Today I have the very great pleasure of bringing you an interview with Helen Bridgett as part of her The Heat Is On blog tour 🙂 I absolutely LOVED Helen’s first book, The Mercury Travel Club (I’ll add the link to my review at the bottom of this post), and The Heat Is On is firmly on my TBR list.
Many thanks to Kelly at #LoveBooksGroupTours for arranging the following interview…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Hi there, my latest novel The Heat is On is the sequel to The Mercury Travel Club. They’re both comedies based around a group of friends – Angie, Patty and Charlie – who run the Travel Club and have fabulous chaos-filled adventures as a result.
In this sequel, things seem to be going extraordinarily well for the gang; they’re expanding the business, Patty is back from her job as a cruise-ship singer and Angie is in love. It looks as if things simply can’t get better but then a new competitor opens up on the high street and starts to jeopardise everything. It’s time for these friends to show what they’re made of.
I started writing three years ago; I’d always wanted to write a novel so instead of all the usual diet and exercise resolutions that I would traditionally make and break at New Year, instead I made one promise – that I’d actually write. I planned to give the finished manuscript to my sister for Christmas and that’s what I did. Who knows – she might have preferred a box of home-made biscuits!
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I have been to most of the places featured in the novels and so they do inspire some of the storylines. Now whenever I travel I find myself wondering what could possibly go wrong if Angie and Patty were here. I’m a great people watcher and I love to eavesdrop so the simplest of conversations can be exaggerated and turned into a story. There is inspiration everywhere if you look for it.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Yes – definitely although they’re often an amalgamation of a few people. Patty is loosely based upon an Auntie of mine whereas Angie, Charlie and Peter are completely fictional. When I visited Russia, I met an Aussie called Josie who I’m still in touch with so I used the name and nationality although the character is very different. Angie’s mum – who many people rate as their favourite character – is also great fun to write and she’s based on two people and they know who they are!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I don’t really know, unless they’re based on real people (like Josie and Patty), they just either feel right or they don’t. I might write the first draft using one name but by the end, I simply know they wouldn’t be called that – I play with names and then one fits. I can’t imagine Charlie being called anything else.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I usually know where it all starts and where it will end. I also have scenes based upon the travel adventures they’ll have and these have to add to the narrative somehow. I write most days and when I begin I just keep going until I’m 10-15k into the first draft, then I review it and plan where it is going. I use post it notes to keep tabs on what each character is doing and what I need them to do next. If I’m ever stuck, I walk the dog and simply think about what is happening, when I go to bed I plan the next day’s writing – the story tends to be with you every waking hour. On some days you wake up and delete everything you wrote the day before but you just keep going.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
This is a really tough question and the answer would change depending on what I’m reading. I read very widely and always have done so the list would be eclectic.
I’m going to say:
Enid Blyton – for getting me into reading from the very start.
Emile Zola – for showing me how emotional writing could be
Armistead Maupin – for creating Mrs Madrigal
Marian Keyes – for always making me laugh
Erin Kelly – for the gothic mystery
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Again – a toughie as I’d want to have a good time rather than a very serious time so I’d give Marian and Erin a call and ask if they fancied a night on the town.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes – I was one of those kids who never had their nose out of a book.
When did you start to write?
I truly love the act of writing so have kept a diary since I was a child and I also wrote all those embarrassing childhood poems that parents love to reveal. I did a little scriptwriting before turning to novels and even if I weren’t writing professionally, I’d still be drafting something. I can’t imagine ever stopping.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I might give Germinal a happy ending.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Err – any multi-million pound best seller, that would be quite nice !!
But no – I love reading and I am delighted to find something fabulous rather than wishing I’d written it.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
A Sand Dancer’s Story – I can’t imagine ever writing an autobiography but I’m from a coastal town in North East England where locals are known as sand-dancers.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Ooh – I’d invite Mrs Madrigal and Mouse from Tales of the City and I’d want to visit them in Barbary Lane.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my fourth novel which again has a strong female lead but I’m trying out a switch of genre.
Tell us about your last release?
The Heat is On is the sequel to The Mercury Travel Club. It’s the next instalment in the adventures of Angie, Patty and Charlie. I can promise great laughs alongside a little insight into human nature.
Each chapter is the title of a song and I had great fun deciding on them; you can try to remember the artist who sang them but I’ve also listed them at the back so you can cheat!
This book will simply make you feel better about life.
Do you have a new release due?
The ebook will be available on 5th July and the paperback on 2nd August.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I do get quite nervous waiting to hear what people think of it but I have some fabulous friends and this year we’re simply meeting to raise a glass and read a couple of excerpts.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’d love readers to get in touch – I’m on twitter @Helen_Bridgett and my website in www.helenbridgett.com
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Just thank you for inviting me along and I hope you enjoy The Heat Is On.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Helen 🙂 I can’t wait to read The Heat Is On!
And something extra from Helen, just for you…..
Difficulties & Strengths of writing the 2nd book
I wrote The Heat Is On whilst going through the publishing process for the very first time and I’d say that was one of the biggest challenges. A debut novelist gets loads of suggestions for promoting the book and knowing no better, I tried to follow up every one. It didn’t leave much time for actually writing. Eventually I gave myself a telling off, calmed down and got on with it.
The joy of writing a sequel is that you already know and love the characters – Angie and Patty were still in my head, I love them to bits and I enjoy spending time with them. However, readers of The Mercury Travel Club also came to love them and wrote to me about their expectations for the characters – what they’d do next and what they wouldn’t do. I have had some hilarious conversations about them and they certainly do make it into this novel.
My favourite character to write is Patty, who is my protagonist’s best friend. She is the loud, lively one in the group; the one who always creates adventure and usually her fair share of trouble. She’s loyal and funny but has had her own share of heartache. With Patty, I feel I can write almost anything as she’d give it a go. Angie is more reserved and sensible and although she does some crazy things she always holds back a little. Patty just lets it rip. Readers have asked if she’s based on anyone and as with most characters, she’s based on a few people but mainly on an Auntie of mine who I always saw as quite outrageous. Compared to Patty though, my Auntie is quite tame!
‘And have you booked in your vejazzler?’
‘You can’t roll up with your grey wire wool when he’s expecting rhinestone!’
Angie Shepherd is back and this time she means business!
Life is perfect for Angie Shepherd. Her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur have come true, business is booming, and her best friend Patty is back in town. So when the opportunity of investing in a luxury hotel comes up, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s all going swimmingly until a rival travel agency opens up across the street. Before long, The Mercury Travel Club is undercut, double-crossed and in deep trouble. It’s time for Angie to up the stakes. But with costs mounting up, sales going down, and her personal life suddenly in freefall, can Angie and her friends weather the storm?
Witty and charming in equal measure, this feel-good novel shows that when the going gets tough, the tough definitely get going.
My review of The Mercury Travel Club…..