Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire, England, with her lovely family and two cats. When not writing, she spends the day telling herself to go swimming and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines and is thrilled with the release of Doubting Abbey, her debut novel, published by CarinaUK Harlequin
Your debut novel is called 'Doubting Abbey', please could you tell me about it?
The story revolves around pizza waitress Gemma who must pass herself off as posh friend Abbey, for two weeks, in order to help rundown Applebridge Hall win the reality show Million Dollar Mansion. It is a fun read (I hope!) which also portrays how difficult it is for aristocratic families to maintain their stately homes. And there is a rather gorgeous hunk in the form of uptight earl’s son, Lord Edward!
'Doubting Abbey' is about Gemma & Abbey, please could you tell me a bit about them?
They are flatmates and best friends, working at the same pizza parlour (Abbey is learning hands-on about the catering trade before joining her father’s cookery business.) On the surface they have little in common, with regards to style, background and behaviour, but those things matter little to them. Both love novels and Scrabble and have a close bond – hence Abbey being able to ask Gemma the huge favour of standing in for in during the filming of the reality show. They also bear a resemblance to each other, which enables Gemma to mimic her friend, once she’s toned down her make-up and style of dress.
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
Yes, it was hard and much longer than I expected! I began writing novels almost nine years ago and finally bagged an agent in 2011. You need to be determined and able to pick yourself up after rejection. In 2011 I also started writing short stories for women’s magazines and have sold over 80 now. That was a much needed boost for my writing ego, and then this autumn I signed a 3 book deal with CarinaUK.
Are any of the characters in 'Doubting Abbey' anything like you?
Aspects of Gemma are similar to me! I can be impulsive and regret things I’ve done/said afterwards. I still feel about eighteen inside!
If 'Doubting Abbey' was to be made into a film, who would your ideal cast be?
There is a page about this on my Doubting Abbey blog – with links to photos. It’s a quiz to guess who I would cast, so I won’t spoil the fun. Here is the link!
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
I would go out with Lord Edward – not only is he gorgeous to look at, but I’d see it as a challenge to get him to open up about his problems. The burden is on him to make struggling Applebridge Hall a going concern and I’d like to try to cajole him into opening up about his worries and bring him out of himself a bit – just like Gemma does.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Join an online writing community – don’t write in a vacuum and make friends with people who can offer you advice and support.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I am currently thinking about a sequel to Doubting Abbey which is very exciting for me!
Was there any book you read as a child that convinced you that you wanted to become a writer? If so, which one was it?
Enid Blyton’s – I loved all of her books and used to read the Malory Towers series in the bath. I’m sure she had a strong influence over the growing feeling inside of me that one day I would write.
What or who in life inspires you?
People who overcome adversity to achieve something, whether that is climbing Mount Everest or beating agrophobia to go to the shops.
There's a cocktail in honour of 'Doubting Abbey' what are the ingredients?
There are actually two cocktails featured in the book! One is called a Bloody Bull, which is a Bloody Mary with Beef consommé in it - but that doesn’t sound overly appealing to me, so it would have to be the other one, the more appropriate English Rose, made from apricot brandy, vermouth and grenadine.
Thank you to Sam for talking to The Love of a Good Book!