On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 when it is expected that the national lockdown will be extended due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, my newest book The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn was released into the world.
It’s a romantic comedy, but it’s also more than that. It’s a story of family, community, renewal, hope and yes – also some love.
In many ways it’s the perfect book for these times. It’s pure escapism and I can guarantee the reader there is a happy ending.
It’s a reminder that life happens. That we will be in a time again where we can go to the pub with our friends. Where we will be able to browse the shelves of bookshops. Where we will be able to pop to the corner shop and stand and chat to the friendly sales assistant. And, my personal favourite, it is a reminder that one day we’ll be able to walk the beaches of Donegal again.
But this book is also another curve ball in my writing career, and it’s yet another change of pace. And just like my switch to writing psychological thrillers two years ago, this one kind of came about by accident too.
The worst time for most writers is the time when we are waiting to see if our latest book has grabbed the attention of our editor or a new publisher. We exist in a limbo land – a little like being in lockdown—where we don’t know what our next move is going to be or how our careers will shape up over the next year.
I definitely found it a struggle when I had sent my first thriller, Her Name Was Rose, out on submission to prospective publishers.
While not daring to believe ‘Rose’ would find a home, I decided the best way to distract myself was to write an out-and-out romantic comedy.
I wrote it for pleasure and I considered that I might self-publish it. I did, after all, have some very lovely and loyal readers of my women’s fiction novels that I had written with Poolbeg Press who might be interested in reading something more from me in a lighter genre. It was also a genre that was familiar to me, so I found it comforting.
On a practical level, I thought if I finished it and self-published it, it might bring in some money which would allow me to keep chasing my writing dream.
I dipped in and out of writing this book for six months, between submissions, and edits, and more submissions, until I was offered my life-changing deal with Avon/ Harper Collins for Her Name Was Rose.
This rom-com, which I had surprised myself by loving every second of writing, went into a file on my computer while Claire Allan, crime writer, became my brand new identity. And four psychological thrillers in, I can confidently say, I have loved every single minute of my unleashing my darker side.
So why am I returning to writing women’s fiction now in the guise of romantic comedies? And why am I doing it under the pseudonym of Freya Kennedy?
The answer is relatively simple. I believe in the book. I believe it has something nice to offer the world. I believe it is an entertaining and uplifting read and, if I’m being really honest, I felt the need to lift myself out of the darkness for little periods of time while thinking up the next dastardly need for my next thriller.
I was also delighted to find that some of my readers missed my women’s fiction, which was a lovely realisation.
More than that, perhaps, was that I enjoy expanding my writing skills and trying new things. When I did come back to writing romance – and especially when I started the official edit of Libby Quinn – I realised I had learned an awful lot about story-telling and writing in the two years between.
The book which had been hiding on my computer was given a huge edit. I’ll be honest, I cringed at some of what I’d written and I realised that in two years under the brilliant editorship of Phoebe Morgan and Helen Huthwaite at Avon, and with the stellar editorship of my ‘Freya Kennedy’ editor Caroline Ridding at Boldwook Books, I am a completely different writer to the person I was when I launched my debut book, Rainy Days and Tuesdays, in 2007.
The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn is my thirteenth novel. Just like I felt a sea change in me when I launched Her Name Was Rose, I feel another sea change with the launch of my Freya Kennedy persona.
People have asked me which I prefer writing. The truth is that both give me immense joy, in different ways. Writing thrillers is like piecing together intricate jigsaw puzzles. It’s filled with lightbulb moments. I love creating tension, and darkness. I love exploring the darker depths of the human mind. I find it thrilling and fascinating.
Rom-coms offer a chance to believe in the good in the world. In happy endings and love conquering all. I love creating loveable characters who discover the power of love and of taking chances.
For me, my dream has always been to be a writer. In whatever form that may take. I have learned over the last few years that we simply never know where the world will take us, or when the next plot twist will hit. But as long as I’m writing, I’m living my dream. It’s a very intense, busy and sometimes overwhelming dream – but it is my dream and I love it.
It provides me with escapism. I hope, in these very strange times, to can provide my readers with it too.
(c) Freya Kennedy
About The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn:
If you can dream it, you can make it come true…
Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.
After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream of owning her own bookshop become a reality.
She hopes opening ‘Once Upon A Book’ on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.
When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?
A gorgeous new romantic comedy about taking chances and realising your dreams, perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Christie Barlow and Mhairi McFarlane.
Order your copy online here.