Continuing with my spotlight features on fellow Choc Lit authors, this week I have Rhoda Baxter‘s guest interview.
Rhoda writes romantic comedy with a hint of geek. She likes to write about people who make her laugh. She is a firm believer in tea and cake. Her latest book Girl Having a Ball is available to buy now.
I asked Rhoda some questions:-
When do you write?
I have a day job and a young family, so things are pretty full on during the day. I work only four days a week, which means that I have a ‘spare’ day to do my chores and catch up on the essential stuff. I usually rush around like a mad thing in the morning, so that I have a bit of time in the afternoon to squeeze in a bit of writing before the kids get back.
The rest of the time, I write at night, between 9 and about 11pm, sitting in bed with my laptop on my knees. Apart from the occasional interruption to put a small child back in their bed, or to turn the beeper off on the tumble dryer, it’s pretty solid writing time. I do sometimes fall asleep at the keyboard – but that’s fine. I just delete the bit that goes alkjfowhanvalsdnpuoh before I start the next day.
When I was as school my Physics teacher once told me that to make up an extra hour of revision time every day, I should try and do four fifteen minute bouts of it. An hour is hard to find. Fifteen minutes is much less daunting. I still use this advice (thanks Mr Nixon!) and try to get bits of work done when I can find 15 minutes. This is especially useful when editing.
Someone (who was it?) once said that the work you have to do expands to fit into the time you have. I think this is very true. Although, in today’s high pressure life, it’s good to remember that it is possible to have too much to do! I always try and make sure I have a good old slouch around watching Netflix at least once a week.
Tell us more about your new book release.
Girl Having A Ball was written about five years ago. I’d finished Girl On The Run and the character of Stevie was demanding that I write her story next. Stevie was very young (around 19) in Girl On The Run. Girl Having A Ball is set a few years later, when Stevie is 22 and it’s very much a coming of age story. Stevie starts off immature and a little needy, by the end of the book she’s successfully running her own business and is very much a grown up.
The book is set in a lovely manor house in Oxford. This is based on a real house in Norham Gardens that used to be a student hostel. It’s a fabulous place. In the book, Stevie and Alice find the world war two blackout blinds and use them to cover the windows in one of the rooms and turn it into a disco. We actually did this in the real house when we had a big party to welcome the year 2000.
There’s a lot about the house in the book. There’s also a bunch of barmy retired academics, a pop star, a lot of Sri Lankan food and at least one disco ball in it.
I’m fascinated by your scientific background. Can you tell us more about your training and career, and how this informs your writing?
I wanted to do English Literature and other humanities at A-level, but my parents said I should do science because it was more useful when applying for a job. Being an obedient sort of kid (and a swot), I did so. I studied Biochemistry at Oxford and stayed on to do a DPhil in microbiology. Working in a lab was really fun and I still miss the camaraderie that existed in the group, but I realised that being a full time scientist wasn’t for me.
After much dithering, I decided to get into working in intellectual property (patents and such like). I now work in university Technology Transfer, which means I get to keep the geek side of me happy by being in contact with cutting edge science… but I don’t actually have to do any of the lab work.
The logical science brain is hard to switch off, which means that I find it hard to suspend disbelief. This comes out in my writing as a hint of cynicism. I can’t believe in insta-lust for example, because the logical side of me wants to know how on earth that can last if there are no other things in common. On the other hand, friends to lovers makes complete sense to me as a path to happy ever after. I also find that I’m constantly looking out for plot holes. Everything must follow logically. Luckily, logic is a key part of story writing too.
Blurb for Girl Having A Ball
What if you had to learn to stand on your own feet?
Although Stevie lost her parents when she was very young, she’s always been able to rely on her brother, Marsh. But now Marsh is married and Stevie feels like she is losing him too. Determined to prove her independence, Stevie sets about transforming her life, giving up her dead-end job and following her passion for events management.
Her first assignment takes her to a stunning manor house in Oxford where she is tasked with organising a charity ball on a shoestring. Between canapé worries, celebrity guests and trying to keep the hyper-critical Lady Beryl happy, Stevie’s teenage crush, Tom, resurfaces to confuse things even further.
But ‘poor needy little Stevie’ is now ‘Stevie the strong woman’ and she won’t let a man get in the way of her dreams – will she?
Thank you for appearing on my blog, Rhoda. You can catch up with her on Twitter (@rhodabaxter), on her website (www.rhodabaxter.com) or on Facebook. Please do say hello. She’d love to hear from you, especially if you want to talk about cake.
If you sign up for her newsletter, you can get a free booklet with recipes for foods mentioned in Girl Having A Ball.
Buy links for Girl Having A Ball:
Other books by Rhoda