27 March 2019

Jenni Keer interviews her characters

I am delighted to welcome Jenni Keer, author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker to The Heart of Romance today. 

I asked Jenni if she would agree to let her heroine Lucy, and her hero George interview her...and Jenni has come up with some fascinating and unexpected answers :-)

Thank you Jenni for giving us an insight to your connection with your characters, developed and the changes they faced, and how writing The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker became a three-way partnership. 

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.

Thanks for inviting me on your blog Sherry. It’s wonderful to be here. I love your approach – asking me to interview Lucy and George from “The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker”. It has produced some interesting answers and made me think. So without further ado, I shall interview them and see what they say...

Why did you want Jenni to write your story?
Lucy: I wanted my story to be told first and foremost because I needed to tell the world about Brenda, and for others to hear about our very special relationship. She is my elderly neighbour and my best friend. Our relationship is uncomplicated and she wants the best for me. More than with anyone else, I can be myself with her. Her calm and wisdom complement my vitality and youth. It’s a relationship that benefits us both. I am also proud of how I grew in confidence over the course of the story and, of course, fell in love. All things that make for an interesting tale.
George: I would add that Brenda was key to everything that happened to us. She even helped to change me – without her I’d still be a grumpy loner! We owe her a lot. I was pleased that Jenni wrote our story because she did so with humour – and a lot of funny things happened as I got to know Lucy. I think humour is important in life because if you can take a bad situation and laugh about it, it is much more manageable.

Did you get tough with your author?
Lucy: Of course! Because I am the total opposite to Jenni, it was hard for her to write some scenes and she had to think carefully about how I would react, and not how she would react. For example, I put up with a lot at my place of work. Jenni is a more confident person and would have high fived some of my colleagues – in the face – with a chair! Jenni also kept forgetting I liked tea because she doesn’t drink it very often – she’s more of a coffee girl. I think she found it tricky to remember how different we were. I also happen to know she doesn’t like it when bad things happen to good people so I had to remind her to ramp up the tension in the story.
George: I know she had to rewrite a lot of my dialogue to ensure my monosyllabic nature came across. As a wordy girl, she had to trim some of my sentences. I do speak more now. Lucy and Brenda helped me open up.

How hard was it to share your deepest secrets with Jenni?
Lucy: It was hard admitting my relationship with my mother. I love her but have always felt a poor second best to my sister, Emily. I had carried that with me for so long and it had a negative impact on my confidence and goals. The saddest thing is I think it was my mother’s own failure to achieve that meant she praised my sister and chided me. I guess she was living her dreams through Emily.
George: Without giving away spoilers, I was carrying around some baggage. It was hard to share this with Lucy, so even harder to share with Jenni. I think she did a good job tough, and perhaps it will help people to understand why I was so withdrawn to start with.

What character quirks are you pleased that Jenni wrote about?
Lucy: I love that she talked about my knitting. It’s unusual for someone my age
but knitting is growing in popularity with younger people again. I think it emphasises that I am different from a lot of my peers, but it also gave me a skill I was proud of. Have you seen my knitted Poldark! He’s become legendary.
George:  My allergies became more and more important as the story went on. It was a great touch because Scratbag, a local stray, just wouldn’t leave me alone, and I am the last person in the world who would go near a cat. But then cats are curious creatures. And very contrary…

Book blurb
Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours, and unlikely friends.
Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.
79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away for ever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.
Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…
The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker will be the most charming, heart-warming and feel-good novel you will read this year, perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan and Gail Honeyman.

Thank you for inviting me over to your blog, Sherry. I’ve enjoyed your take on the author interview.

You are very welcome Jenni, and thank you for sharing a fascinating insight into Lucy and George.

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Available in eBook or paperback formats
If you'd like to Meet Jenni in person she is visiting 
 Diss Publishing Bookshop
on April 13th
For more information visit...