise with your rejections and help party when you finally find success – which you will if you just keep on trying.
Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath.
A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. She has sold over 80 stories to women’s
Her bestselling debut novel, “Doubting Abbey”, from CarinaUK HarperCollins, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones won the 2015 Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.