I’m a great fan of the publisher Bookouture and so it gives me enormous pleasure to be helping celebrate one of their latest releases, The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant which is available for purchase here.
I’m delighted that Tilly Tennant has agreed to be interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag too.
The Little Village Bakery
Help yourself to a generous slice of Victoria sponge, a perfect cup of tea and a big dollop of romance. Welcome to the Little Village Bakery.
Meet Millie. Heartbreak has forced her to make a new start and when she arrives at the old bakery in the little village of Honeybourne she is determined that this will be her home sweet home. Her imagination has been captured by the tumbledown bakery but with no running water and dust everywhere, her cosy idea of making cakes in a rural idyll quickly crumbles.
Luckily the locals are a friendly bunch and step in to help Millie. One in particular, Dylan, a laid-back lothario, soon captures her attention.
But just as Millie is beginning to settle in, an unexpected visitor from her past suddenly turns up determined to ruin everything for her. It’s time for Millie to face the skeletons in her closet if she’s going to live the dream of running her little village bakery, and her blossoming romance with Dylan.
An Interview with Tilly Tennant
Hi Tilly. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and your latest book The Little Village Bakery.
Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
Of course! I’m Tilly, somewhere in my forties (that’s all you’re getting), two teenage daughters, a husband and lots of grey hairs as a result! I was born in Dorset but now live in Staffordshire.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I’d always dabbled, but never written anything seriously – mainly because I couldn’t imagine why anyone would care what I had to say. Then, ten years ago, I decided I’d had enough of feeling unfulfilled in jobs that I didn’t particularly enjoy, and I enrolled on a university course to study English. While I was there I filled a gap in the timetable with a creative writing module, wrote my first novel in the summer holidays, and instantly became addicted.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I love writing first drafts, right at the beginning, when anything is possible, and this is when it’s easiest. But giving the finished novel to my editor– that’s tough. She’s lovely, and very encouraging, but it’s her job to be critical however constructive that might be. I think most writers are delicate little flowers and it doesn’t take much to knock our confidence. I certainly find it hard to acknowledge that something I thought was brilliant actually doesn’t work at all.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
Most of my writing is done at the kitchen table. I desperately want an office but so far that’s proving tricky! I used to write in the evenings when the kids had gone to bed, so I would always be up late. This summer, however, I’m taking a career break to write my three novels for Bookouture so I’m happily sitting at the table when everyone else is at work and school. It’s much better for my social life and it means I now get to watch the odd bit of TV at night, which is a luxury compared to before when I would spend nights working. I try to set myself a word count target for that day, depending on what else I know needs doing, and I’m quite annoyed at myself if I don’t stick to it because that’s the only way I can discipline myself enough to make sure deadlines get met.
How far has being a fiction editor helped or hindered your novel writing?
Brilliant question! I think it helped enormously at the beginning. I’d just finished my degree and was working for a small press, initially reading submissions and sending on ones I thought had potential to the boss. After a while she started to send them back saying she’d signed them and asking if I would edit them. It was a brilliant way to learn my craft at a very technical level; you can be far more objective reading someone else’s stuff, and I could spot things that didn’t work and things that did quite easily. Once I understood why I could apply what I’d learned to my own writing. Sadly, the workload became too much, so in the end I had to start turning jobs down or lose valuable time needed to concentrate on my own projects. I still edit from time to time, but it’s mostly on an informal basis now for people I’ve edited before.
You’ve recently signed with the fabulous Bookouture. Would you tell us a bit more about how that happened please?
I’m still so excited about this! I’d been self-publishing for a couple of years with the help of my agent and we were steadily building up a readership. I’d been thinking about a more traditional publishing contract for a while – the independent publishing was enjoyable and successful but I wanted to branch out. Sometimes, things just come along at the right time in your life, and this is what happened. I’d mentioned to my agent my thoughts about a book deal, and then Bookouture got in touch with us because my work had been brought to their attention, wanting to know if they could read my next novel when it was done. In another happy quirk of fate, I had a finished novel sitting on my laptop and ready to go. I sent it, they liked it, and here we are!
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I have a very broad taste in books. In fact, I’ll read almost anything that I find in front of me. It’s a family joke that I won’t read the papers until they’re spread over the floor for decorating, and my husband will go off to do something else and find me an hour later, dried paintbrush in my hand and poring over three week old headlines. At the moment I’m trying to catch up with all the books my Bookouture colleagues are producing. I’ve just read Helen Pollard’s The Little French Guesthouse and I’m now reading Tom Bale’s See How They Run, at the same time as a children’s book by Christopher Edge called The Many Worlds of Alfie Bright, and various ‘how to’ books on screenwriting.
Your book The Little Village Bakery is set, unsurprisingly, in a bakery. What is the appeal for baking at the moment do you think and do you bake as well as write?
It wasn’t really a deliberate decision to set it in a bakery for any reason other than I wanted the main character to bake. Initially, the inspiration for the story had come from a novel I read a long time ago called Like Water for Chocolate, where the protagonist could weave magic into the food she cooked. But as the draft continued, it became obvious that Millie was going to use far more ordinary ingredients in her cakes, and buying a bakery to renovate was the way to go. Obviously, I am aware that there is a huge buzz about baking right now with TV shows such as Bake Off, and the book might appeal on that level to some, but Millie’s baking is only a small part of the story.
As for me, I am the world’s worst! Actually, that’s not strictly true. It’s fair to say that my cakes look pretty terrible, and I definitely fail on the presentation front, but they don’t taste too bad. I don’t get as much time as I’d like to practise, though.
The Little Village Bakery has a very summery cover. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
In all honesty I had very little input when the cover was designed, other than to ooh and ahh when it was sent to me and be a tiny bit thrilled with it! The book is set in a flaming hot British summer, and I think it conveys that archetypal image of picnics and summer fetes very well.
If you could chose to be a character from The Little Village Bakery, who would you be and why?
This is hard! It would be easy to say Dylan, just because everyone loves him and he doesn’t even have to try. But I think it might be Jasmine because I’d love to be brave enough for pink hair and I wish I was arty enough to make jewellery.
If The Little Village Bakery became a film, who would you like to play Millie?
This is another tough question! I’ve been pondering and I think I’m going to say Jenna Coleman. She has that feline sort of beauty that Millie has, and she can rock a bobbed haircut!
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Little Village Bakery should be their next read, what would you say?
If you believe in love, loyalty, friendship and second chances, this book is for you.
Oh 15 words exactly! Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Tilly.
Thank you so much for having me!
About Tilly Tennant
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since.
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