Hello! It’s lovely to be here, on the shiny new Avon website. As an author, I have been with Avon for several years now, and have written seven romantic comedy novels under my own name. However, a couple of years ago I had an urge to write something slightly different, with a more rural setting, set around a specialist cookbook shop in a Yorkshire village. My editor and I decided I should write a three-book series under a different name, to separate it from my usual novels.
It’s interesting writing under a pseudonym (mine is Ellen Berry). In fact, I think it helped to give the Rosemary Lane novels a different feel and atmosphere. Perhaps I even relax a bit more when I’m writing them. A fellow novelist friend says she thinks of her pen-named novels as her ‘diffusion line’, and I get that – they’re still in my style, but there’s a subtle difference. It’s like acting out a different part.
The idea for the first novel of the trilogy, The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane, grew from my obsession with cookbooks and yearning to find ‘the one’ that would solve all my culinary dilemmas, making me the amazing cook I’ve always yearned to be! However, I love them purely as objects to pore over too. I decided to focus on a character, Della, who inherits a vast collection of cookbooks when her rather cantankerous and difficult mother dies, and decides to set up her own shop to sell them to follow cookbook lovers.
The second book in the series has just been published. The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane follows the story of Roxanne, Della’s chaotic but loveable younger sister, who has always worked as a fashion director on glossy magazines in London. I loved the idea of contrasting her whizzy city life with the gentler pace of the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge. In fact, I plundered much of my own past for this book, as I worked on women’s magazines for many years, before I had my twin boys and decided to work as a freelance journalist instead, and then a novelist.
At the moment, I am alternating been writing a Fiona Gibson novel, and then an Ellen Berry book – and life is very busy. I literally finish a book, take a few days to recover and then plunge into writing the next one. I love it, though. If I don’t write anything for more than a couple of days, I start to miss it and yearn to hide away with my laptop again. Plus, my children have just about grown up now. My sons, now 20, are away at university, and now it’s just our daughter, who’s 17, at home with my husband Jimmy and me. So it’s easier these days to immerse myself in writing. I’m not quite sure how I managed to write books when I had three pre-school children charging around!
At the moment, I am just about to submit my next Fiona Gibson novel to my editor, which is always thrilling, and quite terrifying too – although it’s just the start of the editing process, and I know it’ll be improved hugely with her input. And then I am off to Ibiza, with my best girlfriends, for five days of fun and japes in the sun.
I suspect our adventures might throw up a few ideas for future novels. With any identifying details carefully disguised, of course.
The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane, by Ellen Berry, is out now