Alice and Julie are best friends, who spent a summer in Cornwall when they were just eighteen. A Second Chance Summer is set ten years later when both have been through a couple of major life events. It’s a chance for them to try to recapture some of the freedom of their younger days, and for Alice to see if she can find Sam, who she fell in love with that first summer. Julie is actually trying to escape a relationship, having just broken off an engagement back home.
Will these best friends find what they are looking for when they return to the recapture their youth in Cornwall? To guide us around the destinations to visit in a Cornwall summer, Katherine E. Smith, author of ‘A Second Chance Summer’, has joined me today. Katherine, one of the strong themes in this book is about revisiting the past. Let’s revisit the past, to back when this book was in its infancy. Do you remember how the idea came to you?
The idea for this series of books came to me when I was meant to be working on something quite different! I was on holiday in Cornwall myself and I just managed to get the germ of the idea down – and the rest followed swiftly. I am always inspired by Cornwall and find it very easy to write when I’m there but even when I’m back home in Shropshire I can easily conjure up the sights, sounds and feel of the place.
Were these memories of this Cornish holiday the central events from your life that you used to build this story, or did you add other snippets from your life?
I think I managed to dredge up memories of being in my teens and twenties, and a few memories of a lovely summer holiday in Cornwall with one of my best friends, which only lasted a week but which I would have loved to have lasted all summer.
A summer-long holiday would have been awesome, but I’m sure you packed a lot of fun into the week-long one too. When were you digging for memories of that carefree period if your life, what was a great memory that fell out of your mind?
On a writing course in Yorkshire when I as at college, two of my friends and I tried to find Sylvia Plath’s grave. We must have visited about ten graveyards, before eventually getting to see it on the last day.
*Laughs* That’s awesome, and I’m so glad you managed to find it! Were your best friends from this period in your life the basis for your characters, or do you remember your characters coming to life in another way?
This is a tough question! I don’t know; they developed along with the storyline. I always get to know my characters in my head first – and I suppose I wanted these people to be (on the whole) likeable and honest, and flawed.
As the storyline and characters developed, what did you find yourself learning about what the characters or the story itself had to tell you?
That I could write a book I was happy within a fairly short space of time – and that I could write a more commercially-friendly story and still love it.
Was writing in a reduced amount of time exhausting, or was the challenge energising?
It energises me, for sure – I just find it hard to squeeze it in between work and looking after my family.
Striking that balance between writing and life can be tricky, but I quite often I find that having multiple outside pressures help an author to sit down and really focus on their writing. When you’re deep in the middle of a story, where is your focus?
I think of the characters, I suppose – and the readers – but I really try to get into the story and I just hope that readers will enjoy it when it’s done!
I’m sure they will! What is the most important element that you enjoyed, and you also hope your readers enjoy too?
I love Julie and Alice’s friendship and their ambition. While this is a love story, it also features these two themes very strongly. I don’t know where I would be without my friends and I dedicated this book to them.
Awwww, that’s lovely! I really want to find out who you’ve dedicated all of your other books too now, but I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have yet to read them, so let’s just settle on finding out a little more about your next writing project. What can you tell us about it?
I am working on the third, concluding, book of this Coming Back to Cornwall series.
I also work with other authors in my guise as an editor and publisher.
Fun times ahead! And I love that you keep working heavily in the writing field as an editor and publisher. As you’ve kept writing, and adding these additional writing experiences into the mix, how do you feel your author voice has changed?
I am far more confident and happy to just get on with it.
Yay, I love confident and happy authors! Has this newfound confidence and joy around the love of writing led you to think about your brand as an author?
I am always trying to develop my author brand. I have a fantastic cover designer, who has made sure that my books are all identifiable as ‘mine’. It’s a work in progress as marketing comes even further down the list than writing, in terms of how much time I can spend on it.
Those pesky to-do lists never seem to end, do they? Well, you know what, instead of crossing off the next item on the never-ending lists, let’s go and play a little bit before we get in the next job of the day. I really love some of my playful questions, and let’s see if you like my first choice for today, why is a square meal served on round plates?
This is not always the case – one of my favourite restaurants uses triangular plates, which makes for a very messy table.
I like the idea of triangle plates, I think they would tesselate well on the table, but I think you might be right about the message table. All I can think about is how much food would fall off them! Instead of cleaning up messy tables, let’s turn something that might be considered a mess – a new type of animal, and make some magic to leave our chat on a positive note. If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
I kind of like the idea of a giraffe crossed with an elephant. Or an elephant and a dolphin. I like the idea of elephants that can live underwater.
Unwater elephants would take my vote! I think that’s totally the direction you should take for your next book! And since I don’t want to keep you from your writing, we’ll end our chat for today, but I’d like to thank you again sharing a taste of your world with myself and the readers today!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘A Second Chance Summer ( ASIN: B078QBZL9Q )‘.
Want to find out more about Katharine E. Smith? Connect here!