This week I’m delighted to welcome author Linda Corbett onto my blog. Linda has chosen the historic West Horsley Place in Surrey as the venue for our book chat, which some readers might recognise as Button House from the TV series Ghosts. Situated half way between Guildford and Leatherhead, West Horsley was owned by the Duchess of Roxburghe for many years. On her death in 2014, she left it to her great-nephew, TV presenter Bamber Gascoigne. It was hearing about this inheritance that gave Linda the inspiration for her latest novel.
Hi Linda, and welcome to my blog.
Thank you for the invitation, it’s lovely to be here!
What’s your latest book called and what is it about?
My latest book, What Would Jane Austen Do? will be published on 16th June. The story begins on the day journalist and Jane Austen fan, Maddy Shaw, loses her job as the love and relationship expert for UpClose magazine, and then discovers she’s inherited an idyllic country house from a long-lost relation. But all is not quite as straightforward as she first thought…
Where do you do your writing?
I’d like to say I have a writing desk in front of a window overlooking some fabulously scenic view, as that sounds far more interesting. The truth is I write everything on my laptop from the comfort of my sofa. Probably better though, as there are fewer distractions!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if you do, what’s your cure?
There was a period during the drafting stage where I did get a bit stuck, and started to doubt what I was writing. There is lots of advice online about the importance of keeping a regular writing routine, not letting yourself getting distracted (impossible when you have guinea pigs!) or giving yourself time off to do other things. What works best for me is chatting with my writing buddies who understand both the thrill and the difficulties of writing a book, and I always come away feeling inspired.
What inspired you to first put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and start writing novels?
Many years ago I wrote a piece for a disability magazine about the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability. It was only intended to be a one-off, but they asked me to write something else, and that turned into a regular column. When the magazine folded ten years later, I felt inspired to try writing a novel. Eight years, five attempted novels and 221 rejections later, I achieved that dream with Love You From A-Z.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I love picking names! I have a notebook where I jot down writing ideas, and I have created a section for interesting names. I add to it when I come across a great name, whether that’s from programme credits off the telly or just something I’ve read in a magazine. I have learned to include an additional step though; in my previous book, Love You From A-Z, my heroine was originally called Jenna Oakley. One day I randomly googled it and found someone by that name who’d recently pleaded guilty to first degree murder. My heroine swiftly became Jenna Oakhurst, and I now google all my character names, just to be on the safe side.
Hollywood comes calling and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Do you sign on the dotted line?
Where’s the pen?! I’ve learnt throughout the publishing process that you have to be flexible and open to change, especially during the development edit stage. Titles can alter, characters and whole chapters can get culled, so I’d be prepared for Hollywood wanting to make their own changes. I can’t deny that the money would come in handy too – Foxy the guinea pig has run up a few vet bills recently!
In a dystopian future you’re only allowed to keep one book from all the books on the shelves in your house. Which one would you choose?
I’d need something calm and comforting to look at, so I’d choose my copy of A Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice. Whilst not attaining the literary standards of Ms Austen’s original version, it has the advantage of some exceptionally cute pictures.
About Linda Corbett
Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was the recipient of the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2020. Linda is a member and former Treasurer of Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability, and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, gardening, or cuddling guinea pigs. What Would Jane Austen Do? is her second published novel.
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It’s a truth often acknowledged that when a journalist and Jane Austen fan girl ends up living near cynical but handsome crime writer, romantic sparks will fly!
When Maddy Shaw is told her Dear Jane column has been cancelled, she has no choice but to look outside of London’s rental market. That is until she’s left an idyllic country home by the black sheep of the family, long-not-so-lost Cousin Nigel. But… she has also inherited the position of chair of the committee for the annual village literary festival, and she has to put up with bestselling crime author – and romance sceptic – Cameron Massey as her new neighbour. When Maddy challenges Cameron to write romantic fiction, which he claims is so easy to do, sparks fly both on and off the page…
Many thanks to Linda for taking part, and if you’re fond of guinea pigs check out her debut novel Love You from A-Z (it features a piggy rescue centre!)