The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is about starting again, about realising what you want from life, and going for it. Sometimes, we are on a path, but it changes without us wanting it to, or being able to prevent it, and we have to roll with the punches. Ben and Amanda both had their lives planned out, but were they happy? This book explores those paths and how they alter.
What inspired you to set this story in a rural countryside village instead of a town or city where you'd typically expect to see a boutique?
I love the country, I like the idea of slowing down life, away from the hustle and bustle. The boutique is Amanda's input into village life, a bit of city influence, and it causes somewhat of a kerfuffle!
The Chic Boutique on Baker Street won the Prima Flirty Fiction competition earning you a publishing deal with Mills and Boon, can you recall the exact moment you got the news that you'd won?
Yes, I was at work! I happened to notice an email from Prima, and I had to wait till break to contact them! I hid from my students and jumped around outside the classroom, before I had to compose myself and finish teaching! Luckily, I had amazing students who didn't notice my distracted state that day! I didn't drive home, I flew home on a cloud.
If The Chic Boutique on Baker Street was to be made into a TV series, who would you like to see cast as the central characters?
I have been asked this before, but I always struggle for Amanda Perry, as the Amanda in my head is so defined. I really rate James Norton, his acting is amazing and I think he would make a fantastic Ben Evans. Amanda I would say (after great discussion over a coffee with a friend) that Felicity Jones would be a good fit. I loved her in Northanger Abbey. Agatha Mayweather would have to be the fabulous Judi Dench or Maggie Jones, and Taylor, who I love dearly as a character, I can't cast at all! He lives too firmly in my imagination I think.
What can we expect from you next?
I have a project that is slightly different to Chic Boutique, a slightly darker romance, that I am tinkering with, but other than that, I have a lot more characters in Westfield bursting to tell their stories, so I am working on telling those now.
How did your writing journey start?
It started as soon as I could hold a pen, but I started seriously submitting and learning about writing in my early twenties. I have an impressive pile of first drafts and rejection letters on my desk, but it never stopped me!
Read a lot, and write. It is that simple I think. Read anything and everything, and write what you can, when you can. Reading is my favourite thing to do in the world, and I love how it opens your mind and your imagination. Writing does the same thing.
Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your win/publishing deal?
My husband bought me a new laptop to write the book on, which was amazing, and my family and friends have been fantastic. Other than that, it was back to teaching and school runs!
Finally have you anything exciting planned to celebrate publication day?
I plan to go out to lunch on publication day and stalk my book in the local shops, and at the weekend my husband is taking me out for a meal, but he won't give me any more details, so I hope it's not KFC, because I have bought a new frock!
The perfect escape to the country…
Recently single and tired of the London rat race Amanda is determined to make her dreams of setting up an idyllic countryside boutique come true, and the picturesque village of West¬field is the perfect place to make a fresh start.
Local vet Ben is the golden boy of Westfield, especially to resident gossip Agatha Mayweather, who is determined to help Ben get his life back together after his wife left.
When a chance encounter outside the ‘chic boutique’ sets sparks flying between Amanda and Ben, Agatha is itching to set them up. But are Amanda and Ben really ready for romance?