Rowan Coleman worked in bookselling and publishing for seven years before winning Company Magazine Young Writer of the Year in 2001.
Her first novel GROWING UP TWICE was published in 2002 and was a WHS Fresh Talent winner. Since then Rowan has written twelve novels, including THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER, THE BABY GROUP, and RUNAWAY WIFE, which won The Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read 2012, The RoNA Epic Romance novel of 2013 and was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2013 and is the book that inspired Rowan to release WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR as an ebook (published 10th September 2013) with 100% of her royalties going to Refuge. Her Sunday Times bestselling novel THE MEMORY BOOK was a Richard and Judy Bookclub selection 2014, and Love Reading Novel of the Year, as voted for by readers. Her latest novel WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS is out now. Rowan now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, and large family of four children, including surprise toddler twins. Rowan is often quite tired.
As you know The Memory Book and We Are All made of Stars are 2 of my favourite books and I cried throughout. When you are writing them do you cry yourself?
Thank you so much! I do cry when I’m writing sad scenes, and laugh and get a bit hot under the collar, if there’s kissing…. I tend to find if I’m emotionally engaged with the scene it works on the page, and for me the key is to live the story as I write it.
You are a busy lady with 4 young children, what does a typical day for you look like?
I don’t really have a typical day! It’s more sort of careering from one near catastrophe to the next… when children are small it’s hard to plan ahead too much, so I’ve gotten used to writing wherever and whenever. I do have a lovely office that in theory I spend between 11am and 6pm in 4 days a week. In theory.
Over on THE Book Club on Facebook I recently asked authors to list their top 10 books what are yours:
1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte. Hard to explain how and why this book has had such a deep impact on me, except that I first met it as a lonely child, and then again as a romantic teenager. Every time I read it I discover something new, amid the layers of complex story telling much more than a gothic romance, I never cease to be amazed at the revolutionary courage it took to write this book.
2. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte. Emily is such a fascinating character, and this is such a fascinating novel, unlike anything else in English Literature. Not really a love story, more a story of destructive obsession, Emily’s unique view of the world, her world ,created a piece of fiction that is timeless.
3. The Shining – Stephen King. For me the best of King’s novels. What I love about this writer is how he writes such brilliant characters, building incredibly terrifying worlds around them and keeping us on the edge of our seats.
4. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby. I love The wit, charm and accessibility of Nick’s writing, and this is my most favourite of his books. Warm and human, it reaches deep with a light touch.
5. Bridget Jone’s Diary – Helen Fielding. I first read this in proof form as a bookseller. And fell in love with Bridget. So funny, and honest – the first book I’d read that I felt had been written for me and still the best.
6. Sushi for Beginners – Marion Keyes. This was the first book of Marion’s that I read, and it’s a master class of brilliant writing. No one balances light and dark, humour and pathos better than Marion.
7. Captain Correli’s Mandolin – Louis de Berniere. The only book I’ve ever read that made me miss my bus stop because I was weeping so hard. Every word is infused with magic, deep humanity, gorgeous humour – I fell hard for this book.
8. The Silence of The Lambs – Thomas Harris. The creation of Hannibal Lector is surely one of those most enduring and iconic characters of 20th very tidy fiction, and this is my favourite of his appearances. Brutal, paved, terrifying and tender. (Or rare, if you’re Hannibal)
9. Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky. Set in London, in the 30s this is a story of working class people, lives hopes and dreams, against a back drop of poverty and harsh reality, and yet it’s sensitively told and deeply compelling.
10. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth. I love this novel, so infused with warmth and charm, and. Window into another world. Populated with character you come to feel are your friends, it keeps you fully engaged on ever single page.
What are you currently reading and what genre is your favourite to read?
I’m currently reading The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer – I don’t think I have a favourite genre. I like to be surprised and gripped, moved and transported. I’m pretty much open to any kind of book that does that.
Can you tell me anything about your new book?
The Summer of Impossible Things is a time travelling transatlantic adventure, about Luna a woman who discovers her recently deceased mother hid a terrible secret that haunted her her whole life, and caused her death. At the same time she realises she has the chance to go back in time and prevent the same event – but in saving her mother will she be sacrificing her own existence? Set in 70s Brooklyn there’s also disco, an epic love story and a fair bit of scary.
Can you tell me about your writing process?
I’m still learning about my writing process, as it changes with every book, but I suppose once I get an idea I get very excited about it, then I write a first draft and hate it, then I cut most of it rewrite it again, repeat that several times until I’m happy. Then send it off. Then fret about it until it’s published. It’s only if readers like my book that I can like it myself. I’m weird that way.
What has been the highlights of the year for you?
I’ve read some great fiction this year, I got to sleep in the box bed next to the actual window that features in Wuthering Heights, and I wrote a time travel novel, which has been a long held ambition of mine.
Do you read all your reviews and what’s the funniest you’ve received?
I check in with reviews from time to time, like most writers I’ve had the 3 star ‘I haven’t read it yet’ reviews the one star ‘came late, packaging damaged’ reviews but once I had a review complaining that the main protagonists job wasn’t exciting enough. That it should be something like a spy, or belly dancer. Or both.
What advice would you give to any aspiring authors and what’s the best advice you received?
The best advice I can give to aspiring writers is to read as much diverse fiction as they can, it’s the best way to absorb the language of novel writing, and the most fun. And also to practice writing as much as you can. The more you do it, the better you become.
Are you a good cook and what’s your signature dish?
I’m a good cook when I put my mind to it, which I rarely do. Because that I guess my signature dish is Christmas dinner!
Can you tell me something that not many people know about you?
I’m dyslexic, but I think most people know that. How about I felt a ghost’s hand on my shoulder, and his breath on my neck. But when I turned round there was no one there.
Finally, Happy New Year and do you have any new year resolutions?
Happy New Year! I don’t really believe in resolutions any more, especially as I’ve been vowing to lose the baby weight for four years now…. but if I had one it would be to spend less time on Facebook….and that’s never going to happen. X