Meet the author
Surrey writer Fliss Chester spills the beans on the first of three hot and steamy novels published this week.
Your first novel, Fliss, congratulations. So, what’s it about?
Thank you Amber! It’s a fun romp through the mountains, based on a group of friends who go skiing together – there’s flirting over the fondue, sexy French ski instructors and devilishly handsome men in hot tubs – true bonk-buster stuff!
Sounds like perfect fodder for a film. Who would play your leading character?
Well, just thinking about the female lead, Jenna… there are so many amazing actresses out there at the moment, but I think Surrey girl Lily James would be perfect.
And I believe this is the first of three. Will they be a series, or are they completely different novels?
They can each be read on their own as they’re easy to pick up and get stuck into, but they do follow the same characters on their adventures so if you start with Snowballs! Winter Fun On The Slopes then hopefully it’ll feel like you’re back with old friends when you read the next ones.
When are the other two out?
Corkscrew! Summer Fun In The Vineyard, which is set in a glamorous French wine-making chateau, will be out in May next year and book three is in the pipeline for release in early 2019. All three books are published by Orion and will be ebooks and audio books, too.
Wine and writing eh? Does it help with writer’s block?
Ha ha – definitely. Partly because if I shut myself away to be a sober hermit I’d run out of funny material quite quickly. Going out with friends for a few drinks gets the giggles going and inspires me to write in a more uplifting way. I am yet to hit the sherry at 3pm though…
Getting published is notoriously tricky. What was your path to publication?
Once I had edited and re-edited my own work I actually paid a freelance copy editor to help me get my manuscript up to the best quality it could be – I was then going to self-publish and be done with it. But my editor convinced me that the finished work was good enough for ‘real publishing’ and so I found a literary agent to take me on and she negotiated the deal with Orion, my publishers.
How long does it take you to bash out a book?
Don’t laugh, but because the first book was a hobby for a long time and I picked it up and put it down between full-time jobs, wedding planning, house restoration etc it took me about 10 years to finish it from initial conception – I’m writing the second book in three months!
Are your characters based on the fabulous people you’ve come across? (So, will I recognise myself??)
Maybe…! You know, I think we always recognise parts of ourselves in characters, especially if there’s a strong female lead who despite being heart broken, or constantly put down, finds her inner strength and happy ending. That’s the great thing about fiction; you can create these characters using the best – and sometimes the worst – bits of people you’ve met or imagined along the way.
What led you to becoming an author. I mean, we all think we’ve got a book in us, but you’ve crossed into the world of real authors!
My early career was in magazine publishing as a sub-editor, so I’ve worked with words since my early 20s, but I’ve always wanted to be an author. You know in those, ‘what would your dream job be?’-style questions I’d always answer ‘novelist’… but that was it, I thought it was just a pipe dream. I still have to pinch myself that I’m actually getting published now and will hopefully make a few people chuckle with my work. I also have a very active imagination and come up with little stories and scenarios as I drive along, do the Waitrose shop etc so I think if I didn’t write they’d bubble away too furiously and I’d go mad.
What’s your advice for would be authors?
For most of us, we won’t have been taught how to write creatively since Year 7 or 8 at school, so I’d definitely recommend finding some local creative writing classes. I went to evening classes in a slightly dingy pub in Balham but it was those classes that reminded me of the basic skills you need to create a story (descriptions, actions, dialogue etc) and most importantly, get over that first awkward barrier of reading your work out loud to a group for analysis and good, healthy, constructive criticism!
‘Snowballs! Winter Fun on the Slopes’ by Fliss Chester is out in ebook and audio book on 30 November. It’s published in paperback on 11 January. You can pre-order the ebook for 99p on amazon.co.uk