Blog Tour: Q&A with Jessica Redland, author of Searching for Steven

Today I am very happy to welcome Jessica Redland to my blog. She has just published her novel Searching for Steven with So Vain Books and she stopped by to answer all my bookish questions

Hi Jessica and welcome to Alba in Bookland. First of all could you tell us a bit about yourself:

Hello and thank you so much for having me as a guest. Very happy to be here. I would normally start by saying I’m a Learning & Development Advisor for a manufacturing company, but I was unexpectedly made redundant last week so I’m currently on gardening leave whilst job seeking! I live on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where I rise at stupid o’clock three times a week to do a bootcamp overlooking the sea. Lovely. I’m a Brown Owl, managing a pack of 25 Brownies, and I have an eight-year-old daughter, a husband who frequently acts like he’s eight, and a cat called Felix.

In your book, Searching for Steven, Sarah, the main character, went to a clairvoyant reading and she was told she would meet a Steven and he would be the man of her dreams. Where did this idea come from? Have you ever gone to a reading? And if yes, did it all turned out to be true?

Interestingly enough, it was a real-life experience with a clairvoyant that inspired the story. I was living in Reading at the time, had split up with my partner, our house was on the market, and I had some decisions to make around staying in Reading or leaving my job and doing something completely different. A friend recognised I was at a crossroads and gave me a gift voucher for a telephone clairvoyant. I’d never considered speaking to a clairvoyant before, but decided I had nothing to lose so made the call one evening. 

The clairvoyant told me that I was going to move back to the north and run by own business (which is exactly what I did). She told me that I’d live with my parents for a month because my house sale in Reading wouldn’t go through as quickly as hoped (which is exactly what happened). And she told me that I’d meet the man of my dreams and he’d be called Steven!

Immediately after the phone call, I knew I’d finally found the premise for a great novel, but my own search also started. I opened my business (a teddy bear shop) and suddenly Stevens were everywhere – a rep, the sign-maker. I knew that Sarah was going to face this same dilemma of being surrounded by Stevens, but not necessarily feeling that connection with any of them. Everything else that happens in her search for Steven is fictional, but the premise is real-life.

Which 3 words would you use to describe Sarah? 

Romantic, Loyal, Insecure

How does your writing process go? Do you plan everything first or you just start writing and let your characters talk to you?

Writing Searching for Steven was a lesson in how to write. It took me a decade to write (although I had huge gaps during that time when I wasn’t writing). I didn’t plan at all. I knew the premise and how I wanted it to end, but I just put fingers to keyboard and typed. I would write, edit, write, edit and became a bit obsessed with getting the start of it right; something with which I massively struggled.

My characters arrived fairly well-formed, although Sarah’s friend Elise (best friend since primary school) needed a bit more developing as she wasn’t quite as strong as Clare (best friend since university). Sarah’s based loosely on me so wasn’t difficult to imagine.

I’m currently editing the second book in the series – Getting Over Gary – and I planned that one quite carefully. Consequently, it took less than a year to write.

Searching for Steven is the first on a trilogy, any hints on what's to come? 

Book 2 is called Getting Over Gary and it follows on from where Steven ends (although Steven is nicely tied up; no loose ends to frustrate the reader!) The main focus is Elise’s story and, while Sarah progresses with her happily ever after, Elise’s marriage falls apart which puts a strain on their relationship.

Book 3 hasn’t got a final title just yet. It tells Clare’s story although we still follow what’s happening for Sarah and Elise. My publisher, So Vain Books, have edited Gary and I’m about to work through the comments. Book 3 is about half-written.

How did you celebrate publication day?

Publication day was last Wednesday (3rd June) and I had a wonderful day. My daughter came into the bedroom singing “Happy Launch Day to you!...” (to the Happy Birthday tune) which was lovely. I was off work so spent the day on social media, promoting the book and responding to congratulations messages. I also had a Facebook party that evening.

On the Saturday, I had booked a local social club for a launch party. Friends and family joined me and I had the most incredible time. My face was aching from grinning! I made a speech but managed to cry in the middle of it! Pretty emotional experience!

Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?

Ooh, good question. Mark Darcey in the Bridget Jones books is pretty special, but I confess to falling for most heroes! I’m more into the boy nextdoor heroes rather than alpha males. Actually, I really love the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella and Luke is pretty lovely.

And book best friend?

A good friend of mine, Sharon Booth, is an exceptionally talented writer. She has a novel called ‘There Must Be an Angel’ which is out now and the main character, Eliza, is lovely. There’s also a character called Rose who is fun and feisty and would be great on a night out. She’s the focus of the next in the series called ‘A Kiss From a Rose’. It’s out later this year and I’ve been fortunate enough to read a copy and it’s amazing. I also love Ashleigh who appears in fellow-So Vain Books author Jo Bartlett’s debut, ‘Among a Thousand Stars’. She’s such a lovely character.

Favourite Harry Potter book?

Hmmm. It’s a while since I’ve read them. I think I’d be torn between Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Maybe the latter as things are really stepping up by that point and Harry seems to be in more danger than in the earlier two books.

And finally, a secret guilty pleasure?

Chocolate. Cake. Very cheesy eighties music. And watching Ninja Warrier. I confess that I absolutely love it when there’s an epic fail! Is that mean of me? ;-)

Thanks so much Jessica for sharing all your bookish secrets with us!

Here is a bit more about Searching for Steven:

When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay’s unexpected offer to take over her florist’s shop, she’s prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn’t prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven.

Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she’s met online?

On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn't even Steven...

During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?

Check out the other stops on the blog tour for fantastic content and book reviews:

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1 comentaris

  1. Hi Alba, what a pretty blog! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today. I really enjoyed answering the questions.
    Best wishes
    Jessica xx