I've known Tilly Tennant for, oh, quite some years now.
Tilly is the pen name of Sharon Sant, a fellow author living in Stoke-on-Trent.
Writing as Tilly, she is one of those authors that you can dive into each book as if it were like catching up with an old friend.
Her characters and storylines are realistic, and are about day to day life struggles that we all go through. And there is lots of romance too.
I asked Tilly a few questions - she gave some terrific answers.
But first, he's a little more about Tilly's new book, out now, Worth Waiting For.
Worth Waiting For
On an ordinary, grey day a little bit of magic is about to happen on a street corner near you…
Ellie Newton’s life revolves around telling other people’s stories. As a journalist for the Millrise Echo, she’s always a phone call away from the latest goings-on in her hometown. But school fundraisers and shopping trolley thefts have started to feel slightly, dare she say it, boring. Until she hears about a story that definitely has something special.
Ben was heartbroken when his girlfriend Gemma walked out on him without a word. But rather than mope around the house and eat his body weight in cookie-dough ice cream, he’s decided to do something about it. This calls for a grand gesture, and a bunch of flowers just isn’t going to cut it. Ben has set up camp on the street outside Gemma’s house and is determined to stay there until she explains why she left and offers him a chance to fix things.
The story has everything Ellie loves – local interest, romance, a rather handsome man – and she decides to do everything she can to help Ben win Gemma back. But as Ellie and Ben join forces to reunite him with the girl of his dreams, could their story lead them somewhere more unexpected, after all?
Tell me Tilly, have you always wanted to be a writer?
As a kid I wanted to be an actor, then a pop star, and when I realised I was rubbish at both these things I told everyone I was going to be an author. I always had a book on the go and would often read through the night, so it seemed only natural I’d end up writing them. It took another twenty-five years to actually get that career though – they say good things come to those who wait but I’m not sure they intended anyone to wait that long!
Why do you write women’s fiction?
I think it appeals because many of the themes are universal, as are the struggles experienced by women the world over. Women’s fiction (although I know men read it too) allows us to explore situations and emotional dilemmas that are familiar to us all based around love, duty, family, the things in life that hold us back and the ways in which we can set ourselves free. Women’s fiction allows for a deeper emotional connection in a way that other genres shy away from – nobody ever wanted to see James Bond question whether Pussy Galore really loves him or not!
Who is your favourite author and their book?
I can never answer this; there’s no one favourite, just a list of incredible books by various authors that I’d happily read over and over. I like a story to surprise me, make me think of something in a way I’ve never imagined before, and I like the language to transport me. If a book can do all those things then I’m in love!
Which is your favourite character in all your books so far?
This is so hard to answer! Ask me on a different day and I’ll give you a different reply, but today it’s Kristofer from The Summer of Secrets. He’s sweet and eccentric and very hot – a kind of nerdy Thor – and I love that he’s complicated and yet emotionally uncomplicated all at the same time.
How do you stay disciplined enough to write so many books a year?
It helps that I love what I do, so discipline is really just enjoyment. Of course, there are days when I don’t feel like it or find it hard to fit writing in, but having deadlines from my editor helps, as does knowing that if I don’t write the bills won’t get paid!
Which of your books would you like to see as a film?
I’m so lucky to have had one turned into a film. A Very Vintage Christmas aired for the first time in the US and Canada last year. I’m hoping it will get to the UK this year but I haven’t heard whether any stations have taken it up yet. Seeing photos from the set and getting to chat with the actors and the producer is possibly the most excited I’ve ever been!
Would you ever write in another genre?
I have written young adult books in the past as Sharon Sant. I’d love to do more of those at some point but at the moment I’m just too busy working on Tilly Tennant books for my publisher.
Do you have a standalone book that you’d love to revisit in a sequel?
Pretty much all of them! I’d actually love to go back to The Little Village Bakery series too. There are two books in that series and I had plans for a third but my editor wanted something new from me so it never happened. I still have all the notes for it and a plot worked out… maybe one day I’ll get to write it!
Tilly's new book is out today!
As the snow flutters down in the little village of Linnetford, escape to a cosy farmhouse kitchen, scented with the rich aromas of fruitcake and gingerbread, where a love of baking is about to unite two lonely hearts…
Cathy cooked at her mother’s side her whole life and could bake a fairy cake before she could ride a bike. Now she is facing her first Christmas without her beloved mother, she’s determined to use her memories for something positive. She decides to organise a weekly cooking class, sharing her mother’s precious recipes with other lonely souls.
There’s just one small spanner in the works: teenager Tansy, who attends Cathy’s classes even though she’s rude to everyone there and seems to hate every minute. Cathy is poised to ask Tansy to leave, but her uncle, physiotherapist Matt, begs her to give the teenager another chance. And Cathy can’t resist Matt’s sparkling hazel eyes and incredibly kind heart…
But just as Cathy is feeling she might find joy again, her ex returns to Linnetford, desperate for a second chance. With Matt becoming distant as his life gets more complicated, it seems so easy to return to the safe embrace of someone she knows so well. Can Cathy avoid the temptation of falling back in love with the man who broke her heart and let Christmas bring her the greatest gift – that of happiness?
What are you reading now and what have you read last?
I’m actually reading The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson. It’s a non-fiction book and sounds like a dry subject, but his way of explaining things is so entertaining you don’t even realise you’re learning! I’ve read almost all of his books and loved them all. I’m also reading Coming Home to Hope Street (honestly, not just saying that!) for my fiction fix. Before that I read Saving Missy by Beth Morrey. I don’t get as much time as I’d like for reading, to be honest, mostly because I have so much work to do on my own books these days. I’m not complaining, of course, while I have readers I’m happy to do that.
What’s your favourite snack while writing?
Whatever leaps first into my hands! When I’m in ‘the zone’ I don’t tend to stop for lunch as I don’t want to lose my thread, so if I’m hungry I’ll literally grab the nearest edible, ready-to-eat item. It could be crisps, biscuits, fruit… I’ve even been known to chomp ham from the pack and a whole tub of pickled beetroot!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m not sure who said this to me – it could have been you Mel! Someone once told me keep your eyes on your own lane. It’s so easy to get distracted and bogged down watching the successes of your fellow authors. Celebrate with them, be happy for them, but don’t compare yourself to them – that way madness lies! We all have ups and downs, successes and failures, and things happen at different times for us; all you can do is focus on what you can influence, not the things you have no control over. Concentrate on your work and on making every book the best it can be – it’s energy far better spent.
Do you treat yourself when you publish a book?
I used to in the early days but I’ve published so many now the big celebrations have tailed off. I treat myself when I’ve finished writing a book and sent it to my editor with a few days off where I do absolutely nothing that requires my brain at all. It helps me clear my head before I start work on something new.
Which genres do you read in?
If it looks interesting enough I’ll read it, no matter what the genre. There are some I rarely read in – spy thrillers and true murder cases and that sort of thing – but even then if it piques my curiosity then I’ll pick it up and have a go. Being open minded is a good way to discover books and I’ve enjoyed many that I would never have picked up otherwise.
Thanks so much for the chat, Tilly, and the best of luck with your new book!
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop assistant, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and hasn't stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor and part-time lecturer.
Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture and is currently working on her fifteenth Tilly Tennant novel. Christmas bestseller A Very Vintage Christmas has just been made into a movie for Lifetime Channel.
Tilly also writes young adult fiction as Sharon Sant. Find out more about Tilly and how to join her mailing list for news and exclusives at www.tillytennant.com