We caught up with Carole Matthews at the world’s first edible garden in London’s Russell Square to celebrate the launch of her novel The Cake Shop In The Garden. 

Fancy picking up a copy yourself ? With this week’s Woman magazine you can buy this fab read for better than half price at WH Smith.

Did you write stories when you were a child?

I didn’t actually do much creative writing at all until years after I left school, but I was always an avid reader and I used to work out in my head how differently I’ve have written the book. I wrote a lot of non-fiction for magazines in my twenties. I came to writing fiction as a complete fluke when I won a prize for the first short story competition I ever entered!

What books and authors did you read when you were young?

I loved the classics such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Little Women, then when I hit my teens I discovered Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins and co. I didn’t always know what I was reading, but I knew I loved the racy pace and the glamour. They gave me my love of commercial fiction – and bad boys.

Our books ed Jo enjoyed a cupcake or two at the launch!

Our books ed Jo enjoyed a cupcake or two at the launch!

What helps you come up with plotlines? (eg, hot bath, long walks)

I get most of my plot ideas from real life situations – either from stories that people tell me or things that I read in magazines. Long walks are excellent for unravelling tricky bits of plot. It works like magic. If I get stuck, I go for a walk and, without doing it consciously, by the time I get back it’s all sorted out in my head. A miracle!

What is your writing routine?

Very boring. I do two books a year, so that’s a lot of time sitting at my computer. I work from 8.00am to 6.00pm, generally and have an hour for lunch when I read a daily newspaper. I don’t sleep that well so I pull a couple of insomnia shifts most weeks too.

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

Write every day and write the stories that come from your heart. If you try to follow trends they’ll be over by the time you’ve finished your manuscript!

 Do you have an idea for your next novel?

I research the next novel while I’m writing the current one, so I’m already nearly there in my head. I also have a filing cabinet full of ideas! I just wait and see which one bubbles to the surface.

Do you have a favourite classic novel?

It’s not strictly a classic, but I’m sure it will be one day. My favourite book is The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I would love to write historical fiction especially the Tudors but I can’t keep all those facts in my head! Actually I did some family research and discovered I’m related to the Plantagenets! I should have had an invitation to Richard III’s funeral.

Mary Berry loves your novels. Have you met her?

Yes – I went to her book signing and emboldened by a glass of champagne I gave her a copy of my novel. She was so pleased and said no one ever gave her books! After that, she told me she loved the book and went out to buy all the others.

What novels are you reading at the moment?

I recently read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton which I loved – it’s a quirky and accomplished debut. I’ve just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which I enjoyed too. I’m currently reading I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes which is a rollercoaster ride – Homeland, 24 and Reacher all rolled into one. It’s been written by a script writer and is bound to be a film.

What’s your favourite literary quote?

‘You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.’ C. S. Lewis.

Don’t forget, you can pick up The Cake Shop in the Garden for just £3.49 at WH Smith with this week’s Woman.

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