Claudia Carroll talks about wedding horror stories and quickie divorces and shares a sneak peek at how her next novel begins.
How would you describe Love Me or Leave Me in five words?
It’s a story about life beyond the altar rails. Oops, I think I went over the 5-word minimum, sorry!
What inspired you to write this story?
Well, I stumbled on an article about a hotelier in the Netherlands who happened to be going through a divorce. He was stunned at how long and dragged out the whole process was and thought, hang on, you could actually agree a divorce settlement in a weekend, that’s all it should take and no longer. So – and this is a true story, by the way – he opened up the world’s first divorce hotel and it took off from day one. The idea is you check in married and check out single … so of course, when I read that, I was instantly hooked!
What do you love most about your heroine, Chloe?
I loved writing the character of Chloe Townsend because she’s really been through the emotional wringer in life. She was left at the altar in the most publicly humiliating way imaginable and yet can still pick herself up and hold faith that her life will turn around. I adore characters like that; they’re life’s great survivors.
What did you have most fun with whilst writing this story?
Ooh that’s an easy question! I love the whole process of developing a book from start to finished book, but with Love Me or Leave Me, the research was such fun. I was astonished how may stories I unearthed about disastrous weddings. It seems that there are far more wedding horror stories out there than wonderfully magical occasions. I was stunned!
What was the biggest challenge in writing this story?
Hmm. I think because I told the story from four different bride’s viewpoint, it was vitally important to me to make sure each of my heroines, Dawn, Jo, Lucy and Chloe, spoke in a totally different voice. After all they’re utterly different women of all ages and that was a great challenge for me, plotting and dissecting their marriages and figuring out where they went from the altar onward and a joy to write.
Who will be the first person you give a copy of the book to?
Always my lovely and very talented editor, Eleanor Dryden at Avon HarperCollins. I’m blessed to be working with her, she has the most incredibly discerning eye.
How will you celebrate its launch?
With a large glass of the attached Pinot Grigot!
And finally, what’s next for you?
I’m currently editing my new book, to be published in 2015. Our working title is Would I Lie to You? And it’s about catfish … the internet kind, not the kind that swim!
Ok, so here’s a sneak peek at the opening paragraph…but I’m not giving any more away…
Exactly 8pm on a Saturday night and here I am. Sitting all alone at a table for two in Fade St. Social, only one of the swishiest restaurants in town, primped and preened to within an inch of my life.
Peppering with nervous tension of course, but we’ll come back to that.
It’s a perfect table too; if I’d planned it, I couldn’t have chosen any better. I’m right in the middle of the restaurant at a gorgeous table facing the door, so that every time it opens, I get a clear view of exactly who’s just arrived. And more importantly, so that when my date gets here, he can’t miss me.
Can he? I think, a tad anxiously.
No, course he can’t.
Now there is there’s the slight-ish concern that he hasn’t a clue what I look like in the flesh, or I him. But then we did exchange photos via the Two’s Company website and although mine is a slight bit of a cheat – taken ten years ago at twilight and with the light behind me so as to minimize the wrinkles, and come on, who of us hasn’t done it? Point is though, if his photo is even halfway accurate, then I’m seriously onto a winner here.
* * *
‘Welcome to the Hope Street Hotel – where you check in married, and check out single.’
Two years ago Chloe Townsend was dumped at the altar and had to leave behind everything that mattered to her. Even now she’s finding it hard to move forward. That is until she lands an incredible job, running a brand-new boutique hotel. Suddenly she’s starting to put her life back together, and, apart from the fact that her hard-to-please new boss is breathing down her neck, things are looking good. But what goes on in the Hope Street Hotel is a far cry from anything she’s ever dealt with before. This is a pioneering ‘divorce hotel’ designed to make every aspect of breaking up efficient and pain-free. In one single weekend, Chloe’s team promises to take care of everything – legal, technical, emotional – and guests check out carefree and single.
No one is better qualified than Chloe to understand what couples need when their relationship is at breaking point, but she soon finds herself having to tackle the heartbreak she’s tried to bury. In particular three couples need her help – Jo and Dave, Lucy and Andrew, and Kirk and Dawn – and the opening weekend is full of revelation, trouble, memories happy and sad, facts that need facing as well as some very big surprises. It’s time to move on. And for Chloe, as well as for the couples in her care, it becomes clear that some endings are in fact very exciting new beginnings …
Claudia Carroll was born in Dublin and is a graduate of UCD, the College of Music and of the Gaiety School of Acting. She played Nicola Prendergast in the long-running Dublin soap opera, Fair City, before becoming a best-selling author of novels including He Loves Me … He Loves Me Not, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? and A Very Accidental Love Story.