Author interview with Karen Aldous

I am absolutely delighted to have the fabulous Karen Aldous, author of The Vineyard, here on Becca's Books today. I have read and fallen in love with Karen's debut novel The Vineyard, and I was dying to ask Karen all about it, so of course I did! 

~ Karen Aldous ~


1.) Karen, when did the idea of becoming a writer first come to you? Have you known for a long time what you wanted to do? How long did it take you to write The Vineyard? 

I think I had some idea at school. I knew I wanted to travel and write but it was in my late teens working in London and I was reading a book on the train and thinking, I could write this better and, of course, I couldn't. So I did start a novel and that was when the idea was born. The Vineyard was in my head for a few years, in several guises, it was January 2012 when I seriously made up my mind to get it written. My own mother going through chemo and it made me realise how limited our time really is. I sent it to a publisher eighteen months later. 

2.) How long was the planning process for The Vineyard? Did it take you a long time to figure out your characters, their characteristics and settings? What was your favourite part about bringing The Vineyard to life? 

I suppose the bulk of planning was when it was in my head all that time and the main characters Lizzie, Caroline, Thierry and Cal, even Sophie. The core was there so when I got on the RNA NWS, I also joined a local writing class, The Write Place, where I began planning scenes and characters etc. in more detail and once I found my voice, I also grew more confident. The settings were definitely inspired by my travels to Provence and Cannes and, in my own village. We walk out to a valley close to us which inspired the Kent vineyard. And, in my dreams, I would love to own one! 

My favourite part of bringing the novel to life was in the editing. Once my lovely editor had run her expert eye over it, and I'd made a few changes here and there, it felt great. 

3.) Did you send The Vineyard out to many publishers once you had finished? I've never been 100% on how it all works, but I'm guessing Carina UK snapped you up straight away? How did you find out that The Vineyard was going to be published? 

I wrote the first three chapters and a synopsis and sent it to a few competitions the first year and it was from one of those I was asked if I would like a one-to-one with an editor. Of course, I did. The Editor asked me to send it in once completed which I did and six weeks later, I got 'the call'. I've been really lucky. Carina UK was the first publisher I sent it to. 

4.) The relationship between two of your characters, Lizzie and her mother Caroline, was a bumpy one at times. You opened the story exceptionally well, hooking me right away with the uneasy feeling that Lizzie had as she arrived at her mother's home. Do you have any personal experience of there being a gap between mother and daughter? 

Yes, it was a rather stormy beginning. I thought Lizzie was awful to her mother but as a parent herself, I wanted her to develop as a person so I thought the challenges a single mother has to face, such as making important decisions for themselves, Lizzie was the ideal character. She had to find her own way. I've not experienced it myself but know some single parents. As for my personal experience, my mother and I did go through a bumpy patch when I was a teenager but probably like most people I suppose I could relate to their misunderstanding of one another. 

5.) The story kind of jumps between England and France, which I adored! Was it fun writing the settings for these two places? 

So much fun, escaping to your favourite places physically and mentally. It's my idea of bliss. 

6.) Could you tell me some of the main themes that are included in The Vineyard? Were there any hidden messages at all? 

I'd like to turn this question back to you - what messages did you get? The main themes are betrayal, mistrust and fear. Lizzie imagined her mother would react badly because that was the behaviour she had learned when she did things wrong. She did the same with Cal. Because she had been cheated. She had difficulty trusting his motivation. Sometimes, insecurities have a way of eating into you. My main message was for women to stay strong no matter what life throws your way - the rewards can be exponential! 

7.) I understand the writing process can be difficult at times. Were there any moments when you wanted to give up? What would normally get you motivated when it comes to writing? 

Not whilst I was writing it. Weirdly, it was a week or two before I got 'the call'. I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and, I had begun planning my second novel, and for a couple of days I kept asking myself - do you seriously think your writing is good enough! Writing is a heavy investment in time and I'm sure many writers ask themselves the same question! Yes, I soon recovered! 

8.) Were any parts of The Vineyard based on your own true-life experiences? 

Intrinsically, probably. I don't think any writer can create a work which doesn't have parts of them in there. But, my love of travel. Being a mother, raising children, having grandchildren around. Even before I knew my mother had breast cancer, my character had it. I would have loved my mum to have had the same outcome as Caroline but sadly, she died last July, so I could really feel the pain that the disease has and how it can impact all those close. 

9.) Are there any writers out there that you would consider as a mentor? Are there any that influence you in your own writing style? 

There's not a mentor as such but certainly influences from many writers. 

10.) Are you working on anything at the moment? Could you share a little bit with us? 

I'm working on my next novel which is another contemporary romance. It's set in London and on the stunning Swiss Riviera.  

11.) Would you say that there are any similarities between yourself and Lizzie? 

I would say we are both very determined women with a high degree of determination to succeed and enjoy family life. 

12.) Do you see yourself still writing in five years time? 

I hope so, yes. As long as readers want to read, I will write. I've wanted this for a long time and there's nothing I'd like more than to spend the rest of my life writing! I will always want to improve my writing too, so that in itself is my challenge! 

13.) Karen, do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Any tips to give them? 

Simply, finish the novel! Once you have the first draft, you will be surprised what you have created and then, work to improve it. And so on... 

***

Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! It's been brilliant having you here on Becca's Books :) 




(Buying links included with review!)





  





3 comments :

  1. Great interview! I'm currently reading the book and am loving it!

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  2. Aurwh, Lavender! Your comments always make me smile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! xxx

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  3. Fabulous news Lavender! So pleased you're enjoying it!!!

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