Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always.
When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.
But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.
Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.
What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…
Hello, and thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. *Settles in the comfiest-looking chair* What would you like to know about me?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I have a desk in the corridor between my living room and downstairs loo, which is my preferred place to write, as all my research books and gadgets surround me, but every so often, rather like my cats, I have a random desire to sit somewhere else. When the weather is good, I take myself off to the bottom of the garden because being amongst green things really is good for the soul. Sometimes, I like to curl up on the sofa with a fluffy blanket and write there. Other times, I grab the laptop and stay in bed. I have a beautiful view of fields from my window, and bed is my happy place! So anywhere, really. As long as I have the laptop and a coffee to hand.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Every morning (even at the weekends) I check in with my virtual office pal, Tudor historical author Clare Marchant. We share our aims for the day (maybe a word count we want to reach, or chapters we plan to edit) and then I’m off… other than that, I wing it, much like I wing life!
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
Coffee first thing, then I swap to my water bottle, as I’m trying to be healthier. Sometimes a fruit tea, and occasionally, if I’m still writing late at night, a glass of wine or a cheeky gin. I’m not a snacker, but I often eat lunch at my desk.
– What is your favourite book?
This changes all the time, and I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Books that I would return to time and time again include Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier), Can You Keep A Secret? (Sophie Kinsella) The Keeper of Lost Things (Ruth Hogan), The Binding (Bridget Collins), Tell No One (Harlan Coben)… Oh, the list goes on and on.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Now, this is an interesting question because my writing is undergoing a change in direction at the moment, and The Secrets of Hawthorn Place is very much the book that bridges this gap. It is my first dual timeline and I enjoyed writing the historical story so much that I am now writing more and more in this genre – all with the Jenni Keer touch, naturally! My first two books were contemporary romantic comedies (The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows) and, as a big Agatha Christie fan, I’ve always fancied penning a cosy crime – so I’m definitely not a girl to be pinned down.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I think there are tiny elements of real people in all of my characters, but never a complete replication of someone’s personality or looks. Authors are magpies and we pick up shiny snippets that we come across and then put them all together. I would say most of my characters are an amalgamation of several different people – both real and fictional.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I tried doing this but I’m hopeless. I’ve never looked back at the notebooks I kept and largely rely on my memory. Sometimes I will jot a plot idea down, or make a note of something on my phone, but most if it stays in my very cluttered brain. I even put most of my research directly into the manuscript now as it saves so much time.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
As a reader, I don’t like horror, simply because it upsets me too much. Similarly, I stay away from anything traumatic or violent. Other than that, I try to read a variety of genres, and joined a book club for just this reason. It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone, and some of the real gems I’ve read recently are books I would not have picked up myself, like “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” and “This Is Going To Hurt”.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I couldn’t imagine myself doing this, partly because I’m a very disorganised writer and I’m sure it would drive the co-author bananas. I don’t think I’ve ever even written in the same way for two books. I largely pants (although sometimes plan) and jump all over the place, not even writing chronologically. I think co-authoring would require more organisation than I possess.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I don’t have a great wanderlust and am happiest at home. That said, there are so many beautiful parts of this county that I love visiting, particularly by the coast, and that’s why The Secrets of Hawthorn Place is set on the north Norfolk coast and Dorset – both areas I know well. I have been to Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Crete and the U.S. and may include them in future novels, but most of the ideas that come to me are for beautiful East Anglia – where I live.
Thank you so very much for having me on your blog and championing my book. These questions really made me think.
Love Jenni x
Thank you, Jenni Keer and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
She also wrote The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows.
Win a Signed copy of the Secrets of Hawthorn Place, plus chocolate and a sparkly pen.
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.