Writer Wednesday: Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley writes heartwarming, humorous stories about village life, and Summer with the Country Village Vet is the first book in her brand new cosy romance series.

She is also author of the popular Tippermere series. Set in Cheshire, Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals transport you to a world of glamorous country estates, horses, WAG's, secrets and scandal.

Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire and wanted to be James Herriot when she grew up. After completing an IT degree, working as a consultant, running a dog grooming business, teaching, and working at a veterinary practice she decided she had more than enough material to write several books even if she would never qualify as a vet!

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a cute cockapoo, and a very bossy cat, and loves spending time in sunny Barcelona.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I've always loved reading, and the writing just seemed to follow naturally. It was my grandfather and Mum though who encouraged me to submit to publishers. Sadly, Grandad is no longer with us, but handing my mum a copy of Stable Mates when it was published was a proud moment. She always dreamed of me following in the steps of James Herriot (I wanted to be a vet when I was at school, as well as an author!), so she was extra pleased when Summer with the Country Village Vet came out.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
Structural edits - the first round of edits are always the toughest as it can involve re-writing parts of the book, taking out scenes and adding new threads in. You have to believe in your editor, and know that they're right, that the changes will improve the story (they always do), but it can be incredibly difficult letting go of parts of the book you like, not to mention working out how to slot in new events if they're needed. A lot of head-scratching, notes, long walks and cups of coffee are involved!!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
I do love creating my characters and the settings, that early part when things start to take shape and I can see the place and hear the people and think it's going to be brilliant! I also love reading reviews and messages from readers, when people really 'get' the characters, it give me that punch-the-air feeling.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Wow, that's a tricky one. There have been all kinds of books that I've read throughout my life, like Black Beauty, Lace, and Riders that had an impact on me, but I think Bridget Jones Diary is a gem that I would have liked to have written. It was very fresh and different when it came out, and I could relate to Bridget, empathise with the character. She was totally down-to-earth, said the things a lot of us were thinking - and sent a very clear message out (in a totally fun way) that it was okay to be 'you', with all your faults. Helen Fielding's style of writing is wonderful, it's a very accessible book - I'd love to be able to write like that.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
Elsie Harrington from Summer with the Country Village Vet. She's the heart and soul of Langtry Meadows - every village needs an Elsie.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I don't really have a favourite literary character, but if I had to pick one (and I do) then I'd spend a day with Miss Marple (I was toying with saying Aragorn from LOTR, James Bond, or Rupert Campbell-Black!) - and we'd spend the day solving a mystery of course, and share afternoon tea.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
Coming Home to Jasmine Cottage comes out on September 22nd, it's the second book in the Langtry Meadows series, but the books can be read independently. It's already available to pre-order on Amazon, but it might have a title change before the cover is revealed!

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Don't compare yourself to other authors. It's human nature, but don't! It's very easy to fall into the trap, but everybody has a different journey - just as we all have our own paths in life to follow. Some people will have overnight success, a big agent, mega-money contract and chart-hitting success, for other people it will be a slow build that will take years. But you'll get there if you persevere. Decide on your own goals and be pleased with your own achievements. Celebrate every small step and be proud, because writing can be a hard, lonely slog at times!

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
We've just got a puppy (Harry the cockapoo), so I'm adapting to a new routine! First job of the day is to feed and play with Harry and take him for a walk to wear him out, then I make a coffee. I usually spend an hour or so dealing with urgent emails and have a quick catch up on social media, then I get down to writing. I write for a couple of hours, and try to hit my word count target. In the afternoon I tend to concentrate on planning and working out what comes next, rather than adding words to the story. I'll work until around 4pm then go for a walk. Late evening inspiration often hits (though not as often at the moment with Harry around!) so I'll pick the laptop up and work until quite late some days.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I've just finished He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly, and The Postcard by Fern Britton is next (I like variety!). My TBR pile is massive though, I've got to stop buying books!


When Lucy Jacobs is made redundant from her inner-city teaching job she fears her career is over. Teaching is all Lucy knows and she's determined to get back in the classroom as fast as she can.

Except the only job on offer is at an idyllic village school in the middle of nowhere – Lucy's idea of hell. Where are the disadvantaged kids who need saving, where is the challenge?

But as Lucy finds herself welcomed into the warm-hearted community of Langtry Meadows, she begins to realise new challenges await – like frogs in the classroom, a rather difficult donkey, and a very brooding local vet...

Local boy Charlie Davenport has his own issues about living in the close-knit village of Langtry Meadows. His private life is already fuel for the well-meaning gossips and the very last thing he needs is to get close to the new school teacher... no matter how lovely she is.

But as summer days drift away Langtry Meadows weaves its magic, Charlie and Lucy both get the chance to turn over a new leaf and start anew... maybe with each other?

Follow Zara on Twitter | Buy Summer with the Country Village Vet on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

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