I’m delighted to be welcoming Rhoda Baxter to Jera’s Jamboree today.
Rhoda Baxter started off in the South of England and pinged around the world a bit until she ended up in the North of England, where the cakes are better. Along the way she collected one husband, two kids, a bit (ahem) of extra weight and a DPhil in molecular biology. She has a day job working in intellectual property and writes contemporary romantic comedies in whatever spare time she can grab. Her first novel Patently in Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon award 2012. Her third novel will be published by Choc Lit in 2014.
Hi Shaz, thanks for inviting me to post on your blog. Hello Shaz’s readers <waves>.
Someone asked me what inspired me to write Having a Ball. It’s a funny thing, to think about the tiny little thing (or collection of things) that sparked off a whole novel. I gave the question some thought and realised that it was an iterative process. A journey, if you like, that picked up bits and pieces from here and there as it formed.
It started with Stevie. She was a secondary character in Patently in Love. Once I’d finished writing PIL, I realised that Stevie’s voice was still in my head. She was such a fun character. Besides, she and her brother Marsh were so close it seemed cruel to have a book for one and not the other.
Next, I needed a setting. I chose to write about a house in North Oxford that was similar to 11 NG – a special place that I lived in for a few years. I have blogged about it on my site before http://rhodabaxter.com/2013/01/11/a-house-in-norham-gardens/. I loved the house so much that I described it rather too much at the start. I’ve removed a lot of my self-indulgent waffle in the editing, but the house remains a character in itself. Huge, rambling and very much loved.
Stevie didn’t have a job at the start of the book, so she could have done anything. Anything. All that choice is crippling (I’m terrible at making choices. I have to use my hands as blinkers when I’m at the ice cream counter, so that I can only see two. I don’t know why I bother. I always choose chocolate in the end. ..Er, where was I? Oh yes. Stevie’s job).
The real house at 11 NG is often involved with charity and community, so in the end I decided to have Stevie arrange a charity ball. The charity I chose is a real one – Project Peds, part of the World Children’s Initiative http://www.worldchildrensinitiative.org/ . The project was started by a group of American doctors who visited the Matara children’s hospital in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami and realised that while there was aid coming in to build new hospitals, there were no funds to buy equipment. I think their work is amazing. They were the obvious choice to use. Besides, it gave me an excuse to talk about Sri Lankan food. I had to make a few of the snacks – for research purposes, of course.
The story itself arose from the characters and the way they annoy… I mean, interact with… each other. There’s brooding, sullen Tom, who thinks he’s let his parents down and is working himself to death to make up for it; cheeky, immature Stevie, who’s career is a side-effect of her desire to prove her brother wrong; super bright and super speedy Evelyn; pompous Lady Beryl, who isn’t so much a lady as a snob and other random people who dance, chomp or shout their way around the edges.
Having a Ball is meant to be part of a series, so I’m hoping to write another book involving email and ice cream. It gives me a chance to catch up with the characters from the other two books, which is always nice and I get to do some intensive research to figure out the new heroine’s favourite ice cream…
Sounds like you will have to do that research Rhoda 🙂
Publisher: Uncial Press (14 Mar 2013)
When the going gets tough, the tough throw a party.
Stevie has always relied on her brother to bail her out of trouble. Now she needs to prove to him that she can be independent and mature. When she takes a job organizing a charity ball for some slightly barmy retired academics, she’s not expecting to fall in love with the rambling old house, the even more rambling family that lives there and Tom, the boss’s son. If she can make the ball a success she could show the world, and herself, that she’s her own woman. She doesn’t need anyone else. Nope. Not anyone. Not at all.
Having a Ball is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours.
|22nd January||This Chick Reads|
|23rd January||Total Book Geek|
|28th January||Not Suitable For Work|
|29th January||M’s Bookshelf|
|30th January||A Novel Review|
The tour giveaway is 2 x ecopies of Patently in Love and is open Internationally.
You will be able to enter on tour host posts.
We hope you’ll join in the fun!