Today it's my pleasure to be chatting to Jenny Oliver on the latest leg of her blog tour for her new book The Summer House by the Sea which was published on Thursday.
Yes of course! I write funny, emotional books that have the aim of providing total escapism but also the hope that you can find something of yourself in the pages.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Summer House by the Sea, what would it be?
When Ava is hit by a bus, she realizes that the life she’s been living isn’t the life she wanted it to be! So when her Spanish grandmother dies she goes to live in her house by the sea for the summer. When her bullish, workaholic older brother turns up too, they discover secrets about their late mother, find what they have been missing in their own lives and learn how to be a family, on their own terms.
Where did the inspiration come from to set The Summer House by the Sea in a sleepy Spanish town?
The inspiration came from an amazing holiday on the Costa Brava. We stayed in the tiny village of Sa Tuna and spent most of our days on the Aiguablava beach or exploring the winding hillside roads to arrive at beautiful towns like Cadaques. There was lots of tapas and sherry and sticky morning pastries. I loved it and knew it would be a great setting for a book. If you’re planning a summer holiday abroad I can highly recommend it!
I love that your last 2 books have been set in Europe and feature setting up/restoring businesses in the hospitality industry, is this perhaps something that you would maybe like to do yourself one day?
Rather than something I want to do, it’s more something I grew up with. I lived in an old Victorian house, held together with bits of string and Sellotape, that was forever being renovated and decorated. It was packed full of hidden treasures - I remember a radiator being pulled off a wall and finding an old Victorian stove in the space behind. In the garden we’d dig up broken clay pipes and gold pocket watches. These discoveries were little moments of excitement that have stayed with me forever and always come out in my writing!
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I wish there was a typical day! Most days start with me sitting down to write and then getting distracted! If I’m mid-way through a book however, it’s just me at my desk typing, all day. Sometimes I write by hand which I really enjoy – the typing up, not so much.
If you get a block during the initial writing phase, how do you work your way through it?
I go and do something else. Often just standing up and going to make tea can sort out a plot problem that I’ve been sitting at my desk obsessing over for an hour!
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
A cup of tea. I think it’s an excuse to procrastinate but I have this stupid thing that I need a really hot cup of tea next to me when I sit down to work.
I also always have a couple of A4 notebooks on the go with loads of ideas, references, character studies and possible paragraphs scribbled down and lots of ripped out articles I’ve found interesting for the book stuffed in the back.
Finally what can we expect from you next?
The next book = family, secrets, the Cornish coast and Instagram!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Sharon xx
Every Summer has its own story…
For Ava Fisher, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.
Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella - once the heart of the sleepy seaside village - now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.
Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…