Today I am welcoming Joanne Boden to my blog to talk about her debut novel with Choc Lit—Escape to Little Bluewater Bay.
Joanne lives in Lancashire with her husband and their two sons. When she is not busy writing, she likes to take her boys to the local museums, cafes, and walks in the countryside.
Joanne has published four non-fiction works aimed at parenting children on the Autistic spectrum, based upon her experiences as a mother of an autistic son. She has also self-published a contemporary romance novel, Picking Up the Pieces.
Hi Jo, and welcome to my blog. Escape to Little Bluewater Bay is your debut novel with Choc Lit. isn’t it. I was in the same boat as you last year, so I imagine you’re beyond excited to see it in print, and what an amazing cover, but I know this isn’t your first published work, so before I ask you about your book, can you tell me something about your journey to becoming a published romantic novelist?
During lockdown we were all at home. My husband is a teacher and he had to teach online lessons, while my eldest son completed study independently, I had to structure my day around my youngest son and his educational needs. It was during this time that I decided to write a new story, a feel-good romance with a happy ever after. I wrote every evening, and this resulted in my submitting Escape to Little Bluewater Bay to Choc Lit.
It’s still January so I can ask, any New Year’s resolutions?
I never make New Year’s resolutions, preferring instead to set yearly goals. I have a few goals for this year. I aim to exercise moderately each day (I achieved this last year but want to carry on) and I aim to read one hundred books. Not sure if I’ll read that many, but it’s good to have something to work towards.
Let’s talk about Escape to Little Bluewater Bay.
Start the new year in Little Bluewater Bay …
New year, new Willow Jenkins? All Willow knows is that she needs an escape. So, she takes an extended break from her PR job and retreats to her grandmother’s cosy cottage by the sea in Little Bluewater Bay, where a limitless supply of hot chocolate will soothe her broken heart and a limited wi-fi connection will prevent her workaholic tendencies.
Willow is soon made to feel welcome by the friendly locals – although grumpy artist Noah Atkinson doesn’t seem to like her very much. Just what is his problem?
But then Willow is asked by her grandmother to approach Noah with a very special commission, only to discover that he hasn’t painted people for a long time – and with good reason. Will he make an exception, and in doing so usher in a hopeful and healing new era for them both?
Little Bluewater Bay sounds an idyllic place, is it based on real locations, if so, where?
Little Bluewater Bay is entirely fictional, although I have taken several favourite places and merged them into one island. In my mind I pictured Little Bluewater Bay as a montage of Weymouth, West Bay and Kimmeridge Bay. We lived in Dorchester for three years, along with a smattering of Morecambe Bay
Most seaside romances are set in the summer when there’s no danger of the heroine or hero dying of frostbite. What made you decide to set it in January?
I often think that seaside towns are somewhat neglected during the winter months, but I often think this is when they are at their most beautiful. I thought it would be fun to write a romance set in the depths of winter. This meant I could introduce hot chocolates and cosy nights in front of an open fire.
I love the idea of driftwood picture frames, but never had much success finding bits that worked together, or making them, have you ever tried?
No, I’ve never tried to make one, but we do own one. When we lived in Dorset a friend of ours made them from driftwood found in Kimmeridge Bay and used them to frame mirrors.
Willow is going to have to cope in Little Bluewater Bay with only limited Wi-Fi, how would you cope if you found yourself in the same situation?
I think I would be okay, as long as I’d downloaded books onto my Kindle, but it would be very strange. We’re all so reliant on technology and the internet in every aspect of our lives from internet banking to WhatsApp and of course, social media. I wouldn’t mind the social media break though. I’d probably take the opportunity to finish a work in progress.
I’m assuming as an author, you’d probably add a book or two to your luggage if you were going away for six weeks, tell me which book(s) would be in your suitcase and why?
The two that immediately spring to mind are The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. There would also have to be a Nora Roberts’ book. I’m making my way through all her books at the moment, so I’d pick one I haven’t yet read, and of course, there would be a selection of Choc Lit books.
Noah is a talented artist, what made you decide to make him a painter, is this something you do to relax?
I do draw and paint. This Is just for me, as I find it relaxing. I have no formal training but it’s something that I really enjoy. During lockdown I did a short online course on experimental drawing and painting that I found fascinating. Here are some of my images.
From left to right -a quick sketch of me; my husband and youngest son out on a walk. A pen and pencil drawing with a felt tip pen and water wash and on the right a portrait is based upon a painting, again a pen and felt tip water wash.
The close up of eyes is me again, this time painted with thick acrylics and a scraper.
Thank you for sharing those with us Joanne, they are incredible images. I was never any good at art, and really admire anyone who can paint.
Noah has created a studio at the back of his shack. If you could create an extra room in your house, what would it be and what would you use it for?
We recently added an extension to our home, making the kitchen bigger and creating a new dining area. I don’t have an office or writing studio, so I use the additional space, usually sitting at the kitchen island, to sit and write. If I spin around on my stool I am in arm’s reach of the coffee maker.
Before we go, I’ve got to ask, what’s Noah’s recipe for Leek and Potato soup?
Oh, Noah and his beloved leek and potato soup recipe. It’s actually very simple. Noah wouldn’t want anything fancy or too difficult. He’s a no-nonsense sort of guy.
Just roughly chop 3 to 4 leeks and soften them in a large pan with some butter. Make sure they don’t turn brown. Then peel and chop some potatoes and add them to the pan with a vegetable stock cube and some water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for twenty minutes. Add salt and pepper. Then simply blend until smooth. That’s all there is to it!
And final question because I know everyone will want to know, what are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on book 2 of the Little Bluewater Bay series. No title as yet. 🙂
Well I look forward to reading it soon. Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today Jo.