I’m delighted to welcome Valerie-Anne Baglietto to the blog today. I have recently read her wonderful Four Sides to Every Story and absolutely loved it.
Four Sides to Every Story is very much a modern-day twist on the classic fairy tale. Castle – check, handsome prince – sort of, damsel in distress – well not distress exactly, fairy godmother – check. Now don’t be put off if you’re not usually into fantasy or magical stories. This is magical but in a plausible way, mystical I would say. Lily Whyte is on a mission to match-make writer Sophie with young widower Sawyer who’s ‘so phwaor’ according to Sophie. Sawyer is step-father to grouchy teen Anthony and young Alexa who still believes in fairy tales and happy ever afters. Despite Lily’s best efforts, after an initial attraction things seem to be cooling off between them but she knows they are meant to be together. “..love does need help on occasion”. I was so charmed by this story as I got to know the characters and really started hoping for the happy endings they so deserved. There are lots of nods to fairy tales throughout the story, some quite obvious, some more subtle. I was almost 3/4 of the way through when I suddenly realised which fairy tale I thought the story was based on. This made the last few chapters even more compelling as I wondered if the story would end in the original way or Disney style. Is there a happy ending? Well of course there is, it’s a fairy tale. But who gets the happy ending and how? Well, you need to read it to find out and I highly recommend you do. Simply enchanting.
Thanks to the author for giving me a copy of her book to review. Four Sides to Every Story was published in June 2015 and is currently only 99p for Kindle. This is an absolute bargain for such a lovely book so go and buy it now! Click here to buy: Four Sides to Every Story
Now read on to get to know Valerie-Anne Baglietto
Thanks for joining me on the blog Valerie-Anne. Would you tell me a little about yourself?
Firstly, thank you for having me here on your blog, and for reading and reviewing FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY.
I currently write as Valerie-Anne Baglietto, which is my maiden name. I wrote my first ‘book’ at the age of four, about a boy whose mother’s nose was incredibly long and spiral-shaped. It’s still a vivid memory. You could say I was self-published, as I folded the sheets of paper and asked an adult to staple them together. Over twenty years later, my first traditionally published novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award. More recently I was shortlisted in the 2015 Love Stories Awards.
I contribute to the Novelistas Ink blog, and live in scenic North Wales. I’m normally hard at work at my desk while the kids are at school. The rest of the time, the desk doubles up as a coffee table in the middle of the lounge.
What inspired you to start writing?
Like my right hand, or my nose, I can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t a part of me. I’ve always made up stories and dreamed up characters. I never considered it unusual, presumably I thought that everyone did it. My parents enjoyed reading to me, and there were always books around the house. As soon as I learned to string a few simple words together, I was pinning them down on paper, wrestling them into basic stories. Fairy tales, I realise now. Imitations of the books on my shelves. Being an only child also had a huge impact, and many of my stories originated in the back of my parents’ car. Without siblings to argue with, or phones or iPads to distract me, I had to keep myself entertained on long journeys. I still love being a passenger for this very reason.
Tell me about your journey to publication.
To be honest, I don’t think of publication as an actual destination. There might be a beginning, a point in your life when you realise this is the career you want – to be a published writer – but be prepared for adventures, obstacles and hair-raising bends up ahead.
For me, the first real adventure was joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association back in 1995 as a probationary member, as we were called back then. A couple of years later I signed with an agent, who helped me with my first four novels (romantic comedies published by Hodder). I took a diversion to bring up three babies and grapple with post natal depression, and by the time I returned to writing I found myself working on adult fairy tales, which my agent (semi-retired by then) said would be hard to place with a traditional publisher. However, she did advise that self-publishing might be a viable option. So ONCE UPON A WINTER came out at the end of 2012, and in 2013 it knocked Tolkien off the top spot in the UK Amazon Fairy Tale chart. Now though, I fancy a detour from magic or comedy for a while, and my more serious side wants a turn at the wheel.
So you see, this career called Writing is an exhilarating, terrifying, irresistible road trip. Every day, I tie a bright silk scarf around my neck, stick on my sunglasses, jump in my convertible* and hit the open road. And that’s just for the school run 😉
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
My most recent release is FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY, the favourite of my grown-up fairy tales so far. It had its first anniversary this summer. In a nutshell, there are four narrators, but not all of them are reliable. One is a young fairy godmother, trying to steer a romance which is veering drastically off course. It’s set very much in the present day, in a picturesque Cheshire village that has its own castle, but there’s the twist of magic and a love story that won’t leave my head – or my heart – because I’ve already filled a notebook with ideas for a sequel. It’s just waiting patiently on the back burner for a while.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
On a train. Which is the same principle as being a passenger in a car. I was staring out of the window, and my husband was reading some psychological thriller with a title that piqued my interest, and I started thinking about catchy titles, playing around with well known phrases but changing them slightly. And suddenly, en route to Cardiff, FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY was born.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I launched the book with the help of the other Novelistas, my local group of fellow writers, founded by bestselling author Trisha Ashley. We seem to indulge in rather a lot of celebration lunches that include cake and champagne. The photos are usually splashed all over social media afterwards, which might be down to the champagne rather than just innocent high spirits. The main thing is, we have fun and promote our books along the way. I popped mini wands and tiaras in the goody bags for FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY’s launch, because a little magic and sparkle seemed appropriate.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Although I’ve got a notebook bursting with ideas for a sequel to FOUR SIDES, I’m currently working on a completely new story. It’s more sprawling, epic and thematic than any of my rom-coms or modern fairy tales. I’m using a pseudonym so I don’t confuse my readers, which is helping to get me in the mood for writing it, too. I seem to take on another identity, and I can be as experimental as I want. Although frankly, I think my ‘voice’ is the same, it’s just the subject matter that might be more ambitious. It’s still at an early stage, though, so I don’t want to say more in case I jinx it!
[You have no idea how pleased I am to hear there’s a potential sequel!]
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
LETTERS TO THE LOST. I absolutely loved it. It’s a great big duvet of a book. I just rolled myself up in it and abandoned myself to the story. Or stories, as it has a dual timeline: World War II and 2011. It’s beautifully written, memorable, evocative, tragic – and yet so uplifting. A wonderfully woven tale by Iona Grey.
What are you reading just now?
I tend to read more than one book at a time, so at the moment they’re THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. I like the books to be completely different, and whichever I choose to read at a particular time is dependent on my mood. I’m finding the former a little depressing, but it’s certainly compelling and sucks you in. I suppose that’s the point.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I like paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks – any books, basically! I mostly read in bed last thing at night, although during the summer holidays I was decadent and read a chapter or two first thing in the morning.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
It would be Sophie, from one of my favourite books, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. She spends most of the story under a wicked witch’s spell as a ninety-year-old woman, but she’s also a witch without realising, and falls in love without realising, and along the way she learns not to be such a mouse and that she’s a powerful individual whose personality is enough to attract the eponymous wizard Howl himself. I quite like the sound of all that, because you know the wicked witch’s spell will be broken eventually, and you know it’s within Sophie’s power to do it. But you also realise that being old can have its advantages, and it doesn’t mean you can’t change people’s lives or that you’ve somehow lost your significance or your place in the world.
*By the way, I do not really own a convertible, in case you were wondering, but ‘sensible, roomy, family car’ didn’t quite fit with the picture I was trying to paint!
From the back of the book
If you found ‘the one’ would you know it straight away, or would you need a little push in the right direction? What if there was someone like Lily Rose Whyte in your life, whose sole aim was to help you? Someone who could jiggle fate and fortune in your favour, without you even realising. And what if you live in a sleepy Cheshire village where nothing much seems to happen, except suddenly one summer, everything does. Your life is turned upside down and inside out. As we all know, love has a habit of doing that.
But hold on. Slow down. Because what if – for once – Lily’s got it wrong? About as wrong as she can get. What would you do then? Don’t worry, though. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and magic doesn’t exist. So, as long as you don’t read this book, and you never meet Lily Rose Whyte, you’re perfectly safe.