Freya North - heroes, damsels and falling in love
PUBLISHED: 11:18 25 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:27 20 February 2013
Author Freya North tells how she combines romantic fiction with her Hertfordshire life...
FREYA North has published ten best-selling novels Sally, Chloe, Polly, Cat, Fen, Pip, Love Rules, Home Truths, Pillow Talk and Secrets with UK sales alone approaching two million copies.
She has a legion of dedicated fans, from schoolboys to elderly gentlemen as well as women of all ages who rejoice that she writes about women just like me.
Passionate about research, Freyas novels have explored sleepwalking, massage, sculpture, tanzanite, the Tour de France, tree surgeons and bridge-builders.
Location always plays a key role in her novels and for her 11th novel Chances, Freya has chosen a new setting a typical Home Counties small market town.
Here Freya tells readers about her latest book, her family life and why she loves Hertfordshire.
You have recently moved from London to Essendon. What was the attraction of Hertfordshire?
My childhood dream was to live rurally. This part of Hertfordshire ticks so many boxes for me and the children our views are amazing, the air smells great, the nights are pitch black, the wildlife is wonderful, our little lane is picturesque, friendly and safe. I live in the countryside and yet I dont feel isolated. Also, family who still live in London can visit us with ease.
Chances is your 11th novel. How do you continue to come up with new and exciting plotlines?
Thats such a difficult question!
I dont really focus on plotline much at all not before I start a book, and not during the writing! My English teacher would kill me! However, I like the story to unfold organically. Before I begin, I feel I know my characters very well its they who bring the tale to me, not the other way around. Sometimes, I thoroughly disapprove of their antics but feel I have little control over them. Im really just their PA taking dictation from them!
What can fans expect from Chances?
Its an unapologetically romantic tale about taking a chance on love again. And its a feisty romp, too, as all my books are (my Dad wont read it but my saucy old aunties will!). It tells the tale of Vita, a giftshop owner, and Oliver, a tree surgeon. Theyve both been bruised by love in the past. Then a troublesome pear tree and an elderly shoplifter bring them together and as spring turns into summer they are given choices and chances. Its up to them whether they take them this time or walk away.
Chances is based in Hertfordshire. Can you tell us how the county fits into the book?
Well, as Id only just moved here my town of Wynford is fictitious but was soon enhanced by my growing familiarity with my local towns. Likewise, fact and fiction have contributed to the landscapes I describe. I hope Ive brought across the friendliness of small town life in Hertfordshire.
You are a single mother to two young children. How do you balance work and family life?
Its a juggle, but a mostly entertaining one! After the school run, I belt back home and write until its time to pick up the children. I dont work in the evenings or at weekends thats not fair on the children. Sometimes we sit at the kitchen table and work together and Felix is a dab hand at making larky videos of me which I post up on my website and facebook page. When we lived in London, the journey to school was noisy, fraught and smelly now its a total joy to pootle along country lanes to school. Invariably we stop off at the village shop in Little Berkhamsted on our way home.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have a horse called Nathan and a loony dog called Twig and we are also incredibly fortunate to have our own woods. At the mo, I am clearing a pathway through, by banking the fallen branches to either side. The children help me at weekends. Well, actually, they charge me 2.
What is the best thing about Hertfordshire?
A fantastic marriage of really beautiful countryside and a friendly, active social scene. I have made some wonderful pals locally and weekends are a joy meeting up for dog walks and heading to the pub for a long lazy lunch. Also the county is so brilliantly positioned for me whether Im going into London for my publishing commitments, or whether our friends and family are heading over to see us. I also enjoy whats on offer I do pottery classes at Courtyard Arts, am a member of the Gosling Centre and have acupuncture at Hertford Natural Health.
What does the future hold do you plan to stay in the county?
Absolutely to speak metaphorically, the children and I put down our roots last year and now we feel very grounded in our surroundings. We are planting too we put in an 18-tree organic orchard and 70 metres of flowering hedgerow so well be staying for quite some time to reap the benefits.
Ive felt much more part of a community here then ever I did in London. The children and I had a great time acting in the village panto last Christmas. We now have really close and very dear friends locally who are a big part of our lives. This is our stamping ground now and we want to make our mark.
What are you working on next?
Rumours will be my twelfth novel. And it too is set in Hertfordshire. It is set around the possible sale of a small stately home and the characters who are affected by this. The heroine wait for it is a foxy estate agent!
WIN A signed copy
Hertfordshire Life is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Freya Norths Chances. For a chance to win simply answer the following question: What is the title of Freyas 11th novel? Email your answer, together with your name, address and daytime telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 19, 2011.