The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is the debut novel from Rachel Dove, winner of The Prima Flirty Fiction Competition. You won’t be able to resist this heart-warming romantic story set in an idyllic Yorkshire village, full of lovable characters and laugh-out-loud moments…as Amanda finds her way to a second chance at life and love. This is the reading escape you’ve been looking for and today she's answering a few questions I put to her.
1. You’re the winner of the Prima Flirty Fiction Competition – congratulations! - having been a runner-up in the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition a few years ago I have to ask how it felt to actually win a writing competition?
Thank you, and well done for the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition! Hope you enter again! Winning was surreal, I was teaching at the time and when I got the email saying they were trying to get in touch with me with good news, I couldn’t wait till my break to ring them and find out! It’s been amazing, and I never expected to get past the final ten.
2. I love the idea of running a small boutique and certainly look forward to reading about the one in The Chic Boutique on Baker Street. What gave you the idea of Amanda setting up her own boutique?
I am quite crafty myself, and I love the idea of a little craft shop where you can go and be with people, share tips and just enjoy relaxing in company. It grew from there, I am a bit of a Pinterest geek myself, and I really liked the idea of Amanda going for her dream.
3. I haven’t been to Yorkshire for years but love the idea of reading a book set in a village there. Is the village of Westfield inspired by where you live or by anywhere in particular?
It’s part inspired by where I live, which is a mix of rural land and village life in Wakefield, and Haworth, which is a place I absolutely adore, and have been to many times. That place is amazing, and I like the idea of slowing down life and spending time doing what you like, with people you love.
4. If the film rights to your novel were sold, who would you like to play Amanda and Ben?
I have said different in the past for Amanda, because no one can come close to the Amanda I created in my head, which we all do with books, but James Norton is a talent I think would be brilliant at Ben. For Amanda, Emily Blunt would be fantastic – she could play both sides of our complicated Miss Perry really well.
5. What advice would you give to a new writer wishing to be published?
I would say that you have to be a reader. Read every book you can, classics, modern, all genres, all ages. Read out of your comfort zone. See what you like, what you don’t. You will learn so much, see how writers push boundaries, deal with incidents, fall in love. Then write the book you want to read. Write the book that speaks to you. And just keep writing.
6. What is your favourite part of being a writer?
Having someone tell you they like your book, and talk to you like they are friends with your characters. That is amazing, that someone can read something you plucked from your head and understand it so well. That’s one of my favourite parts, and it’s so humbling. I am grateful to anyone who ever took the time to read my work.
7. I’ve always found other writers to be incredibly supportive, can you tell us a little about any unexpected support you’ve received on your journey to becoming a published author?
My family are really supportive, and everyone I have met on this journey so far has been amazing. The writers I meet in real life and on social media have all been amazing, and you feel like you are part of a family. Bloggers have always amazed me with how passionate and supportive and hardworking they are, and I am so grateful for every kind wish. My boys however, were not so happy! I named them in my dedication, and they were not impressed with my words! I shall have to think of something to top them for the next one :)
8. I write in a shed – a very messy one - do you have a particular writing space where you always write?
A shed sounds amazing! I don’t have a writing space as such, I do have a desk which I work on sometimes, but quite often I work in bed, in the car whilst waiting for the boys, on the sofa, in the kitchen. I always carry pens and notebooks with me, and have two laptops I use, but I tend to go with the flow at home. I do escape to coffee bars with the laptop though, which is the best. Nice coffee, background noise and no internet or home distractions. Can’t clean the oven when you are out and about!
The perfect escape to the country…
make a fresh start.
Local vet Ben is the golden boy of Westfield, especially to resident gossip Agatha Mayweather, who is determined to help Ben get his life back together after his wife left.
When a chance encounter outside the ‘chic boutique’ sets sparks flying between Amanda and Ben, Agatha is itching to set them up. But are Amanda and Ben really ready for romance?