Writer Wednesday: Cathy Bramley

After four years of flinging herself round the dance floors of Nottingham's nightspots, Cathy somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.

She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. After making it onto Timmy Mallet's Christmas card list, she realised it was time to move on and so in 1995 set up her own marketing agency.

She lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl. She shares her time between her marketing agency, writing and taxiing the girls endlessly from one activity to the next.

Cathy is a fan of Masterchef, strong coffee, chocolate brazils and Marian Keyes books. She is addicted to her Kindle and has an irrational fear of bananas.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I’ll be honest with you, Elle, it hasn’t been a lifelong ambition. But in March 2012 I picked up a copy of Meet Me At The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan. Reading that book gave me such joy that I suddenly wanted to have a go at writing myself. I decided that if I could make someone smile by reading my book that it would make me a very happy bunny.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
I’m still very new to writing novels; I’ve only got two under my belt and the second hasn’t been published yet. However, what I have found tricky is escalating the action during the main body of the book. By nature, I want to solve each problem as I go along, but in commercial women’s fiction the stakes have to get higher as the plot progresses. I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of workshops run by author Julie Cohen and her tips have helped me no end, so hopefully I will improve over time.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Sometimes, even before I start writing a novel, a particular scene pops into my head and I know I’m really going to enjoy writing it. I’m about to start the sequel to Conditional Love and there’s a scene near the beginning that I can’t wait to write!

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Hmm. Excellent question and very hard to think of just one! It has to be Bridget Jones. It was so cleverly written and I can read it time and time again. I also have a fantasy that I will one day write a book that is made into a film, so this wish ticks that box too!

5. If you could only save a character from fictional calamity, who would you pick and why? 
Natalie Butterworth from Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood. The book starts with Natalie coming away from the hairdresser’s looking like a tabby cat weeks before her wedding. I would like to have intervened on her behalf to save her from humiliation. Let’s just say I understand the poor girl’s pain!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I would spend the day in New York City with Izzy Randall from Meet Me At The Cupcake Café, we would go shopping in Bloomingdales and finish up in a tucked-out-of-the-way café for afternoon tea.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I have just finished my second book, a comedy about three women who meet at a funeral and decide to help each other follow their dreams with surprising results! Hopefully this will be published later this year. I’m in the middle of plotting the sequel to Conditional Love which will continue the story of Sophie Stone and has a working title of Your Place or Mine?

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Author Julia Crouch told me to have a go at NaNoWriMo which takes place in November. The idea is that you have a target of 50,000 words to write in one month. It’s a great way of getting into a good habit of writing every day and really helps you increase your word count. I only managed to write 34,000, but it became the first third of my second book and was a really good exercise. I highly recommend it.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I am lucky enough to be able to spend my working day writing. I sit at my desk at 8.30am, answer emails, tweets and Facebook messages first. Once the decks are clear I can begin on the day’s writing task. When I am writing new material, I consult my spreadsheet to see which scene or chapter I am supposed to be writing, I read a little of the previous day’s work and then get stuck in. I write until 2.45pm when I leave to collect my daughters from school. Later in the evening, I plan the next scene, jotting down notes, key words and phrases. That way, my subconscious can be working the scene out for the following day.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I have had a mind like a butterfly since Christmas! I have got so many books on the go, it’s ridiculous!: Emma by Jane Austen, The Arcade by Kitty Charles, About Last Night by Adele Parks, Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley and The Bad Mother’s Handbook by Kate Long to name but far too many!

Conditional Love is Cathy’s debut novel.
It’s a romantic comedy about a thirty-something procrastinator who dreams of having the perfect man in the perfect home, but doesn’t seem to be in the driving seat of her own life. After her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and she inherits the estate of a stranger with a condition in the will, she is forced to face up to her future and reassess her past.

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1 comment

  1. Great interview, Elle & Cathy! I just love your writing tips, Cathy, think you should do a workshop! I'd sign up! X