Jill Steeples talks about the final book in her Dog and Duck series and what she likes to do when she is not writing.

1. Tell us more about your latest book, Happily Ever After at the Dog and Duck.

It’s the fourth and final book in The Dog and Duck series, and continues the adventures of Ellie Browne, who is now living at Braithwaite Manor with property developer Max Golding, and struggling with the demands of their baby, Noel. When disaster strikes at the pub she runs, it looks as though everything she’s worked hard for is about to crumble and puts all of Ellie’s plans for the future in jeopardy. With unexpected guests turning up at the manor, family fall-outs to referee and a much-loved dog going missing, tensions are heightened all around, and Ellie’s left wondering if she will ever find her happy ending!

2. How long did it take to write the novel and how many drafts did you write?

It took four months to write the first draft and then there were a few more goes at it in the editing process.

3. Do you have a favourite character you can tell us a bit more about?

Aside from Ellie, my favourite character would have to be Katy, Max’s teenage sister. She’s feisty, spontaneous and argumentative, but has a heart of gold beneath her sometimes prickly exterior.

4. How do you select the names of your characters?

I must admit the main character shares the same name as my daughter who specifically asked if I would use her name in the book. How could I have possibly refused?

5. What are you most proud of about the book?

I’m proud that it’s brought the Dog and Duck series to a close in what I hope is a heart-warming and satisfactory manner. I’ve loved being a part of these characters lives for the last couple of years, and have been really pleased with the reception the books have received from readers.

6. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a wife, mother and writer, lucky enough to spend my days writing about romantic heroes and happy endings.

7. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I’m a woman of simple pleasures! I love reading, walking Amber, my English Pointer, in the countryside, baking, spending time with family and friends, and going to the theatre whenever I can!

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult?

Definitely! Jilly Cooper was a huge influence. I adored all her novels, especially her single-title romances, and devoured them as a teenager.

9. What were your challenges in getting your first book published?

Initially I contacted agents and then publishers with my newly finished book, full of optimism that it would immediately be snapped up. It wasn’t… After a number of rejections, I decided to put that story to one side and get on with the next book. When that was finished I submitted it to The Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme and was very pleased to receive some encouraging feedback. At about the same time I noticed that one of the large publishing houses was setting up a new digital imprint and on a whim I sent them my manuscript. Within four weeks I’d heard back from them to say they wanted to publish my book. I can still remember the shock and excitement I felt at receiving that email. I then went on to find a home for my first book as well, so my advice would be to never give up!

10. What’s next for you?

I’m just about to start on my next book. Trouble is I have three ideas vying for attention so I can’t tell you yet what it will be about, but watch this space…

Life in Little Leyton is never quiet, and when handsome developer Max and his bride-to-be Ellie, receive some sad news, he decides to whisk her away for a romantic break. The time away gives Ellie a new perspective, and she’s eager to get home to get on with planning their wedding.

But a devastating incident at the pub she runs, The Dog & Duck, puts everything in jeopardy. And, at their home Braithwaite Manor, tensions are heightened when Ellie’s future mother-in-law turns up with all her worldly belongings, much to Max’s sister Katy’s despair.

With Max preoccupied with problems at work, Ellie’s left literally holding the baby, while dealing with a seemingly endless list of dramas. And as Christmas approaches, Ellie begins to wonder if she’ll ever get her happily ever after…

Jill Steeples lives with her husband, two children and an English Pointer named Amber in the Bedfordshire countryside. Her short stories have appeared in women’s magazines around the world as well as in charity anthologies. When she’s not writing, Jill loves spending time with family and friends, reading, films, musical theatre, walking, baking and eating cakes, and drinking wine.


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