It takes a village – Rachel Dove

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By Rachel Dove

In 2015, I was reading my favourite magazine, Prima, when I saw that they were running a competition to find the next Mills & Boon writer. I love Mills & Boon, so for those two to run a competition together, it was amazing! ♥

I was helping out my husband at the time, and I had an idea pop into my head about two warring shop owners, in a lovely Yorkshire village called Westfield. I sent off my idea, and went back to my life, writing when I could around raising my two young boys, teaching adult courses on autism and special needs, and running a home. I had entered loads of competitions before, and had never even been shortlisted, so I forgot all about it.

Till I received an email telling me I had been shortlisted! I still thought I wouldn’t get any further than that, but I was so happy to get that far. I had been struggling to stay involved in writing, with life being so busy, and I was close to giving in altogether.

The day I got the call telling me I had won, I was teaching. I had an excited email asking me to call Prima asap, and I made the call on my break. We were installed in a converted house at the time, so I hid from my students in the garden and after I put the phone down, I danced on the patio!

Since then, I have written The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, which was the winning entry, The Flower Shop on Foxley Street, and standalone novels The Long Walk Back and Nice Guys Finish Lonely. The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street, the third in the Westfield series, came out on 10th August, and the paperback follows on 1st November.

I am currently writing the fourth book in the Westfield series, which is bizarre, because I never thought it would be a series at all! It’s always so lovely to return to writing these books, because the village is so real to me that I feel as if I actually live there sometimes!

The villagers really do have a mind of their own, too, especially the elders of the village, who are rather feisty and good at meddling!

I love to have characters in my books from all age groups, as this reflects real life, and quite often people of a certain age are rather typecast as being grandma types, sucking toffees and knitting. Grace, one of my characters, does knit, but she can also not drop a stitch in a high speed car chase!

My tips for writing a series would be :-

  1. Plan out your village – you can use creative licence, but don’t suddenly change the name of the local without having a reason, or have new buildings pop out where there were none before!
  2. Have character profiles for each minor and major character – record hair and eye colour, distinguishing features etc – update these as new details and changes come to light.
  3. Have fun – you could (lovely readers willing) be writing your series for longer than you think, so keep it fun and fresh, and make sure each book brings its own warmth, humour and new characters and plots to fall in love with.

Book 4 of the Westfield series is different again, and I am so excited to share it in 2019!

Rachel Dove is a writer and teacher living in West Yorkshire. Her latest novel, The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street, is out now.



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