Monday, 3 December 2012

Author interview: Deborah Fenwick

What is your name and where do you live now?
My name is Deborah Fenwick. I live in the centre of Germany – in the old East – although I was born and bred in England.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have done various jobs in my working life, but they were never what I really wanted to do. Since I was very young I have dabbled in writing and sworn I would write a book. One day. I had a spurt of writing nearly twenty years ago and the books I have on Amazon at the moment come from that period. I put them all to one side when I had written them as finding a publisher was too hard, despite the favourable comments I received. (If you are afraid they are bad because a publisher has, albeit very nicely, rejected them, think about all the famous authors who were rejected many times before publication; think Frederick Forsythe as just a single example.) But recently I looked at the changing market, pulled them out, dusted them off and gave them all a major rewrite. This was quite complicated, especially in the case of my latest, Family Affairs, and the one I am in the process of working on, as there were some issues involved where certain legal aspects have changed so a lot of new research and even re-plotting was involved. Of course in twenty years a lot of things have changed, so all my characters had to be equipped with computers and mobile phones and the trappings of the twenty-first century as appropriate to their situations. It is much harder for people to be out of contact with each other these days, so that was a big factor in the rewrites.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it what would you say?
My latest full-length published novel is the afore-mentioned Family Affairs.

This book follows the stories of two couples: Tanya and her new husband, Phil; and Tanya’s sister Chrissie and Phil’s cousin, Matt. Tanya has just married the man of her dreams (rich and handsome and she loves him as well as his money!) while Chrissie, despite an instant attraction to Matt, has just come out of a long and unhappy relationship and doesn’t feel ready for a new one. Despite which, she has a one-night stand with Matt after the wedding but runs away afterwards without so much as saying goodbye.

Tanya finds that her marriage is not quite the fairy tale she had envisaged and comes to big sister Chrissie for help. Matt eventually finds Chrissie again and things start looking up for them. Tanya does something very stupid which gets her in big trouble, while Matt and Chrissie have a nasty problem of their own. The path of true love never did run smooth, of course, but Chrissie has plenty of people on her side who each do their best to give their own brand of help.  

The main focus of the story is on Chrissie and her relationship with Matt, but the focus moves between Chrissie, Matt and Tanya. And what happens in the end? Well, I shall refrain from summarising. If you’re interested, I’d love you to find out for yourself.  

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
As I have already mentioned, I am in the process of rewriting several books. When the current one is finished I shall start afresh with a brand new book. But I would say it takes about six months on average. Since I don’t write full-time I have to fit it in between other things like teaching (English, of course) and I tend to write in bursts. Of course, the longer the book (and Family Affairs is much longer than the first two), the longer it takes. One of the great thing about publishing ebooks is there is no page count restriction so I don’t need to write a specified number of words.

Do you have plans for a new book?
Already being written! And I have outlines for at least two more, along with a memoir of my experiences in Germany, which are well worthy of a book.

What genre would you place your books into?
The first three and the one that will be published next are pure romance. Rom com, if you like. I like to inject at least a bit of humour into them and I’m told readers do actually laugh. The next in plan is a romance as well, but featuring a rather chaotic older heroine and a slightly more adult theme – at the beginning of the book she is in a long-term affair with a married man. This will also feature humour; it’s not at all a deadly serious book. I suppose it fits under a general heading of women’s fiction. The next one is a bit more gritty, but I’ll hold back on talking about it for the moment. And I do have a short story out which is a sort of mystery. It’s 8,000 words long, so not too short, and it also features a bit of romance, but it is a human interest sort of story too. I’ll probably write a few more of these and make a collection some time.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
It was never a conscious decision. I just write what comes into my head. I think the slight change in direction with the next books comes from growing older!

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
My favourite is usually the one I’m writing at the moment. For the time I am writing a book I become absorbed with the plot and the characters and forget about the ones I have already written.   Although I do have a soft spot for the first book I issued, Rules of the House.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite?
Again, it is usually someone from the book I am writing. If you are writing romance you have to have likeable main characters, even if they start off maybe not appearing likeable (like Mr Darcy), so the heroine needs to be strong and the hero fanciable! All my characters have flaws, nobody is perfect after all, but the main characters’ flaws are redeemable.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
I use situations I’m familiar with a lot. For instance my books tend to feature animals as animals are a big part of my life. My short story, Suspicion, came about due to a situation with somebody I know that got me thinking what if…? But I won’t say any more on that as it would be a plot spoiler. I once worked for a large computer company (Cool Customer) and have worked in hotels (Family Affairs). I try to use situations where I don’t risk making glaring mistakes that people will point out and criticise or snigger at!

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I tend to procrastinate for a long time before I actually get down to writing. But when I finally do, I’m confined to the same place as it all goes straight onto my computer. Pure practicality.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Sometimes my books don’t have a title until the very last minute. I give them a working title as a rule, but that usually changes before publication. The current one has a title thought up long ago, but I hate it now and haven’t got round to finding the right one yet.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I work my way through a mental list of suitable names that I like but haven’t already used. My short story is written in the first person and the narrator is not named. That was deliberate. Although since someone commented on it on Amazon and said she was interested in reading more about my characters, I’ve been giving that some thought and this particular woman will in that case have to be named.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
That’s usually an early decision as it is a big influence on the plot in a romance. Except with minor characters who suddenly pop up unexpectedly and I work them out when they do.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Sometimes I get stuck, maybe with a particular dilemma I need to solve realistically or silly details, so I then have to give it a rest. Then the solution might come to me in the middle of the night or when I am doing something mundane. I am sometimes told, when I am riding my horse, that I look far away. That is because my brain is untangling problems in the book or just composing passages. This of course only applies when the horse is in a relaxed mood, when I am able to let my brain wander.

Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing?
That is actually a difficult question to answer. I read a lot. I’m the sort of person who has to read the back of the cornflakes packet if there is nothing else available to read. Of course I have my favourite  authors – from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Judy Astley, Jill Mansell, Jennifer Crusie (there is a preponderance of Js there, purely coincidental) and Katie Ffforde, but I don’t try to emulate any other author and I’m probably an amalgam of everything I’ve ever read, which is quite an eclectic mix.

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?
My favourite romance of all time, clichéd though this is, is Pride and Prejudice. Such a wonderful book. I had read it a few times even before I had to study it at university, and have read it several times since. It makes me laugh and cry every time. I have favourites in other genres, although I still haven’t decided which Terry Pratchett Discworld book is the best, despite the fact that he is my favourite non-romance author.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst  book to movie transfer?
They can. They don’t always. Sometimes it depends on the book, but just as often on the team that produces the film. As a child I loved the Narnia books and out of interest I’ve been to see the films that have been made to date, which actually transferred surprisingly well (although I missed out on many of the voices of the actors I would have loved to have heard as I saw them dubbed into German). Making a book into a film often means cutting out chunks to fit it into the allotted time. The best adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was the BBC series, which had the time to faithfully reproduce the book over several episodes. And Colin Firth. Say no more. I’m choosy about the films I see, and at this particular moment I can’t think of a really bad adaptation. Like all these things it will no doubt occur to me later when it is too late to write it down here.  

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m re-reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There, in paperback. As it’s a re-read it goes without saying that I’m enjoying it.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I hope not, and I believe they won’t. Ebooks have the advantage of portability and saving on storage space, but I love my shelves full of books and I wouldn’t give them up. This from someone whose books are at the moment only available as ebooks!

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Know your genre and your audience. Know your grammar and punctuation. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Please provide a link to where we can purchase your books and short biography.
All my books are at the moment available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. They can be bought on,  and also on the European Amazon sites. One day I hope they will be for sale as real printed books, but for that I’m looking for a publisher.
The books are:
Rules of the House
Cool Customer
Family Affairs
And the short story: Suspicion

Deborah Fenwick lives in Germany with her dog. She loves exploring the mountains and forests in the area, particularly from the back of a horse. The dog enjoys coming along too. Deborah writes romances and woman’s fiction but reads examples of many genres. She misses being able to browse in bookshops full of books in her native language. She has a blog at where she witters on about anything that comes into her head at the time, not exclusively her writing, and also publishes the dates when she has a free offer of one of her books coming up. She tries to maintain a Facebook page and would be more diligent if she thought people were actually looking at it.


  1. It was interesting to read about the writer. I hope to get the book a Family Affairs, sounds intrigue the title alone.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Chim. Family Affairs does sound like a great read - definitely going on by 'to be read' list!

  2. Love this author, have read Family Affairs and am currently reading Rules of the House. Great romcom, not utterly predictable like so many

    1. That's great to hear. Deborah obviously has a great sense of humour and the comes across in her books! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us.