This week Write On! talks to author Laura Briggs.
Laura lives in the country and is the author of both traditional and independently published books. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots) and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern-day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to church, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.
WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
LB: When it comes to my Cornish romances and wedding-themed fiction, I would say they’re fun, feel-good, escapist-style reads. My stories are meant to transport you somewhere cosy yet glamorous, with exciting events such as ice-carving contests, royal weddings and reality baking television shows, to name just a few of the things my characters have experienced. They feature upbeat, can-do-attitude heroines and heroes who have just a hint of classic brooding in addition to some boyish charm. The side characters tend to be quirky and the settings places you would want to spend some time in real life.
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book Return To Cornwall?
LB: It’s a heartwarming story that reunites the characters from my long-running series A Wedding In Cornwall. Picking up five years after readers last read about events planner Julianne Rose, it finds the heroine in a new stage of life as a middle-aged working mother of two. She’s trying to get her own events planning firm off the ground with the help of good friend Kitty, while balancing the ups and downs of parenting — and trying to steal a moment or two alone with handsome hubby Matthew. When opportunity knocks in the form of an earl’s wedding to plan, Julianne and Kitty can’t afford not to leap at the challenge, despite the distraction of renovating their new events space. The wedding planners soon have their hands full with their eccentric new clients, not to mention Kitty’s difficult relatives making trouble, and an unwanted admirer for happily married Julianne!
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
LB: Some of my earliest stories were written in crayon about a rooster named Henry, but then, I was probably six or seven at the time! I’ve enjoyed dreaming up stories for a long time now and love to get lost in a good book, of course. There would be too many authors to name as inspiration, but some of my early favourites were the works of Jane Austen. Another writer who helped inspire me is Anne Tyler; the way she captures human drama with such deeply relatable characters. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s works have been a huge influence for my series A Little Hotel In Cornwall (especially when it comes to her escapist settings, plucky heroines and strong sense of adventure)!
I have a soft spot for stories with larger-than-life scenarios, atmospheric settings and plenty of twists and turns; so I try to weave some of those elements into my romance reads. I hope that readers of my books find themselves transported somewhere exciting and fun when they open the pages. I also hope it offers them a cosy break by the fire, or a relaxing way to spend an afternoon in the garden. If it can brighten someone’s day, offering a welcome distraction from life’s difficulties, then I’ll feel as though it’s accomplished a big part of the goal many writers share.
WO: I noticed you have written for @PelicanBookGrp. How important is your faith in your writing?
LB: Very important. It helps guide me in decisions about my work, helps keep me grounded and provides some much-needed assurance at times. The Christian fiction titles I penned for Pelican Book Group were a unique experience for me. It was exciting and challenging to weave elements of my faith into stories of chick-lit and women’s fiction. I’ll always be grateful to the publisher for taking a chance on those stories and for giving me a way to tackle issues of a spiritual nature with scenarios and characters that might also appeal to readers of more mainstream titles. I very much hope that anyone who picks up those works will find some encouragement in the pages, as well as being entertained.
WO: The current issue of Write On! explores the theme of ‘A Kaleidoscope Of Colours’. The idea is that life at the moment is like looking through a kaleidoscope, ever-changing, ever-swirling patterns we must interpret and adapt to. Can you tell us a bit about how you have been adapting to the shifting landscape of this fairly challenging present?
LB: As a full-time novelist working at home, I suspect many of the changes haven’t impacted me in quite the same way as my family and friends. Other aspects, of course, have been completely different. Especially in the first few months, when lockdown was being implemented and uncertainty seemed to be at its peak. So much is still so different, even with lockdown removed. Drive-in church services have certainly been a unique experience! It still feels unusual to wear medical masks in public and to use social distancing rules, as well.
Mostly, though, I keep to the same schedule as always, with 8-10 hours a day in front of the keyboard. Weekend plans may not include much in the way of travel these days and conversations with friends about future vacations together do tend to feel more like fantasy than an actual possibility, but I’m grateful to have other things to keep me busy for the time being. And, of course, I try to remain hopeful that the so-called ‘new normal’ isn’t going to last.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
LB: It might seem obvious, but I would probably tell them to write a story that has elements they love. Something they would be curious to read for themselves. Even if certain aspects of the story or characters must change to better fit the genre — or a publisher’s preferences, if they have one — they should make sure the heart of the story appeals to them and isn’t just marketable.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
LB: I’ll be writing more about events planner Julianne and her friends at the Cornish manor house and in the village, with new adventures and some new characters, reflecting changes since the original novella series. It’s a world that seems to have resonated with readers and I’m excited to spend more time in that world. As usual, the events will be grand, the characters still very much their old selves in many ways, and the surprises in plentiful supply!
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
LB: Oooh, that’s a tough one! I’m going to say Snoopy, though, because he has such a vivid imagination, hasn’t he? And I love the fact that he understands the writer’s life (especially those much-dreaded rejection letters)!
Return To Cornwall eBook retailer links:
It might seem obvious, but I would probably tell them to write a story that has elements they love. Something they would be curious to read for themselves.