Guest Post with Kirsty Ferry
It Started with a Wedding, was published by Choc Lit on February 22nd.
Can you tell us where the idea for your new novel, It Started with a Wedding, came from?
I needed to write a story for Alfie, as he was the only McCreadie left who didn’t have a story. He’s a scientist and pretty much sees things in black and white, and doesn’t always want to acknowledge his rather psychic ‘gifts’; so I wanted to make his love interest completely different to loosen him up a bit. Fae was perfect and the setting of Bea’s Garden, a mystical garden where magic is somehow real, was inspired by Dilston Physic Garden near Corbridge in Northumberland. I’ve wanted to write a story set in a garden like that for ages, and this is it.
This is your fifth book in the Schubert series. When writing a series of novels as opposed to a single story, what challenges are there for an author?Trying to remember what I wrote in the first book and making it match! Because I never plan my books, I tend to write all sorts of random things in book 1 and have to try and match them later. Also timelines. They can sometimes pose a problem and I have to make sure characters are the correct age and things. In It Started with a Wedding, I have to bring in Isla’s pregnancy which I mentioned in It Started with a Pirate – so all the wedding planning had to take place within those few months. When I wrote Every Witch Way, the first in the Schubert series, I just kept merrily mentioning Nessa’s brothers. Then I realised that because I’d given her four brothers, there needed to be at least five books in the series – which did seem daunting at book 2, but here we are with book 5 and it’s been a lovely journey.
As well as uplifting, fun, light-hearted and entertaining, your new novel has been described as quirky. Explain why someone should describe it as such.
Because you really need to suspend your disbelief! Schubert is a real witch’s cat, and it’s a standing joke that people always go ‘Mow wow!’ whenever he’s mentioned. He has gained a bit of a cult following and if I step away from the books and look at them objectively, I go, that’s crazy – who would ever read this and not make a snarky comment? Then when I read them back, they just seem to work somehow. Reality has been so grim recently I think we all deserve a little fun and escapism and these books have all that, in my opinion. Every McCreadie – and some of their partners – all embrace a few quirks and a little magic in their characters; so I think “quirky” is a lovely, fun word to describe the series and I am actually delighted by that adjective in relation to my books.
Please tell us more about the McCreadie family including their very special cat, Schubert.
The books are based in and around Edinburgh, and we started by meeting Nessa in Every Witch Way. She’s inherited more than her name from her great great granny, and she’s decided to embrace her ‘witchy propensities’ and learn a bit more about Wicca and witchcraft. What Nessa maybe doesn’t realise, is that she has a certain power that she’s never really explored before; and Schubert, the kitten she rescued on the Norfolk Broads, is actually a true witch’s cat – as well as being absolutely enormous and spoilt rotten – and already knows more than she does about her great great granny. Schubert is often passed around the siblings for cat-sitting duties, and it seems that every time he’s involved in a budding relationship, magical things happen. Scott, the eldest sibling, has more than a hint of the fallen angel, devil-may-care attitude about him; Hugo has a wild, ‘chequered past’, as Nessa says, and has had a constant battle with a childhood rival. But one mustn’t underestimate the Celtic myth of the Holly King and the Oak King – one of them has to come out on top eventually. Billy has seen ghosts all his life, and when Scott’s daughter attempts a love potion to bring Billy and Lexie together, it raises a rather bonkers Jacobite ghost as well. Alfie is, as I say, a scientist – and his quirk is predicting the future. Which of course he doesn’t really want to embrace, as it’s not logical – everything has to have a scientific explanation as far as he is concerned. But sometimes, it’s really ‘just magic’. At the heart of the series is, of course, Schubert – who loves Nessa, loves his manky old soft toy Catnip, and loves his family in his own special way. He also has his own special way of helping people and I love him as a character. He’s pretty real to me and his fans!
Is Schubert based on any particular cat?
Our next-door neighbours had a gorgeous cat called Flossie. She used to wait at the bus stop for my son coming home from school and take herself for walks around the estate, and attach herself to random people as she walked. She had about five ‘homes’, and ours was one of them. She would get into the house by unknown means, and one day I was in the bath, and she just appeared in the doorway meowing at me. One Christmas Eve, there was an enormous clatter in the loo, and she’d squeezed in through the open window and landed on the cistern. She’d sit outside my son’s bedroom window on the conservatory roof and meow pitifully, hoping he’d let her in. So parts of Schubert are loosely based on her, but Schubert’s largely his own creation. And he’s rather unique, I have to say!
Are there any more novels in the series planned?
Good question. It’s sort of reached a natural break as everyone is paired up – but there is scope for a couple of new books, I think. I pulled out a character from It Started with a Wedding and have begun to write about her. I’m struggling, though, as part of me thinks Schubert should be there, although I didn’t intend him being in it. I need to put it aside and have a think about it before I decide for sure.
What is the biggest compliment a reader could pay you after reading It Started With a Wedding?
I don’t know – I’m always delighted when people enjoy my books and tell me about it, so any positive comments are always very well received and encourage me to continue writing. It would be nice to hear a brand new reader say something to the effect of, ‘That was amazing! I need to read the rest of the Schubert series, and buy all your other ones too!’
Where and when do you do your best writing?
Having had so many novels published, what would be your top tip for a novice writer?
Enjoy yourself, and don’t put any pressure on yourself. And don’t just talk about writing a book - write the book and submit it. And don’t give up after the first rejection. Also, once it’s accepted, it will be edited and changed, and you just can’t be precious about the manuscript. Your publisher knows what their readers like so respect that.
What are you currently working on?
A book that’s flailing at the minute, finely balanced between Schubert or no-Schubert. I need to have a good look at it and make a decision. But like I said above, I’m not putting any pressure on myself.
When not writing, how do you relax?
In the summer I enjoy my garden. I’m doing an art qualification at the minute, which has been on my ‘to do’ list for years, so I’m enjoying that as well. I like to read, and also to have lovely deep bubble baths, and go for walks and coffee shop visits with my family and my dog. I like doing the odd jigsaw, and I’ve even dragged my ancient sewing machine out to do the occasional project with. I usually have so many activities on the go at once, I struggle to fit everything in as I have a day job as well. I think I need a clone.
Can you pick one book you wished you had written?
Wuthering Heights is the one I always say. Also, Thornyhold by Mary Stewart is another favourite. I know that’s two books, but it’s a tough question!
Thank you, Kirsty. I'm in awe of the number of books you write and this latest novel sounds a great read. I hope the sales will fly for you.
It's one thing to be asked to plan your sister's wedding; it's quite another when your sister is Nessa McCreadie...
Alfie McCreadie wants his twin sister Nessa to have the best wedding ever, but he's not happy at being roped in as wedding planner - especially as, unbelievably, his main assistant seems to be Nessa's cat, Schubert. Anyway, Alfie is a scientist. He might know his protons from his neutrons, but what does he know about weddings?
It's Nessa who points him in the direction of Bea's Garden, just outside Edinburgh, where he's tasked with picking a 'very-relevant-bouquet'. It's there he meets Fae Brimham, who might be prettier than any bouquet bloom but doesn't seem impressed by Alfie's sensible, scientific side.
But when Nessa and Schubert are involved, surprises are bound to happen and, despite less-than-perfect first impressions, perhaps something can still blossom for Alfie and Fae...
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.
Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that's even better.
Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.
For more information on Kirsty visit:
Thank you for reading. What is it about reading a series that appeals to you? I'd love it if you left a comment for Kirsty and me. Thank you.
To find out more about me and my books please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Page. Thanks.