Today I am pleased to have Shelia Norton, the author of The Vets at Hope Green, as a guest on the blog. Please give her a warm welcome.
Can you tell us in your own words, what The Vets of Hope Green is about?
It’s the story of Sam, a girl with a dream, and the animals she loves – and the way she changes her life by moving to a little country village. And all the ups and downs she encounters along the way.
Where did you get your inspiration for the book?
When my editor asked me to write a story with a central character who was involved with animals, a vet practice seemed the obvious choice. I wanted a backdrop of a pretty country village and, having seen several villages like this in Dorset, I picked that location for Hope Green. And several of the animals were inspired by pets I’ve owned and loved myself! Especially Rufus the Springer spaniel, who was inspired by our lovely Sophie, who was the same breed and lived to the ripe old age of 16.
Which character was your most and least favourite to write about?
I always enjoy all my characters, even if they’re not particularly nice! But in this story, my favourite had to be Sam’s Nana Peggy – a feisty elderly lady with her own brand of common sense and determination. I suppose the least enjoyable was Sam’s boyfriend, at the beginning of the story, as he was pretty nasty to her when their relationship began to fall apart.
How much of yourself goes into you lead female characters?
Not a lot, really, unless they happen to be someone of a similar age to me (I’m a lot older than Sam!). There are times, for instance if the heroine is a mother, when I can really use my own experience of the emotions relating to parenthood. But if she’s young and single, in today’s world which is very different from the time when I was young, then no – it’s not me speaking! – but I can still remember how it feels to be young and in love or heartbroken. And I have three daughters so I’ve been kept up to date with things!
When writing, do you plan your books or do you let the plot drive itself naturally? Do the characters speak to you?
Actually this has changed in recent years. I always used to let the plot unfold as I wrote it, without a definite plan. But as my recent books have been commissioned by the publisher (Ebury) with a clear brief of what kind of story they’d like, I’ve trained myself to plan the main outline of the story before starting. Of course I still invent the twists and turns as I go along! And surprise, surprise – I’ve found I quite enjoy having the outline prepared first!
What are you currently working on just now?
The next novel, ‘The Pets at Primrose Cottage‘, which will be the same type of book as ‘The Vets at Hope Green‘, and will again be published first in four digital installments (the first in November), and then as the entire story in paperback and ebook. This story features a pet sitter – with a secret past!
Do you have any writing rituals or an area where you carry out your writing?
Only that I need a constant supply of strong tea! I’ll write anywhere, anyhow – but mostly it’ll be on my laptop, either at the table, or sitting in our conservatory – or else at the PC on the desk in our front room window.
What was the last movie, book or TV show you just finished?
I’ve just read ‘See You in September’ by Charity Norman, which is about a girl who goes backpacking in New Zealand and ends up joining a cult. I really identified with her parents, remembering all the worries we had when our daughters went travelling! (No, thankfully they didn’t join any cults though!).
Finally, which authors have been the biggest influence on your career?
That’s difficult, as I’ve written different types of books over the years. But my change of direction with the ‘cat’ stories was of course influenced by James Bowen’s ‘A Street Cat Named Bob‘ and Rachel Wells’ ‘Alfie the Doorstep Cat‘. My decision to write my very first book as a romantic comedy about an older woman, was influenced by the early chick-lit writers such as Helen Fielding.
Thanks for taking the time out to answer the questions and good look with the book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sam has always dreamed of working with animals…
But her receptionist job in a London vets is not hitting the spot. Unsure whether a busy city life is for her, she flees to her Nana Peggy’s idyllic country village.
But despite the rolling hills and its charming feel, life in Hope Green is far from peaceful. On first meeting Joe, the abrupt and bad-tempered local vet, Sam knows she must get him on side, but that is easier said than done…
With her dream close enough to touch, will she get there, or will events conspire against her…?
A heart-warming and inspiring story about living the simple life, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley.
ABOUT SHELIA NORTON
My most recent books are stories with animals at their heart. THE VETS AT HOPE GREEN is the story of a girl with a dream, and the animals who are part of it.
OLIVER, THE CAT WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS and its sequel CHARLIE, THE KITTEN WHO SAVED A LIFE are heartwarming stories narrated by their cat heroes.
My earlier books were ‘Chick lit’, including a series of three written under the pseudonym of Olivia Ryan. I’ve also published two books – YESTERDAY and TICKET TO RIDE set in the 1960s. More recently I published A GRAND THING, which is a family story with grandparents at its heart.
I worked for most of my life as a medical secretary. I now write full-time. I like to relax by reading, walking,swimming, going to pubs and restaurants and seeing my family and friends.
I am passionate about my writing and love to hear from my readers. I am also happy to give talks to writers’ groups and others, and book signings.