Hi Caroline, tell us a little bit about THE COSY TEASHOP, what’s the elevator pitch for the book?
Star-baker Ellie risks it all for her dream of running her own teashop. With a slice of castle life and a cast of show-stopping characters including the truly scrumptious castle manager, Joe, this is a fabulous, heart-warming read – simply irresistible.
The book is set in the gorgeous Northumberland countryside – is this a place that’s very close to your heart?
Absolutely, I have lived in Northumberland for thirteen years now and have fallen in love with the county. It has such a beautiful coastline with miles of sandy beaches, dramatic castles, rolling countryside and wild moorland hills.
How did the characters of Ellie and Joe, and all the other castle inhabitants, come to you? Did you drawn on any friends or family for inspiration?
My friend ran a castle tea room locally which gave me the idea of the book, but Ellie is very much her own character. But Joe was inspired by the character, Harry, in the earlier series of Silent Witness; kind of sexy with a slightly scruffy edge and a real gentleman.
Did you always have an image in your mind of how Joe and Ellie’s story would end? Or did this change and evolve as you were writing?
Yes, I knew how I wanted the story to end for Joe and Ellie very early on, but I did develop the last scene at a later stage as I really wanted to write all the details and all the other characters had come to life by them so I wanted them involved too – can’t say much more, don’t want to give it away! You’ll have to read the book!
Ellie’s tenacity and determination to make her dreams come true is really infectious! Are you a firm believer in doing what makes you happy?
Yes, that determination to follow your dreams, and be true to yourself, is a key theme in the book. I have wanted to be a writer from a young age, but it took me many years to get there. I’m so glad I kept going even when it got really quite tough trying to find a publisher. It’s important to find what makes you content in life, but also remember that we are all so different too. One person’s dreams can be very different from another’s.
Ellie’s baking sounds delicious, she’s a real rival for Mary Berry! Do you like baking yourself? If so who are your test subjects?
I do like baking, but I have to admit I’m not a natural at it! My sponges often come out with volcano peaks, dare I admit. My lovely friend Julie, who had her own castle tea rooms, helped me create the Choffee Cake in the book. It looked amazing, just how I had imagined it, and tasted absolutely gorgeous.
Are you a fan of the Great British Bake-Off?
Definitely, it’s a fabulous programme. I love all the trials, tribulations and those fantastic showstopper creations. I wish I could bake like Mary Berry!
What books do you like to read yourself? Have you come across any ‘showstoppers’ recently?!
I love reading. Some of my favourite authors are Jojo Moyes, Rowan Coleman, Maggie O’Farrell, Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller’s Wife).
My recent showstopper read was a beautiful and heart-wrenching novel, “The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” by Anna McPartlin – it was such a sad story, but had humour and warmth all the way through.
This novel is truly escapist, where do you like to escape to and relax?
Believe it or not, it’s probably not quite as escapist as it seems! Up in Northumberland castles and teashops like this really exist! But to relax and escape myself, I love to walk my dog, Meg, on the beach, or in the countryside. Bamburgh Beach is one of my favourite places with its stunning castle set on the dunes. (It features in the book, as Joe and Ellie go on a date there.)
A big thank you to Caroline and Harper Impulse! It was pleasure!
Family, friends, food, a glass of bubbly and, of course, a good book make Caroline smile. She loves writing emotional stories about love, loss, betrayal, and family that explore how complex and yet beautiful love can be. She also likes to write romantic comedy, letting the characters have a bit of fun too! Caroline believes in following your dreams, which led her here to Harper Impulse and a publishing deal after many years of writing. Stunning Northumberland is her home – sandy beaches, castles and gorgeous countryside that have inspired her writing.