Blog Tour: Q&A with Sara Mendes da Costa

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I am delighted to welcome Sara Mendes da Costa, author of Peanuts & Eggcups to Have Books blog today.

Hello Sara, thanks for stopping by for a Q&A as part of your Peanuts & Eggcups blog tour. What a fabulous title, where did it come from?

Thank you!

One day when I was writing, I suddenly had the idea for building a game into the story as part of the backstory from when the four young women in the book were teenagers. I won’t go into the ins and out but basically the game was about aiming peanuts into different types of containers, one of which was an eggcup – it sounds rather odd writing about it here…but it worked! The name of the game just popped into my mind and it felt right. The idea to make the book title the same, hit me during the early hours of the morning – a time when I’d let go and relaxed. I allowed the idea to sit with me, realised why it would work, and after a while went “YES!” It was a wonderful lightbulb moment.

Peanuts & Eggcups represents so much more than just the physical game. It summarises the much bigger analogy – and facets within it – of my protagonist’s rollercoaster journey to love…and, for me, it’s just right and I love it!

If Peanuts and Eggcups was to be made into a film, who would play Maggie, Luke, Tony?

Goodness…that’s something to think about. Well, I guess I’d have to play Maggie! Ha ha. No, probably not. Seriously though… let me see, actually maybe a young Minnie Driver? She just popped into my head. Someone attractive and quirky – funny and with depth.

Luke…well, in the book, Maggie describes him as looking like young Brad Pitt, so why not? Luke is very good looking but doesn’t play on it or even really know it, he’s just naturally delicious and he’s sometimes quiet and very thoughtful but has passion…so yep, I reckon Brad – certainly in his slightly younger years – would have been perfect. Maybe I’ll give him a call to see if he’s free.

And Tony? Ooh, it would need to be someone with a bit of an evil glint behind those handsome eyes; someone with a bit of muddy waters under the calm glossy surface. He’s a difficult one actually. I’ve tried to think of a younger actor but it’s tough so I’m thinking a cross between a young Ray Liotta, a young Charlie Sheen…and (oh why not) Johnny Depp! Tony would need to be really good looking but with something a little ‘off’ behind his eyes sometimes…maybe something you wouldn’t necessarily trust. Mind you, I think I’d trust Johnny Depp with just about anything…wouldn’t we all!?

I love the group of girls, all very different personalities (reminds me a little of Sex and the City) – where did the idea for those characters come from?

Funnily enough, I thought about Sex in the City after I’d written the book and drew a bit of a parallel.

I didn’t model the girls on anyone specific (although I reckon there’s a lot of Maggie in me) they just came out. I guess they all have to have come from parts of me as I wrote them – along with my perception of those I’ve met through my life – and therefore are likely to be formed of parts of a lot of us, as we all share many similarities.

With Sex In the City, each of the girls has something certainly most women have to some degree: e.g. intelligence, wit, sexuality, womanliness, femininity, masculinity, control and vulnerability, so, for Peanuts & Eggcups, it’s pretty similar: the girls have a mixture of what I can draw on from within myself and what I imagine others will have and be able to relate to.

With Maggie, Catherine, Jenny and Pauline, I tended to create them as people I liked, and certainly with character traits I liked. I wanted them to make me feel something as I wrote about them and I needed to care about them. Catherine was always someone I wanted as a best friend…and funnily enough, my best friend has a lot of her qualities, and she came along after I’d written the book! Ahh, there’s the Universal Law of Attraction working beautifully. There are elements of all the girls that I’d like to have within or around me. After all, they’ve become my fictional best friends…so I need to love them! (and I do J)

Can you describe your journey to publication?

When I realised I wanted to be an author, the dream of having a book out there was a very real one so I visualised it for many years – I still do!

I wrote Peanuts & Eggcups over a period of quite a few years – and through it I learned my own art of writing – my style. That process of learning will no doubt continue – particularly as I write different types of novels – but it was through this first book my voice came out.

From there I had to find an agent – no mean feat I can tell you! I had to get used to rejections…but I kept the faith and with each rejection I just did more analysing and rewriting and learning. I was determined – extremely determined – to succeed as it was my dream to become an author. I read books on the Law of Attraction too, which is close to my heart anyway, so the visualisation and belief went hand in hand throughout. Giving up was never on the cards I just wanted to keep going until it happened.

I did find one agent who really liked my work. During the very early stages he said I definitely had something and, in the nicest possible way, I was at the top of the ‘slush pile’ (the pile of manuscripts a publisher receives but discounts in favour of others) but he said I needed to do some rewriting and developing. To be honest I was really pleased with the feedback. I decided I would work hard and smart to leap (or climb slowly but surely) from the slush pile to the yes pile. He’d given me something really helpful – something I could work with and learn from. I told him I’d go away and rewrite, grow as a writer and come back to him. So that’s what I did. A year later I called him up again, sent him my stuff and he signed me! Oh what a thrill that was!

Things didn’t work out completely in the long run, as whilst it was a great relationship for a while – one I certainly learned from – he ended up changing direction and so did I, and in the end we parted very amicably and I went back to the drawing board; but I knew it was the right thing to do.

Sometime later a previous telemarketing client of mine – from my marketing company days – called me to do a voiceover and after a cuppa and a chat in my kitchen it transpired he knew someone in the publishing industry. That person knew someone else and introductions were made and eventually Annette (my current agent) read and loved my manuscript! At first I heard this news through Derek who told me on the hush hush after a game of golf with his contact, but eventually Annette and I met and she said she really loved my book and was sure she could help me make a success of things.

So, after a lot of patience and determination, here I am in the wonderful (if not slightly scary!) position of having a book – something I can hold in my hand (or have on my Kindle app) It’s been a journey and half, but it’s been worth the wait!

Where do you write and what is your process?

I often write in bed. It can sometimes be in the morning – so basically I don’t get up!  I just grab my laptop and go for it. Sometimes in the afternoons when I’ve done most of my voiceover work, I may write at my desk but I do favour getting out of my office and going somewhere just for writing. It warrants its own space. I think, as far as writing in my house is concerned, my bedroom is favourite. It’s the place I feel the most snuggly and safe and where I’m almost in a cocoon where ideas can flow easily, with very little interruption. It’s a lovely comfy bed too. I must admit I have a particular penchant for writing in bed at night. Not so great for calming the mind but I do tend to come alive again at night.

To be honest it doesn’t matter too much what time of day I write, luckily it all seems to work. I count myself very lucky that I can get into ‘the zone’ fairly quickly and then the outside world ceases to exist.

I did take some time out in an apartment in Estepona in Spain to write Peanuts & Eggcups, and that was amazing! I’d write every morning on this beautiful wrap-around balcony looking out to sea across a little cove and then in the afternoons I’d go down to the beach by the beach bar, grab a beer (or two) and sunbathe with my little notepad and my pen beside me. As I let go, allowing the sun’s rays to warm me, listening to the waves lapping and breaking, the comforting cries of the gulls overhead and the low hum of easy conversation and laughter, I’d relax so much and thoughts and ideas would just ping up from all angles in my mind. I’d excitedly jot them all down in my notepad then write them in more detail the next morning. It was a truly amazing time in my life – a hugely connecting time – and I’d so love to do more travelling with my writing.

Ideas tend to just come to me and I mull them over and over until I get that eureka moment when I know what’s going to work; and that’s when I start putting things down on paper or in a document. I might also jot things down as I think of them of text them to myself and often when ideas come they come fast and seeing as I can type a lot faster and more clearly than I can write, I open a Word doc and pour out the ideas consciously and unconsciously until I’m happy I’ve got every last one down (for now anyway) Then I’ll go through that process several times until I’m ready to start the novel properly. Usually, by this point I’ve started to type out a rough sketch of a timeline but it doesn’t always happen like that. I may start writing one part knowing that that part will exist but also knowing that I may change the timeline and it may well change position.

Ideas need to be put down quickly as they can go again as quickly as they came. When I’m in the flow, I do write in journals and scribble and scribble when an idea forms. My writing is so bad at this point as I’m writing so quickly and all over the page in different places at different angles…but thankfully I somehow manage to follow my own notes (well, usually!)

Once I start the full process I take it seriously and make time for it and write pretty much every day. I’m pretty diligent as I know I need to be otherwise the book won’t get written. Once I’m in the flow, it’s very enjoyable especially reading things back and thinking “YES!” that really works! It’s partly that excitement that something seems good which spurs me – and no doubt other authors – on to keep going; it’s a wonderful and very rewarding process and journey…if not sometimes a long one!

Peanuts & Eggcups is a fairly lengthy – yet very easy-going – book which took years to come to fruition but I think I’ve learned how to speed up the process now, so the next books should come along a little quicker!

Do you have book 2 in the pipeline?

Yes…in fact I have two book 2s!

Whilst I’m not sure whether I’ll follow this route, Peanuts & Eggcups was due to be part of a three book series with Maggie Ever After being book two. Maggie Ever After will be written though and it starts not so long after Peanuts & Eggcups finishes and is really the next chapter for Maggie. In actual fact I’ve almost the first draft of it but during the process my mind kept wandering off to another project I was keen to write – one quite different from Peanuts & Eggcups -and I felt compelled to put down Maggie Ever After for the time being and to start that one instead. Its’ called Time and Time Again and is the story of a girl who heals her life through time travel. It brings in my NLP and hypnosis training and also my spiritual side…and my more ‘out there’ side and it’s great to let my mind flow in a more fantastical way for a change.

As soon as I’ve gone through these final, important stages with Peanuts & Eggcups…I’ll be on to these two projects, and I have to say I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting back into the swing of things again.

About the bookcover

Published: 28th June 2016 (Clink Street Publishing)

For Maggie Parsons there’s only ever been one man: the stunningly delicious Luke Henderson. Unfortunately, he left her, without explanation, after their ‘first night’ together …breaking her heart in the process.

Now ten years on, without any contact, he’s back and going to her school reunion. Great! And, to confuse matters…so is his suave, sexy, brother Tony who makes a major play for Maggie, then turns up with his insufferable – supposedly ex – fiancée!

Via the reunion, a black eye, getting the sack (as a result) a madcap girlie holiday and juggling her confused emotions around the two alluring brothers…Maggie starts to build a picture of what she really wants in life.

Trouble is, Maggie’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t even know she’s playing …and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Available from Amazon UK

About the author

81XGGhq87HL._UX250_Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936.

A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media.

Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist.

Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel – hotly anticipated by the industry – is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. `

A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire.

Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.

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