How do you know if you’ve found Mr Perfect or Mr Perfectly Useless?
Jess Willersey realised things with Martin weren’t perfect, but it’s still a shock when he leaves. Is she destined to a singleton lifestyle with only her cat for company, or could a certain hat-astrophic encounter with a handsome stranger at a rather unusual wedding signal a turning point?
At the same time, Jess’s best friends and work colleagues, Maggie and Sarah, are going through their own personal disasters – from shocking family revelations to dodgy dating app-related drama.
To top it all off, it seems that the handsome stranger won’t remain a stranger – and when Neil Jackson turns up at the friends’ offices with yet another bombshell, how long will he stay ‘Mr Perfect’ in Jess’s eyes?
Welcome to my blog, Anni, and congratulations on your new book, Recipe For Mr Perfect. I thought I'd ask a few questions so your readers can learn a little more about your writing process and your latest novel.
Thank you Angela for having me on your blog today to talk about my second novel. It still feels a bit like a dream being a published author and I keep expecting to wake up any minute.
We have Choc Lit Publishing to thank for that, don't we? They believed in our stories.
Redford is the town you created for your story. Is it totally fictional, or have you moulded together different areas of various places you know?
Redford is a combination of all the nice bits from a number of towns and villages. In my head it is somewhere close to the Wiltshire/Oxfordforshire/Berkshire border, but size wise I suppose Cirencester would be the closest fit. I love the variety of shops, cafes and galleries in Cirencester. I hate town centres that look the same as any other. It’s my go-to place for a day’s shopping. I’ve given it a low railway bridge too. We used to have one on the the road outside my school and I’d say at least three times a year a lorry or on one occasion a double-decker bus would get stuck under it and cause complete chaos.
All writers need to edit, then edit again. What did you edit out of this book and why?
My first draft tends to be me throwing everything at my characters. I usually end up with far too many characters, all with multiple unrelated problems, so I have to be quite ruthless. The nice thing about a series is that some of the characters I include in that first draft, I find suddenly have whole stories of their own and I’m trying to get much better about realising that and shelving ideas for later and saving them somewhere where I can easily access them later.
Your protagonist’s friends are Maggie and Sarah. Are they based on anyone in particular and how do you begin to create a character?
Maggie was very much based on someone I worked with when I first started work in an accounts office. She had a lovely dry sense of humour and absolutely refused to believe that computers would catch on! She cycled everywhere and lived at home with her mother and always had a strange looking plant on her desk at work that she was growing for her garden, because the office heating used to be on constantly, we had a lot of windows and she didn’t have a greenhouse. We would always be given detailed instructions on how to care for the plant if she ever went away, but never knew exactly what it was we were looking.
Can you tell us a little about how this story first came to be? Did it start with an image, sudden inspiration, a dilemma or something else?
I used to do wedding photography and the idea for this book came with an incident I witnessed while waiting at a Register Office for “my couple” to arrive. The wedding before ours had finished and was being photographed on a patch of grass next to the building. Believe me, in comparison Darren and Leanne’s wedding is a very toned down affair.
What do you hope that your readers will take away from your book?
I hope they will understand the importance of friendship. Someone asked me recently if I had a superpower what would I conjure up and it would be that feeling of companionship and support from the first office I worked in. If somebody had a problem balancing a ledger, or with anything else, everyone would muck in until it was sorted.
Finally I need to ask this, as I’m worried about Midge your grey speckled hen! Do your dogs and cat get along with Midge or do they have to be kept separate?
Midge lives in a fruit cage in the garden, so she has a good sized run and her own house. We have a number of foxes close by, so have to be fairly careful. We did have three chickens until fairly recently, but sadly lost Mary and Mungo (natural causes - not fox related). She’s five now and we are still getting an egg most days, but she loves the dogs and cat, and will happily come up the fence to say “hi" if they are anywhere close by and if we’re sitting in the garden under the pear tree, she will come and sit as close as she can.
Thank you so much for your interesting answers. It's been lovely to 'meet' you!
As a child, Anni loved writing fiction, producing reams of stories, thankfully most of them have been lost over the years. She hopes these days her stories are a little more plot and character driven than the “Missing Custard” or the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” both of which turned up recently, but the love of creating a fictional world is still very much there and Anni says, ‘If I am stuck on a plot or a character, I find writing in long hand with a lovely pen, is a really good way to get rid of any blocks’.
At the age of eight she came second to a good friend in the school writing competition and won a bag full of gobstoppers, fruit salad and blackjack sweets and thought she had hit the big time!
Further successes, if you exclude the weekly 37½ p postal orders that would regularly turn up from the Junior Bracknell News’s weekly spot the difference or word competitions, took a while longer to achieve.
On leaving school, despite harbouring desires to be a journalist, the need to earn a living sort of got in the way of writing and she became an accountant where her only published work apart from regular financial reports was the employees’ handbook.
A local writing course and an encouraging group of writing friends re-ignited the fiction flame many years later.
Anni would describe her writing these days as mainly modern romantic stories with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in.
Away from writing Anni can usually be found behind a camera, walking the dogs, enjoying one of her husband’s curries or sister’s bakery treats.
Books by Angela Barton
Arlette’s Story: amzn.to/2lAyIlb
Magnolia House: smarturl.it/fttfc2
You’ve Got My Number: http://amzn.to/35Q19jB