Author Angela Petch is on the blog today talking about her latest release, Mavis and Dot, and the bittersweet real-life inspiration behind it.
Welcome to Nesie’s Place, Angela! Tell us a little bit about Angela, the author. How long have you been a writer? Since I was a little girl and wrote plays for my family to watch but I have only really started calling myself a writer since being published and winning a couple of competitions. My stories have appeared in women’s magazines, The People’s Friend and PRIMA in the last couple of years and that (together with my publishing deal) has given me writer confidence.
How long did it take you to write your first book? My first book, which originally went under the title of Never Forget and is now published as Tuscan Roots took me three years to write. My mother-in-law is Italian, and she talked often about her years as a war bride, her life in Italy under occupation during the Second World War and her subsequent move to England. I turned these stories into a novel and tweaked the truth. I am so glad I did as she now suffers from Alzheimer’s. I feel I have recorded her memories for the family.
Pantser or Plotter? A bit of both.
What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre? I write short stories and historical fiction mostly, but my present book is completely different. I’m not sure what genre Mavis and Dot belongs to really – I suppose it is a mixture of humour/romantic comedy/contemporary.
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid? I’m a hybrid author, having self-published two historical novels set in Tuscany, plus Mavis and Dot, to be launched December 1, 2018. However, I have just signed a two-book deal with Bookouture who will be publishing two of my historical Tuscan novels (I live in Tuscany for half of the year and this amazing region inspires me).
Where do you get the most writing done? I write mostly in Tuscany as I have so much peace and quiet there. During my winter months in England, I’m busy with five grandchildren and there is lots of catching up to do.
Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it? I need social media. We live in a remote river valley in the Tuscan Apennines and my first reason to need social media is to keep in touch with family. I also need it to stay in touch with other writers and of course for marketing. However, it is really important to ration time spent on social media. It mounts up frighteningly and steals precious writing time.
What’s your favorite genre to read? I enjoy historical novels because I enjoy learning about other periods – my history teacher was very boring at school – she used to write notes on the blackboard and history never came alive for me until I read historical novels and visited sites.
Do you venture into other genres other than your preferred? You bet! I have to always have a book on the go. And I enjoy contemporary novels too, as well as crime and psychological thrillers.
What are you reading now? An absolutely beautiful novel by Julie Cohen: Together. A love story written back to front – it starts at the end. Really compelling and skillfully written. She is such a talented author.
And favorite beverage to read with? More often than not a good cup of strong British tea. Wine makes me sleepy and it’s too annoying when your eyes close and you want to read the next wonderful page.
Tell us about your latest project and share an excerpt with us. The inspiration behind this novel is rather sad. I wrote it in memory of my best friend who died from ovarian cancer in 2006. So, it has taken me twelve long years, on and off, to write. It started with my inventing a whimsical story for Olga when she was really ill, based on two characters that we adopted for ourselves whenever we went out charity/thrift shopping together, or looked round antiques’ markets, which we both loved. I can’t remember which of us was Mavis and which was Dot, but we had great fun together. She laughed at the story. After she died, I stuffed the pages away in a file. A few years later, I read it to my writing group and they enjoyed it. I added more episodes and decided to publish it as a novella. Any money I make from selling Mavis and Dot will be donated to cancer research. I lost another close friend last month through cancer, so my quest has become more serious.
It’s been bitter-sweet writing it, but I have enjoyed the process. I think Mavis is my favourite lady, although I am very fond of Dot. Mavis is naughty and fun. Dot has a few problems, but don’t we all? My favourite part is when Mavis ends up in a night club and doesn’t realise it is a haunt for cross-dressers. She performs on stage, after getting a little tipsy on too many cocktails.
Blurb – Frolics, foibles and friendships by the seaside.
“Angela has a very vivid, natural and direct way of writing…” Julia Gregson, best-selling author of “East of the Sun”.
A gently humorous, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable ladies with past secrets and passions.
Meet Mavis and Dot, newly retired to Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves with illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and Mal, a lovable dog who nobody wants.
Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a British seaside town.
You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.
Written with a light touch, in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. All profits from the sale of this book will go towards research into the cure for cancer.
“This book is quirky, individual, and has great pathos… it will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye, Editor of Ingenu(e).
Excerpt from Chapter 6
(Mavis decides to dye her hair, so she can impress an Italian waiter she has fallen for).
“She read the instructions carefully and decided to wash her hair with the shower attachment and to enjoy a long soak and ‘chill out’, an expression she had picked up from the girls she looked after at school. Only ‘chill’ was not going to come near her bath: she liked her water piping hot. She lit a scented candle and placed it on the shelf above the bath. When she’d soaked luxuriously for five minutes, she applied the new shampoo to her scalp. The instructions told her it would take thirty minutes for the colour to work, so she settled back in the bubble-filled tub to read her latest historical saga, The Secrets of the Missing Courtesans. The bathroom was steamy and warm; she felt comfortably relaxed and as the lines on the page of her novel blurred, the book dropped onto the rack across the bath and she fell asleep. She dreamt of village feasts in hilltop towns and dances in the piazza with a handsome Latin lover.
One hour later she awoke to tepid water and a stinging scalp. Climbing out of the bath, she slipped and fell back, splashing water everywhere and after she’d grabbed a towel to rub steam from the mirror, she peered at her reflection. A blister had formed on her hair line and she touched it gingerly with the tip of her forefinger. She winced and then shrieked. Rather than staring at a gorgeous brunette, a purple apparition glared back.
Maybe it will wash out with cold water, she thought, and knelt awkwardly over the bath, yelping as she sprayed cold water over her smarting head.
But the mirror, when she steeled herself to look again, still told the awful truth. Her hair was the sort of bright purple that primary children use to draw rainbows. She could have cried.
She wrapped her head in a soft towel and went to put on the kettle for a strong cup of tea, before deciding on the stiff upper lip solution of a good night’s sleep.”
Oh no! Poor Mavis! Looking forward to finding out how she resolves her new “do!”
Do you have any advice for new authors? Read loads and join a writing group to share your work and receive constructive feedback. Write, write and write some more. Like anything else, you need to practise to improve.
Thank you, Angela for stopping by the blog. Continued success to you!
Scroll on and find out more about Mavis and Dot and download your copy today. Remember to follow Angela on social media!
A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship. Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more. “This book is quirky and individual and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels.
All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.
A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.
In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.
Mavis and Dot was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer.
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Tuscan Roots (to be reissued by Bookouture in 2019)
Now and Then in Tuscany