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



A huge number of authors, agents, publishing houses etc. are donating items to this fabulous auction. All the money will go those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Please visit their website here:

Authors for Grenfell Tower Auction

lottie phillips

ITEM: Signed copy of S is for Stranger by Louise Stone (Charlie Phillips) and named character in her new women’s fiction novel by Lottie Phillips (also Charlie Phillips).

DETAILS: Charlie will sign and personalise a paperback copy of S is for Stranger to you or the person of your choice. Your name or the name of your choice will feature as a character in her second women’s fiction novel published digitally by HQ, HarperCollins.

BIO: Charlie Phillips, writes under the pseudonyms Louise Stone and Lottie Phillips. She is an author with HQ, HarperCollins and her novels include the bestselling S is for Stranger. The Little Cottage in the Country is her first romantic comedy, also with HQ, HarperCollins and is out soon.

WHO CAN BID: worldwide postage.