Interview: Carole Matthews

competition

Introducing ‘Sunny Days, Sea Breezes’ – a new novel for 2020 from bestseller Carole Matthews – the queen of feel-good, escapist fiction that’s full of heart and fun.

When does time out become the time of your life? 

Jodie Jackson is all at sea, in every sense. 

On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, she’s leaving her London life, her career, and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clocks, but she’ll settle for some peace and quiet on her brother Bill’s beautifully renovated houseboat, Sunny Days. 

But from the moment Jodie steps aboard her new home, it’s clear she’ll struggle to keep herself to herself. If it isn’t Marilyn, who cleans for Bill and is under strict instructions to look after Jodie, then it’s Ned, the noisy sculptor on the next-door houseboat. Ned’s wood carving is hard on the ears, but it’s made up for by the fact that he’s rather easy on the eyes. 

Bustled out of the boat by Marilyn and encouraged to explore with Ned, Jodie soon delights in her newfound freedom. But out of mind isn’t out of sight, and when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality. Will she answer the call or choose a life filled with Sunny Days and Sea Breezes? 

An absolute must-read from the queen of romance, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes will make your heart sing. 

‘A life-affirming story full of joy and hope’
CATHY BRAMLEY  

‘A sun-filled, fun-filled wonderful escapist adventure’
MILLY JOHNSON 

Give us your elevator pitch for Sunny Days and Sea Breezes 

“On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, Jodie Jackson is leaving her London life, her career and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clock, but will settle for some peace and quiet at her brother’s idyllic houseboat, Sunny Days. She soon delights in her newfound freedom on the beautiful island – especially the time spent exploring with her wood sculptor neighbour, Ned. But when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality and make some difficult choices. Does she go back home or choose a life of Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?”

What inspired you to write Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?

I visited the Isle of Wight for a holiday a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with the place. We stayed on a very chi-chi houseboat overlooking a beautiful bay. How could I not be inspired to write a book in that setting. However, the boat next door was much more Bohemian-looking and that’s always a great starting point for a story. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the island and found some idyllic settings. So my holiday ended up as very much a working one as I started the novel there and then. We subsequently went back the next year and did some more research and, hopefully, it won’t be long before we visit again. It’s such a lovely place. Picture perfect and on a very small scale. If you haven’t been, then I highly recommend it.

If Sunny Days and Sea Breezes was made into a film who would you cast as the characters?

“I love Carey Mulligan. I think she’d make an excellent Jodie Jackson. She’s such a versatile actor. Casting Ned would be a bit trickier. In the book he’s a wood sculptor and a quite quirky. My natural instinct is to want Ryan Gosling in everything! Sadly, I don’t think he’d be quite right. I wouldn’t be averse to seeing Kit Harrington as Ned, though he’d have to be a bit more sunny-natured than in his usual roles and with sun-kissed curls. He could rock that.”

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend? 

“I like to put a pack of sandwiches in a rucksack and go on a long walk with my husband, Lovely Kev. It’s when we’re at our happiest. I also do a lot of crafting – mainly papercrafts and crochet, so that takes up a fair amount of my time. We also watch loads of television. I do like a box set on the go that we can binge watch. I don’t live the high life. I like to be on my sofa with my crochet by nine o’clock every evening. I’m trying to get back into gardening too. I used to love it and then just stopped enjoying. I think like a lot of people, during this difficult time, I’ve rediscovered how important it is to have your own little bit of green space to care for and it’s reignited my interest.”

What’s your favourite thing about being a writer? 

I love being immersed in the world of my characters and, sometimes, the hours just fly by when I’m writing. The people in your stories become so real to you and there are certain books – for example, my series of Chocolate Lovers’ books – where you never want to let those characters go. I think about them long after the book is finished. I also get to try lots of random pursuits in the name of research and I’ve managed to convince my accountant that afternoon tea is absolutely essential to fuel creativity. 

What tips would you give aspiring writers? 

Write the book that you want to and don’t follow trends. Make it the very best that you can as there’s a lot of competition out there. Write every day to develop your own voice – it makes such a difference. Don’t expect to write a bestseller as your first book. It happens, but not very often. Enjoy the journey!

Jasmine Begom