Welcome Serena to Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns, it’s lovely to see you here in Bath today.
This is a treat in more ways than one. A scrumptious tea in Georgian Bath, following where Jane Austen did not fear to tread. The last time I visited this architectural gem was ages ago when I came with a boyfriend who had a job interview scheduled. I wandered around sight seeing whilst he underwent a gruelling afternoon being asked a lot of trick questions. He didn’t get the job – the feedback being unsuitable as lacking in entrepreneurial ambition although he eventually ended up employing himself with outstanding success!
Now that we are settled and waiting for our food to arrive could tell me a little about yourself?
I spent my childhood in India. My father was an international businessman (I kind of persuaded myself that was his cover story and that he was really a secret agent!) so wherever he was posted – we followed. Then I was sent to boarding school in England – a really fun place with inspiring staff- midnight feasts in the dorm etc – and thence to University where I read law. Joined a large London firm and am still in the day job!
When did you start writing and what was it that made you decide to be an author?
There were the usual juvenile compositions but I started writing category romances in the early 1990s when I heard Mills & Boon were looking for new authors ( I’ve not been able to crack that nut!) Robert Hale published my first two and they went into large print. Then nothing for ages, as I was busy earning a living. When I’d laboured sufficiently in the vineyard, I became eligible for a Sabbatical so grabbed it and not being someone who does things by halves, traded bricks and mortar for a houseboat, dusted off a mothballed typescript from the bottom drawer that eventually morphed into WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS which I self-published as an e-book and hard copy.
And what was your route to publishing?
Well, like true love it didn’t run smooth! More downs than ups but always exciting and challenging. Being an indie – author is like setting off on a journey without a compass or road map. There are unknown perils and pitfalls but ultimately there’s the real pleasure of unchartered waters and a safe haven.
You have written five books, all different. Was that a conscious choice or did the inspiration for each just strike and make you think ‘yes, this is what I’ll write next?’
Six at the last count. Four – STRANGE INHERITANCE; PAINT ME A DREAM; GOLDEN GROVE and WILFUL FATE are unashamedly 50,000 word romances. WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS is a sprawling saga of 150,000 words that cried out to be told and IN THE PINK (40,000 words ) is an experiment and quite different from the others. I can’t say it was a conscious choice as it depends on what mood I’m in when type that first sentence. It’s capable of luring one down an entirely different path.
What is your advice for would-be writers?
I wouldn’t presume to give advice, as I’m not a household name. All I can say is enjoy what you’re doing, keep b—-g on and drink lots of red wine.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be?
I’d like to experience a process that would render me invisible. That would be amazing because you’d be able to everything people normally only say about you behind your back and don’t dare to say to your face! Also I could happily gatecrash celeb dos and no one would be the wiser.
And lastly, who would you most like to meet and why?
That’s a difficult one. If I’m allowed to time travel I’d choose William Harvey (he of the circulation of the blood) a brilliant, short, rather irascible man whose innovative theory was truly revolutionary and impacted hugely on modern biology and anatomy. He became known as the person who arrived to a great proficiency in Cat and Dog cutting.
Many thanks Serena for coming along today and giving such a great interview, it was lovely to meet you.
You can learn more about Serena and her novels by clicking on the social network links below.