- Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love Helen Fielding but wish she’d write more. Only four Bridget Jones books in twenty years – I need at least one a year. I am a huge fan of Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson. They all write superbly and load their stories with wit and humour. I also love Harry Potter so I have to mention JK Rowling, who can do no wrong in my eyes.
- Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I do. It was when I was about nine. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn’t know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day.
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes. I always have a reference to pineapples somewhere in my stories. I’m not entirely sure why but I do like pineapples partly because they taste good and have few calories but mainly because they’re bright and cheerful. I also always include an older character and an animal in my stories.
- What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I write romantic comedies but I also hold a mirror up to the real world and let the darker side of life impact my characters. There’s always an underlying threat or menace weaving its way through the pages.
- How did you come up with the title of your book?
I was on holiday in Lyme Regis and we were exploring the coastline into Devon. We visited the beautiful village of Beer and I loved how the river was channelled through the streets to the sea. Near Budleigh Salterton the river Otter meets the sea but unlike Beer there is no village as it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, which got me thinking. What if there was a village here? Combe means a valley on a hillside or coastline so the town of Ottercombe Bay was born.
- How did you break into the publishing world?
I joined the wonderful Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers Scheme and starting going to their events. They hold a conference each year where you can have a 10 minute slot with a publisher. I was allocated a slot with Charlotte Ledger from Harper Impulse (an imprint of HarperCollins) and was thrilled when she told me she loved what she’d read of my story and wanted to read the rest. A few months later she offered me a two book contract and I knew I wanted her to be my editor. I’ve since moved within the HarperCollins family to their traditional imprint Avon.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
I think the names of characters are really important. I’ve had a couple of characters turn up in my head complete with name but others have taken a lot of deliberation. I find I can’t flesh them out as individuals until I’ve landed on the right name for them. I use a Dictionary of First Names and baby name sites on the Internet for inspiration. I like to get a surname that fits too and sometimes I get a bit clever with those like when I gave my hero, Jack, in Escape to Willow Cottage the surname Selby which means Willow Farm.
- If you were deserted on an island, which three characters in your books would you want to have with you?
I love this question. I fear I may have spent far too long mulling over the pros and cons of each of my fictional characters but anyway here’s my top 3. Firstly, I would pick Charlie from A Family Holiday because she’s ballsy, practical and not easily fazed – as the nanny to four children there’s not a lot she can’t cope with. Second, I would choose Max from Ottercombe Bay because as well as being gorgeous in a rugged kind of way he’s also a lifeguard and a member of the lifeboat crew so I’m thinking he’d be useful on an island. Lastly, I’ve chosen Jack from Escape to Willow Cottage because he’s very handy and might be able to whip us up a shelter and he’s easy on the eye too.
- Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
Anyone who knows me is already laughing. I am very much a planner (bordering on the obsessive). I am a project manager by profession so it makes complete sense to me to plan out my novel before I start writing it. This enables me to get to know my characters and spot any plot holes before I start getting the words down. It also means that the words tend to flow as I know what comes next. There really is no right or wrong way to write a novel, only what works best for you.
- Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers?
Connect with other writers – Only other writers really understand what it’s like and they won’t think you’re crazy for talking about imaginary people. Joining a local writing class and the Romantic Novelists’ Association were two pivotal points for me. The life of a writer can be remote at times so having others that know what it feels like can really help. They will also be there to give you a kick up the bum when you are procrastinating and a glass of wine when things go well.
Keep writing – It may sound daft but you need to have finished something before you can really start submitting to agents and publishers. So make time and do it. No excuses, if you really want to write then something else may have to give.
Get some training – Either join a local writing course, find one online or read some books but find out the basics about how it’s meant to be done. It will save a lot of editing later!
Attached is my interview, author photo and latest book cover.
Social Media links: Twitter @osborne_bella and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/
Link to my Amazon author pages: US – https://www.amazon.com/Bella-Osborne/e/B00Q1EPB8U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509460846&sr=8-