Tuesday Chit-Chat with Christine Stovell

Today, we welcome women’s fiction author, Christine Stovell…

Hi Chris, so lovely to see you here at Romaniac HQ. First things first – Tea or Coffee? Ooh, and we’ve re-stocked the cupboards with lots of yummy cakes and biscuits (should the need grab us…)

Helloooo Jan!  Thank you so much for having me here.  What a lovely smell of baking!  I’ll have coffee please and, oh, is that coffee and walnut cake?  There’s nothing like kick-starting the day with plenty of caffeine… and sugar… and, er, fat, is there?

Chris Stovell

A little birdie tells us you’re busy working on novel number three for Choc Lit. Can you give us a teaser?

Well, since it’s you… I try not to talk too much about the early stages of the WIP, as that’s when all those ideas swirling around in the dark looking so mysterious and enticing can look a bit naff if I shine too much light on them!  Hopefully I’m past that stage, so … Clearing the Decks will feature a return to my fictitious seaside town, Little Spitmarsh, the location for my first novel, Turning the Tide.  It’s not a sequel, although we’ll catch up with one or two of the characters who live there as well as meeting new ones.  I’m really enjoying writing this one, because I’m very fond of Little Spitmarsh.  Also, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with my current heroine and hero; she’s funny and self-deprecating and he’s just a lovely guy.  Pity I give them such a tough time then!  

It’s no secret how much you love living and writing in Wales; indeed, Coralie Casey, heroine in your second novel , Move Over Darling, escapes there, so how would you pitch the Welsh charm to a (shamefully) yet-to-visit city girl like me?

Chris Stovell cover MOD

Where do I start?  Beautiful, undiscovered beaches (and I happen to live a short walk from one of them).  Breathtaking scenery.  Warm-hearted, witty people.  Rugby.  The Millennium Stadium.  The Millennium Centre.  Swansea Market.  Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood.  The poet, Owen Sheers… I could keep going, I love living here, just don’t mention the weather!

Welsh Beach


When you begin a novel, do you draft out each chapter beforehand or do your characters have free rein to take you wherever their stories lead them?

I start with a title which reflects my feeling of what the novel’s about, then I set up a spreadsheet with a chapter list, some preliminary ideas about each character’s story arc and some rough notes for essential scenes… then I start writing and it all goes out the window! As you suggest, it’s when characters really come to life that the magic happens.  Suddenly they’re telling their stories, which is the most brilliant, rewarding feeling.

You also write short stories. Do you find it easy/hard to switch between the two and how exciting was it to write ‘Touch Wood’ which was included in Choc Lit’s anthology – Love Match Selection?

Ah, do you know, I loved writing Touch Wood’.  I keep notebooks and cuttings of anything that catches my eye. Amongst them was an article about a craftswoman working with green oak and a fabulously moody photo of a trip hop musician – when I put those two together the story just happened.

A writing journey of 90,000 words, for me, is like running a half marathon so a short, satisfying 3k run every now and then just rings the changes and keeps me on course.  I enjoy both.

Touch Wood

What first gave you the writing bug?

Winning a prize of chocolate in a writing competition at primary school is the short answer.  But growing up in a house full of books and having an inspirational English teacher helped too.

Do you have a set routine or any literary rituals?

Literary rituals?  How about tickets for the complete Lions Tour 2013?  I’m sure that would give me plenty to write about, Mr Gatland, if you’re reading this. Failing that, ‘Bum on Seat’ is the only ritual I know that works!

Any other creative (or otherwise) passions or hobbies, Chris?

I love running, especially living here on this beautiful coastline, and it really helps me work out those pesky knots in my plot, I’m a passionate rugby fan and I adore very depressing music.  I love a good old blast of Nick Cave and one of my happiest moments was being just inches away from Radiohead at a recording of the Jonathan Ross show after they played their set twice.

Which three words would you say best describe you, and why?

Nasty, brutish and short.  Especially when I’m trying to write.

And finally… No visit to Romaniac HQ would be complete without a few quick-fire questions, (plus another cuppa and wedge of cake, of course…) so here goes:

Favourite Welsh Celeb?

*Through mouth crammed with cake*, the entire Welsh Rugby Team!

Guilty Pleasure?

Damn… it’s er, coffee and cake at *whispering* Dunelm Mill, Swansea.  It’s just it’s a convenient place to stop before shopping in Swansea and it always sets my happiness levels soaring nicely!

Sunlounger or Ski Slopes?

Sunlounger and a good book. Bliss.

Three novels you’d magic out of thin air to re-read if you were marooned on a desert island for a week?

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Sally Beauman’s Landscape of Love, Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven – three novels I never tire of re-reading.

Singer you’d most like to serenade you?

Kelly Jones; small but perfectly formed. Plus lots of Stereophonic tracks were playing in my head when I wrote Move Over Darling’.

Ant or Dec?

Wrong on so many levels.

Paris or Rome?

I would love a Roman holiday!

Fave Chocolate bar?

A Crunchie – nice but not too naughty.

Chris, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you. Best of luck with  your next novel: ‘Clearing the Decks’. 

Aw, Jan, it’s great to chat to you again, thanks to you and to all the fab Romaniacs for having me here – sorry about the crumbs. Let me give you a hand with the washing up.



Follow Christine on Twitter: @chrisstovell

30 thoughts on “Tuesday Chit-Chat with Christine Stovell

  1. Thanks for a lovely interview, ladies. And is that a bit of cake going begging? Clearing the Decks sounds, great. I love Little Spitmarsh too and can’y wait to go back. And nasty, brutish and short? No way! x

  2. Wow, cake? Did I get cake? I know there were biscuits but… Great interview, Chris! I have to say that ‘Move Over Darling’ gave me such a ‘feel’ of those Welsh beaches and lanes, it was almost like a holiday in Wales. It’s very atmospheric, and when you posted the pictures of the places that inspired you on your own blog, I felt as though I’d already been there!
    And you are not ‘nasty’ or ‘brutish’. Short, I’ll give you…x

  3. LOL. Great interview! Nasty, brutish, short – I’ll give her that. Sooo nasty that Chris Stovell 🙂 It’s why I happen to love her 🙂 Agree with Jane completely with Move over Darling – a fabulous book. Cannot wait to read Clearing the Decks. Ummm. Dunelm Mill? You girls always get us to say too much 🙂 All the best with the WIP you lovely lady you X

  4. Lovely interview Jan and Chris. Being naturally nosy I love to learn what made other writers take up the pen. And where they get their inspiration from. I’m a bit bogged down in self-promo at the moment but can’t wait to get back to writing and finishing book 2. Move Over Darling is on my TBR pile – I bought it because I’ve always loved that song, so great title, Chris. Good luck with numbers two and three and don;t eat all the cake.

    • Thanks, Lizzie – I left a reply then it disappeared into the ether! I’m still not up to speed with wordpress and I see I’ve been replying in the ‘wrong’ bit – grrr! Thanks for your generous comment Lizzie, it was lovely, as always to chat to Jan. Best of luck with your promo and talking of titles ‘ Tall, Dark and Kilted’ is irresistible!

  5. Hi Chris, lovely to see you hear, we stocked up the cake tin specially. Loved ‘Move Over Darling’ and can’t wait to read the next one. Could you just do a bit of light hoovering before you leave Romaniac HQ, only none of us signed up for that rota? Celia xx 🙂

  6. What a fun interview, Christine and I’m looking forward to reading your book very soon. You chose my favourite cake as well and one you never see here in Tennessee!

    • How nice of you, Angela, thank you. I feel like saying that an absence of coffee and walnut cake must be a downside to living in Tennessee, but I’m sure there plenty of good things to make up for it!

  7. Oh so excited another book is coming out about Spitmarsh, loved Turning the Tide… whoops sorry forget my manners so pleased about the next book. Hello ladies and a lovely interview Chris and Jan. Any cake left?

  8. Great, fun interview, Jan and Chris 🙂
    I loved Turning the Tide with it’s delicious hero, Matthew and the wonderful town of Little Spitmarsh, so I’m thrilled you’ve decided to set your next novel there, Chris. Also, being a regular visitor to Wales (Cardigan Bay area) I loved the backdrop for Move Over Darling. Oh, before I go I’ll just take that little slice of cake.. yes, the one next to the tin, if it’s going spare. 🙂

  9. Another great interview i do love the Tuesday Chit-Chats, its always good to find out how other authors are getting along, all the very best Christine

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