Stepping into the spotlight today is Joanna Cates who is chatting about her debut novel Love Is Crystal Clear. Thanks for joining me Joanna. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I am 52 years old and married to a kind and loving man and we have four amazing children in their late teens/early twenties. I have lived in Kent, England all my life and work as an accountant although I have always aspired to do something more creative. Like my character Henrietta in ‘Love is Crystal Clear,’ I have explored various hobbies, such as photography and staying healthy. For as long as I can remember, I have loved reading fiction books. My late mother introduced me to books written by Catherine Cookson and Stephen King when I was a teenager and from then on, I was hooked on reading.
What inspired you to start writing?
Two years ago, I was drawn to writing my memoirs and started to do so when I visited my best friend in Perth, Australia. This didn’t amount to anything as I felt that perhaps my future grandchildren wouldn’t want to know what their grandmother got up to in her youth. When the country first went into lockdown in March last year, my friend suggested I join an online group that promoted self-love and confidence. I was also curious to find out how different phases of the moon affected our lives. One of the things I was encouraged to do was write a journal, not necessarily daily, but as and when I was drawn to doing so. I found this process extremely beneficial and insightful and I was able to address buried issues and emotions that I had carried around for many years. I am a control freak, and now I know why.
One morning in July, my life changed. The buzz and excitement I felt was exhilarating; I swapped my notepad for a computer keyboard and began to write ‘Love is Crystal Clear.’
Tell me about your journey to publication.
Once I had completed my novel, I explored my options with regards to getting it published. I initially reached out to a self-publishing company and was quite drawn to the package that was on offer. However, I had my doubts…to me, one of the most important things I needed was to find an editor who could help me produce a book that was both professional and one I could be proud of. My search engine led me to Harmony Kent, an award-winning Indie author who has written multi genre books, along with offering editing and book formatting services.
My son put me in touch with Dan Graham of Aluses Graphics who designed my book cover. Mid-December, I published Love is Crystal Clear via Kindle Direct Publishing and was over the moon, when I took delivery of the first printed copies just before Christmas.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
Henrietta Green is a 50-year-old single woman, and a divorcee of fifteen years, is always looking for a new hobby, but never love. She finished with all that nonsense years ago. Danny Brown has just moved back from Portugal with his life in pieces after discovering his marriage was a sham. Can this fresh start help put his life back together? When Henri and Danny bump into each other on a night out, sparks fly, but can they risk getting their hearts broken again? Cupid’s Helpers think they can!
‘Love is Crystal Clear’ proves that the deepest, most meaningful love can often be found in the unlikeliest of places. Readers will find themselves embroiled in the life of a 50-year-old divorcee and a man picking up the pieces of a sham marriage, as cupid’s helpers’ step in to try and craft a happy ending. It’s a contemporary romance novel that’s both spellbinding and saucy – as fiction and a good old-fashioned love story weave together. It perfectly mimics the real world, as two people find themselves falling for each other amid adversity. But can those around them write the fairy-tale story everyone wants to relish in?
I have addressed matters such as the menopause, self-confidence, self-pleasure, and friendships, throughout the book, in a light-hearted fashion that will resonate with many women of a similar age.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The heroine of the story, Henrietta Green, decided to research into the benefit of crystals and how they can be used around the house. I won’t mention what she stumbled across…
The title, ‘Love is Crystal Clear’ complimented the story.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I had a quiet celebration with my family at home because we were in lockdown. But as soon as I can, I will be throwing a book ‘already launched’ party with my friends as we love any excuse for a girls’ night out.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I am now working on book 2 of the trilogy ‘A Balancing Kind of Love’ which follows the story of 40-year-old Kirsty Young, who is best friends with Henrietta Green. Kirsty has reached a point in her life where she wants to settle down…perhaps start a family. However, she can’t seem to attract the right kind of man.
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
I would recommend Riders by Jilly Cooper. This is book one in the Rutshire Chronicles and there are another ten to read in the series. They are written over three decades and I have grown up with the characters. Jilly Cooper is such a talented writer, and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters, especially Rupert Campbell-Black.
What are you reading just now?
I’m reading Only When it’s Love by Olivia Spring. Her sequel, When’s the Wedding is due to be released in March and I am a big fan of books that are in a series. I first came across Oliva Spring when I read her book Love Offline.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
The debut novel by Australian author Melanie Dufty, called I am Lilith. It’s so beautifully written and I am only part way through it but have had to set aside and read something that is more of an easier read. I want to give it the attention is deserves, but my mind is so preoccupied. It doesn’t help that I am also going through the menopause and have a bit of a foggy brain at times. I plan to finish it whilst I am sat by the pool as soon as we can travel or perhaps when I am stranded on a desert island.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
Apart from my own, as I like to think of it as Bridget Jones going through the menopause genre, I would love to see Nick Spalding’s ‘Bricking It’ made into a film. I’m a big fan of his work, and this book especially has all the makings of a great British comedy romance.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by subscribing to my Blog and newsletter on my website (all links listed on Linktree below)
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
By day, I would be Stephanie Plum, the bounty hunter written by Janet Evanovich and by night I would be Pam Ravenscroft, from the Sookie Stackhouse series written by Charlaine Harris. Both characters are strong female role models and get up to all sorts of mischief.
Love Is Crystal Clear is available now in ebook and paperback formats – order your copy here