As part of the Summer Daydreams blog tour, we have an interview with Carole Matthews…
Please tell us a little about Summer Daydreams
This is my latest book - my twentieth novel - is about Nell McNamara. It’s a warm, funny story about someone who, against the odds, wants to follow their dreams. Nell is a feisty, young woman who works in a chip shop, but steps out of her comfort zone to try to provide a better life for her and her family. She follows her dream to become a handbag designer and, finds that the road to fame and fortune is a lot more difficult than she thought. She has a daughter, Petal, who demands a lot of her time and a partner, Olly, who really wants things to stay just as they are. Juggling a fledgling business with a family life and relationship is just not easy! I think a lot of women will empathise with this character and will be cheering her on as she pursues her dream. It’s based on the life and experiences of my good friend, Helen Rochfort, who is a successful and accomplished handbag designer. So I hope it has a really authentic feel.
The main character, Nell, is obsessed with handbags. Is this something that you love too?
Yes, I’ve always enjoyed handbags. When I first moved in with my partner, Lovely Kev, his children were wide-eyed when they say my three packing cases full of handbags. I don’t chase these fantastically expensive, high-end brand name bags. Some of the prices are ridiculous. I prefer things like the Helen Rochfort handbags that are feature in my novel - quirky and different. Lovely Kev did buy me a surprise Lulu Guinness handbag a few years ago at Christmas. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about your next book?
I’m really excited about my next book as it will be my second Christmas book. It’s called With Love at Christmas and is about a warm and chaotic family Christmas. We’ve all had them! This book revisits the Joyce family who I first wrote about in That Loving Feeling, so it was nice for me to see where they’re up to two years later. It’s a lovely story full of laughter and tears. Have your box of tissues at the ready!
What are your top five books?
One Day by David Nicholls: is my current favourite. Great book and I really empathised with the story. The story visits Emma and Dexter on the same day every year, following their doomed relationship. It’s a tear-jerker.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: I love historical fiction and, in my view, no one does it better. Her books about the Tudor period are all absolute corkers! She’s the only author I buy in hardback.
Bridget Jones’ Diary: This is the book that started the whole chicklit wave, so I have a lot to thank Bridget for. It’s a book that perfectly portrays its time. Warm and funny. The films were fabulous too! Perfect casting in all roles.
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson: I love Billy Bryson’s travel books. Funny and well-observed. I think this is one of his finest. In fact, writing this makes me want to dig it out and read it all over again. Always the sign of a good book.
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married: Marian Keyes is the Queen of Chicklit and I think of it as a great honour when my books are compared to hers. She hasn’t been writing fiction recently due to crippling depression, but I think that this book - her first - is still her best.
What do you like to do outside of writing?
We live a very low maintenance life really. I like to read - obviously!- and try to read every day. I’ve just started Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green. My current passion is for decorating cupcakes, so I do a lot of baking. I love watching rubbish television and always like to have a series on the go - at the moment I love Homeland, True Blood, Dexter, Game of Thrones and will be very sorry to see the end of Desperate Housewives. We’re great film buffs too and will watch anything from Disney classics to slasher movies! We travel a lot too, but that’s often to do with research for one of my books. I’ve set previous novels in Nepal, Peru, America and my previous novel, Wrapped up in You, was set in the Masaai Mara. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook too!
Summer Daydreams is available to buy from the 24th May.
Little Brown are also running a fantastic competition, which gives you the chance to design your own Helen Rochfort handbag. Entries close on 31st July 2012. More information is available here: http://www.littlebrownbooks.net/handbagcompetition/