If like me you enjoy getting involved in a good book, hopefully you have discovered the delightful, romantic, modern-day novels by British author Katie Fforde. With over twenty-seven books already in print, Katie is looking forward to another coming out in Spring 2022 as a follow on to ‘A Wedding in the Country’ published in early 2021. Although Katie now lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire with her husband, she grew up in Wimbledon.
To celebrate this month’s ‘Words’ issue, I took time to speak with Katie to see what it takes to get launched into the literary world.
“The first book I had published in 1995 was ‘Living Dangerously’. I used the area in which I live – in the beautiful Stroud valley – as the setting and I created a different perspective on a romantic novel, often using my own life experiences interwoven in my stories. Although ‘Living Dangerously’ was my first published novel, it was certainly not the first book I had written. Indeed, I had tried and failed to be published by Mills and Boon, and wrote eight novels, either entirely or partially before I accepted defeat. It was only when I was fortunate enough to acquire a literary agent, thanks to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, that I started writing mainstream romantic fiction. A publisher was found for ‘Living Dangerously’ before I had finished it. I was on the way.
People who write books often do not realise the amount of research involved in finding a suitable agent to take an interest in their work. I recommend aspiring writers look at ‘The Writers’ Handbook’ as well as the ‘Artists and Writers’ Yearbook’. Ensure you read the agents’ requirements very carefully before approaching them. The covering letter to a prospective agent is the hardest bit of writing you will ever do! If you are able, become a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association if that is your genre. Attending the events they hold gives you the opportunity to meet agents in person. If they say, ‘send me something’, you are incredibly lucky.”
Getting your work to a publishable standard involves hard work. I often come across aspiring writers who are most indignant that their first novel has not been picked up. Give yourself time to learn your craft. Be prepared to face multiple rejections and remember, you learn from writing books that do not quite make it! The lucky few who have their first novel accepted may struggle to write a future book. I had eight failures before I was successful and learned a lot from each.
“ created the Katie Fforde Bursary because I was a ‘nearly there’ writer for a long time. I found it a bit of a struggle to pay my annual subscription to the Romantic Novelists' Association so when I finally became published, I wanted to give something back. That's the bursary; a year's subscription and a place at the conference. It does seem to give people a valuable boost to their confidence. People can find out more about the Romantic Novelists' Association at www.rna-uk.org.”
Katie’s latest book ‘A Wedding in the Country’ has received outstanding reviews and is the first part of a trilogy. “One of the books I have most enjoyed writing has been ‘A Wedding in the Country’ which I wrote over the lockdown in 2020. It was wonderful to leave Covid behind and focus on new characters and story lines. Three girls meet at a cookery school (based on the one I attended in the 70’s but I thought the swinging ‘60’s would be more fun). I have just completed ‘A Wedding in Provence’ which should be out around Mothering Sunday in March 2022 along with a paperback version of ‘A Wedding in the Country’. Currently I am working on the final book which will be set in England and published in 2023.”
When Katie is not busy writing she loves hearing peoples’ stories. “I think if I wasn’t a novelist, I’d probably have been some sort of counsellor. However, together with my daughter Briony, we have been developing a range of homeware items and stationery, including a writer’s kit which was based on one that my mother gave me many years ago to inspire me to start writing.”
To find out more about Katie Fforde and her latest books published by Penguin Random House, visit www.KatieFforde.com.
COMPETITION: OX MAGAZINE READERS HAVE THE CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF TWO COPIES OF KATIE FFORDE’S ‘A WEDDING IN THE COUNTRY’.