Author Interview: Ali McNamara

Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Regular visitors to my blog may know that Ali McNamara is one of my favourite authors and so I was very excited to be given the chance to ask her some questions ahead of the release of her latest book, The Little Flower Shop by the Sea which I have reviewed here. I hope you enjoy reading the Q&A and hope that my review will inspire you to pick up the book as it is one of her best yet!

Can you introduce your new book The Little Flower Shop by the Sea?

When Poppy Carmichael, the black sheep of her flower loving family, inherits her grandmother’s beloved flower shop on the beautiful north Cornish coast, it’s with much trepidation she returns to the pretty harbour town of St Felix where she spent much of her childhood.

But St Felix has a few surprises in store for Poppy - a tight knit community that only wants to help, an eccentric American florist, a shy policeman, and Jake, a local flower grower with a past just as troubled as Poppy’s.

As Poppy begins to discover just why the little flower shop is so beloved, it’s not only Poppy that finds herself beginning to heal, but the whole of St Felix too.

There's so many flowers mentioned in the book. What was your research process like for it? Are you now sick of flowers? 



I could never be sick of flowers! Although my editor was convinced I hated them when she read the first draft of the book – just like Poppy at the beginning of the story. I was inspired to write about the Victorian language of flowers after I found a copy of a book listing all their meanings, which I found not only very helpful while I was writing, but inspired much of the story too.

What flower do you think best describes you? 


That’s a hard one! But I’m going to say a rose; To begin with I can appear quite closed up, but given the right conditions I bloom beautifully! I may appear gentle and unassuming, but if you try and cut me down, you’ll find a strong, thorny stem protecting me!

Is the book's beautiful setting of St Felix inspired by anywhere/anything? It has such a wonderful story!



Yes, St Felix was very much inspired by St Ives in Cornwall, where I’ve spent many happy holidays. St Ives is so beautiful, that it was very easy to write about.

Aside from Poppy is there a character in the book that stands out for you the most, or one that you particularly enjoyed writing the most?

I have a soft spot for Woody, St Felix’s gentle and slightly dippy policeman. He was lovely to write.



Did you always know how the story would play out before you began writing? Or did things change either for the story or the characters as you wrote?


I always have a rough idea before I begin writing what’s going to happen in a story, and I plan in a notebook the basic plot points and character traits etc. But I’m a great believer in letting your characters tell the story for you. They’re not often wrong!

What does a typical writing day look like for you? And what does your writing space look like if you have one? 


I very rarely start writing before lunchtime. If I’m in my office by 11am I consider that early! My late start is not because I’m lazy, but because I like to get everything else out of the way first, so I can fully concentrate on my writing. Whether that be emails or social media - which I tend to do on my iPad, or household chores and exercise! I always try and do some type of exercise every other day, I’m a little bit addicted!


Some readers like to 'cast' books as they read them, can you picture your characters from this book as anybody famous or are they very much your own? 


The only book I’ve ever done that with is my first one, From Notting Hill with Love…Actually. There was a lot of film references in that one. So the characters were often compared to film stars.

Could you ever see yourself writing a book in another genre or are you sticking with the genre you do so well? I can tell you are somebody with a very vivid imagination! 


I would like to write a children’s book – I actually have an idea that I’ve discussed with my agent for a children’s picture book. But I just need to find some time to do it!

Top secret I know but are you writing at the minute? Do you think we'll ever meet Scarlett again? Please say yes!

My new book is provisionally titled Love…Me x

It’s come from an idea I had about what would happen if you could write letters to your past self. What would you say, and would you always advise yourself to steer clear of difficult times and bad situations, even if you knew in hindsight that going though them would bring about something good? It’s a lot of fun, and I’m really enjoying writing it.

As for Scarlett & Co they’re always there in my mind. I already know what her next adventure would be, but whether I’ll ever write it…. All I can say is, I really hope I get the chance to!

Thanks to Ali McNamara for answering these questions!

About Ali McNamara

Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing - being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told. When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating's website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too. Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and two Labradors. When she isn't writing, she likes to travel, read, and people-watch, more often than not accompanied by a good cup of coffee. Her dogs and a love of exercise keep her sane! To find out more about Ali visit her website: www.alimcnamara.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @AliMcNamara

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