ChocLit is one of my favourite publishers of romantic fiction but they publish so many lovely sounding books that I just can’t fit in reading them all! by Gina Holland is a book I really liked the sound of so I asked the author Gina Holland if she’d like to tell me a bit more about herself and her book.
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
That’s surprisingly difficult! 😀
Although from Yorkshire originally, I now live in Sussex with my husband and young son. When I’m not working (I’m a commercial director for a marketing agency), then I’m writing, and when I’m not writing, I’m dancing. I love all types of dancing from salsa to lindy hop. There’s nothing I love more than getting my vintage glad rags on, on a Sunday afternoon, and heading to a 1940s inspired tea dance with my hair in a victory roll!
I also love reading (obviously!) and for a treat really enjoy a night out at the theatre.
What inspired you to start writing?
When my son was a toddler (like I didn’t have enough to do!) I thought I’d give writing a go. I’d been an obsessive reader since childhood but had never tried fiction writing myself. I saw a documentary on TV about a writing retreat in Tuscany held by hugely successfully Mills&Boon writer, Sharon Kendrick. I had an ‘Oh, sod it’ moment, and booked myself on the course. The following year I flew out there and decided I was going to go for it – I was going to write a book.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I made my first submission to a publisher in 2013. Seven partial manuscripts and just as many submissions – and rejections – later, I got my first deal, which was with US-based publisher, The Wild Rose Press, who were brilliant – really encouraging and so professional. I published one romance novel and three erotic novellas with them between 2017 and 2019.
What can I say – writing and publishing is not for the faint-hearted. Chances are, you’ll experience a lot of disappointments along the way. Even after I had my first success, I went on to have many more rejections – it isn’t a case that you’ve made it just because you’ve had one book published. For me, it’s worth it though. I love the challenge of keeping going, and I always believe the next success is just around the corner.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Little Village of Second Chances is a modern-day romance. While it isn’t afraid to tackle some difficult issues – both the hero and heroine, Shay and Sarah, have had tough times – there are lots of funny and touching moments. My main message with the book is that, no matter what has happened in someone’s life, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
Sarah Pickering is sent by her company to the picturesque village of Wetherstone-by-Ouse to convince the villagers to sell up their houses so a new road can be built. Reclusive local flower farmer, Shay McGillan, has no intention of moving. His farm offers him the solace and purpose he needs after his turbulent past. The last thing Sarah and Shay expect is to be drawn to one another, but then you can’t control who you fall in love with.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The book first started out as ‘A Family for the Hero’, as Shay is an ex-firefighter. However, I really wanted to bring the village aspect into the title as the setting is so important to the story and, I feel, creates the whole atmosphere. ‘Second Chances’ being the crux of the story also warranted its place on the front page. Everyone goes through difficult periods in their life, and I think it’s reassuring to be reminded that they don’t last forever. There’s something rather romantic about the thought of a little village somewhere in the depths of Yorkshire that offers its residents a second chance at love and happiness.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
Ha ha! I’ll be working (I’m writing this prior to publication day). I work full-time so I’ll be at my computer working through social media posts and press releases. I’ll be at home as we’re still in partial lockdown, with my son doing his schoolwork at the kitchen table. Not exactly the glamorous author lifestyle I envisaged, but I’m very grateful I’ve managed to stay working during this time and that everyone in my family is safe and well.
If the weather’s nice, we might pop down to Worthing seafront in the evening to celebrate with fish and chips on the beach and a cocktail in a paper cup 😊
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I always have a WIP! I’m currently in the plotting stage of my new book, which is a romcom set in Worthing. When I’m researching my characters, I really go to town with creating Pinterest boards. I like to get everything about them clear in my mind before I start writing, from their hairstyle to their wardrobe. This is going to sound weird, but while I’m writing a book, I even dress like my heroine, so I can really get into her head. I’ve even been known to cut off all my hair and dye it so I look like my character – told you it was weird! I’d challenge any writer to try it, though. It’s amazing how everything about a story becomes clear once you become your character. I’ve so far drawn the line at trying to look like my heroes. I don’t think a beard would suit me!
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
For Christmas my Mum bought me The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. It’s a murder mystery set in a hunting lodge in Scotland and I thought it was excellent. It’s a chunky one but I read it over a few days while I was on a skiing holiday in Norway. Well, I was meant to be skiing but broke my wrist two days before we flew out, so I spent every day writing and reading.
I’ve now got Lucy’s newest book, The Guest List, in my Audible list and am looking forward to that.
What are you reading just now?
I always have two books on the go – one which I read and one which I listen to on Audible. I’ve just finished A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn. I love her books and have read all of them bar one, which I fully intend to get hold of.
The other was a warms-your-heart-romance entitled ‘Verliebt in den Sexy Millionaer’ by US author, Harmony Evans (Winning her Forever in English). I did German at university and reading in the language helps me to remember it.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Be a Freerange Human by Marianne Cantwell. I’ve read this through at least three times and know I’ll read it again. It’s full of great ideas and inspirational stories, encouraging you to be your own person.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
I expect everyone says one of their own books and that’s the honest answer, of course 😀 I can imagine it must be fascinating to see how a film producer interprets the characters you’ve created
Unlike a lot of book lovers, I’m not precious about them becoming films. There are actually (dare I say this…) a few films I’ve seen based on books and I’ve liked the films more. It must be quite a skill to turn a complex manuscript into a 2-hour spectacle on the big screen.
There are a few book series I’ve read and am surprised no-one’s yet picked them up for the TV. That includes the Cherringham cosy crime series by Matt Costello and Neil Richards, and Cotswold Mysteries by Rebecca Tope (unless they have and I just haven’t seen them).
Some of my all-time-favourite, could watch a million times, films that have come from books is the Hannah Swensen series written by Joanna Fluke. They’re about a woman in a small town in America who runs a bakery/café and solves mysteries. There are no words for how much I love these movies. I also really enjoyed watching Agatha Raisin on the TV played by Ashley Jensen. She was nothing at all like how Agatha was portrayed by M.C. Beaton but it actually didn’t matter – I loved every episode and have seen them all.
Oh my goodness. I love talking about books. I could talk about them all day!
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’ve got them all!
I have a website and blog at www.ginahollands.com
I can be contacted there or through my social channels:
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I’d be Olivia Joules in Helen Fielding’s Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination. It’s an old one, but when I heard Helen Fielding, creator of Bridget Jones, was bringing out a new book, I rushed to the bookshop to get it, even spending a fortune on the hardback version. I loved Olivia’s glamour and confidence, so I’d be her.
From the back of the book – Little Village of Second Chances
Surely everyone deserves a second chance?
Ex-fireman and edible flower farmer Shay McGillen has plenty of reasons not to give Sarah Pickering even one chance when she turns up in his small Yorkshire village. After all, she is only there to try and convince him and his fellow villagers to sell up so her company can build a bypass. If Sarah thinks she can make Shay give up his farmhouse and his business, she has another thing coming!
But when an unexpected blizzard leaves Sarah stranded in Shay’s home, he soon realises that they are far more alike than he could have ever imagined – and perhaps both of them deserve a second chance