Caroline Day by Jonathan Chabala, Hope Nicely
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1) Growing up, I was more likely to be writing a poem in my free time than hitting or catching a ball, but now I’m the captain of my local tennis club’s women’s team (because I’m the mug who agreed to do it) and if I don’t play for a week, I feel wrong. Doing things we don’t think we’re good at keeps us on our toes. In my 20s and 30s I was clueless about cooking – it’s been fun improving on that too.

Caroline Day by Jonathan Chabala, Hope Nicely's Lessons for life

Caroline Day by Jonathan Chabala, Hope Nicely’s Lessons for life

2) Like Hope Nicely, the protagonist of my book, I am SUCH a dog person. When the world seems a bad place, things inevitably feel better when a dog rests its head on your knee. I have two beagle-crosses – Snoopy and Charlie Brown – and our walks in the woods (yes, London has woods!) are my favourite part of the day.

3) My children make me laugh. Parenthood is a guilt-inducing, chaotic process with a sense of loss as your little people outgrow all the ages and stages you’ve loved them in. My son and daughter are both (officially at least) adults now, which still seems bonkers, but is also brilliant. To say I’m proud of them sounds vicarious and patronising – but I am. We’re no perfect ‘breakfast commercial’ family, but we laugh a lot.

4) I don’t only write with my brain and my fingers – I put everything into it. I ‘method write’. If my husband or one of my kids is in the same room, they will ask me what is wrong or what’s funny – because of what my face is doing. But everything’s fine. I’m just writing.

5) I think every author experiences imposter syndrome. Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life was on the Sunday Times Bestseller list, was a book of the month for the prestigious Goldsboro Books, and won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writing – and I’m still waiting to be found out. My husband thinks it’s incredible that I have a job where I – quote – get paid for stuff I make up in my head.

6) I’m very forgiving of flaws and foibles in other people – who’d want perfect friends? – but more critical of myself and am always thinking how I could have done things better. That said, I am proud that the things I’ve achieved have been through my own efforts. I went to a state school and had no network of convenient connections to give me a leg-up. I feel my lucky breaks were more deserved because of this.

7) It’s a bit embarrassing how superstitious I can be. My notebook for thoughts and research whilst writing Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life had a bright orange cover. The wonderful charitable organisation FASD Awareness who gave me encouragement, information and support coincidentally has a bright orange logo. At the first of their events that I attended – a talk about FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the condition which Hope has) – I was given an orange pen which was a perfect match for my notebook. It felt like a sign!

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life by Caroline Day is out now in paperback, eBook and Audio (Zaffre, £8.99)

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