What Happens in France Carol Wyer Book cover
Interviews with Writers

Women’s Fiction | What Happens in France | Carol Wyer

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I’m delighted to be welcoming Carol Wyer to my hot seat who is on tour and chatting to us today about her feel-good comedy, What Happens in France.

What Happens in France Carol Wyer Book cover

She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

This heartwarming romantic comedy of friendship, family and laugh-out-loud adventures is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.

What Happens in France is published by Canelo and is available to purchase in digital format from:

Amazon (UK) |  Kobo (UK)  |Google Books (UK)  |Apple Books (UK)

Interview

Hi Carol,

Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.

Did you do any research for What Happens in France?  What resources did you use?

Oh boy, did I research this book!  First off, I applied to numerous game shows so I could find out how they worked. My first audition was for The Chase and I got through! I was really excited and thought I’d be meeting Bradley Walsh in no time at all, but it transpired that getting on the shortlist meant a wait of months and sometimes longer. I didn’t have that sort of time to play with so I applied for a bunch of shows and was invited for audition for another. Once again, I got through and this time found myself on set with Shane Richie on a show called Decimate. It was huge fun but I needed to do further research so when the producers of that show invited me onto a brand-new show about antiques, I said yes, even though I knew nothing about antiques or who was hosting it. It turned out to be a brilliant decision. I went on with my neighbour who liked Bargain Hunt and our only qualification for knowing anything about antiques was we were both married to old guys!

We were put up in a beautiful old pub near Lewes in East Sussex. Like Bryony in What Happens in France we were kept completely in the dark about where we were going to be filming until the actual day when all the teams were driven to a magnificent estate – Firle Place. I based some of my gameshow on ideas taken from that show.

The book is set in France and although I’ve lived and worked in various regions there, I didn’t know the Loire-Atlantique until I decided we’d take a trip to find out more. One trip turned into three trips, moving from chateau to chateau and driving around the entire region, gathering information to use in the book. In total it took two years to plan and write this book – the longest I’ve ever taken, but I think the result was worth it and I had a blast doing it!

Does your book tackle a social barrier Carol? How have you incorporated it into your story? 

All my books tackle social barriers and although it’s difficult to incorporate them into a feel-good comedy I wanted to highlight two things in What Happens in France: bullying and runaway children.

Poor Bryony doesn’t have an easy childhood with first contracting St Vitus Dance and then having an accident that leaves her limping for years. My mother had St Vitus Dance as a child. It scarred her mentally and her stories about her childhood really touched me – the humiliation of twitching uncontrollably in classes, the isolation and the bullying. Having also been a victim of bullying in school myself, it was easy to write those flashback scenes.

The second issue is regarding runaway children. Bryony’s sister Hannah leaves home at 16, never to be found. I did considerable research into missing children and organisations that look for them. The figures are astonishing. In 2017, Missing Kids UK stated that an estimated 306,000 reports of missing people are made to British police every year – the majority of which are children and young people under the age of 18. Other figures state more than 570 missing people incidents are logged by police forces in the UK every day.

What scene did you enjoy writing the most?

I can honestly say I enjoyed writing all the comedy scenes in What Happens in France and there are plenty of them. I spent a lot of the time with a grin on my face as I imagined the hilarious scenes and exchanges between characters. I especially enjoyed writing the scenes between Bryony and her best friend Melinda. There is such an ease between them and Melinda is an absolute hoot. One of my favourite moments is at the beginning of the book when Melinda and Bryony are preparing for a Murder Mystery evening. Bryony is chatting away and blithely heads to the utility room to fetch a bottle of wine, opens the door and discovers a dead body!

… and the hardest?

Every scene that involved Bryony visiting her father, who’s been weakened by a serious stroke. He believes she is her sister Hannah who ran away when she was sixteen. I drew on personal experience of visiting my own father when he was dying, to conjure up the emotions for those scenes and tried to recreate the poignancy for the reader. I can’t read the ending of the book without crying – even now, after going through many times during the editing process.

Do you have a book trailer? 

I have a brilliant little trailer for What Happens in France. It’s only a short animation made by Inky Covers but I love it! It encapsulates the idea that the book is fun and they did so well to animate the pug dog, Biggie Smalls.

What do you think book trailers achieve Carol?

I used to make all my own trailers using Animoto but I’m not great at it, even though it was easy to do and I enjoyed making them. I found out if I kept them brief, they were super for Twitter and Instagram. Long trailers don’t get much if any attention.

I don’t think book trailers are necessary but I feel they are a refreshing way to promote your book without bleating on about buying it. They work the same way as graphic quotes which stand out on social media and I find I get more clicks if there is a short animation accompanying my book link. I’ve used inky Covers a few times and been hugely impressed with the quality of their work. The Biggie Smalls trailer is my favourite and has been hugely successful. Last week, it had over a thousand views.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Definitely between 11 pm and 4 am. Which presents a problem as I ought to be asleep at that time. I suffer from insomnia and have trouble sleeping at the best of times but if I’m in the creative zone and trying to come up with ideas, I’ll stay up until I have them at least penned out. Ideas have a habit of evaporating if you don’t nail them down quickly.

Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

I do most of my writing in my garret (it really is a small room at the top of the house with only a skylight for light) on windy hill where I live, but I also go to France a few times each year to either work on ideas or get a book written when I’m up against a deadline. I usually rent a gite in the Tarn and Garonne region in the south-west where I used to live. The peace and quiet really helps me concentrate and if I’m lucky, it’ll be sunny!

Back in May last year, my husband couldn’t come with me so I went alone. I managed to write an entire book in 10 days and lost weight into the bargain!

Panster or plotter?

I used to be such a panster. I find romantic comedy and any comedy in fact, easy to write. It falls into place so easily. Crime writing is another matter. To get twists and plots and be accurate requires a huge amount of research and time so now every book is meticulously planned regardless of genre. I always start with a 3 or 4-page synopsis, and then write about each character in a notebook so I know all their backstories, even if I don’t use them in the actual script. Then I start typing (I used to write the entire book out by hand but with all the deadlines I have to meet, that’s no longer possible) and if I think of anything I need to put in, I make note of it on a Post-it and stick in the book. If I’m writing crime, I have a wall with Post-it notes for each suspect, victim and so on!

Can you share with us what you are currently working on ?

I’m actually working on the next in the Natalie Ward crime series but I can tell you the next book with Canelo due out in April is a really funny comedy with some outrageous characters and situations! There’ll be more details soon and I also have a great idea for another book that will require a trip abroad in a classic car with Mr Grumpy, my husband, as part of the research.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Possibly when my then publishers Safkhet unexpectedly dissolved their company. I had all my books with them and suddenly I had nothing and no publisher. I thought I might give up writing at that point. Talk about defeated! All that hard work for years to be thrown right back to the beginning. As it happened, a fairy godmother appeared in the shape of Delancey Press and took on all the books and I went on to write Life Swap which changed my fortunes.

… and the best?

There have been a few: being interviewed on BBC Breakfast television, winning The People’s Book Prize Award but possibly the best was the turning point! That happened in 2016 when Bookouture (part of Hachette group) read my comedy Life Swap and signed me up. From that moment onwards, I felt like a ‘proper’ writer even though I’d already written seven books beforehand. When Life Swap launched it trended on Twitter and famous names such as Dawn French and many others joined in the Tweetathon. It was magical. I had such a blast. I’ve not looked back since that day.

There have been a few: being interviewed on BBC Breakfast television, winning The People’s Book Prize Award but possibly the best was the turning point! That happened in 2016 when Bookouture (part of Hachette group) read my comedy Life Swap and signed me up. From that moment onwards, I felt like a ‘proper’ writer even though I’d already written seven books beforehand. When Life Swap launched it trended on Twitter and famous names such as Dawn French and many others joined in the Tweetathon. It was magical. I had such a blast. I’ve not looked back since that day.

Thank you for being my guest today Carol. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

Author photo Carol Wyer

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Connect with Carol Wyer

Website

Twitter @carolewyer

Facebook

Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.

What Happens in France Carol Wyer blog tour poster

Read all posts in the women’s fiction genre on Jera’s Jamboree.

Family comes first! I'm married with two son's in their 20's and have a little more time now to follow my passions. I love my role as an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and I'm passionate about early help. I'm a member of Bournemouth's Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth. I'm also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for eight years at Jera's Jamboree.

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