An EXCLUSIVE AUTHORLINK interview with Katie Fforde
A Springtime Affair (Century, 20 February 2020)
Sunday Times bestselling author, Katie Fforde is a successful British romance novelist who has been published since 1995. She is founder of the Katie Fforde Bursary for writers who have yet to secure a publishing contract. Each of her books explores a different profession or background and her research has helped her bring these to life.
A Springtime Affair is about a mother and daughter. They have their separate stories but because they are so close, their stories are interlinked. It asks the question, do daughters look out for their mothers as much as their mothers look out for them?
AUTHORLINK: Ms Fforde, thank you for spending time with Authorlink today to talk about your latest novel, A Springtime Affair, and your writing process in general. This is your 27th novel and, with an additional three anthologies to date, you have been quite busy! What an accomplishment.
“… they say if you love what you do, you never do a day’s work.”
FFORDE: Thank you so much! I do like to keep at my work and don’t take much time off, but they say if you love what you do, you never do a day’s work.
AUTHORLINK: Yes! You once said, and we believe this rings true today, that, “Romantic fiction must, of course, change and adapt with the times, but the genre itself will never die.” What most people want in this life is to fall in love and to be loved in return. There is nothing better than reading about others experiences of it, albeit make-believe experience. Romantic fiction, with its guaranteed happy ending, offers a delightful haven from the sometime bothers of everyday life. This is where A Springtime Affair, and all your books, are so wonderful and perfect for summer!
What we particularly love about your books, apart from their cheery uniform covers, is the diversity of the age groups of your main characters and the interesting and irregular professions they might have; like in A Springtime Affair, the main characters, Helena is a talented weaver and her mother Gilly, runs a charming B and B.
Is there any other genre you would like to try your hand at? How much time do you spend on research and how much do you spend on writing? For instance, how many words per day do you like to accomplish in your first draft?
FFORDE: I do love writing the sort of books I write, although I do enjoy thrillers and cosy crime. However, I don’t think I could work out the plots for a thriller or crime novel.
AUTHORLINK: We understand you only realised you wanted to write when you were 27 (you always felt your sister was the writer in the family, author, Jane Gordon-Cumming), but did not start until you were 32 when mother gave you a writing kit one year for Christmas. Even though you had three small children at the time, you finally sat down and gave it a try. It was eight years before you then found a publisher and ten before a book appeared on a shelf. So, were you 42 when you had your first book published? What advice would you give to aspiring writers, especially now during this self-publishing/self-marketing era of publishing?
FFORDE: The advice I would give to aspiring writers is to persevere, never give up, and use everything you read and write as part of the learning experience. I tried so hard to become a Mills and Boon writer and it took 8 attempts before I accepted defeat, but I learned so much from the process. I learnt that you must keep the pages turning. you can’t have a character in the book only for comic- effect, and that every scene, every conversation, must keep the story moving along. If you’re self-publishing, use a professional editor, accept the process is very time consuming, and do it thoroughly, if you’re going to do it at all.
AUTHORLINK: That’s great advice for our readers! Thank you. You once said you are “quite dyslexic” and for that reason, never saw yourself as a writer. How difficult was it to push through the challenges of Dyslexia? What type of Dyslexia do you have?
FFORDE: I think I am only slightly dyslexic as once I finally learned to read, I did it quite fluently. That said, I don’t read thoroughly. I see a word I recognise and think, ‘oh, that’s that word,’ but I don’t look at it properly unless I have to. I will never know if a word ends with an ‘le’ or an ‘el’ and foreign words are a struggle unless I concentrate. It runs in my family quite strongly!
AUTHORLINK: You are an inspiration! Your initial readers were your mother and your sister. Who are your first readers now? How many times do you go over your manuscript before you show your first readers?
FFORDE: I don’t really have first readers as such, I send everything to my editor first.
AUTHORLINK: We suppose after 27-28 novels, he or she know best! You always give credit to the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) as helping you to get started and The New Writers’ Scheme. In fact, you wanted to give something back by chairing the RNA over the years and creating a ‘Katie Fforde Bursary’ for unpublished authors. People can find out more about the Romantic Novelists’ Association at www.rna-uk.org. Which new authors have been helped by your generosity? Do any of your children or grandchildren want to become writers?
FFORDE: People from the RNA who have benefited from my Katie Fforde Bursary are, Jo Thomas, Sue Moorcroft, Catherine Miller, Pia Tapper Fenton, and Henriette Gyland – these are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. They are all well published now.
AUTHORLINK: Brilliant! They must be eternally grateful. How did you find your first agent? Do you still have them today? Are you with the same publisher with whom you started?
“I was lucky. My first agent was found for me by a scout…”
FFORDE: I was lucky. My first agent was found for me by a scout, who was part of The Romantic Novelists Association. She saw one of my unpublished novels and felt I had something, and sent it, without telling me, to an agent. That particular agent has since retired, but I am still with the agency. They have been brilliant. I’m not with the same publishers really, although I started with Penguin, then moved to Random House but as they have become one, I suppose I am still with the same one!
AUTHORLINK: Yes, rather a full circle. Do you suffer from any anxiety or lack of confidence about your books? Is it difficult for you to receive constructive criticism from readers or editors?
“I always suffer from a lack of confidence about my books!”
FFORDE: I always suffer from a lack of confidence about my books! It takes a lot of people to love a new book before I feel I can hold my head up about it. It gets worse with every book!
AUTHORLINK: That is remarkable considering your success. Which of your books do you think would translate well into film? It would be so great to see them turned into movies. Perhaps the Hallmark channel can come knocking one day! Have you had any offers for production?
FFORDE: Many years ago, I had a few offers, but sadly, none of them ever got off the ground. I’d love to see them as a film. A Springtime Affair would be a good one as it doesn’t have too many locations.
AUTHORLINK: We agree. Your grandfather was Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Alexander Gordon Gordon-Cumming, 4th Baronet (20 July 1848 – 20 May 1930). Have there been any titbits of what really happened at the ‘royal baccarat scandal of 1891′ whispered down over the years, that the family have learned, and are you able to divulge them? 😊
FFORDE: As a family we are all convinced that my grandfather didn’t cheat at cards, but honestly, I don’t know! He was an honourable man, which makes it unlikely he cheated, but he was also a bit of a practical joker. So, maybe he did!
AUTHORLINK: Ha ha ha! Fascinating! We understand one of your favourite writers is Kate Saunders. Can you name your top three books and whose writing really appeals to you?
FFORDE: I am a big fan of Kate Riordan, Kate Atkinson, and Jill Mansel.
AUTHORLINK: Us too! For fun, if you could have anyone alive or dead over for dinner, who would you invite and why?
FFORDE: I’d really like to meet my grandfather – I could ask him if he cheated at cards!
AUTHORLINK: Brilliant! What are you working on right now? Are you able to tell us about it?
” I’m working on my 29th novel, I think. It is a little bit different…”
FFORDE: I’m working on my 29th novel, I think. It is a little bit different because it’s set in the 60’s. It’s a new challenge and I’m really enjoying it.
AUTHORLINK: Sounds great! We’re looking forward to reading it. We had such a lovely time chatting to you today, Ms Fforde! Thank you for your time. We wish your continued success and look forward to your next novel. All the best!
FFORDE: You’re very kind. Thank you so much. You’ve asked me some very interesting questions.
AUTHORLINK: Our pleasure!
About the Author: Sunday Times Best Selling author, Katie Fforde writes women’s fiction, with an upbeat feel, perfect for readers who need a bit of escapism. She likes to think her characters and their situations are realistic however, although there is always a happy ending.
Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart.