What inspired the idea behind the book?
In 2015, I embarked on a research trip to the Cotswolds, specifically to ‘find’ a story. While staying in a small village, I was invited to share a cup of tea with a couple of gentlemen who’d lived there their whole life. They told me about their childhood, growing up in the fifties in a village that was very different to what it is today. Where once it had been a working, self-sufficient community with close-knit ties, that all fell apart when the village was divided and sold off. Properties were bought by city folk who kept houses as weekenders but didn’t live and work there. Permanent residents had to move further and further away to find work. The men’s sadness over what they saw as the demise of their village really affected me. I returned to my rented eighteenth century cottage and began making notes, determined that I could bring their community back to life, if only on the page. I soon came up with the idea to have a fictional village import people from around the world who had genetic and heritage ties to the area and ended up with Olivia and her young son Darcy taking the opportunity to move to the other side of the world and start afresh. But of course, a community project like that doesn’t come without its challenges so life isn’t as straight forward as Olivia had hoped.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
It’s funny, I began writing this book back in 2015 but realised it wasn’t coming together the way I wanted it to and abandoned it halfway through, knowing I’d come back to it when I’d worked out what I was really trying to say. I realised that there were two very different novels battling away inside the one manuscript. One became Three Gold Coins and a couple of years later The Cake Maker’s Wish emerged. I’m sharing this part of its development because I feel like The Cake Maker’s Wish was waiting to come into the world right at this moment in time. It is a book so full of hope and joy and community spirit, which we all need in these challenging times. It is an antidote from the gritty realities of the world and my hope is that it strengthens our optimism for the power of human connection.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Something unusual happened for me in this book that had never happened before. I knew that my main character Olivia would have a romantic interest in the story but instead of there being one potential suitor, a second one put up his hand, and then… a third one did too. I had never written a story with more than one love interest and certainly not three! It got pretty confusing there for a while as to who Olivia was supposed to be with. My stories are very organic things so it’s not unusual for characters to simply ‘turn up’ unexpectedly. Eventually, I worked out that one of the suitors didn’t belong in this book but was meant for next year’s book, so I had to delete him out of the story, from the first page to the last. That was a lot of work but was absolutely the right thing to do so that Olivia could choose the right man for her.
Does the creative process get easier for you with every book?
Sadly, no. Every book is difficult for different reasons, whether that because of internal issues inside the novel or external issues in my life, such as illness, RSI or life circumstances (such as moving house or renovations). Each book is totally unique so it means I have to learn all about that book every time. I like to say that each book is like a new baby: some of them are easier than others and each one is an individual. I never know what I’m writing until I’ve written a first draft, which means I inevitably embark on massive rewrites in every novel. It’s not unusual for me to strip and rewrite thirty thousand words out of a manuscript. Probably the only thing that helps is that when I’m sure I can’t finish a book I can remind myself that I did it once, so I can do it again.
If I looked at your internet history, what would it reveal about you?
It would reveal that I search for information on recipes, health and wellness, horses, raising resilient kids and how to grow vegetables. I also covet chooks and chook pens a rather unnecessary amount—especially since we no longer even have chickens.