Earlier this year I read my first Jenny Colgan novel The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris and I ate it up one chocolate treat at a time. I jumped at the chance to join the Sourcebooks Landmark book tour for Colgan’s newest WELCOME TO ROSIE HOPKINS’S SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS a novel with recipes. There were a couple of options and one was author Q & A and at the time I thought that sounded like fun. What was I thinking posing questions to a smart, funny author????
Q: Your cartooning self must love the covers for your books, was that purely by accident or do you have some input in that?
A: I don’t have any input into the covers, I’m always impressed by what the professionals come up with! They know their stuff: it’s a tricky job, covers. I like seeing different covers from round the world. My Japanese ones are amazing. (POOF: I have to go look them up now…I often judge books by their cover.)
Q: Is it difficult for your writer self to flip from genre to genre let’s say from this novel series to Dr. Who?
A: Honestly, no, not really. That sounds big-headed, and I don’t mean it to be, but when I’m working on two different projects, I’ll take a break between them, then it’s kind of like switching channels on the television. I don’t have any control over which project takes up the most head- space though, when I’m out and about. At the moment it’s something I have no time or business writing or even thinking about, which is slightly driving me crazy. (POOF: She definitely knows how to get one’s curiosity up.)
Q: Did the treat novels inspire you to spend more time experimenting in the kitchen or does your time in the kitchen drive the next treat novel?
A: It’s a bit of both really. I go through phases. It was bread, bread, bread for ages, then I got obsessed with making the perfect potato scone! I have to test everything I make in the kitchen first. I will tell you now, if you are tackling the marshmallow in Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, it’s not for the fainthearted. Maybe start with the tablet. (POOF: GASP! This comment about the marshmallow came from a tweet, she remembered. JC is so fun to tweet with, try it @jennycolgan.)
Q: You are lucky that your stand up experience/sense of humor can be expressed in this treat novel series but do you ever get carried away and have an editor reel you back in?
A: Not in my books really because they’re meant to be light-hearted, but often in journalism they’ll just take the jokes out, and I always get a bit cross. If you want someone to write a piece without any jokes, well, loads of people can do that, don’t call me! Ha, now I shall NEVER WORK AGAIN. (POOF: Her sense of humor makes these light but smart novels really special.)
Q: Is Rosie made up in your head or is Rosie inspired by a real or fictional person.
A: She’s made up, but I will say, people who care for the elderly with kindness and patience are absolute heroes. It’s amazing what they do. Caring for a baby is one thing, but looking after older people can be a very tough gig, and they have my admiration. And of course, I’ll be one of them one day if my parents dare to get old. Fortunately they’re refusing to do so at the moment. I would like to think I could approach the job with as much patience as Rosie, but I think that is very, very unlikely.
Q: Do you have something you do on publication day to celebrate? Does it always look the same or is it different?
A: I used to, back in the old days when I only had one book out a year. Now I have more than that, so I just never get round to it. My husband says I’m too prolific to make it special. Then I look all sad and he takes me to Festival de la Mer for dinner.
Q: Can you describe the feeling you get when you receive the first copy of your new published book?
A: Actually the first time you see it out in a shop on display is the real buzz. I’ll be standing in an airport going, ha, this is ME YOU GUYS. I don’t say it out loud though. My dad does, he tells everyone. I’m also an utter optimist: if a book store has loads of copies I’m delighted and if they don’t have any I tell myself they’ve sold out.
Q: Can we expect another treat novel and if so do you have a plan in your mind to end this series and switch to something else?
A: Aha, I can’t tell you at the moment I’m afraid! But lots of cool stuff coming up!
Q: What is the one thing you miss about the process of writing or publication that has changed since you launched your career as a published author?
A: I miss seeing books in the street. I love my e-reader as much as anyone does, it’s great carrying a library in my pocket, but I miss seeing what other people are reading, what looks good or interesting or has a terrific cover. Also I think it’s a bigger loss than just nosiness; I think fewer books around us means books are culturally simply less evident and less a part of our world, and I miss that.
But I am relieved: I used to think once everyone could watch films and play video games wherever they wanted, that would be the end for the book, but actually of course it isn’t: people still read. There’s nothing really quite like that brain- to -brain connection with a writer you like. (POOF: Long live the physical, wonderful smelling gorgeous cover art books!)
Q: What are three things you would tell an aspiring novel writer today?
A: Oh lordy, I don’t know it seems so much harder now. When I started you could have a dud book and still hope to come back from it, but it’s got tougher and tougher out there. On the other hand, there are loads more ways into print- self pub and all of that. So it’s not all bad. I would say don’t censor yourself or try to write for the market- write exactly what you would love to read. And if you’re submitting or self-pubbing, get that proofing right! And number three, the absolute answer to every problem in writing is, in my experience, a very long walk.
Book Synopsis: Rosie Hopkins’s life is…comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn’t seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie’s not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?
Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie’s mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what’s comfortable might not be so great after all.
Author Bio: A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and “Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’s Sweetshop of Dreams”, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.
If you are looking for a fun light novel or a new series be sure to pick up WELCOME TO ROSIE HOPKINS’S SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS or any of her other novels.