Alison Sherlock sets her new series in a crumbling stately home.
1. Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book, A House to Mend a Broken Heart?
I was watching Downton Abbey one day and began to wonder what life would be like in the current day for any owners of a stately home. Once I’d discovered how much of a financial burden they can be, I began to think about a crumbling house and the owners and staff that could live there.
2. Who is your favourite character in the novel and why?
I loved Annie. She’s so proud and feisty, desperately defending the place and people who have finally given her some happiness. She had such a rough time in her childhood that it was lovely to give her that happy ending!
3. What are you most proud of about the book?
I’ve been tinkering with the idea of Willow Tree Hall for a number of years and I’m so pleased that I found the right storyline and publishers to help it come to life for everyone else.
4. What does your average writing day look like?
I walk Harry, our daft golden retriever, first thing and then spend the remainder of the morning picking grass balls off his fur or trying to wipe off the mud which he has inevitably jumped into. Once he’s snoring downstairs, I can finally get to work for the rest of the day!
5. What message do you want readers to take away from your novels?
That family and friends are the most important people to have in your life.
6. Who are your favorite authors?
I’ll try to keep this list short! Jane Austen, Jilly Cooper, Janet Evanovich, Joanne Harris, Philippa Gregory, Phillipa Ashley, Sarah Morgan, Milly Johnson, Kerry Fisher, Agatha Christie, JK Rowling…. I’d better stop now.
7. Do you see yourself in any of the characters in your novel?
I like to think that my heroines share my values regarding how to treat people. But they’re always much more brave than I would be in the situations I land them in!
8. When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, even from an early age. However, I assumed that being an author didn’t count as a proper job so when I grew up, I worked as a secretary, training administrator and answered an IT hotline. Once a bit older but not much wiser, I decided that I really had to try and write a full-length novel. So I gave up office life to sit at home and panic at what I had just done!
To fund my dream, I became a cleaner, the experience of which I used for my second published novel, The Desperate Wife’s Survival Plan.
A chance meeting with a literary agent at Winchester Writer’s Conference set me on the road to publication with my first book, The Desperate Bride’s Diet Club which reached Number 1 in the Italian book charts! I still can’t believe I do this for a living!
9. What’s next for you?
I’m in the middle of writing book two in the Willow Tree Hall series. It’s been so lovely to revisit all my characters and see what summer brings them.
Everyone is hiding from something…
Willow Tree Hall has seen much better days and has been the proud ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Cranley for centuries.
With no qualifications and escaping her past, Annie Rogers takes the job as housekeeper to widowed Arthur, the charming current Earl of Cranley. After a bad fall puts Arthur in hospital, it’s up to a reluctant heir apparent Sam Harris, to lend a helping hand and try to find a sustainable future for the Estate.
With the house requiring a full renovation, Annie suddenly finds herself completely out of her depth with a team of dodgy builders and Sam watching critically from the sidelines. With Sam running from his past and Annie hiding from hers, just maybe together they can bring Willow Tree Hall back to life.
The start of a beautiful new series focusing on the lives and loves, trial and tribulations of all those who live and work at Willow Tree Hall.
Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever.