Pauline Wiles talks about her third novel and finding serenity.
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your novel Sweet Pursuits?
This is my third novel, set in the fictional English village of Saffron Sweeting. It follows on from the previous two, but has a new main character and is constructed to be read on its own. Like the others, it features a young woman who starts out with one goal, ends up somewhere else, and learns a lot about herself on the way. Also like the earlier books, it features generous servings of British cake!
2. Is the book in any way based on your own experiences or is it completely fictional?
During the book, Bella discovers a liking for running and how it can soothe the soul as well as stimulating the lungs. I also love to run and wrote the fitness scenes from my own experiences.
3. Can you pick one of the secondary characters in the novel and tell us a bit more about him/her?
My favourite secondary character is Bella’s aunt Amelia, the sassy, confident estate agent who since her divorce has transformed into somewhat of a femme fatale. She has great business sense, is a lively presence in the village, and plays a mentor role for the younger women. I’d love to borrow from her shoe collection!
4. Is there a particular topic you’ve always wanted to write a book about and why is this topic important to you?
Bella starts out wanting to win back a guy and lose weight. I won’t spoil the outcome with the guy, but she doesn’t end up losing weight. Nonetheless, she is significantly stronger, fitter and happier by the end of the book. I firmly believe we should celebrate what our bodies can do, not measure them as a number on a scale.
5. When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
I read voraciously as a child and wrote some terrible short stories, but moved into analytical fields after university. Nonetheless, I noticed that writing articles and blogging was a pleasure for me, whereas it seemed to be a chore for others. In 2012, I left a job where I was miserable, intending to take some time to recover. I decided to use that break to finish my first novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting.
6. What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?
My favourite book of 2016 was Playing Big by Tara Mohr. It’s non-fiction and is aimed at women who are afraid, or unable, to fulfill their potential. It contained many, many a-ha moments for me and it’s one I know I’ll re-read.
7. Do you have a specific favourite genre and if so, why?
Obviously, I love Chick Lit, but I enjoy reading women’s fiction, usually contemporary. I like stories which make me think a little, even if they’re easy to consume.
8. If you could host a dinner party with some of your favourite authors, dead or alive, who would you invite?
I’m sure I’m not alone in longing for a fireside chat with Jane Austen, and I’d love to ask Charles Dickens how he plotted A Tale of Two Cities. I find Marian Keyes hilarious and would be thrilled to have her there. Gretchen Rubin would be another fascinating addition; I admire her work on habits and happiness.
9. What are you reading right now and would you recommend it to others?
I’m in the middle of Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen, who is best known for Water for Elephants. It has a considerable amount of “horse” content (I loved riding when I was younger) but she’s a terrific writer, too. I can’t yet tell whether Gruen is going in the direction of romance, or intrigue, or some of both.
10. What’s next for you?
As an indie author with a day job, I’ve allowed life to get particularly frazzled. So I’m taking 2017 for a more personal pursuit: The Serenity Project is my year-long focus on 26 different techniques which may or may not help me to slow down and smell the roses. My new mantra is glide more, flap less. However, as well as seeking serenity, I confess I’m secretly hoping to finish a collection of short stories this year, and maybe also a quirky guide for Anglophiles.
What’s the recipe for a second chance at love?
After six blissful years with scientist boyfriend Owen, Bella Beecham was convinced he was about to pop the question she’d been longing to hear. Instead, he accepted a prestigious job in California and left England without a backwards glance. Now, Owen’s back in the village of Saffron Sweeting, and appears to be more eligible than ever. Bella’s determined that the man of her dreams won’t slip through her fingers again.
But her plans to tone up, trim down, and tempt Owen back into her life prove bittersweet. Although Bella’s talent for baking wins her new friends, her tasty treats have a disconcerting tendency to sabotage her own intentions. And as her increasingly bold attempts to recapture Owen’s heart stumble, Bella must question whether she’s chasing a guy who wants to be caught.
A British romantic comedy featuring both familiar characters and fresh faces, Sweet Pursuits explores how a young woman seeking her soulmate must first learn to love herself.
British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California. Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and a number one Kindle bestseller. The stand-alone prequel, Secrets in the Sky, was reviewed by Publishers Weekly as ‘an enticing read’. Sweet Pursuits is the third book in the series.