The Next Chapter with Samantha Tonge
Today we welcome back author Samantha Tonge to Whispering Stories Blog to catch up on what she has been doing since our interview with her back in May 2017 on ‘The Writing Life of: Samantha Tonge. This post contains affiliate links.
Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat who thinks it’s a dog. When not writing she spends her days cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework.
She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Best Romantic Ebook category at the 2015 Love Stories Awards. In 2019 One Summer in Rome was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelist Association’s romantic comedy award.
Welcome back to Whispering Stories Blog, lovely to be featuring you again. We last met you back in May 2017 when we spoke to you about your writing life and your latest book at the time ‘The New Beginnings Coffee Club’. Since that date I believe you have written and published another three books.
Yes I have. And thank you for having me back!
1) How has life changed since we last met you?
Quite considerably, really. In 2016 I found myself sitting in an addiction clinic. I’d developed a drinking problem, on top of issues related to an eating disorder I’d suffered as a young woman. When we last spoke, in 2017, I wasn’t ready to talk about my recovery, and was still undergoing the process of getting better, but last year, 2018, I spoke publicly about what had been going on and it’s now something that has filtered into my work and that I blog about regularly.
If I can help someone else, in a small way, then it’s worth it. There is still too much stigma surrounding mental health problems these days.
2) Has your writing style changed since we last interviewed you?
Yes. In 2018 Canelo published my first darker (but still warm) women’s fiction novel, Forgive Me Not, which is about a young woman’s addiction and her process of making amends. And recently they have published a second book, Knowing You. I have, however, just completed a Christmas romance and hope to move forwards writing both genres.
3) Have you allowed yourself to be influenced by your readers’ opinions of your characters?
I always read reviews – good and bad – with great interest. With my debut, the main character said a particular word very often. The book was a bestseller and got lots of lovely reviews, but a couple of people mentioned that the frequency of that word irritated them, so I took that on board and was more careful in future. It just depends, really. I’ve been very lucky with how my books and characters have been received so far but I always thoroughly digest a constructive negative review.
4) Have you found writing gets easier or harder the more books you write?
That is a difficult question! In some ways easier – the process and routine of getting down to it – but in a lot of ways harder. I am always pushing myself and learning to write women’s fiction, as opposed to romance, was a huge challenge. And I am always looking to get better and that attitude never makes a job easy. But that is good. Complacency is a dangerous thing!
5) Is there a difference in the way you feel about your books the more you publish? Do you still feel the same level of excitement?
I love them all for different reasons and each one still feels like a massive achievement. And yes, I absolutely still feel as excited!
6) If you could live within the pages of any of the books created by you, which would you choose?
Can I be greedy and say all of them? In order to write my novels I need to fall in love with the main characters and it would be a dream come true to meet any of them for real. If pushed, I’d love to meet Abbey from my debut Doubting Abbey – a fun character and pizza waitress who must pass herself off as an aristocrat to win a competition. And maybe Niko, a rather gorgeous fisherman from my award-winning 2016 bestseller Game of Scones. Purely to learn the Greek language, of course!
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Canelo
Pages – 284
Release Date – 14th March 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1788635158
Format – ebook, paperback
An abrupt change; a new friendship; a dark secret…
Kind-hearted Violet has never fitted in, but despite being bullied at school is now content. She is dating ambitious Lenny, has her dream job in publishing and runs a book club at the local retirement home.
However, when her relationship with Lenny begins to falter, Violet, hurt and alone, seeks the advice of her new flatmate, Bella. She changes her image and with her head held high aims to show that she doesn’t need Lenny in her life to be happy and successful.
Her long-term friends Kath and Farah worry about Bella’s influence and slowly Violet starts to distance herself from them. When she was a child, her closest confidant and companion was a boy called Flint. Her mother didn’t approve of their closeness and he suffered a terrible end. She won’t let the same thing happen to Bella, no matter what anyone says…
Knowing You is about friendship and knowing who to trust with your deepest secrets; it’s about taking control of your life and not being afraid to stand out. Perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan, Gail Honeyman and Amanda Prowse.
7) How long did it take you to write this book?
It’s hard to remember as I’ve written two novels since then (not published yet) but usually I get the bones of a book down very quickly – in 4 to 6 weeks. Then I need a couple of months after that to do several rewrites.
8) Can you tell us a little about your new book?
Knowing You is about kind-hearted editor Violet. Her agent boyfriend, Lenny, breaks-up with her in a traumatic way and this makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself. The story is about having the strength to just be yourself and it’s about friendship and learning which friends to trust. It is set in the publishing world so was a joy to write. I’ve been thrilled with the reviews and the reaction to its surprise ending.
9) Can you tell us anything you edited out of your book?
My agent always suggests I remove or dilute my sex scenes! I, um, probably go into too much detail! But that is an example of the difference between romance and women’s fiction – less is more.
10) Are you still going through the same publishing methods?
My nine romances have been published with HQDigital at HarperCollins but my two latest books, the women’s fiction, were published by an upcoming independent publisher, Canelo.
11) Can you remember seeing your book for the first time in the bookstore, supermarket, online?
I remember finding Doubting Abbey in a bookstore, that was super exciting. But it’s always a great feeling to see an ebook on Amazon for the first time and realise it really is going out into the world.
12) What next for you in your writing career?
More romance and more darker fiction. Lots of news to come soon, hopefully.
1) Question from Ellwyn – What are your favorite TV shows/movies?
Well, Ellwyn, I’ve just discovered NetFlix which is a good and a bad thing as I’ve become obsessed with several shows like The Good Place, Designated Survivor and Stranger Things! I love movies though, especially romcom and sometimes horror.
2) Question from Tina – Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I don’t really, Tina. Although I have an absolute rule that I don’t discuss a new project with anyone, apart from my agent and family, until it is written. I worry if I do, I’ll lose my motivation to write it! It needs to feel kind of “secret”.
3) Question from Cara – What do you use to inspire your stories?
All sorts of things, Cara! TV shows (Doubting Abbey and Game of Scones), hobbies like baking (Mistletoe Mansion), my travels (From Paris with Love and One Summer in Rome) and my personal struggles (Forgive Me Not and Knowing You).