Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Rachael Featherstone

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Hello, my name is Rachael Featherstone and this year I’m fulfilling my dream of being a published author. 

I live in Hampshire with my husband, Tim, and I am very lucky that I am able to spend a significant amount of my time writing. When I was at school, most of my time was spent solving mathematical equations and I went on to study maths at university. But outside of school, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time working in my local bookshop. I started working there when I was fifteen and I fell in love with Sophie Kinsella’s novels. So, nearly ten years later, when I decided to try writing a novel, I knew I wanted to write a romantic comedy. 

Amazon UK
1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

My first book, Puzzle Girl, is about Cassy Brookes, a digital marketing strategist and a hopeless romantic. When Cassy has the commute from hell and finds herself in a doctor’s surgery, she has no idea how a flippant comment in a puzzle magazine will shake her world upside down. When Cassy returns for a check-up, she finds someone has replied to her message in the puzzle magazine and it sets her on a calamitous mission to find the mysterious Puzzle-man behind it. Just how many excuses are there to go back to a doctors’ surgery?

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I’d always wanted to write a book. One day. After university, I went to work in London and my dream was buried way, way down. But in 2012, my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I realised just how short life could be. So, I decided burying dreams was a bad idea. I quit my job and set out to follow my dream. Puzzle Girl is set in a doctors’ surgery. I actually don’t remember the exact moment the idea came to me as it built over time but I did spend a lot of time in waiting-rooms with my mum and I think the idea, or at least the spark, came from there.

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

It took me six months to write the first draft. Then it took another eighteen months, on and off, doing rewrites before I secured my literary agent. My literary agent and I did another big rewrite over another six months. It’s been amazing seeing how the novel has grown.

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

I would keep a running-document of font formats and a list of brands I reference. It’s something that I didn’t think about when I was writing the novel, but when it came to the editing process, it would have been really helpful when checking everything was consistent.

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

Puzzle Girl is traditionally published by Accent Press, an independent publisher. I felt quite strongly that I wanted an agent to help me navigate my writing career and after I pitched Puzzle Girl at the Winchester festival, I was offered representation by my agent, David Headley. Working with David took Puzzle Girl to the next level and I was delighted when Accent made an offer of publication.

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Don’t be afraid to get feedback. Be open to suggestions and give yourself time to process criticism but also be secure enough to stay true to your instincts about how the book should develop. 

Tell us about your first…

7) Person you fell in love with

Hugh Laurie after watching 101 Dalmatians (the people version). It’s a love affair that just keeps giving. House. The Night Manager… Long may it continue!

8) Sport you enjoyed participating in

Pool. As in pool and snooker. If that counts as a sport. I am not sporty at all (although I love watching sport). I never really “got” sports at school. But when I went to university I joined the pool varsity team and went on to play for the Oxford County Women’s team.

9) Time you felt like an adult

When I went to university. I remember feeling grown up when I got my first job in the bookshop but it wasn’t until I moved out of home that I really felt like an adult. 

10) Dish you cooked

A jacket potato with cheese and beans when I was about nine. I grew up on jacket potatoes – I still love them now. In fact, maybe lunch today…

Thank you so much for taking part in Fab Firsts today Rachael. I am really looking forward to reading my copy of Puzzle Girl for the blog tour,

Check out Rachael Featherstone on Facebook & Twitter

Puzzle Girl & Puzzle Boy are also on twitter! 

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