Meet The Family – Christine Penhall
Today, I have caught up with Christine Penhall to learn about the Portuguese paradise that awaits in her new book “New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun”
Hi Christine and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I was so excited to get to sit down and chat to another member of the Ruby-Lit family and learn about this Portuguese paradise.
What inspired you to write “New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun?”
New Beginnings in the Little House in the Sun is the sequel to my first novel, The House That Alice Built. Before that won the Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition in 2019 I had started planning another book altogether but decided that I wanted to find out what happened to Alice next. So New Beginnings follows her after she’s made a huge decision about her life and decides to settle in Portugal permanently. But things don’t go entirely to plan, because they never do, do they!
Congratulations for winning the choc-lit search for a star last year! I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings us.
What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?
I think Choc-Lit and Ruby Fiction are the perfect home for the kind of books I read and write, too. I was about to send my manuscript for The House That Alice Built to them, and when I visited their website found that the Search for A Star Competition was sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, and they were looking for novels that had cats in. Strangely enough, mine did – Alice ends up cat sitting Aphrodite when she arrives in Cascais. And so I went down that route.
If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?
I remember many years ago sitting down after work with a pen and a pad – it was long before everyone had computers – and deciding to start writing. But I didn’t get even one word on that page and got quite despondent about it. Looking back, I realise I’d read so many good books I had this subconscious idea that my writing should be perfect from the start. It was only when I just began to write, knowing that I had to have something to work with that could be edited and re-edited that I actually got going. So, that’s the advice I’d give myself – just start writing.
If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?
It’s taken me a long time to become a published author, so I feel I have a lot of writing in front of me, but if my mind wasn’t full of stories, I would be looking forward to doing a lot of travelling in the next few years. Although I plan to do than anyway. Maybe I’ll get some ideas as I go.
How did you deal with rejections when you started out?
Like a lot of people, when I first started sending my novel out to agents I had this dream that I would get accepted immediately and it would all be plain sailing. However, after the first couple of very kind rejections, I just braced myself! Then I’d get despondent, pick myself up and send it out again. When I got the e-mail from Choc-Lit saying they wanted to speak to me I was at work and got three people over to my desk to check what it said as I was expecting yet another rejection!
What would you say to someone who wants to write?
I would say just start writing. Do it because you love it, not just because you want to be published, and don’t expect to be perfect as soon as you begin. Engage with writers groups locally and online, and find people who love books as much as you do, as they will help to motivate you. And most of all, never give up on your dreams.
Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?
The House That Alice Built took me many years to write and I fitted it around looking after my children and work so I don’t think I had any routines for that. For New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun, I also fitted it around work commitments, but on a writing day I would write for an hour or so, potter, go out to a café and write some more, come home and do something else and have another writing spurt. I have a vague word count target, which gets more stringent the closer I get to the deadline!
Which authors inspired you to write?
I read voraciously like all authors, so I can’t pinpoint one writer in particular, as I think they all inspired me to write. But as books were part of my life from childhood I should go back there and say I loved What Katy Did, What Katy Did at School and What Katy Did Next by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford and The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas.
(I went to see Top of the Pops being recorded behind the scenes when I was very young as my friend’s father was an engineer there. The Wombles were one of the acts performing that day and we passed through the green room briefly – my dreams were shattered when I saw Orinoco wearing his head like a hat and smoking a cigarette….however, its still one of my favourite books!)
Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?
I think that Emelia Clarke or Lily James would make a great Alice, and Aiden Turner from Poldark would be perfect as Luis.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m writing the novel I’d planned before The House That Alice Built. Its set in the UK and is about Miriam, who has sold her business, and goes for a much-needed break to a house by the sea in a village she used to visit as a child. She needs rest, relaxation, no responsibility, and really wants as little company as possible. Due to an administrative error she gets anything but. There’s also something of a mystery to be solved as to the whereabouts of the owner of the house she’s renting.
More About Christine
Chris Penhall is the winner of the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, with her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun is published in August 2020.
Born in South Wales, Chris has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where both books are set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She has now completed her second and is busy writing her third.
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
@ChrisPenhall Chris Penhall Writer
Follow your yellow brick road ….
Alice Dorothy Matthews is on the road to paradise! She’s sold her house in London, got rid of her nasty ex and arranged her move to Portugal where friendship and romance awaits. All that’s left to do is find a place to call home.
But Alice’s dreams are called into question when complications with friends, work and new relationships make her Portuguese paradise feel far too much like reality.
Will Alice’s dream of a new home in the sun come true?
Pre Order Here
Check out Chris Penhall on the Ruby-Lit website for more information on her books!