I ‘know’ author Jan Brigden from a variety of Facebook book groups and so it gives me enormous pleasure to be interviewing her for Linda’s Book Bag today. After winning the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition 2014/2015 with her debut novel As Weekends Go, Jan signed with Choc Lit and As Weekends Go was published by them on 4th December 2015. As Weekends Go is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
About As Weekends Go
What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?
When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.
She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …
But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?
An Interview with Jan Brigden
Hello Jan. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.
Hi, Linda. I’m thrilled to feature – thank you for your support.
Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
Well, I live in south-east London with my husband Dave who’s a painter and decorator and, alongside my writing and sporadic freelance proofreading jobs, I look after the admin side of his business. I write contemporary fiction, romance at heart with plenty of emotional fireworks, and my debut novel As Weekends Go was published by Choc Lit in December.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
Probably at school, even if I did also want to be an actress and a policewoman… I always loved reading and creating little fictional scenarios either in my head or in story form for school friends and family and recognised this as being something I hoped to further explore. I later enrolled on a creative writing course which eventually sparked the idea for my novel. I studied every ‘How to’ book I could get my hands on and attended as many writerly events as possible whilst also connecting with other readers and writers on social media to absorb as much knowledge and sound advice as possible.
How did it feel to win the Choc-Lit and Whole Story Audio Books Search for a Star competition?
Jaw-droppingly brilliant! My smile was watermelon-slice wide for days, Linda. A truly magical moment.
Congratulations on that wonderful achievement Jan.
How did you carry out the research for As Weekends Go – did you have a trip to a luxury hotel?
There is a gorgeous countrified hotel with glorious grounds and facilities fairly near to me upon which I loosely based Hawksley Manor in my novel. I’ve never stayed there as a guest but had been to a couple of events there, so made an appointment to see the manager who kindly showed me round and answered about a zillion questions for me. I also had a good contact at a lovely hotel in Manchester who offered me masses of help and shared a few stories with me.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I’m a terrible ‘tweaker’ so I’d say the most difficult is my ‘editing as I go’ habit rather than bashing out the first draft and then revising afterwards (which, having learned the hard way, is what I am doing with Book 2). As much as I love it, I don’t find any aspect of writing easy, so I’d probably say research is the most enjoyable.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I’m home-based so able to chop and change the hours I write around my other commitments, so no typical writing days, really. In my dining room is mainly where I work, either at my little desk or at the table.
How did you create Rebecca’s character? Did you begin with a name, an image, a trait or something else and did you write a full profile before putting her in As Weekends Go or did she emerge naturally?
A bit of all sorts, really. I remember canvassing opinions from friends and family when I was toying with naming her. I had three names in mind and eight out of ten people I asked said the name Rebecca Stafford appealed to them more than the other two names I’d put forward. I created a character profile for her and interviewed her which is what I do with all my main characters. It’s amazing what they tell me! I do also like to keep an open mind as I’m writing, though, so it’s not too regimented.
You’re one of The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk). Tell us more about that group.
Well, we all met via the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s excellent New Writers’ scheme. We were at varying stages with our writing and used to bounce ideas off each other and offer mutual encouragement and support, etc. The blog was a natural progression as we wanted to pool and share our various nuggets of knowledge and experience. Our name derived from a typo, so we stuck with it and now couldn’t imagine being called anything else.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
Anything from Lisa Jewell to Bill Bryson to Stephen King. I love dipping in and out of different genres.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
Probably something drama-based, albeit in the background rather than in the spotlight. (I’ve toyed with signing up to be an extra) or a publicist in some capacity, perhaps, as I enjoy helping people.
Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?
I do a lot of walking (and people-watching) which always provides plenty of great fodder or ‘what if’ moments for storylines.
Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
Probably Rebecca, because she’s real and honest and despite her marriage woes and dramas, her confidence returns and blooms as her story progresses (and she also gets to meet lovely Alex!).
If As Weekends Go became a film, who would you choose to play Rebecca and Alex and why?
Hmmm… this is tricky. Can I be REALLY greedy please, Linda? I’d say for Alex, possibly a short-haired Chris Hemsworth. Also, I know the age is all wrong, but I’m a HUGE Brad Pitt fan and quite often had his younger image in my head when writing Alex’s scenes. Same with Rupert Penry-Jones as Adam Carter in Spooks (I told you I was being greedy) RPJ in Spooks was the perfect combo of kind/tough/manly/intelligent, not to mention great looking – in my eyes anyway. With Rebecca, I think either Lily James or Sienna Miller, perhaps? Lily James has that vulnerability about her.
Will we see more of Greg, Alex and Rebecca or are you working on another set of characters for a new novel now?
We will definitely see more of all three. Plenty of newbies too.
You have your own blog and you’re on Facebook and Twitter. How important do you think social media is to authors in today’s society?
I think it’s incredibly important. The relationships I’ve formed with other authors, bloggers, readers, have been priceless. I’ve learned so much and the mutual encouragement and camaraderie within the writerly community is fantastic. Social media is a great way to engage with people but it’s equally important to chat to and get to know those people and not just bombard them with book links or promotional stuff. It’s also a terrific source of info for upcoming events/talks/sharing photos and book recommendations and just everyday news and views. It’s about mutual effort and never forgetting to respect boundaries and be grateful for all the help and support offered or received.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that As Weekends Go should be their next read, what would you say?
Oh my word … (excuse the pun!) Only 15? Er… right, here goes: I’d say … “It’s eye-opening escapism, a fun-filled, temptation-beckoning trip, with life-changing emotionally explosive consequences for all parties.”
I think all those compound adjectives might be cheating but I’ll let you off!
Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?
No, I think you’ve covered everything wonderfully.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Jan. I’ve really enjoyed finding more about you.
And thank you, Linda, for featuring me on your fab blog.