Thursday 20 October 2016

Carol Rivers

Happy publication day to Carol Rivers for A Promise Between Friends. It's no secret that I love a good family saga and as i'm currently reading this one, it's certainly living up to my expectations!

Carol has very kindly agreed to be my very first Q&A author on the blog and so I hope you enjoy reading all about Carol Rivers..... 

Hi and welcome Carol. 

Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.
Thank YOU, Julie. It’s lovely to be here today. I love your blog and often call by to read your posts. I was lucky enough to have my East End saga ‘Lizzie of Langley Street’ reviewed on Boon’s Bookcase!

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
My family were evacuees from the East End during the Blitz. A bomb dropped on Mum’s house, blew the back door in to the front and Mum survived with Grandad, under the kitchen table. When Dad and my uncles were demobbed after the war our big cockney family of dockers, costermongers, seamstresses and crooks left the Isle of Dogs for new horizons. One of them was Margate, another Oxford and of course eventually Dorset, where I now live!

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
More an eves-dropper, really. The East End always runs through your blood. As a child, along with my cousins, we were privy to this chequered family’s secrets, as we sat under the table at parties - and listened. That’s how stories are born and then you link them up with your own life’s experience and emotions. And if you’ve a mind to, you write them down. I never run out of stories and they all have a personal element linked closely with my books.

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
You name it! Just anything to make a few bob. The job I enjoyed most was working as a dinner lady at my children’s school. Plenty of research here and character observations on parent day!

How do you carry out the research for your novels?
The research is generally historical. If I’m not sure of a fact, I’ll check it on Google, or interview someone who can tell me. But the plots, as I’ve said, are influenced by cockney culture and - emotions - absolutely vital - for a writer’s characters.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Without a doubt, sitting down and starting to write is never easy. Life gets in the way! But my one fear is, if I don’t write in a day, will I ever write again? So when I’ve finally glued my pants to the chair and actually start keyboarding - well - when I’ve finished the scene - writing magically becomes easy!

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I have to admit I’d probably write anywhere. As you know, we’ve moved around, so I’ve written in gardens (fav), cupboards and cafes. At the moment I write in a lovely conservatory. It’s only small, but overlooks the trees. I can scoff my muffin, drink my coffee, talk to the birds and work all at the same time. My routines go pear-shaped when I try to stick to them. Mornings are far better, but they are for other people too. So just as long as I get to my compie at some point in the day or night, I’m happy.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I always have a Lena Kennedy to hand - she’s the bees knees of London saga writing. Stella Rimmington takes my fancy, M. C. Beaton, (Agatha Raisin) for a good giggle and a decent crime thriller without gore. I love my Kindle. I save all my paperbacks. I like a daily or nightly dip of audio. There’s so much choice out there. Basically, I’ll give most books a go, often downloading a sample from Amazon first.

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
Social media has taken over from what I knew as a chinwag. You know, when you hot gos about the little things in life! Nowadays, we just have to have a smart phone or compie to enjoy the conversation. Also, reaching more readers helps to garner books reviews with online stores like Amazon. (And thank you so much for your own brilliant review.) We all want to know what people think of the book we are about to buy and whether it’s value for money. Amazon helpfully facilitates the reader and writer. So I consider Amazon a big part of my social media too. It’s lovely to meet and interact with people who have the same things in common. A fine example is today - my paperback publication day. What could be better that hot gossiping with you on your fab blog, Julie?

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
Ah, Ruby! She’s young, pretty, ambitious, a true 1950’s East Ender, with a heathy appetite for fashion and smoothies. (Not milkshake!) She thinks she’s streetwise. In fact she’s so confident of herself that she’s prepared to sacrifice just about anything for a celebrity career. Sound familiar? Well, this was 1950 and not 2016. But Ruby has just the same problem as any young achiever today. Whether on stage, in music, or the movies, the seduction of the spotlight is irresistible. And Ruby heads straight for it. Oddly enough I’m now writing a wartime story for next year. But every so often Ruby tries to steal back to the limelight. And I have to be very firm and draw the curtain - until it’s her turn to appear on stage again in the sequel to my latest book ‘A Promise Between Friends’.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
I suppose you could say a writer must get into the head (behind the eyes - for viewpoint) in each of his/her characters and when you do, that bond is sealed. A bond not unlike the one you share with your children. Lizzie Flowers is the formidable, no-nonsense heroine from my two series books, ‘Lizzie of Langley Street’ and ‘The Fight for Lizzie Flowers’. I get where she’s coming from. I think she’s got guts. And she also has vision. Unfortunately though, love holds her back. Doesn’t it with all of us at some point in our lives? This is the theme of the books and I’ve yet to write Lizzie number 3, when I hope to discover more about Lizzie and what makes her tick.

Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?

No, I think that’s great, Julie. Some lovely questions and it’s been a pleasure. 

Thank you so much Carole, I loved reading these answers and I can't wait to finish reading A Promise Between Friends to discover what happens to Ruby! and also Lizzie is a brilliant character and one of my favourites. I can't wait to read more about her and her family. 
You are welcome to join me on Boon's Bookcase anytime.


  1. Lovely to be with you today, Julie. Thanks so much for having me on your blog xx

  2. An interesting and informative Q & A with Carol Rivers. She has given lots of useful guidance relating to viewpoint and characterisation. I loved reading A Promise Between Friends and enjoyed the fashion and elegant era of the 1950s. I have a question for Carol...Was it difficult to write Chapter 10 (scene with Charles) as I was on the edge of my seat and couldn't put the book down! Many thanks Julie for a great Q & A with one of my favourite authors.

  3. Hi Wendy! I'm so glad you enjoyed A Promise Between Friends and thank you very much for your comment. You've posed an insightful question about Charles; he represents the type of man who most of us know at some point - and make a wide berth to avoid. So I used this experience to develop Ruby's character. Her naivety was her downfall and the lesson was learned at some cost. But, as in life, often the tougher the lesson, the more rewarding it is. Wonderful to know you couldn't put the book down, Wendy, and that you enjoyed Julie's questions as much as I did, in answering them. Lovely to chat on Boon's Bookcase!