Today it's my pleasure to welcome Cathy Woodman, bestselling author of the Talyton St George series, to the blog for a chat about her latest book Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage which was published yesterday. Over the years I have read and enjoyed reading this series so when I was asked about taking part in this blog tour I didn't hesitate to say yes although I was too ashamed to admit that I am a little behind on the series, I still had a review copy of Follow Me Home to read (review will follow soon) plus I've still not read Vets on Call which I bought last Summer.
Thank you very much for hosting this stop on my tour with ‘Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage.’
When you first started writing Trust Me I'm a Vet, had you always planned that it would be the first in a series that 6 years later would still be running and as popular as ever?
When I started writing the Talyton St George series, I planned a trilogy about the Otterhouse vets, Maz and Emma, but it snowballed. I didn’t expect to be here telling you about the tenth book, but I’m delighted that it’s still running and very happy that people still want more!
Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage is the latest book in the series, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I had great fun writing ‘Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage’. It’s about Flick who achieves her dream of becoming one of the first female blacksmiths in the country, but when she starts her first job, she is faced with naughty and neglected ponies, stubborn donkeys and a very diva-esque horse. She finds that not only is she an object of scrutiny by the local horse owners, she also has to prove herself and overcome a certain amount of sexism, just as much from the women as the men.
There is one person on her side though and that is stunt rider Robbie Salterton who gallops around the Devon countryside on his beautiful black stallion (Think Poldark).
I enjoyed writing about the new characters, and revisiting some of the old ones too, including Tessa and Jack from ‘The Village Vet’, and Matt from ‘Vets In Love’.
I love the title, how did that come about?
I’m glad that you like the title. Originally, I called it ‘The Village Blacksmith’, but it didn’t really work. I was worried that it conjured up the impression that it was the story of a man working in a village forge, making gates and ironwork signs, so that one went out of the window and I was back to square one. Titles really aren’t my thing. I can write a novel, but I find it very difficult to create a title of a few words, so I had a chat with my editor who suggested a title with ‘springtime’ in it, and then I thought of ‘Cherry Tree cottage’ which was partly inspired by the name of the yard, Cherry Tree Stables, where I used to keep my horse. We put them together and came up with ‘Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage’ which I think sounds very sweet and fresh.
I know that you're a keen horsewoman so will have had dealings with many blacksmiths over the years but did you need to do any other research to enable you to write about Flick's job?
I have met many blacksmiths over the years. When I was about twelve, we had a farrier who had such a bad back from his years shoeing horses that he walked with a permanent stoop and his wife did all the running around so that all he had to do was remove the shoes, trim the pony’s feet and put the shoes back on. One of the farriers who used to shoe my horses did have a female apprentice so I was able to use some of her experience as research.
What three words would best describe Robbie?
Hmm, that’s a difficult question. He’s a man of many talents. Not only is he a stunt rider, he also runs confidence-building courses for riders, trains horses for trick riding, and is developing the concept of horses as therapy. But if I must pick three words, they would be ‘gorgeous’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘kind’
Having written 12 books in the Talyton St George series (including short stories), do you still find inspiration for new stories comes fairly easily?
Inspiration is a funny thing. The idea for a story can come from the tiniest snippet, a headline on the internet, a photograph or a conversation, for example. The idea for ‘Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage’ sprang from seeing the trailers for the TV series, ‘Poldark’. The sight of Aidan Turner galloping across the Cornish cliffs made me think not only ‘wow, he’s gorgeous’, but also ‘what about making the next hero a stunt rider?’
Is there going to be a new Talyton St George story next year, if so can you give us a small hint as to who we might meet?
At the moment, I’m working on an exciting new project, but I can reassure fans of the Talyton St George series that it will continue. I have at least two outlines for fresh stories.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand whilst writing?
When I’m writing I need my laptop, one of those biros with four colours of ink, A4 paper, narrow-ruled with a margin, lots of coffee and snacks. When I’m troubled by a spell of writer’s block which does happen from time to time, I find that crisps and mint chocolate help a lot!
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I’ve had plenty of advice over the years, but looking back one of the best pieces of advice was actually an instruction from my extremely fierce English teacher not to do something. I remember being quite miffed when she told me that I must never write in the first person, present tense, so I went and did it anyway! I’m very glad that I did because it’s worked for the Talyton St George series.
When you have finished a book, do you treat yourself to something special?
I know there are some authors who treat themselves to a piece of jewellery or a spa day when they finish a book, but - oh dear, I sound rather boring - my treat is to start on the next piece of writing. I felt quite bereft when I finished ‘Springtime at Cherry Tree Cottage’ because I was leaving my characters behind, and the best way to cope is to start bringing the next ones to life.
After years of training, horse-mad Flick has finally achieved her dream of becoming one of the few female blacksmiths in the country.
Her first job is in Talyton St George. The little cottage on the green where she is staying is idyllic, and it feels like the fresh start she needs. But she soon finds she is having to work overtime to prove her abilities to the not-so-welcoming locals.
One person very much on her side though is Robbie Salterton. He’s a bit of a local celebrity – a handsome stunt rider who does charity work in his spare time – and he seems to be going out of his way to look out for Flick. But is he just being friendly or does he see Flick as something more?
Despite swearing off men, Flick can’t help wanting to find out...