I’m delighted to interview romance author Jennifer Page on my Friday Reads blog today. Jennifer’s debut novel, The Little Board Game Café was published on 13 April by Aria. So grab yourself a cuppa, get comfy and let’s find out more about the book then get chatting to Jennifer
Book blurb: An irresistible story of love, friendship and the power of Games Night, perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Christie Barlow.
When Emily loses her job, house and boyfriend all within a matter of days, she’s determined to turn a negative into a positive and follow her dream of running a small cafe in the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Essendale.
But she quickly finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew when the ‘popular’ cafe she takes over turns out to secretly be a failing business. Emily desperately needs a way to turn things around, and help comes from the unlikeliest of places when she meets local board game-obsessed GP Ludek. But when a major chain coffee shop opens on the high street, Emily is forced to question if she’ll ever be able to compete.
Has she risked everything on something destined to fail? Or can a playful twist, a homely welcome, and a sprinkle of love make Emily’s cafe the destination she’s always dreamed of?
Welcome to my blog Jennifer.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Kind of. I’ve always wanted to do lots of things, some of which I’ve achieved (I was lucky enough to spend many years working in TV production at the BBC) and some of which I haven’t (prima ballerina at the Royal Ballet; I have legs like tree trunks so it was never going to happen!) Writing a novel was definitely something I’ve aspired to do since I was very young. I wrote a novel about ponies called Natureland when I was eight. I covered it in sticky backed plastic and gave it to my mum to post to Puffin, convinced they’d publish it, but she kept it in a drawer instead. Suffice it to say, when I was hoping to land a publishing deal with The Little Board Game Café, I didn’t entrust it to Mum!
Has any author inspired you?
Helen Fielding’s famous novel, Bridget Jones’ Diary, was definitely an inspiration as Bridget felt so real to me; I could really relate to her. But I love loads of different authors including Jenny Colgan, Jojo Moyes, Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher.
What do you like writing most?
The first chapter. In a way, it’s the hardest, but it’s almost like meeting a new person. I like having the initial idea for a book, that initial feeling of ‘What if this happened to this person, how would it change their life?’ I love it when that idea just pops into my head; it’s so exciting. At that point, I don’t know the story myself. I love seeing how it unravels when I start typing.
Do you have a special place for writing?
This is a terrible thing to admit, but I love writing in bed in a morning. I got in the habit of doing this when I lived on a narrowboat and it was really cold. These days, I live in an old farmhouse and that isn’t much warmer, so in the winter months, I often spend the mornings tucked up under the duvet, typing away. In the summer months, I love getting up early and sitting on the sofa, watching the sun rise as I write.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I generally have an idea about a key thing that’s going to happen to my main character and then I start writing and see what unfolds around that idea. Once I’ve got a sense of the character and who she is, I break off from writing and start to plot out the novel. In reality, it’s a bit of a dance between plotting and pantsing – I plot a bit, I pants a bit, and somehow it all comes together in the end.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
My debut, The Little Board Game Café, is very much inspired by real-life incidents. I met my husband Hermi after 13 years of doing online dating. Like Ludek, one of the main characters in my book, he’s a doctor (well, Hermi’s retired now, but he was), is from a Polish family and has a large collection of board games. Like Emily, I’d never heard of games like Agricola and Ticket To Ride until I met him. The boardgames in the novel are games that we play regularly and the boardgamers are loosely based on people that we know. Many of the dishes mentioned in the novel like the home-made chicken soup and Lancashire hot-pot were inspired by the recipes my late father used to make.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m editing my second book, which is also a romance with a board games theme, and I’m writing my third which features campervans, caravans and a narrowboat.l
What time of the day do you write best?
Definitely in the mornings. I’ve always been a morning person.
What are your hobbies?
These days, my main hobby is board games. I love them almost as much as my husband does. Playing board games is a lovely way to meet new people and there are board game groups and cafes in many towns and cities these days. I love the fact that they challenge me to think whilst also being great fun.
What advice would you give to other writers?
I’d just say, ‘You can do this.’ This time last year, the idea of The Little Board Game Café being published felt very much like a pipe-dream. Now it’s a reality.
Another tip would definitely be to write from the heart. I notice how much better I write if I’m doing it for me, writing what I love, what I’d like to read.
And my final tip: keep learning. Before that publication deal is on the table, it feels like getting an agent or getting published is the summit of the mountain, the thing you’re aspiring to. But just like when you climb a mountain and you think you’re almost at the peak, once you reach it, you realise it wasn’t the peak at all and there’s an even higher peak hiding behind the first one. It is wonderful seeing my work in print, but I’m hoping I can still develop my craft and become a better writer.
Great advice! Lovely to talk to you, Jennifer. Wishing you many sales of your lovely book!
Jennifer Page lives near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire with her husband Hermi and his very – no, make that extremely – large collection of board games. Her debut novel, The Little Board Game Cafe will be published on 13th April 2022. Jennifer writes light-hearted, cosy romantic fiction which was initially inspired by her own dating adventures. Before she met Hermi, she was single for 13 years and had pretty much given up on meeting The One.
When she isn’t writing, Jennifer can usually be found playing board games; since she met Hermi, she’s become even more obsessed with them than he is! She also loves cooking (though she’d never claim to be any good at it!), caravan holidays and walking in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
Author contact links
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karen-King/e/B0034P6W7I