This week we have the lovely Charlotte Betts, author of The Apothecary’s Daughter, answering our irreverent questions. If you haven’t heard of this wonderful novel, you are missing out and should immediately go and read our review. Then buy the book, you won’t regret it.
On with irreverence!
What would you be, or want to be, if you weren’t an author?
An artist. I used to love painting in watercolours but was never as good at it as I’d like to be.
Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
I always make a big mug of tea – builder’s tea, hot and strong, not lapsang souchong.
Describe your working environment right now.
I’m standing up at the kitchen counter – just arrived home from work and am cooking roast chicken for dinner while I write this! It’s a country kitchen, warm and cosy from the AGA, with big windows out to the garden and the woods beyond.
How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
It was a normal, frantic, day at the office. But I did take a few moments to stare out of the window, smiling to myself.
Whose opinion matters most to you?
For anything personal – my family. And then my readers.
Do you get fully dressed to write?
I always write a few words early in the morning in my dressing gown while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil. In the winter, when it’s cold, I wear furry slipper boots, jeans, double jumpers and a scarf. I feel the cold more when I spend hours sitting still in front of the laptop at weekends.
What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
I’m always in the mood to write but Life often gets in the way. I do write something every day, even if it’s only a sentence standing up in the kitchen.
Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
I’d like it to be Felicity Kendall but she’s too petite or Joanna Lumley but she’s too lovely. It’s hard to see yourself as others do.
What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
I was at a book signing in my local Waterstones this weekend and a lady came to buy a book. She had seen an article about my debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, in the Newbury Weekly News and said that she found my journey to publication really inspiring. She’s a writer herself and it was wonderful to be able to encourage her to fulfil her own dreams.
What do you value most?
Integrity and kindness. And good health.
How do you deal with negative comments?
I always listen to them but try to distance them from my emotions. If I can learn something that’s good, if not, I do my best not to let such comments bother me.
It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After or Everyone Dies?
Happy Ever After. I’m the eternal optimist.
What do you do to relax?
Read or write. Or bake cakes.
Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
I had a border collie dog, one of the most intelligent breeds. Megan died a year ago and I still miss her. We used to walk together while I worked out plot problems and she always looked so interested when I muttered snatches of dialogue as we rustled through the leaves in the woods.
What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
Silence or birdsong from the garden.
What is your favourite type of music?
I always dread being asked this question! I’m embarrassed to say I don’t really listen to much music – there’s too much going on in my head to want any distraction. But sometimes I surprise myself. I was listening to Ladies in Lavender the other day and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I can’t help but smile when I hear a pop song from my teenage years.
Do you have any phobias?
I don’t like stuffy, enclosed spaces. The thought of pot-holing gives me the shivers. Oh, and ants.
Do you find the time of year makes it easier or harder to write, are you inspired by spring or delayed by the summer heat for instance?
A walk in the sunshine, whatever the time of year, always lifts my spirits and brings joy to my writing.
Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot in summer, slippers in winter.
Pictures provided by and used with permission of Charlotte Betts
Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!