Author Q&A: Alice Ross

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful Alice Ross to the blog, for my author Q&A! Alice Ross is the author of the gorgeous Countryside Dreams series with Carina UK, which includes the recently published A Summer of Secrets. I loved reading Alice's answers and I really hope you do too!

So, without further ado, welcome to Becca's Books, Alice Ross!

First of all, could you introduce yourself to readers?
Thank you for asking me Becca’s Books!  In a nutshell, I’ve been writing for nine years now and since September 2013 I’ve been contracted to Carina UK.

In which genre/genres do you write?
My first four books were humorous Regency romances but for the last five years I’ve been writing fun, modern romps for the chick-lit market.

Tell us about your most recent book, and where can we find it?
It’s called A Summer of Secrets and it’s the second book in my Countryside Dreams series.The story revolves around four different characters – including a window cleaner who gets up to all kinds of tricks with his shammy! Just like An Autumn Affair, the first book in the series, it deals with relationship and family issues – in a light-hearted, touching, unpredictable way – I hope!  The book will be released on 9 May. 
I’m a little bit excited about it.

Are there any particular themes which you try to incorporate within your books?
When I first started writing I focussed purely on the relationship between the hero and heroine. Now I prefer intertwining different characters’ stories which allows me to include a few themes. An Autumn Affair, for example (the first book in the Countryside Dreams series), revolves around three women, each at different stages of their lives, with a unique set of issues to resolve. A Summer of Secrets includes a woman approaching fifty who decides it’s time she started living her life, a thirty-something man who gets an unexpected surprise, a gorgeous aristocrat with financial problems – and last, but certainly not least, the aforementioned window cleaner and his shammy!

How do you hope to make readers feel while reading your books?
Happy!  There are so many bad things happening in the world, I aim to provide a pleasant fleeting distraction. 

If you had to choose three words to describe your most recent book, what would they be?
Fun, sexy, heart-warming. 

When it comes to creating your characters, are they entirely fictional or based on the people you know?
I couldn’t possibly say ;)

How do you choose the settings of your books?
I write about what I love and that is our green and pleasant land.  I adore anything that is quintessentially English, including our fabulous countryside, our amazing stately homes and, of course, our funny British quirks. 

Have you visited any of the areas which you’ve written about?
Countryside Dreams is set in Yorkshire – a gorgeous county which I’ve visited many times and totally love.

Who are some of your favourite authors?
My favourite fiction authors are writers like Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson but only about one-third of what I read is fiction.  Give me a book about any dead monarch – or any fifth-cousin-thrice-removed of any dead monarch - and I’m in seventh heaven.  I actually have The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England by my bed at all times so I can dip in for a quick fix when required.  But don’t tell anybody!

Do you like to plan strategically, or do you let the characters lead the way?
Hmm. This is an interesting one.  I always set out with a rough plan but the final book never ends up anything like it.  I used to beat myself up about not planning better but over the years I’ve relaxed a bit and now go with the flow.   I honestly don’t think I could stick to a rigid plan as when I start writing – as cliched as it sounds – the characters do take on a life of their own and usually end up telling me what they want to do.

If you could sit down and have lunch with any author, who would you choose and why?
David Starkey.  I love all his stuff and am uber-impressed by the amount of research that goes into his books.

Is there a particular part of the writing process which you enjoy more than others?
I love the thrill of coming up with an initial idea but then I find writing the first twenty-thousand words a humongous struggle.  Because of my lack of rigid planning, I usually end up wandering down a couple of avenues which are then promptly relegated to the “Scrap” folder.  Once I’ve tussled my way out of that initial quagmire, though, I get a real buzz out of bringing the characters to life and telling their stories.

When it comes to the cover of a book, how important do you feel they are?
MASSIVELY!  Carina do a superb job with all their covers.  I am completely in love with my Countryside Dreams series.  I may have ordered some frames to put them on the wall at home – but I couldn’t possibly say.

How do you keep track of your writing progress? Do you use daily word goals? Do you aim to get a set number of chapters written?
I try and write about three-thousand words a day.  Some days they come easily – particularly if I’m writing dialogue.  Other days it’s a total struggle.  I also try and edit the book as I go along. 

Tell us the top three books you’ve read so far in 2016.
Absolute top of my list is a STUNNING book by Jandy Nelson called The Sky is Everywhere.  So beautifully written it blew me away.
The Trouble with Goats & Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Music & Monarchy by (guess who) David Starkey

When did your love of writing first begin to blossom?
Unlike the majority of authors, I’d never had a burning desire to write a book.  I used to work in the financial services industry, writing all kinds of scintillating (?) material about pensions and the like.  Fortunately, one day when nobody was looking, I managed to escape, and to make sure they didn’t drag me back, I moved to Spain.  We looked after a holiday-let there and people kept leaving all kinds of books which I subsequently read.  Then it occurred to me one day that perhaps I could write a book too.  So I did.  I locked myself away for about six weeks and rattled off a 100,000 word romance novel.  Not having a clue what I was doing, you had to pick me up off the floor when the first publisher I sent it to, wrote back to say they’d like to publish it in hardback.  That was nine years ago and I’ve since re-edited the book, removing (ah-hem) about twenty-thousand adverbs.  (But don’t tell anybody that either!) 

How did you celebrate your most recent publication day?
In bed with … FLU

What are your thoughts on the book-blogging community?
It’s only this year that I’ve become acquainted with the book-bloggers.  And what a FAB bunch they are.  Up until January, due to time constraints, I’d kept a relatively low profile.  Now having much more time to dedicate to my books, I’ve launched myself into the world of social media – including the book-blogging community.  A whole new universe has opened up – and it’s much more fun than struggling on alone.

Which, if any, other genre would you like to try and write in?
I really enjoyed writing my Regency books so I may revert back at some point.   At the moment I’m very happy with my saucy romps (- writing them, I mea ;)).

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your writing career?
I think it has to be having all of the eight books I’ve ever written published. 

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, tell us a little bit about it.
I’m working on the winter instalment of the Countryside Dreams series.  It’s a new one for me because all of my other books are set in summer time.   It’s due out around October time. 

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right!

What do you class as a successful writing day?
When I’ve had a Eureka moment good idea, achieved my word target and switched off the laptop with lots of leads jotted down about where to pick up the story the next day. 

Writing in an apartment in New York City or writing in a cottage in the English countryside?
English countryside.

Writing with a cup of tea or writing with a cup of coffee?
Gin!  Only joking.  I don’t drink tea or coffee but I try and guzzle loads of water. 

Writing with a sandwich or writing with a cupcake?
I’d love to say a bazillion chocolate cupcakes but because I’d wolf them all down in five minutes I won’t have anything like that in the house.  I try and be good and just nibble on fruit – honestly!

Writing with music or writing in silence?
Total and utter silence.

Writing outside in the sunshine or writing inside as the snow falls?

And lastly, if someone told you that they wanted to be a writer, what would you tell them?
Beware!  Contrary to popular opinion, there’s very little that’s glitzy or glamorous about the profession.  It’s a hard slog and a bit of a roller-coaster as you ride the ups – the publishing deal, the good reviews – and the bads – the many moments of self-doubt, and the scathing reviews. But there’s something about seeing your name on that cover and looking back at all those words you’ve conjured up from nowhere, that makes it all worthwhile.

About the Author
Alice Ross used to work in the financial services industry where she wrote riveting, enthralling brochures about pensions and ISAs that everyone read avidly and no one ever put straight into the bin. 

One day, when nobody was looking, she managed to escape. Dragging her personal chef (aka her husband) along with her, she headed to Spain, where she began writing witty, sexy, romps designed to amuse slightly more than pension brochures. 

Missing Blighty (including the weather - but don't tell anyone), she returned five years later and now works part-time in the tourism industry. 

When not writing, she can be found scratching out a tune on her violin, walking her dog in wellies two sizes too big (don't ask!), or standing on her head in a yoga pose.

You can find Alice Ross on Facebook | Twitter


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