I am delighted to welcome Jessica Redland to Jaffareadstoo
💮Jessica, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.
My name’s Jessica Redland and I live in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with my husband, our 14-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old sprocker spaniel called Ella who still thinks she’s a puppy. I’ve nearly always worked in HR, specialising in recruitment and training, but fulfilled my dream of becoming a full-time author last summer.
I’ve always loved reading and English was my favourite subject at school but I’d never thought about writing until I was in my late twenties. My manager at work said my business reports read more like stories and joked that I should write a book. I loved that suggestion but had no ideas for a plot. It was obviously meant to be because something happened to me that felt like the perfect premise and, once I started thinking about that idea in terms of a book, lots more ideas came to mind.
It took me a whopping ten years to write my first book! During that time, I had several major life-events like moving four times, opening and closing a shop, getting married, having a baby, and changing job several times so there were significant chunks of time when I wasn’t writing but I was always thinking about it. I also studied the craft as being good at writing and being good at writing a book are different skills.
I initially secured a publishing deal but the publisher ceased trading after only 18 months which was a blow. I got my rights back and re-released my titles as an indie author but struggled to make an impact so, after a few years, decided to try for another publishing deal. I was fortunate enough to be taken on by Boldwood Books in 2019 and have released edited versions of my backlist through them alongside several new titles.
💮For readers who aren’t familiar with your writing, what can they expect from your novels?
My books are currently set in a fictional seaside town in North Yorkshire called Whitsborough Bay or in Hedgehog Hollow – a hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside.
There is always a romance in my stories but it isn’t always the main focus of the story as I love to explore friendship, family and community too. My stories are uplifting and will usually raise some smiles and even a few laughs, but can be emotional too so some readers may reach for the tissues. I love my characters and will always guarantee them a happy ending.
💮Do you write the type of books you like to read and which authors have influenced you?
Very much so. When I started to write, I was hugely inspired by Jill Mansell and Marian Keyes. I’d read most of their books and I saw myself as an author of romantic comedies.
My writing developed over time and, across subsequent books, I found myself tackling more emotional subjects so, even though there may be some moments of humour, this isn’t something that’s consistent across the books so I wouldn’t call myself a romcom author anymore.
I love to read both types of romantic book and have discovered some amazing new-to-me authors through Boldwood Books as I try to read books from as many of my fellow Boldwood authors as I can.
💮Where do your ideas for your stories come from, and as one book finishes do you already know where the next book will take you?
My ideas come from all over the place. The inspiration for my debut novel – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – came from something that happened to me. I was at a crossroads in my career and my personal life and a friend gave me a gift voucher for a telephone clairvoyant. It’s not really my thing but I decided to give her a call and she told me I was going to move back home, open a shop, and I’d meet the man of my dreams called Steven. I didn’t find my Steven but I did find the plot for a book!
I gave my main character, Sarah, two best friends as I wanted one to support the clairvoyant’s predication and the other to rubbish it. They developed and it became apparent they had stories of their own so I had a trilogy on my hands. Then my original publisher asked me to write a short story linked to the series and I ended up writing a novella. I felt there was more story to tell so I wrote a short novel sequel to that and those two books combined to make the first book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series called Making Wishes at Bay View.
Seaside Blooms is on a cobbled street in Whitsborough Bay called Castle Street and I had ideas for all sorts of businesses on that street. The shop I ran in real-life (which I had been thinking about before the clairvoyant call) was a specialist teddy bear shop and I used that for partial inspiration for All You Need Is Love. I positioned that shop – Bear With Me – on Castle Street opposite Seaside Blooms.
I wanted to write a Christmas story and Castle Street seemed like a great setting for the season as it has old Victorian-style lamp posts and cobbles. Lovely. I wrote Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop and mentioned another shop in that story – Carly’s Cupcakes. Suddenly I knew who Carly was and she had a story to tell. And so did her friend Tara who ran The Chocolate Pot – the café next door – so Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café were born.
The premise for The Secret to Happiness came from a song lyric. The line was, “Wish I could tell you goodbye” and the song was about someone in a bad relationship who couldn’t let go and wanted her boyfriend to let go of her first. I started thinking about what scenarios there may be where someone needed to let go of someone or something and was struggling to do so. I came up with about six and narrowed it down to three very different ones. I wanted the power of friendship to be the trigger to say the goodbyes but it would have been too much of a stretch for three friends to be going through something like that at the same time. I therefore needed three strangers who would be in a situation where friendships would be quickly forged. I’d attended a beach-based bootcamp for several years and intense friendships had formed speedily so I combined those two ideas.
The Hedgehog Hollow series was partly inspired by my auntie who runs a small scale hedgehog rescue operation and an assignment in my MA in Creative Writing where I needed to put a character in an uncomfortable setting. It was only going to be one book but it sprouted wings. Three have already been released and there are plans for two or three more plus a prequel!
💮Tell us about your writing day - are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of coffee and think about it sort of writer?
Eek! No I’m not!
I used to be really disciplined. When I had my day job, my only possible writing time was evenings and weekends so I would knuckle down. Now that I’m writing full-time, it’s easy to get distracted. I spend long hours at my desk but I sometimes don’t spend them constructively so it’s something I’m working on.
I have a routine every morning where I see if I have any new reviews, check chart positions, and see what’s happening in the Top 100 on Kindle as it’s always interesting to see what’s moving at the top of the charts. And then I start work but get far too distracted by social media even though I’m not being particularly constructive with it. Far too often, I find I’m scrolling aimlessly!
It’s not unusual for me to be still at my desk working at 10.30pm and on weekends and I’m very aware of my lack of work:life balance so I’m wanting to get a better routine going where I do a 9 til 6 day and have my evenings free unless I’m at a deadline. Will I manage that? Mmmm. It’s difficult when writing is my job but it’s also the thing I love and would choose to have as my hobby!
💮Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
Lots of them!
My final backlist book – Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop – is out on 3rd August with a fresh edit and several new chapters. It’s the final book in my original 12-book contract with Boldwood Books.
I’ve just finished my second round of edits on book 13 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café. This is the start of a new 12-book deal and is set in a café just outside Whitsborough Bay. It’s out on 31st August and is the start of a trilogy although the story being told in the first book is completely wrapped up in that book.
There’s more to come from my Hedgehog Hollow series with book 4, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – out on 6th January 2022 and the fifth book probably out in the summer.
And finally for fun! 😊
😊 Tell us four essential things every writer needs!
The serious answer: Imagination, resilience, patience, support
The fun answer: a comfy chair for the copious hours sitting at your desk, plenty of chocolate/cake/coffee (depending on what your fix is), a teddy bear to hug when you get negative reviews, and oodles of pretty stationery!
😊 If your life was a book, what would be its title?
Ha ha! What a brilliant question! I’ve had such an amazing year with my writing that I’d probably have to pick something along these lines:
The Girl Who Dared to Dream
When Wishes Come True
Maybe a bit cheesy but this past year has absolutely seen my dreams come true and I have to pinch myself every day to believe it!
😊 If you could be a character in one of your books who would you be, and why?
Such a tricky question! I tend to give them all amazing book boyfriends with whom I fall madly in love so they’re all very lucky, even if they’ve had a bit of a rough ride before that point!
If pushed, I’d probably be torn between Jemma running the teddy bear shop Bear With Me in All You Need Is Love and Samantha running Hedgehog Hollow. But I think Samantha might have the edge because of the setting and the work she does rescuing the hedgehogs. Every time I write a scene set on Thomas’s bench overlooking the wildflower meadow, I have such a sense of peace and tranquillity and long to be there in real life.
Jessica, where can we follow you on social media?
Jessica lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. Her home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets many of her books although the Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous new countryside setting in the Yorkshire Wolds.
She lives with her husband, their teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn't love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to join you as a guest on your fabulous blog, Jo. Really appreciate all the lovely support.
Thank YOU for being such a lovely guest.