Allie lives in Kent in England with her family and tortoises. She loves to swim – and began 2018 with a bracing, and breath taking dip in the stormy English channel – take yoga classes and run, but above all she loves reading, creating her own characters and stories, and putting those ideas onto the page.
The Lido Girls, a heart-warming tale of friendship and fitness, set in Britain in 1935 is her debut novel. Her second historical novel, set during and just after World War 1 will be published by HQ Digital in the summer of 2018.
The Lido Girls
It’s the summer of 1935 and holidaymakers are flocking to St Darlstone and its lido on the British coast.
With little chance of finding a husband, no-nonsense Natalie Flacker lives for teaching, until she finds herself out of a job, courtesy of her best friend Delphi. But if she can team up with Delphi then perhaps she can bring her rigorous physical education programme to the people of St Darlstone and, maybe there’s a chance she can start again and help her friend to achieve her dreams too.
So Natalie takes on The Lido Girls, but can she find the courage to face up to her fears and realise what she truly wants in life?
Set against the backdrop of the pioneering keep fit movement, this is a feel-good celebration of friendship and what’s possible when you follow your heart.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I did read quite a lot as a child. I remember loving story time at school and the excitement of visiting the local library. The characters and stories that stayed with me are the Moomins and Anne of Green Gables. My reading tastes were heavily influenced by my uncle who passed down a lot of science fiction and fantasy to me and my grandmother who saved her novels by Maeve Binchy, Catherine Cookson, and Rosamunde Pilcher.
I am a sucker for stories that explore relationships, particularly within families. I don’t tend to stray from that, and I don’t mind whether it has a contemporary or historical setting. I occasionally read crime and thrillers, but I read at bedtime and that type of novels tends to keep me awake. I’m much more into heart-warming, whimsical and cosy fiction.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
The Lido Girls is digitally published as an ebook with HQ Digital, a digital-first imprint from HarperCollins.
Which genre do you write in and why?
The Lido Girls was actually my first historical women’s fiction story, prior to that I wrote contemporary women’s fiction. I’m interested in exploring the issues and challenges that women encounter and my research into twentieth century social history opened up many story ideas to me. I’ve found it fascinating to walk in the shoes of women from the last century and to experience both the similarities and the differences in life now and then.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
Teachers have had a really powerful influence on me. They’ve offered encouragement, enthusiasm and that all-important validation that I needed to press on and make it happen.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Yes! I’m really interested by Britain’s place in the world, how that has changed and the ensuing identity crisis. Whilst researching my second book I became fascinated with how Britain conducted itself during WW1 and how German civilians were treated here. I also find it easier to comprehend events by looking back in time to see British culture objectively through a long lens. It’s also fascinating to see history repeating itself.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
Planning! I need to write the story in full to really see it and feel it, but this is a very time consuming way to write. I’m still working on ways to overcome it. For my third book I’m going to try and write synopses of each chapter so that I can see the cause and effect in action without committing to thousands of words of potentially deleted prose. If it doesn’t work, I might have to accept that writing myself in an out of corners until the story crystalizes is just my process. I’m hoping that the more novels I write, the more adept I’ll become at planning. If I can nail it then I’ll definitely be a more time-efficient writer.
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