2017 Author Interviews Book Reviews Books and the City Penny Parkes Simon & Schuster
Author Interview with Penny Parkes and Review of Swept Away
Penny Parkes is back with a free short story that takes us back to Larkford, where Out of Practice was set. It is also the perfect filler before the next instalment, Practice Makes Perfect, out on 29th June. Today, I have a Q&A with Penny and also my review for this lovely story:
1) Hi Penny and welcome to Alba in Bookland. First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Fabulous to be here in “Bookland” – sounds like somewhere I would like to live! Having said that, living in The Cotswolds is rather wonderful – you may have heard me mention that I’m happiest when writing, reading a book, or messing around with my dog, The Ginger Ninja, but I also adore browsing around the beautiful towns near where I live. Cirencester and Bath are particular favourites, not least because of their bookshops; I have persuaded the kids that books-and-cake are a winning combo, so that’s become a regular family outing! Before writing books, I used to source film locations, so it’s rather fitting that I now get to write about some of the places where I used to watch other fictional stories play out on film.
2) I adored Out of Practice, your debut novel. Where did the idea come from to set the story in a medical practice?
That’s so wonderful to hear, thank you. Over the years, I have come to have an enormous amount of respect for anyone with the compassion and commitment to work in the healthcare profession. As a family, there have been several occasions where a quick-thinking doctor has saved the day and this really got me thinking about what their lives must be like behind the scenes and how they balance their personal and professional lives.
3) You have just published Swept Away, a short story that takes us back to the medical practice in Larkford. How did you feel revisiting these characters?
Being back in Larkford is a gift – I have a sense of coming home whenever I start writing. After all, the town of Larkford is really the love-child of all my favourite places…
4) Swept Away is also a teaser for Practice Makes Perfect, which also continues the story. When you first wrote Out of Practice, did you already know it would have a sequel?
I won’t go so far as to say that I had the whole series mapped out in my head, but certainly The Practice has so many intriguing and interesting characters working there, not to mention those in the Larkford community, my main problem has actually been knowing where to stop!
5) Why did you decide to set Swept Away around Valentine's Day? Also, I love the idea of celebrating your 21 birthdays every 21 years. Is this something you also do?
Valentine’s Day is a funny one for me – mainly because I believe that real, lasting love isn’t something that should only be celebrated for one prescribed day each year – I’m all about the little daily gestures that show someone you care. It seemed fitting to show the community of Larkford pulling together for the greater good – isn’t that the test of true character?
Likewise, with the 21st birthdays, it seems so liberating to celebrate that way – the Big Zero birthdays are lovely, but actually I think 21, 42, 63 (If you’re lucky, 84) actually mark out the phases of life in a more meaningful way. And this year will be my second 21st and we’re already making exciting plans!
6) Actually, Elsie, the feisty octogenarian and resident celebrity in Larkford, is definitely my favourite character. What do you think makes her such a special character? Did you have someone in mind, when you created her?
Oh, I do love Elsie! She was actually the first Larkford character that arrived in my head out of nowhere, fully formed and shouting to be heard. I had visions of this fabulously eccentric lady, who simply did not give a s**t, planting daffodils in her evening gown. I often rather wish I had an Elsie…
7) Finally, what can we expect next from the residents of Larkford? Are we getting more stories about Dan, the sexy doctor?
Well, there will be a few additions to the team at The Practice. I have a particular soft spot for Alice Walker, the new GP, who arrives in Larkford complete with Coco, her cocker spaniel. The ‘boys’ – Dan and Taffy – will of course be up to their usual mischief, but as Julia Channing is now a TV doctor, they may have to be on their best behaviour at times… Or at least try to be!
About the book:
Title: Swept Away
Author: Penny Parkes
Published: February 9th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Blurb: The residents of Larkford are having an eventful evening! A feel-good short story for fans of Katie Fforde, Gervaise Phinn and Milly Johnson.
Review: If you read Out of Practice, Penny Parkes' debut, then you definitely cannot miss this lovely short story. It takes us back to the cosy village of Larkford where our favourite Holly Graham has started a new happier life. It was lovely to catch up with her and check how her new relationship with Taffy is going.
But the star of this story was, once more, Elsie. She was about to celebrate her 4th 21st birthday so a huge party was in order with unexpected surprises along the way. Also, let's take a minute to say: what a wonderful idea to celebrate your 21st birthdays!
Swept Away is a really short story that you can read during a short break. But it's filled with the same cosy feeling that made Out of Practice such a warm story. I'm now counting the days until the publication of the next installment, Practice Makes Perfect.
Rating: 4 stars