I’ve been busy wrapping up the copy edits for my next book, which is due out on 8 April. I shall be releasing news of it very shortly – I’ve seen sight of the cover and it is amazing! All will be revealed soon. I am very excited about it.
But first, I’ve been chatting to the lovely Christie Barlow, whose third book, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, has recently been published and is storming the Kindle UK charts because it is on offer for only 99p for a limited time. Over to you, Christie.
Please tell me a little about the book.
Kitty’s Countryside Dream has been described as a soul-boosting necessity that has been sprinkled with a little bit of magic. Life has not been kind to Kitty Lewis, the main character. Out of the blue, after the death of her mother, she unexpectedly inherits a chicken farm from a grandmother she never knew she had. It’s a new start for Kitty as she settles into country life with all its farmyard antics. She is determined to discover more about her mystery benefactor. When routinely sorting out the office, the diary of a young woman called Violet comes to light and poses more questions than answers. With the help of her new friends, and particularly Tom Drew, she uses some detective work to uncover the past. There’s lots of humour and romantic confusion dotted throughout. Despite a past and a future that Kitty could never have imagined, friendships, love and family prevails in the end.
Where did the idea come from?
Kitty’s Countryside Dream would never have been written if it wasn’t for a local farmer who sold me my very first chicken over eight years ago. Since then he has taught me everything I need to know about rearing and breeding chickens. Chickens have become a way of life in our house and it was my feathered friends who provided the little spark of inspiration for this story.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
Oh, that’s an easy one! Tom Drew is the heart-throb in the book. I modelled him after my friend and actor Mike Denman. Anyone who saw Mike as the sexy and cunning villain in the touring production of The Bodyguard will know what I mean! Every romantic, feel-good book needs a handsome hero. Tom’s appeal is not just his looks, but he’s a genuine nice guy.
Tell me what your main character is like. Would he/she be your best friend?
Kitty has had a tough life. She lost her dad in an accident when she was a young girl and then as a young woman, she was the sole carer to her terminally ill mother. She didn’t have the time to go to university, and lost touch with her friends, all but giving up on any social life. When she moves to her new life in Staffordshire, she leaves everything behind and takes on a future that is completely unknown. I think it’s Kitty’s determination to find a life for herself, no matter how much she is out of her comfort zone, that resonates with readers. You want to root for her and I’m so pleased that people have taken to her. I tried to show her vulnerabilities but with an underlying strength that comes from her past. Yes, I think she would be one of my best friends – she doesn’t take herself too seriously but is very loyal. Those are both qualities that are important to me.
What is the oddest thing you have ever done/come across when researching a book?
Well, if you’ve read my second book – Misadventures of a Playground Mother – you’ll have read a very humorous section on speed-dating. How I got through that evening of research will remain a closely guarded secret – but let’s just say it had to be done!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
That’s a funny question really. I guess I have, but I didn’t really have it at the front of my consciousness. It came about a few years ago after I’d turn 40. I’d left work after I had my first child and had spent many years dedicated to raising my four children. But, shortly after my “big birthday” when they asked me what I wanted to “do” with my life, I replied, “I want to write a book.” What I thought was an off-the-cuff answer was actually something that had been simmering and suddenly a random comment became my reality.
What are you currently reading?
I’m actually writing my fourth novel right now – so that is consuming a lot of my time. But all authors make time to read. It’s part of our DNA. I’m currently reading Lost Girls by Angela Marsons and next on my list is That’s What Friends Are For by the wonderful Marcie Steele.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing, and does it come in useful for your stories?
I’m a home-body, really. I love my home in my little village in Staffs, surrounded by my family and our mini zoo! My crazy cocker spaniel Woody and I are best friends. We go out for long walks daily and he and a bag of haribos keep me company while I’m writing. I am a piano teacher and love music – so I’m often attending gigs, particularly if Gary Barlow is performing! Since I’ve become an author, I’ve been privileged to join the Zuri Project as a volunteer. I’ll be visiting Uganda this year for a month, and I’m sure that trip will leave me with plenty of ideas for a story.