I’m delighted to be welcoming Samantha Tonge to Jera’s Jamboree today:
Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire, England, with her lovely family and two cats. When not writing, she spends the day telling herself to go swimming and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines and is thrilled with the release of Doubting Abbey, her debut novel, published by CarinaUK Harlequin.
Please summarise Doubting Abbey in 20 words or less.
Pizza waitress Gemma must pass as posh pal Abbey, in order to win a reality show and save Applebridge Hall.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The TV series Downton Abbey was the inspiration – it fascinates me how such a show has gripped the nation, at a time where we are far removed from the era of women having to behave in a ladylike manner, men being emotionally restrained (in public, anyway) and class being of the utmost importance. I wanted to play with the idea of putting a modern gal into a similar, aristocratic scenario.
Did you do any research for your book? What resources did you use?
I needed to do a lot of research into stately homes matching the style of Applebridge Hall. The internet was a great source for finding out about furnishings and architecture. I also visited LymePark near me which isn’t of the exact same era but gave me ideas for describing the various rooms. I also needed to research aristocratic titles to find out exactly how one would address an earl, his wife, his son etc. It was very interesting!
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I am a plotter – I learnt my lesson from my very first novel which was 95,000 long and only had 4 chapters and never really got finished! I roughly plan out each chapter before I start the novel.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading the 3rd Bridget Jones book and absolutely love it! The diary format is so direct and easy to read, after a hard day in front of the screen. I am also a similar age to Bridget, so can relate to a lot of her thoughts! I recently saw Helen Fielding give a talk and she is a lovely, very funny lady.
Being a writer can be lonely. Do you have a support network?
When I first began writing I joined an online forum called WriteWords, and made some very good friends, who gave me lots of advice about writing technique, agents, publishers… And since I started selling short stories to women’s magazines I have also made a lot of online friends from that community. It is so important, for the moral support.
What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?
The worst part of my writing journey, so far, was, funnily enough, the last year before I got my publishing deal. On paper, it should have been one of the best – I’d finally got an agent and was earning money from selling short stories. But I had built myself up over many years of writing, to thinking that once I got an agent, a publishing deal would fall into my lap. It didn’t and this was stressful – and my own fault entirely for making such an assumption. So any writer reading this… Getting an agent is brilliant, I wouldn’t be without mine, but just remember signing that contract is just another step along the long road to publication, and for some authors it still might be a while before your work gets into print.
How have you launched your debut?
It is exhausting and I need to put the extra effort in as it is a digital-first book and won’t be physically sitting on shop bookshelves! I was already on Facebook and Twitter and had a website. I also created a website just for the book. Then I joined GoodReads, Pinterest and Tumblr and arranged this blog tour. I’ve approached magazines to plug my book. I am also placing an advert in a romance magazine. And, ahem… I’ve had a car magnet made advertising the book. I still can’t decide if that is a step too far!
🙂 Thank you for being in my hot seat today.
I’m sure my readers will join in wishing you heaps of success for Doubting Abbey and all your writing projects.
Pizza waitress, Gemma, must pass herself off as aristocratic Abbey Croxley for two weeks, in order to help struggling Applebridge Hall win the reality show Million Dollar Mansion. With the right clothes and accent, anyone could pull that off, right? Except that she wasn’t counting on arrogant Lord Edward pulling her heartstrings – nor a most unexpected person unravelling her web of lies… Will the truth be revealed before the show’s final and destroy Applebridge Hall’s future, along with a secret romance?