It’s Thursday, so that means another guest post! Today I’m welcoming Luisa A Jones to Book Talk with… Luisa is a fellow Storm Publishing writer, and caught my attention when I read her two contemporary romance books, Goes Without Saying and Making the Best of It. If you love contemporary romance/women’s fiction, all about the ups and downs of married life, and featuring lots of humour, I highly recommend them both. I was delighted when she accepted my offer to take part in this feature, so without further ado, let’s welcome her to the blog.
Hi, Luisa! It’s so lovely to have you here as a guest. Can you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself please?
Hi Sharon, and thank you so much for inviting me to contribute to your blog. I’ve read and enjoyed your work, so I’m honoured to be asked!
My name is Luisa A Jones and I live in South Wales, in the UK. My books are all mainly set in Wales, and in different ways they explore themes connected to mental health. My first two books are contemporary women’s fiction, but the most recent is an historical novel, The Gilded Cage, published by Storm on 22nd June. All my books have a thread of romance, so I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Thank you for that. I’ll start by asking you what’s the first book you remember reading or owning?
The first book I remember reading is But Where is the Green Parrot? by Thomas and Wanda Zacharias. The “geen carrot”, as I called him, was hidden in each colourful picture as he travelled by various modes of transport. It didn’t matter that I knew from constant repetition exactly where he could be found, as the book was such fun.
Aw, that’s sweet. My little grandson is reading and loving books like that at the moment. What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I had so many favourites as a child that it’s virtually impossible to pick out just one. I loved the Ladybird Well-Loved Tales and still own several of them. One glimpse of the pictures is enough to transport me back to childhood. I’m sure those fairy tales helped to shape my love of stories.
When in junior school I devoured classics like The 101 Dalmatians, The Borrowers, Ballet Shoes, and pretty much anything by Enid Blyton. When researching my family history I was thrilled to discover that I share a distant ancestor with her, as she was such a vital part of my childhood.
The mobile library’s visits to school were great, as they enabled me to read all of the Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series. I collected the entire Famous Five series and read them over and over. I even once worked out from the ages of the children in the first few books and the number of school holidays that if they’d had one adventure per holiday, Julian would have been about 27 years old by the last book!
I also annoyed my mum by poring over her road atlas for hours hunting for Kirrin Island, as I refused to believe her when she told me it was fictional. To me, it was absolutely real.
However, even better than these were CS Lewis’s Narnia books. I found them spellbinding, and re-read them many times. I still have the set I’ve owned since I was about nine years old and will never get rid of them.
Haha, love that so much! Julian was 27! Of course Kirrin Island was real. It’s a conspiracy by mapmakers to keep us away from it, I reckon. I don’t think there are many (if any) of my guests who haven’t mentioned Enid Blyton at some point, and I’m quite envious that you’re distantly related to her. I loved the Narnia books too. I’ve just bought the complete set for my young granddaughter’s birthday actually and I hope she’ll enjoy them as much as I did. Do you have a favourite among the books you’ve written yourself?
That’s tricky. I’m very proud of The Gilded Cage, which was a book written about a subject I feel passionate about. However, my first book, Goes Without Saying, holds a very special place in my heart. Writing it was a very steep learning curve, but it enabled me to first find my voice as a writer. I adore the characters of Megan and Tom and still have ideas for future books about them. The dynamic of the romance between a Welsh woman and an English man was great fun to write, and readers have told me the book made them laugh and cry. Feedback like that is precious to any author, especially in the moments when insecurity strikes.
Honestly, as I’ve told you before, I adored those books and I really do hope you’ll continue Megan and Tom’s story at some point. Which author/s had the biggest influence on you?
In terms of my contemporary books, Jojo Moyes was a big influence. Her books make me feel emotionally invested in her characters, and I can remember sobbing while reading The One Plus One as I was so desperate for things to work out well for the main characters. I once plucked up courage to message her to say how much I’d loved her books, and that I would love to be a writer one day. To my amazement, she messaged back – she was already a hugely successful bestselling author by then, so I was gobsmacked that she’d taken the time to get back to me. She was incredibly lovely and encouraging.
Jane Cable is another author who encouraged me after I sent her a message to say how much I’d enjoyed one of her books. After I confessed that I was also a writer, she invited me to attend Zoom meetings of the Cariad chapter of the RNA. The authors in that group have transformed my author career with their wisdom, advice and expertise. They’re also a fabulous group and we have great fun as well as supporting one another. I wouldn’t have got this far without them.
The writing community is so lovely and friendly, isn’t it? I had such a lot of support and encouragement from established writers when I was first starting out, and it’s so important. Writing is a lonely job, so the friendships we make with others authors are vital. Do you read books more than once?
I used to read books more than once if I loved them, but I rarely have time to do so these days. Since I’ve connected with so many authors, and especially since I bought a Kindle, I’ve ended up buying far more books than I’ll ever have time to read! Goodreads has proved very useful, as I can log books I’ve read to avoid buying them twice, and of course I have a wish list on there as well as on Amazon. I can’t resist a charity shop or a 99p bargain for my Kindle, and must admit I don’t tend to buy paperbacks or hardbacks at full price because it would make my hobby much too expensive.
Yes, so many books, so little time! Do you prefer hardback, paperback, e-book, audio, or no preference?
For sheer convenience I love my Kindle Paperwhite. I have a huge collection of books on there, but it takes up hardly any space when I go on holiday in my classic VW camper van – the days when I couldn’t fit many books in for my holiday are over! I find hardbacks look great on a book shelf but are so heavy they make my arms ache, whereas the Kindle is light and comfortable to hold, and I can read it in the dark without disturbing my husband. What I miss with the Kindle, though, is seeing the book’s cover every time I pick it up, the way I can with a paperback. Cover designers do such a wonderful job and books are more memorable, somehow, when read in paperback and seeing the cover every day.
I know what you mean. I love my Kindle Paperwhite too, but it always saddens me that the covers are in black and white. Also, the book opens on Chapter 1, so I always flick back to the very beginning so I see the cover, and read all the front matter before I start the story. Do you read series, or do you prefer standalones?
I enjoy both. There’s something pleasurable about collecting a much-loved series and following the characters, as long as the author can find ways to keep it fresh. I happily read standalones as well, though. Sometimes a character’s story is better rounded off in one book, even if it leaves me wanting more.
What’s your latest book about?
The Gilded Cage is set in the early 20th century. Lady Rosamund Fitznorton, trapped in an arranged marriage to the cruel Sir Lucien, finds herself drawn to his new chauffeur, Joseph. One man holds her captive and the other offers a hope of escape… but who really holds the key to Rosamund’s gilded prison? It’s available to order as a paperback, audio book or ebook here.
And a wonderful read it is, too. I loved it! What’s next for you, Luisa?
I’m currently working on my second book for Storm, a sequel to The Gilded Cage which follows two of the minor characters in the first book as their lives in Wales are changed by the impact of the First World War. The first draft is complete, but my favourite stage of writing is always the editing, as that’s when the book starts to shine!
Oh, I’m so pleased to read this! I can’t wait to find out what happens. I agree about the editing too. First drafts are hard, but editing is a joy, even if it’s a massive task! Thank you so much for joining me today, Luisa. Happy writing, and happy reading!
Luisa loves connecting with her readers, so feel free to get in touch via her social media links or her website, where you can download a free short story.
The Gilded Cage
1897. Rosamund bows her head and steps slowly down the aisle. The satin of her gown whispers against the stone floor and a single tear falls into the bunch of yellow roses twisted in her trembling hands. Despite rumours of his cruelty, Rosamund has no choice but to become this man’s second wife.
After her wedding, Rosamund finds herself trapped in Sir Lucien Fitznorton’s lonely country estate. As she wanders the chilly halls, made shadowy by drapes of heavy velvet, she longs for the lost comforts of her childhood home, where she was the beloved only daughter to a doting father, now buried miles away. As a young woman with no fortune of her own, only death can release her from this misery.
Until she meets Joseph, her husband’s gruffly handsome new chauffeur. With his mop of salt-and-pepper hair and lilting accent, Joseph is from another world. One of clambering children and tea at scrubbed kitchen tables, the hollow scratch of hunger and long hours of hard work. Despite their differences, they find themselves increasingly drawn to one other.
But Sir Lucien is not only cruel, he’s devious too, and soon Rosamund finds herself caught in a dangerous web of secrets and lies. Is Rosamund’s fragile marriage nothing but a golden cage, trapping her between two men who desire her… and to what end?
One holds her captive and the other offers a hope of escape… but who really holds the key to Rosamund’s gilded prison?
A gripping and emotional historical novel, fans of Lucinda Riley and Tracy Rees won’t be able to put this book down.