Good morning Jessie and welcome to Tuesday Talk. Can I begin, by asking you a little about yourself?
It is wonderful to join you for a chat about my new and exciting world of books and handbags. This week is the first anniversary of my Books in my Handbag Blog, so I am honoured to celebrate it with you. This is a great opportunity to buy cake and talk about my exciting, new life.
This week I released a new edition of my debut novel. You Can’t Go It Alone explores the impact secrets can have on relationships and pursuit of happiness. The reader is invited to laugh and cry with the characters and consider how to find joy in the simple things in life. Set in Wales, you will visit the Olive Tree Café, listen to music and support characters through some tough times.
I am an accidental blogger and avid supporter of authors. I blog about books, food and travel. Connecting with authors and readers via my Books in my Handbag Blog is a blast. I showcase authors’ books in the popular Handbag Gallery and have fun meeting authors, like yourself, in my virtual world. The Author Chat Room and extracts provide effective insights into the novels and authors’ lives. Recently, I asked for ‘foodie’ extracts and this has tempted many readers to comment. Jo, have you got any extracts you would like to share with my readers?
How did you make that step from blogger to author?
I wrote the novel first and opportunity led me into the wonderful world of blogging.
My lifelong dream to write a novel prompted me to move on from my career. The characters hassled me for years and it was time to set them free. I tapped and tapped away on my laptop for six months, and it was fun to finally meet the characters. At times, I was a little shocked at their behaviour. Novel completed, I thought nothing of it, and decided I would need to research into the next stages. There were lots of questions buzzing around. Did I need an editor? Would others enjoy my book? How do I present my novel to publishers? During renovations to our house, the manuscript remained unopened on my laptop for quite a while: demolition work did not inspired creativity.
Unbeknown to me, my husband read the book. He self-published the novel, without my knowledge, as he knew I would dilly dally. It shocked me, but I decided to grab the opportunity and make connections with the writing and reading community. Initially, the aim of my blog was to share book reviews of all the books that had resonated with me over the years. I named the blog Books in my Handbag, as all my books are on the kindle, in my handbag.
What inspired you to create Books in My Handbag as a showcase for other authors?
Playing on the theme of handbags, I tweeted photos of my novel in my handbag. Overwhelmed with the positive comments about the photo, I realised it would be fun to ask authors to send their photos. I developed the Handbag Gallery to showcase the authors’ books.
The Handbag Gallery connected me to lots of authors and they have supported me with the editing process. I wanted to find out more about the authors, so I developed my Chat Room and also invite authors to present extracts. Authors give great advice about the writing process through the interviews, and I have learned so much.
Authors must collaborate to promote books. There is such a wealth of expertise out there on social media, and everyone shares the benefit of their wisdom. It is not a surprise the international writing community is a dynamic force, as it is powered by words, creativity and friendship.
If money was no object what would your perfect holiday destination be?
I would love to travel to Australia for six months. In the seventies, my parents planned to emigrate to Australia, but my mother didn’t want to leave her family. If they had been the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ then I would have been born in Australia and this evoked imagination, as a child. In primary school, I told my friends stories of my adventures, with an Australian accent, and they decided my stories were true. I couldn’t convince them I made them up so decided to go along with it.
It would be marvellous to experience some real adventures in Australia and blog about them. Hopefully, the adventures wouldn’t involve the alligators, snakes and sharks from my childhood stories.
Nowadays, I would be keen to sample the Australian food and wine and the sunshine would be most welcome. Perhaps, I could brave a trip to the outback and develop some of those childhood adventures.
After completing and publishing You Can’t Go It Alone, what’s next?
During this chat, I dreamed up some adventure plots for a children’s book, so maybe that’s a challenge for the future. I have ideas for another novel involving the characters in You Can’t Go It Alone. I was sad to leave the village of Delfryn and need to check on everyone. However, I heard two of my characters are refusing to return from a trip to Europe. Before I embark on any travels with my characters, I would like to experiment with the discipline of writing short stories.
My virtual world is a happy and glorious place, but I would like to get out there and interview people face to face. The natural flow of conversation brings up some exciting revelations. Two weeks ago, I met the owner of the local independent bookshop and the ‘real’ interaction was great. Attendance at some local and national bookish events is also on my radar for the summer and beyond. But, I may need to invest in recording equipment as it is difficult to write and listen. Who knows, I may turn up at an author event in the future.
And last of all, you’ve been invited on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Which four celebs would you ideally like to join you and why?
This is an exciting question and I love an opportunity to meet people. However, only jungle I know is at the bottom of the garden, so I would need a survival guide, food and entertainment.
I researched into celebrity survival experts such and found Bear Grylls or Ray Mears. Then I became curious to find out if there are any female adventurers and found Meghan Hine’s website. Apparently, she supports Bear Grylls and is a survival expert – just what my handbag ordered. I do realise that I have chosen someone who would steal the prize, but I am happy to step aside.
My father introduced me to the music of Elkie Brooks in the eighties. ‘Pearl Is A Singer’ struck a chord with me instantly (pardon the pun). My novel features the track and some talented performers. I would love Elkie to sing her songs and perhaps coach me to carry a tune rather than slaying it.
Jamie Oliver writes simple recipes I can follow, and he seems like a jolly chap. His cooking ability and positivity would be helpful if stranded on the jungle.
Living without my handbag would be fine, but I fear I would get agitated without an internet connection. Dick Strawbridge is my cunning escape plan: my Get out of Jungle Free card. Dick Strawbridge could build a bridge or raft to escape from the jungle, and I am sure he would be pleasant company.
Having returned from the jungle, I feel exhausted and will have visit my Bloggers’ Café for a coffee. I hope to see you there very soon, Jo. Best of luck with ‘Watercolours in the Rain’.
Thank you Jessie, great to have you on the blog…
Jessie is a bookish blogger, word warrior and intrepid virtual explorer. She loves to entertain with stories, and is never seen without: her camera, phone, notebook and handbag. Fellow authors have deemed her ‘creative and quirky’ and she wears these words like a blogging badge of honour.
Having overcome my fear of self-publishing, she is now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling her for decades. Her debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society. The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’
Jessie Cahalin hails from Yorkshire, but as a book blogger, she has realised that her country of origin is probably The World. She loves to travel the world and collects cultural gems like a magpie. She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give her inspiration.
Contacts and links
Contact Jessie at: firstname.lastname@example.org