Book Nerd Interview
Miranda began writing in earnest four years ago with her first novel, Coffee at Kowalski's - a romantic comedy set in New York's Upper West Side. This was spotted on HarperCollins' site for unpublished authors, Authonomy.com at the end of 2008 and was released by Avon (part of HC) as Fairytale of New York on 12th November 2009. She has also written several short stories, scripts and novel excerpts, many of which are published on Helium.com. Miranda is also a regular contributor forwww.myvillage.com writing a range of local interest articles for the Birmingham area and national film and festival reviews.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
That I still haven’t been to New York yet! (I’m going for my delayed honeymoon in October). I wrote my first book, Fairytale of New York, over seven years in my spare time because I have been in love with the city from afar for most of my life and thought setting a story there was the next best thing. Thankfully, I did a lot of research to make the story and the setting authentic and I’ve been asked by quite a lot of people how long I lived in New York!
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I think it was probably that my inbuilt love of words was something I could use and be proud of.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I would have to say Pride and Prejudice because it’s as close to a perfect novel as it is possible to be. Love, misunderstandings, social commentary, humour, expectations, villains – it’s all in there. I re-read it every year and I always find something new that inspires me as a writer and as a reader. I read a lot of books outside my genre but my favourite has to be The Truth by Sir Terry Pratchett – it’s funny, hugely inventive and prodigiously clever.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Stephen King’s On Writing is the only book about writing that I’ve ever really connected with. In it he talks about writing being like archaeology rather than sculpture (i.e. that he begins with an idea and digs around its edges to discover what it looks like, rather than knowing exactly what it should be and carving it out of rock). When I read that it made me realise that the way I was writing my story was acceptable – that it was OK to let the story unfold as I wrote it and not know every twist and turn beforehand. Through it I learned to give myself permission to call myself a writer.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel, When I Fall in Love, how would you introduce it?
When I Fall in Love is a story about second chances and moving on with life. When the story begins Elsie Maynard is eighteen months on from an event that ripped her life apart, but she has reached the stage where she is ready to start again. There is a whole new life stretching ahead of her that she never expected to be living and the story is about what happens when she sets her mind to look for opportunities. It’s funny, poignant, true-to-life and will have you reaching for the tissues, hopefully!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Elsie?
I wanted to represent somebody who, despite being only in her twenties, has learned the hard way about the value of life. In writing her I had to look at my own perceptions of what constitutes a ‘successful’ life and I came away with both a deep understanding of how precious life is and a huge respect for the bravery of people who face the ultimate challenges in life with humour and positivity.
Do you have a favorite quote that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire you?
I’m a bit of a quote geek, so there are lots of quotes that inspire me. My favourite is from Dr. Seuss: ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those that matter won’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.’ For a writer criticism is never too far away – from reviewers, from publishers, from people who have an axe to grind – and the pressure of expectation can rob us of our self-confidence and belief in our writing. The Dr. Suess quote reminds me not to worry about what the reaction will be to what I write, but instead stay true to the story I want to tell.
If you could introduce Oliver to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I reckon Oliver would get on really well with Wren from It Started With a Kiss. She’s feisty and fun and would bring him out of himself as he can be a little introspective and intense – although she might scare the life out of him in the process!
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’ve just started to edit my fifth novel, which doesn’t have a title yet but is set in San Francisco. It’s the story of Nell, who loses her job and decides to blow her redundancy cheque on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to San Francisco, staying with her cousin Lizzie there for two months. As part of my research for the book I actually got to go to the city and absolutely fell in love with it, so I’m loving pouring everything I experienced into the novel. Aside from that I have a couple of non-romantic-comedy projects I’m working on for fun, which may or may not be published. Watch this space!
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Just write. And keep writing. You’ll learn by doing it and will hear your own voice begin to develop. The other thing I would say is don’t worry too much about whether your voice and style are unique. Just have fun creating worlds and stories that you enjoy and believe in. Other people will probably recognise your own style and voice before you do!
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I adore Wales, particularly the Gwynedd area. There is a beach near Harlech called Llandanwg that is my favourite place in the world. I’m also a massive fan of South Devon, particularly the area around Kingsbridge and Hope Cove. Further afield, I would have to say that San Francisco is a firm favourite now – I’d love to go back soon.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading The Key by Simon Toyne as I wait for the third novel in his trilogy The Tower. It’s not romantic comedy at all, but when I’m writing or editing I like to read something in a completely different genre. Simon’s novels are incredible – fast-paced, thrilling, but with characters you really root for. I’m completely in love with Gabriel Mann, one of the principal characters, but that’s a secret!
Who was your first boyfriend?
My first boyfriend was a boy called Mark. We met at primary school when we were 11 and I was convinced I was going to marry him. We never kissed but we did hold hands at the school disco and ate lunch together every day. He was really sweet but, alas, our love was not meant to be!
Tell me about your first kiss
My first kiss, oddly, was a stage kiss with a much older man. I was sixteen and acting in a play my Dad was directing for the local amateur dramatic society. In it I was the daughter of the lead characters who returns from a year living in Canada with her husband and twins that her parents know nothing about. She arrives before her husband and when he walks in she gives him a huge kiss. The man playing my husband was a good friend of my parents and refused to practice the kiss until opening night. When it happened, all of his friends from the rugby team he played in were in the audience and when he went in for the kiss they all cheered – making him play up for them and taking me completely by surprise! It was surreal, but how many other people can say their first kiss earned them a huge round of applause from two hundred people?
What's the memorable summer job you've ever had?
I volunteered with my local hospital radio station for three summers while I was at university and was a co-presenter on the kids’ show. We visited the wards taking presents and balloons to sick children every week and also arranged ‘dream come true’ wishes for some of the children who were there for a long time. The best one was when we arranged for a boy with cystic fibrosis to have an entire funfair all to himself!
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I was a teenager in the late 1980s and to be honest it was pretty much perfect – apart from the awful perms and fashion style I had! I remember it being a time of optimism and of having fun with friends. And even though we never had much money, we always managed to find ways to enjoy life, which meant we focused on important things in life instead of money and possessions. I miss that – it seems a much simpler time in my recollections.
When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday. But I’m editing my new novel, so tears are always nearby. It’s hard work, long hours and very little sleep, meaning for a large amount of time I’m pretty much an emotional wreck and can cry at the drop of a hat. I cried at a dog food commercial yesterday because the dog reminded me of the Collie we had when I was growing up. Crazy!
Where can readers stalk you?
You’re welcome to stalk me on twitter where I’m @wurdsmyth, on Facebook at MirandaDickinsonAuthor, at my website: www.miranda-dickinson.com, see my weekly vlogs on YouTube at my mirandawurdy channel and at my blog, Coffee & Roses: www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com.
Thanks for having me! xx
...but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most.
Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart.
Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete.
Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest?
The one thing that truly stands out is how the characters have a lasting effect on readers. The introduction of each character produced a warm welcoming feeling each time. Even the members of the choir had their own story to tell and were a very important part in Elsie’s journey. More often when there is a large cast of characters, the book tends to not focus on side characters and the little details that are sometimes the most important, becomes lost in the shuffle. However, author Miranda manages to pack so much punch into a very powerful and inspirational story that readers are given a full dosage of wonderful details and descriptions. Her writing style continues to shine as she meticulously balances emotion that engages readers into its gripping and compelling story.
The introduction of The List was a brilliant idea and addition to the story. It is one of the best parts of the book as Miranda steers the story right into the hearts of readers and provided more depth. There were so many emotions that were produced by The List. Readers will be thrown into a roller-coaster ride of emotions. The ending will instill an enduring an effect on readers which is rare to find these days. When I Fall in Love is an absolute beautiful and moving tale of a young woman’s journey to rediscovering herself. It is a deftly written book with a very fun side and also a very serious side.