A head full of stories to tell: What it's like to be a romantic novelist
Ever since she was a young girl at primary school Julia Sutton’s head has been full of stories.
From short tales to poetry she has eagerly scribbled them all down on paper.
Over the years the desire to write a book kept growing stronger and inspiration struck when she was on holiday in Turkey.
While soaking up the sun she began transforming her ideas into a romantic mystery set in the fictional town of Little Hamsden.
“The idea just came to me one day so I started to write it down and I carried on writing in the evenings and at weekends when I got home, says Julia, who was working at a primary school at the time.
Before she knew it, the mother of two had written her first novel – The Lake of Lillies, which was featured on the Britain’s Next Bestseller website – and was delighted when she secured a publishing deal.
Since the book was published in 2014, Julia, from Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, has gone on to write a further five contemporary romance novels with the latest released during lockdown.
“My first five books were printed by a publisher but my sixth has been self-published because I wanted to get it out quickly.
“It’s been really exciting. I’m really happy with the book and the response has been really positive so far. I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends and on social media.
“I was really nervous with my first book because I wasn’t sure how people would take and if they would like it but I’ve gained a lot of confidence since then and now I’m just excited when one of my books comes out,” says Julia,who has already started work on her seventh and eighth books.
Her latest, Cocktails, Wedding Bells and Summer Madness, tells the story of straight-laced Rose who loves books, swimming and the folk choir. But when her gregarious best friend arrives home from a 10-year around the world trip, her safe, comfortable existence is thrown into disarray.
Rose is persuaded to take on the role of Matron of Honour, but not for a traditional church wedding as anticipated –the wedding is to take place on a Mediterranean beach in the main holiday season.
Readers can find out how she copes with her fear of flying, mosquitoes, men, and anything else which takes her out of her comfort zone and whether she can survive a holiday with an over-excited bride to be, a bossy bridesmaid and a moody enigmatic best man.
The book has already received rave reviews on Amazon,with one reader, Jan Gordon, writing: “This wonderful book is funny, engaging for the reader, and the story is brilliant. Julia Sutton is a genius of a writer.
“She knows how to give the reader exactly what they want and does it with charm and flair. It was so good that I literally couldn’t put this book down. I can’t wait for a sequel.”
While Phil Price wrote: “A lovely summer read from an author who seems to know how to drag the reader into the story. All characters are very well crafted, even the peripheral characters are not just there to fill the pages. They all matter and all have a part to play.
“It felt like a real coming-of-age story, which hit all the right notes in the right places.”
Julia graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in English in 2005 and her experience helped to inspire four of her earlier books which centre around a group of five students attending the fictional Chattlesbury University.
“I had the idea that I could use my own experience to write a series of books about five strangers who become friends while studying for an English degree. I think there is quite a bit of myself in every book,” she says.
Her next novel will be a Christmas-themed romance and she has already begun research for her eighth.
She has a number of research methods which include talking to people working in the roles she plans to feature in her books.
“I love everything about writing. I have always loved English, it was my favourite subject at school. I love using my imagination to write stories. I find promoting my books and drumming up interest hard. The writing is definitely my favourite part,” says Julia.
The 54-year-old, who is now a full-time writer, is also an avid reader and some of her favourite authors include Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Lucy Diamond.
“I love reading, it’s my main hobby. My ‘to be read’ pile is huge,” says Julia.
As well as romantic fiction, she also enjoys writing picture books for young children and she is hoping to have them published in the future.
“I haven’t been able to find a publisher for them yet but I know it’s very competitive,” Julia tells Weekend.
Her advice for anyone who has ever thought about writing a book but has been too afraid to start is “just go for it”.
“You have to believe in yourself. It’s good to read a lot in the genre you’re writing in but the main thing is enjoy it,” says Julia.
Cocktails, Wedding Bells and Summer Madness is available from Amazon in paperback and as an ebook.
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