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The Little Cottage in the Country

 

A big Yeehaw from the would-be cowgirl author!

During my holiday in Sussex, I managed to meet up with Lottie to discuss her delicious new bookThe Little Cottage in the Country.  Lottie cycled out to the holiday cottage on a vintage red bicycle.   I had spent the morning setting up a temporary Books in Handbag Chat Room.  Lottie arrived on a gloriously sunny day wearing cropped jeans, a Gingham shirt and cowboy boots. Her beautiful book was peeking out of a fabulous leopard print handbag.  As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted with Lottie’s big smile.  She removed a tempting parcel of pastries that she had bought from the local bakers in the village.

The intense summer sun sent us inside the cottage. We drank a beautiful blend of coffee, as we savoured the freshly baked cakes.  Eating the cakes delayed our conversation a little.  The plump dried fruit enhanced the sweetness of the pastry and the oozing custard was divine.  Lottie walked around the holiday cottage and admired each detail.  The space, in the tiny holiday cottage, had been designed thoughtfully to create a sense of home.

Lottie handed her beautiful book to me, and we noted how the colours of the cover blended perfectly with the room. The book could have been photographed, in situ, as part of a magazine feature.

Jessie:  The book cover looks more delicious than the cakes that we have just eaten.  Please tell me what the book is about.  I challenge you capture the flavour of the book in a few sentences.

Lottie: Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution.

But very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Jessie:  Well, the book sounds like the perfect escape for me.  What have other reviewers said about the book?

Lottie:

‘It’s funny, witty and well -paced book that I highly recommend you to select as your summer holiday read! Fabulous debut!’ (Sparkly Word)

‘Highly recommended as the perfect summer read and I guarantee it will have you chuckling in no time!!’ (Karen Mace, Amazon Reviewer)

‘Loved it. I laughed my way through it!’ (Donna Orrock, NetGalley reviewer)

Jessie:  The reviews sound brilliant.  I’ll open a bottle of wine so that we can toast your success. Come on, read me an extract from the book that will tempt a reader.  Lottie’s eyes sparkled with mischief as she started to read the extract.

Lottie: ‘The conversation with Diane did not go according to plan: somehow (and Anna blamed the one bar of signal and not the fact she had polished off most of the Merlot).

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Lottie: I was bereft! I missed Anna, Linda and Diane more than words can say! They were incredible fun to write and had taken on a life of their own. In fact, between you and me, they’re still here * taps head * so watch this space.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family. 

Lottie: Anyone who needs a giggle and a feel-good book! Though if someone is able to put a copy in front of Graham Norton or Miranda Hart then my dreams would come true…

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag? 

Lottie Phillips

Lottie: I’ve had people tell me this book should be available on the NHS. If you are ever feeling a bit down, in need of a pick-me-up, reading even a paragraph of this book should hopefully put the spring back in your step. Call it a handbag-sized natural remedy… And who doesn’t love to read about a hunky Poldark fellow like Horatio?

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Lottie: It’s about the novel I’m currently writing and it reads: Tom, Hawaiian shirt, good-looking, makes dinner, OTT

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Lottie: Oh, tough one. I would say the biggest challenge is self-discipline… Twitter is fantastic as I can chat to my readers but, equally, it is amazing how much time I can waste posting GIFs…

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Lottie: I’ve had so much advice from so many wonderful people but the best piece is this: don’t ever stop writing (and reading), practice really does make perfect.

Lottie is….

…a rubbish baker but still harks after the cosy kitchen scenario where she expertly shows her child how to make the perfect cupcakes (with no mess and not one bead of sweat in sight)…

…obsessed with interior décor…

…in love with Country and Western music and wine (preferably together). One day she will go to Nashville, wear suitable cowgirl attire, swig beer with a sexy nonchalance and be an expert in line dancing (obvs).

Lottie stayed chatting into the evening.  It was a great treat to find someone who also admitted that they enjoyed County and Western music.  We sat in the garden listening to various tracks on my iPlayer as we finished a couple bottles of wine.  Lottie is great fun and that bodes well for any reader of her new novel The Little Cottage in the Country. Who doesn’t want to live in a Little Country Cottage?

A phenomenal review here – thank you so much!

REVIEW

Romantic comedy fans, make sure you add Lottie Phillips’ name to your favourite authors list because she is going to be a big star!

Anna Compton has had enough! Tired of her frazzled life, her stressful job and the hustle and bustle of living in London, the time has come for her to make a fresh start and to put the past firmly behind her! A new beginning beckons for Anna and she decides to hang up her city girl stilettos for a life in the country where she will spend her days surrounded by miles and miles of unspoiled greenery, baking bread, making jam and becoming a domestic goddess and yummy mummy extraordinaire! Anna cannot wait to take up residence at Primrose Cottage and for her new life to begin. However, on her arrival, she quickly realises that there is a world of difference between reality and fantasy!

When Anna had been daydreaming about her new life in the country, she certainly never imagined that she would end up chasing pork pies down hills or trying to pass off shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale as her own – nor had she imagined that she would find herself caught up in a love triangle between hunky local farmer Richard and Lord of the Manor Horatio!

One thing is for sure – life in the country is anything but quiet for Anna! Is moving to Primrose Cottage going to turn out to be the biggest mistake of her life? Or will she come to realise that her new life is what she has been searching for all along?

A wonderful zesty-paced romp that had me laughing out loud, The Little Cottage in the Country is a joy to read from beginning to end! Lottie Phillips writes with plenty of brio, humour and charm and this book’s beguiling blend of hi-jinks, humour and pathos makes it absolutely impossible to resist! I thought Anna was a fantastic heroine and the scrapes she gets into are sure to make you howl with laughter! Add eccentric supporting characters, wit, warmth and sass and you have the perfect book to while away a lazy afternoon!

A sensational romantic comedy Hollywood producers should snap the film rights to, The Little Cottage in the Country is an addictive read you’ll never want to end!

Bookish Jottings

A delightfully uplifting romantic comedy to get you in the mood for summer!

Escape to the country!

Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

But her new life at Primrose Cottage isn’t quite what she expected! Very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Could moving to the country be the biggest mistake she’s ever made?

Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

REVIEW

Romantic comedy fans, make sure you add Lottie Phillips’ name to your favourite authors list because she is going to be a big…

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Three Pros and Cons of Dating in the Countryside

A Guest Post by Lottie Phillips

Location. Location. Location.

There are often many miles between eateries. So, you’ve agreed to go on a date with the local farmer. I warn you now that, unlike in a town or city, quite often you will be stuck at said eatery. He might choose to take you, for example, to the Five Bulls. Oh, you think excitedly, how romantic, how authentically country. You’re thinking quaint, cosy pub with roaring fire and epic Michelin-quality food. Only, you get there and it’s filthy with a fire chugging out enough soot and smoke to cause the Kyoto Protocol to fall down and your dog, Alfie, sees better food at home. On the other hand, you might strike lucky and end up at a gastro-pub sipping on Prosecco and looking up at the stars. The point is you can’t easily roll onto the next place, so if he’s in for the long haul, you might be too.

Outfit.

It’s a minefield. You want to impress, look sexy but remember those heels might not make it through that muddy field. That’s not to say, the countryside is uncivilised. We do have tarmac. It’s just it might be dark or the car might be parked down a track. However, I have seen heeled wellies. Just saying.

Choice of tipple.

Quite often, you will be picked up and can drink the night away, not worrying about driving later on. Bonus. Only, then you find out he is the most self-indulgent bore of a man and you are desperate for him to take you home. So it depends on the man and if you want to impress. Like any date, this will quickly become apparent. For example, say you go on a date with Lord such and such, you may want to go for your classic dry white wine, at which point he may offer to buy you champagne. If he’s boring the pants off you, start ordering Snake Bites. Works every time. Let’s say, instead, you’ve opted for the handsome stable hand who drinks Guinness like it’s his lifeline. If you like him, maybe try a pint of the Black Nectar, if you don’t, order a bottle of Taittinger and he’ll soon get you home.

Five essential things to know when moving to the countryside

Moving to the countryside can be a bit of shock to the system. Anna in The Little Cottage in the Country leaves the bright lights of London and heads to the rural idyll of Trumpsey Blazey. She faces village life and all its eccentricities. So if you’re thinking of doing the same, remember these five pointers.

Buy wellies. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: I have to wear plastic rubber on my pedicured feet? What about the forty-odd pairs of red-soled sparkle that I own? Well, you will have the odd occasion when your Louboutins (let’s face it, they give you blisters anyway and you had to remortgage your house in order to buy them) will come in handy but, day to day, trust me it’s all about the wellies. You’re probably thinking of those green, shapeless waders but actually life in the country has got very bling: they now come in all sizes and you can even get them in pink with a flower motif. Also, let’s not forget that every A-D celeb that goes to Glastonbury wear wellies. Soon they will proudly sit by your front door: a symbol of how country you really are. *Just be careful when you’re emailing or texting friends about your wellies, AutoCorrect can play havoc…

Next, you need a tweed or wax jacket. OK, not essential, like wellies, but a great way to fit in. Yes, you’ve got your very clever roll-up mac but we don’t do clever in the countryside, we do STATEMENT. This means that when you don your tweed or wax jacket, you are literally screaming I am totally working the country look and you will want to know who I am. Now, I have to point out that said tweed or wax jacket cannot look new. It has to give the appearance of an item of clothing that’s been in your family for generations, then slept in by the dog and perhaps even rolled in by the horse. You get my drift? In the country, you buy the jacket and then aim for the been-through-hedge-backward look. I know, don’t ask.

Thirdly, you need to know how to use your Aga. It is like a rite of passage. Hopefully, your house will come with an Aga. The joyous mountain of metal that belts out heat no matter whether it’s -5 degrees or 35 degrees. Your neighbours will visit and congregate around said Aga. There is a lot of bum-warming that goes on whilst drinking gallons of tea. If you’re thinking I must get the Aga cleaned up: don’t! Oh no. A bit like the wellies, and the jacket, your neighbours will admire its ‘used’ look. Don’t forget to take photos of self in front of Aga. Think Mary Berry.

The cake tin is next on my list. Ensure you always have some sort of sweet delight in the house for anyone who pops over. Of course, if you are a superb baker this goes without saying. If you are, in fact, like me then go to the shop, remove cakes from packaging and put in said cake tin. Trust me, no one knows and of course, you baked them in your Aga.

Finally, ensure you have a log store with gloriously seasoned wood. I once had the longest lecture known to man given to me on the merits of seasoned wood. Yes, I know, half an hour of my life I’ll never get back. Anyway, when you think country, you think roaring fire, you think warming your toes at the end of long walks. Bliss.

Chasing the Happily Ever After

When we are at school – primary school – we are allowed to start stories with ‘once upon a time’ and to end them with ‘…and they lived happily ever after’. As we progress through life we are told not to use these phrases, that stories should not be so obvious, so formulaic. Then why do we ever learn them?

I’ll tell you why. It’s not that we need to forget these phrases entirely. No. I use them, as a novelist, to remind me that I am taking my characters on a journey. The once upon a time indicates a situation, the context our heroine finds herself. The lived happily ever after is what she is aiming for. Only, is there such a thing as the happily ever after and, if there isn’t, is that why we are taught to abandon these cliche phrases? I mean, as humans, we are always part of a story, aren’t we?

I think it indicates that me, you, and my heroine are striving for something bigger, something beautiful and don’t we all do that? Don’t we all secretly, or not so secretly, harbor fantasies of alternative lives we might one day live? Even if they are rose-tinted and include Hollywood style pools and white villas (oh no, wait, that may just be me). I mean, we’ve all been there, caught daydreaming during the weekend-supermarket-mission, I mean, sorry, um, family shopping trip.

In my novel, The Little Cottage in the Country, Anna goes on a journey to better her life. Anna Compton thought that moving to Trumpsey Blazey, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

The thing is we daydream different situations, conjure up different worlds because we’ve been given the best gift possible: imagination. So whilst my ideas for my stories stem from the world around me – because there really is romance and comedy in the every day – I then take that, those brilliant, very real experiences and I start to daydream.

What does my heroine Anna Compton (The Little Cottage in the Country) really want? She wants love. We all want love but let’s daydream a life less ordinary. Well, then perhaps she meets the Lord of the Manor and as they get to know each other, and as she tries to resist his charms, romance and comedy ooze out of the most strange of places: a school bake sale, a pork pie race? So she is just an ordinary woman, like me, who gets caught up in a beautiful world and chases that happily ever after.

Does she find it? That would be telling. But whether she does, or not, she’ll keep chasing, just as I will. Just as we all will; using the glorious gift of imagination.

Hello All,

It is a heady mixture of nerves and excitement but it is entirely the unknown. Finally I will be sharing my ‘little darlings’ with you and hoping (daring to hope) you enjoy them! It takes a stupendous amount of hard work to get to that point so there is a certain amount of relief but the nerves never go away.

When you receive reviews, you wait with bated breath and – if they’re positive – you are over the moon! If they’re not, you kick the cat (credit: Harry Bingham) and get up and move on, reminding yourself that reading is an entirely subjective process.

So The Little Cottage in the Country (trailer below) is out on Monday. FORTY-EIGHT hours away! Excited, scared but actually, this time, I almost forgot! Why? Because a novelist has to be a step ahead – only way to survive – and I’m already writing the next romantic adventure!

If you do buy The Little Cottage… I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think and have a super weekend.

Lottie X