Happy 1 year hedgehogversary!

I’m celebrating a very exciting 1st book birthday today because it’s not just a book that was born but a series. Happy 1 year anniversary to the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.

I was nervous about the publication of this book on 2nd July last year because, until that point, every book I’d written was set in the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I knew readers loved that setting but it didn’t right for Hedgehog Hollow. I wanted my hedgehog rescue centre to be in a countryside rather than a coastal setting. I only hoped my Whitsborough Bay readers wouldn’t mind the change.

The great news is they didn’t. Phew! In fact, the series has hooked in a huge number of new readers who were drawn in by the hedgehogs. Many of them have then gone on to read the Whitsborough Bay books too which is lovely.

When I first decided to set a book in a hedgehog rescue centre, I imagined it as a standalone story. Silly me. I should have learned by now that I don’t think that way. I nearly always think bigger than a single plotline and manage to introduce a cast of characters, each of whom has their own story to tell and, before I know it, I have a sequel or a series on my hands. Hedgehog Hollow was no different.

In the first book, we meet my heroine Samantha and find out how she came to be the owner of Hedgehog Hollow. The hedgehog rescue centre doesn’t open until the end of the first book so it definitely needed a sequel to see her taking in lots of gorgeous rescue hedgehogs. But it would just be two books. Definitely. Although…

As I wrote book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, (which came out in January this year) more stories emerged and there was no way I could end it at book two without ever telling them.

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow was published in May this year telling one of those stories but there are plenty more to come. There will definitely be five plus a prequel. There may be six. There could be more! Some characters won’t have a book focusing on them because much of their backstory has come out in other books and I would only ever make a person a focus of a book if I feel that there is a good story to be told and a good story would not be regurgitating what the readers already know. For example, I don’t see Samantha’s mum Debs as a focus because readers already know a lot about her past *pauses as readers cheer because nobody likes Debs*

I wrote the first three books in the series back to back. I also worked on the edits for some of my backlist books in the midst of that, preparing them for re-publication through Boldwood Books. After writing book 3, it was time to take a break from Hedgehog Hollow as Whitsborough Bay was calling. Over the past few months, I’ve been writing Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café which is set just outside Whitsborough Bay. This will be out on 31st August and, true to form, there’s more than one story to tell. It will definitely have a sequel but it may become a trilogy.

It was good to have a break from Hedgehog Hollow but oh so lovely to return to the farm and my friends for book 4. I’m partway through writing A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow which is out on 6th January 2022 but available for pre-order now.

I get so many messages and comments on social media from readers telling me they can’t bear the wait for book 4 and I need to write faster! This is exceptionally flattering, knowing that readers are clamouring to find out what happens next. That might have something to do with the unexpected cliffhanger I dropped at the end of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. The thing is, it can take readers a day (or less) to read a book but it takes just a smidge longer than that for an author to write one so I’m afraid there has to be a bit of a wait between books. Really sorry to those who are waiting patiently … or not so patiently! Don’t they say that all good things come to those who wait?

I love this series so much. I can vividly picture myself at the farm, sitting on Thomas’s bench, looking out over the wildflower meadow sowed by Thomas and Gwendoline with the farm cat Misty Blue draped across my knee. Every time I write a scene there, I can almost smell the flowers, hear the buzz of bees, feel the gentle breeze kissing my cheeks. It’s so tranquil. I keep telling my husband that I want to live in the real Hedgehog Hollow. Need a Netflix deal before that would ever be financially possible!

I’m so exceptionally proud of how well those hedgehogs have done in finding a place in readers’ hearts. The three books so far have sold over 120,000 units combined (i.e. a copy in any format) in the space of only a year and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is on its way to being the first of my individual books to join Boldwood’s 100k Club and will hopefully be there in the next few months. Go hedgehogs go! 

The hedgehogs have scampered into the UK Kindle Top 100 for all three books, with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow peaking at #31 and they’ve had some impressive positions on the Apple Chart with an amazing #2 for New Arrivals, Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand and Top 100 in the USA. The latter is especially impressive when there are no wild hedgehogs in the USA! Family Secrets also stormed the Apple chart with #5 in the UK and Top 200 in the USA.

But the thing I am most proud of is the reviews they’ve gathered and it is so fitting on the book birthday of the series that I am close to celebrating another milestone. Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is just 15 shy of received 2000 ratings/reviews on Amazon and it hasn’t even been out for two months yet (released on 4th May). Hopefully it will even hit that milestone by the two-month anniversary.

I’ve never experienced anything like this. At the time of writing this, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) has 2,291 reviews and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow has 2,724 with a 4.7/4.6/4.7 average rating across them. Wow! The love is definitely there for the hedgehogs.

So as the hedgehogs and I party and celebrate one year of this new series, we would like to thank everyone who has made all of these achievements possible. In no particular order as everyone is extremely important in this list:

  • Readers and listeners without whom I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this. You are absolutely amazing
  • Bloggers and reviewers who have been on the blog tours or independently shared their kind words about the series
  • The gorgeous community on Redland’s Readers, my Facebook group for those who love my stories. You can join Redland’s Readers here if you’re a fan and want to immerse yourself in the worlds of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow
  • The lovely readers and admins on The Friendly Book Community and Heidi Swain and Friends – two gorgeously friendly Facebook book groups – for recommending and sharing the love for my books. Click on the names to link to those groups
  • The team at Boldwood Books, particularly my amazing editor Nia for her insightful feedback and her encouragement
  • The authors at #TeamBoldwood for their support
  • Emma Swan, James Dryden and Lucy Browhill for their amazing narration and ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft for the production and distribution of the audio versions
  • My tribe – the wonderful Write Romantics and the other talented authors out there who champion my work
  • My mum who is my number 1 fan and an absolute star
  • My Auntie Gwen, a hedgehog rescuer, for providing the inspiration in the first place
  • All the amazing rescue centres whether large scale or small around the country for the incredible work you do in helping protect these gorgeous creatures

If you haven’t already dived into the world of Hedgehog Hollow, the hedgehogs are waiting to welcome you. You can buy in a stack of formats – eBook for Apple, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, paperback, hardback (only book 2 and 3 at the moment), large print, audio and streaming via Spotify. And if you’re still not sure, here’s a couple of quotes from reviews, including ones from the audio version…

Big hedgehugs
Jessica xx

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