Alice Peterson shares the books that hold a special place in her heart.
Can you tell us a bit about:
The book you’ve just written
It’s a story about love – the love of grandparents raising their grandchildren when the unthinkable happens and they lose their daughter; it’s the love a single mother has for her 11-year-old daughter; the complicated love between a brother and sister; the scar of a past love; falling in love again with someone you shouldn’t fall in love with, office romance and love… and so much more! Really it’s about the things we do for someone when we love that person.
The book is set mainly in two places: an estate agent’s office in central London, and my character’s childhood home in Cornwall, by the sea. All my books are deeply romantic and will always be filled with complicated love stories…
The book you’ve written that means the most to you
They all mean a lot to me in different ways, but if I had to choose, it’s probably my first, ‘Another Alice’ – the story of my professional tennis career shortened at 18 when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I wrote it very much as a story, in the ‘moment’ – not as a biography but more a drama, that starts off when I am 12 years old and picking up a tennis racket for the first time, and finishing when I am a twenty something and have become a writer. It reads more like a personal intimate diary so is obviously very close to my heart. I chose this book because all my novels that have followed are very much influenced by my personal story. My dark times with RA, along with the very happy times, have made me observe life in a different way and it’s this that shapes my storylines.
The book you’ve written that was the biggest challenge
‘By My Side’. I wrote it many years ago, but many publishers rejected it. I didn’t want to give up on the book, so tucked it away, hoping ‘one day’. Then three or four years later I worked on it again and ‘one day’ happened. It was published in 2013. I don’t think I have ever invested so much emotionally into a book. It’s another love story, but this time the heroine, Cass, is in a wheelchair and one of the main characters is an assistant dog called Ticket. When Ticket shows Cass that her life is worth living, even if it’s a different life, all kinds of things open up to her again, including meeting someone on the skiing slopes in Colorado. It is my most challenging book in that I had to do a lot of research, although that is no hardship – I love this side of my job. But the volume of research along with the heartache of many rejections, and the time it took for By My Side to get published has made it my biggest challenge yet. It’s often compared to Jojo Moye’s ‘Me Before You’ in the way it is a very emotional read.
The book that made you want to be a writer
No book actually made me want to be a writer. Circumstances made me one… Although I do remember being mesmerized by Dad reading Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’. I know this isn’t the question but it was a person who truly inspired me to be a writer rather than a book too – my first cousin and author, Bella Pollen.
The book that you turn to for comfort
I often reread ‘Jane Eyre’. I never get tired of the story. I love all the themes of love, courage, adversity and hope.
The book that makes you cry
The last book that really made me cry was ‘The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ – I just loved that book.
The book that you’ve enjoyed most this year
I found ‘The Book Of You’ by Claire Kendal very spooky and compelling. My friend told me I was pulling such funny expressions reading it -horror, fear, smiling, gasping…
The book you’re working on now
It’s a novel inspired by a true story. It’s the kind of story I have dreamt of writing and all I can say is I’m glad I have experience behind me because this book deserves to be as fantastic as the subject I am writing about.
Love may hurt, but not loving hurts even more…
January Wild loves her daughter, her dog Spud and her childhood home by the sea. Single parenting is tough, but January has no regrets. She has a job she loves, a happy home, and the support of her beloved grandfather. The arrival of a new boss, however, threatens to shake up January’s safe world.
Ward Metcalfe loves great sales results and a well-run office. Everyone at her office agrees: Ward is a soulless, corporate slave driver. Even Spud, the company mascot, dislikes him.
A secret stands between them. Yet over time January sees there is more to Ward than meets the eye. Rumours circulate. What exactly is he hiding? And is January prepared to risk everything to find out?
Alice Peterson has published two non-fiction books, (Another Alice, M’Coben, Place of Ghosts) and seven novels (Letters From My Sister, You, Me and Him, Monday to Friday Man, Ten Years On, By My Side, One Step Closer to You and The Things We Do For Love). Her protagonists often have to overcome adversity, based on Alice’s own experience of a professional tennis career cut short at the age of 18 when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.