Friday, September 5, 2014

Finding Fiction Friday - Zara Stoneley

Today we sit down to chat with Zara Stoneley!

Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in deepest Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novel, ‘Stable Mates’, is a fun romp through the Cheshire countryside and combines some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.


Welcome to our page, Zara!

Thank you so much for having me here today Aaron!

Zara, when did you first think about writing for publication?

I’ve always written, and sent my first book off to a publisher when I was in my early teens. I didn’t quite appreciate at the time how lucky I was to get a quite detailed, and lovely, encouraging response.
Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us. 

I’m a bit of an adrenalin and speed junkie, fast horses, cars… I’d love to do one of those ‘driving experience’ days, a Jag F-type would do nicely!

I’m fascinated by your description of where you live.  Tell us about it and the animals that are part of your everyday life.

I live in a very old country cottage in a pretty part of Cheshire. It’s a small market town that has great restaurants, lovely country pubs on the doorstep, artisan and street markets and several wonderful country estates and parks. It’s very much a mix of traditional England and country ways, sitting alongside footballers and film stars with very different ideas on how to spend their money and how the countryside should look. 

At the moment I’ve just got one old retired horse, although in the past I’ve had show and dressage horses, and horses that I’ve just enjoyed hacking out on. I’ve got two cats, but really miss having a dog around. I always loved having big dogs, like my Retriever and Samoyed, but was surprised to find how much fun (and how much larger than life) a terrier can be – there just had to be terriers in Stable Mates, they’re just part and parcel of country life and, more often than not, if you spot a horse box then there is at least one inside.

It’s the day after Release Day for you, congratulations!  Tell us about your new release “Stable Mates”.

Thank you! Stable Mates marks a change of direction for me, from erotic romance to sexy bonkbuster – Jackie Collins in the countryside!

It’s a story about old money and new, tradition versus change, country pursuits vs celebrity lifestyle, and the type of scandals and secrets that are uncovered when the tranquility of a country village is threatened by outsiders… but most of all it’s about the people and animals that inhabit two very different villages. As one reviewer has put it ... ‘a delightful romp peppered with humour, sadness, scandal and steamy sex.’

You certainly drew on your own life for the setting of your latest book, but how much do you draw on your real life for your characters? 

There are fragments of all kinds of people I’ve known in my characters. I love the down to earth nature of a lot of people who live in the countryside, plus their sense of humour and determination. Horse riders are like most sportsmen, extremely competitive, fit and determined, which can lead to larger than life characters who have a real enjoyment of life. 

You describe your works as “hot romance and bonkbusters”.  I might regret asking this, but what is the definition of a “bonkbuster” for the uninitiated?

I think it’s a very British term! So, from the Oxford English Dictionary (where else?) we have the definition  "a type of popular novel characterized by frequent explicit sexual encounters between the characters." A play on the term ‘blockbuster’ and bonk, British slang for sex.

If there is one character you’ve written or are writing that you would really like people to meet, who would it be and why? 

That’s a tricky one – there are so many characters in this book that I love. If I had to pick one out though, I think I’d go with Pip – she’s tough, more complex than people realize and very accomplished at hiding her insecurities. She’s snagged a very hot guy in Stable Mates – but you’ll have to read the follow up to find out if she sticks with him!

What about being published with HarperImpulse and the book industry in general has most surprised you? 

The people. The writing community is a wonderful one, I’m constantly surprised how generous, welcoming and supportive everybody involved in the industry is. 

Is there someone you can point to as being your biggest encouragement in moving forward with writing? 

My mum! She’s always encouraged me to write – and always wanted me to write the ‘funny bits’ down. I wouldn’t let her read my erotic stories as they were a bit racy, but I’ve dedicated this book to her.

What other things do you have bouncing around in your head for the future? 

There is too much bouncing in there at the moment!! I’ve got two short stories for anthologies that I’ve been asked to write, then a follow up to Stable Mates that me and my editor are excited about (Country Affairs – you heard the title first here!), and then more of a ‘footballer’s wives’ bonkbuster that I’ve had in mind for a while, but was left to stew when Stable Mates appeared! And then there is this much more serious story about losing your identity that has been in my head (and heart) for years and really needs to be written….

To close the interview, I have ten questions for you, plus one.  Here they go!
  1. What is your favorite word? Coffee
  2. What is your least favorite word? No
  3. What turns you on? Humour
  4. What turns you off? Cruelty
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Nature – you know that almost complete peace apart from the sound of the sea, or wind in the leaves, or animals…
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? A dentist drill. Eurghh.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Bugger.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A veterinary surgeon. It was my dream job when I was at school, then somehow I ended up in IT, then teaching, then writing…
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Dentist (see above)
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Wow, I’m so pleased you’ve finally got here! Cup of coffee?
  11. What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you? Will you sign a 6-figure book deal with us?
Zara, thanks so much for spending time with us.  Can you let us know where to follow you, and where we can go to purchase your books?

Find out more about Zara:
Website      Twitter        Facebook        Google+

Stable Mates
Blurb -
Secrets and scandals, love and lust – when the ‘Cheshire Set’ are up against the ‘Footballer’s Wives’ the only common ground is carnal…

Flirting and fun seem the perfect antidote for Lottie's battered heart, and where better to find them than back in tranquil Tippermere, home of sexy eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O'Neal, and mysterious newcomer, model Tom Strachan?

But when landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, and the threat of his waggish wife Amanda selling the heart of the village out from under them looms large, things look like they're about to heat up in and out of the saddle.

With tensions running high, and the champagne flowing as freely as the adrenalin, is it any wonder that love catches more than one of them unawares?

Buy links –
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Sainsbury’s      Google Play        iTunes    Blackwells