Jessica Redlandwas born in Teesside but now lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast which inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets all her books.
She lives with her husband, daughter, Sprocker Spaniel and is a self-confessed stationery addict. She loves chocolate, although it doesn’t love her, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.
Her dream is to be able to write full-time one day but, until then, she has a day job as an HR Tutor and tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between that and writing.
What inspire you to write a book?
All sorts of things. Ideas come from so many places. The first book I wrote was inspired by a real event that happened to me. Another was inspired by my experience of setting up and running my own shop. I have one where the…
During March, I’m running a training course through RNA Learning (Romantic Novelists’ Association). I’m really looking forward to running it as it’s an opportunity to use my former day-job skills as a trainer/tutor (something I did for 25 years before becoming a full-time author in 2020) as well as sharing my experiences to help other authors in their writing journey.
Participants need to have signed up by the end of February and, as that’s tomorrow, there isn’t long left so I thought I’d give a bit more detail about what to expect. Please do share if you know anyone who might be interested but they will need to act fast!
The course is: Writing a novel or series in a coastal or country setting
I have a fair bit of experience of doing that!
How will the course work?
It’s all run via a training platform called Moodle
There’s a mix of pre-recorded training sessions, live Zooms and Moodle Discussion Forums
Participants are encouraged to work one week at a time but, by mid-March, all 4 training sessions will be released to allow for working at their own pace
How is the course structured?
4 x 1-hour (roughly) pre-recorded training sessions accessed via Dropbox. These will include information, personal experiences, the experiences of 19 other successful authors, tips, quick exercises during the session and post-session work
Live Zoom sessions every week (recorded and uploaded for those not available at the time) to discuss that week’s training session and for any questions to be raised. I’m happy to answer questions on any aspect of writing … although I can’t guarantee I’ll always know the answer!
There’s a Discussion Forum on Moodle for each of the 4 weeks where participants share their post-session work for feedback and ask questions. I’ll check this and respond every 2-3 days
There’s an optional bonus practical exercise
Recommended reading list
What will the course cover?
The training course is all about writing a novel or series in a coastal or country setting so all the learning relates to that but it’s about so much more than just the setting. A good setting will become a character in itself.
We’ll explore the following:
What is a setting and why is it so important?
Why are coastal and country settings so popular in romantic fiction?
Real v fictional settings (the positives and challenges of each)
Town or village – the opportunities and restrictions
Coast or country – key considerations
Naming your fictional setting
Which comes first – character or setting?
What does your setting look like?
What does your setting offer the residents?
Where specifically is your story set?
Mapping it out
Using the senses to bring your setting to life
Creating your protagonist(s) including why are they in your setting and how do they feel about it?
Character tropes (around setting)
Creating your antagonist(s)
Your other main characters
What’s your premise and does it really lend itself to a coastal or country setting?
Plots that work well in these settings
Exploration on themes
Passing of time and seasons
Do you have a series on your hands?
Plotter v pantser
As you can see, there’s oodles of fabulous learning to be had on this course.
Is it only for absolute beginners?
Definitely not. This course will suit beginners who are at the start of their writing journey through to those who may have written several books already. Perhaps you want to build on what you’re already doing or perhaps you’ve written books but not in these settings before so this is a fresh start.
I’ll gauge the level of experience at the start of the workshop and tailor my sessions according to this, which is one of the reasons they’re not all available immediately.
How much does it cost?
If you’re an RNA member, it’s £75 for the course. If you’re not a member, it’s £150.
For more detail about all RNA Learning Courses, please click here.
February is the perfect time to celebrate love and romance authors. Jessica Redland is one of my favourite contemporary romace authors in the UK at the moment, and I adore her cute and cosy romance fiction. Most of her books, including her most recent one A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, are set in Yorkshire.
Jessica and I sat together to talk about what inspired each of her books and why we have NaNoWriMo to thank for them at all.
1. Do you ever consider an end to the Hedgehog Hollow Series or will it continue on as the series popularity continues to soar?
Great question! The end is actually planned and will happen this year with the release of the final three books in the six-book series.
Book 5 is called Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow and is up for pre-order now and out on 28th June. This is a hot off the press title reveal and I’ve just started writing it. It’s lovely to be back at Hedgehog Hollow after a Starfish Café break.
Book 6 will be Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow (also a hot off the press title reveal) and out in late September, exact date TBC. That will go up for pre-order later in the year.
When I started writing the first book, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, I…
Please name 5 facts about you. (Pics if you have any)
Jessica Redland isn’t my real name. It’s Julie but I find it easier to have everyone connected to writing to refer to me as Jessica. I decided to write under a pseudonym for a variety of reasons and chose Jessica because it’s a timeless name that I’ve always loved. I wanted my surname to be something that had a connection to my writing. The idea for my debut novel came to me when I was living on a street called Redlands Road. I ditched the ‘s’ and kept the Redland part
I’m an arctophile – a collector/lover of teddy bears. I love them so much that I took a career break from HR in 2003 and set up and ran my own specialist teddy bear shop. I started writing my first book on quiet days…
I know I’ve just posted about New Year but I was just scrolling through my photos and realised that I took several for a blog post, then forgot to write a post, so let’s dip back to Christmas for a moment when the lights were twinkling on the tree (ok, they still are), the gifts were looking gorgeous in their wrapping, and the dog was stealing things she shouldn’t have. Oh wait, Ella does that EVERY day, not just at Christmas…
There wasn’t anything the hubby or I particularly wanted this year so we agreed to treat ourselves to a picture we’d fallen in love with on holiday in the summer and get a few bits and bobs. The hope was to get the picture framed and up on the wall for Christmas but, well, you know how it is!
I find it pretty much impossible to think of anything for him beyond the supply of socks he needs every year after putting holes in them throughout the preceding 12 months, a dark chocolate orange, and his annual Landscape Photographer of the Year book but he usually comes up trumps with a few special gifts for me and this year was no exception.
I love the ‘On Air’ sign so watch out for that in my next Facebook Live on publication day of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow (6th January). The ‘I’m a Best Selling Author’ colouring book made me laugh. It’s full of positive affirmations about my brilliance ha ha ha! The book has unusual words in it and the fluffy socks are bears. Perfect.
The hedgehogs in the next pic are mittens and they’re so gorgeous and soft. I wore them when we had our wander down to the harbour and they kept me so warm and snug. The munchkin bought me the hedgehog stress ball which I’m sure will be very useful when pondering tricky plot points.
The necklace (shown larger below) is adorable. It’s a hedgehog but its tummy is made from Whitby jet which combines my two worlds of Hedgehog Hollow and Whitsborough Bay in one necklace (as Whitsborough Bay is based on a mix of Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay). What a gorgeous idea!
The lovely hedgehog notepad above was from my friend Liz (who also sent me some delicious mint chocolates) and there’s a Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow key ring from one of the fabulous admins, Marie, at The Friendly Book Community Facebook group (who also sent me a large bar of Galaxy – nom nom). I’ll post a bigger pic of that (the key ring, not the Galaxy!) further down as it’s fabulous. It was very unexpected and extremely kind.
Hubby also bought me the latest Westlife CD (I’m a bit old school and enjoy CDs for my favourites) and a lovely starfish necklace and heart one… although I admit I picked those myself when we visited York Christmas Markets.
The face masks were sent in a care package with some tea and coffee from Fiona, one of the lovely admins in Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club – which was very kind of her and the lovely friendship heart hanger is from my good friend, Write Romantic and Boldwood Buddy Jo Bartlett.
My bestie, Sharon Booth, and I always exchange Christmas gifts and she is so much better than me at buying them. This lovely selection were so fabulous that I have to up my game next year as mine for her weren’t anywhere near as good.
I’ve added a larger picture of the wooden shop below. Isn’t it gorgeous? In All You Need is Love, part of the story is centred around a specialist teddy bear shop on Castle Street called Bear With Me. Main character Jemma and her mum make artist bears under the brand name of Ju-Sea Bears for her mum and Ju-Sea Jem bears for the smaller ones Jemma makes. The shop was inspired by my own teddy bear shop called Bear’s Pad and Ju-Sea Bears was the brand I used for the handful of bears I made.
Sharon has been building up a collection of these wooden businesses for a new series she’s working on for release next year and I’ve been admiring the photos on her Insta account but nothing quite beats seeing one up close. They’re amazing. I may need to start a Castle Street collection!
A huge thank you to everyone for these gorgeous gifts. I feel you all know me so well as these are simply perfect.
Tomorrow I will place my first entry in my ‘Happy Jar’ from Sharon. Absolutely love that idea and, as I’m celebrating a very big birthday in 4 months’ time, I hope that I have a lot to celebrate in 2022.
I’m the guest over on Karen King’s blog today on a ‘Meet the Characters’ slot. I’ve interviewed Angie Swinton, Assistant Manager at The Starfish Cafe. The interview takes place just before the story starts in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Cafe. I had such fun setting and answering the questions. A huge thank you to Karen for inviting me to her blog. Hope you enjoy Angie’s interview xx
I’m delighted to welcome romance author Jessica Redland to my blog today. Jessica is interviewing Angie Swinton from her latest release Snowflakes OverThe Starfish Café.
Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
Two broken hearts.
Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…
An unexpected meeting.
Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…
I’m sure we have all experienced cancelled holidays, events and weekends away during the past 18 months. Some may have been cancelled altogether and some may have been rescheduled. Last weekend, the munchkin and I went away to Leeds to see Six the musical – a theatre trip rescheduled from last June. But even the rescheduled trip nearly didn’t happen.
We’d decided to make a weekend of it when I discovered I could book two nights in a chain hotel using loyalty points I’d gained from when I used to travel a lot with my day job. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the deal again for the rescheduled dates but I’d promised my daughter a weekend away and didn’t want to pull out of that after such a tough 18 months just because I now had to pay for accommodation.
The train journey is usually a smooth no-change one but, when we went to book the train tickets, we discovered there were disruptions both ways so travelling was not going to go as planned either.
And the delay in restrictions being lifted meant a reduced audience at the theatre. If we hadn’t got our tickets for this year, I’d have lost my hotel money (as it was on a non-refundable deal) and most of my train fare. Thankfully it transpired that we’d booked really early so we had priority over keeping our seats.
Then the munchkin had to isolate after positive Covid cases in her school. Thankfully she tested negative in a PCR and subsequent lateral flow tests and the isolation ended just in time to travel.
I felt a little apprehensive about the trip as was so many firsts for me since before the pandemic began – first train journey, first night in a hotel, first visit to a city and first peopley event, even though it would be reduced capacity – but I was determined we’d have a good time after being stuck at home for so long.
The show itself was phenomenal and, if you have a chance to see it, definitely do. I have to give huge thanks and praise to the staff of Leeds Heritage Theatres, specifically the Leeds Grand Theatre, as it was a really smooth process getting in (via temperature check and track & trace logging) and all the staff were really friendly.
It was really good to be back in the theatre and especially lovely that we’d booked a box which we’ve never done before. With social distancing, we had the box to ourselves!
I’d wondered how they’d manage the social distancing but it was fairly straightforward: every other seat had a covering over it and boxes only had people from the same booking in them with every other box empty.
If you’re not familiar with Six, it’s a musical about the six wives of Henry VIII. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen some of the cast performing as an interval act on Britain’s Got Talent years ago which is what prompted us to want tickets, but I hadn’t heard anything about it.
It’s different to any musical I’ve seen before in that it’s just the six wives on stage throughout the whole show (1 hour 20 mins) alongside a four-piece all-female band (keyboard, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums). They sing and there’s a bit of talk but no set changes/costume changes/long acted segments which was different to any musical I’ve ever seen but it absolutely worked. The songs were amazing with funny/clever lyrics and oh my goodness those voices! Wow, those actors could belt out a tune!
I was on the verge of tears all the way through the first song. It felt so emotional being back in live theatre and thinking about all the struggles that those involved in the arts have faced during the pandemic. Actors, producers, musicians and so on are mainly freelance and would have fallen through the gaps in financial support. The theatres – usually beautiful old buildings with expensive upkeep costs – have struggled so much with the lost income and the staff have had all the extra work of cancelling and rescheduling then rescheduling again and probably some very angry customers to deal with for something the theatre couldn’t control. Add to that the amazing voices and how resounding music can stir the soul, I had to give myself a stern talking-to not to turn into a gibbering wreck!
The audience were wearing masks and I wondered how that would feel from the stage, not able to see the smiling faces, but there was plenty of audience engagement with laughter, cheers, clapping and dancing in the seats. The cast and band absolutely deserved the standing ovation at the end.
If you have a chance to see this, do grab a ticket as it is interesting, funny, and fabulous. I have learned a lot more about history and I now don’t just know the rhyme we all know – divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived – without being able to tell you which wife was which. I now know which is which and why they met their fates. If you’re interested, check out my list under my signature for a little slice of history.
So the show was definitely worth seeing, but the rest of the weekend was a bit of a wash-out – literally. Yes, the great British weather did a number on us. We had steady rain, torrential rain, and thunderstorms. So we got wet. A lot.
I don’t like shopping but was happy to traipse around with the munchkin knowing I’d be able to treat myself in my favourite shop in Leeds – specialist teddy bear shop Mary Shortle. Only it has closed. No!!!!!!
Stuck for what to do in the bad weather on Sunday, we went to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit 2. We’d loved the first one but I felt that this one lacked the same humour and charm so was, for me, pretty disappointing. I’m sure plenty will love it, though, so please don’t be put off by my verdict.
We had an unpleasant run-in with a frazzled server in a famous doughnut chain who told me off, gave me filthy looks and was extremely rude. I understand that retail staff have very unfairly had abuse from customers about masks and social distancing but I’m not one of those customers so there was no need to direct the anger at me. To top it all, the doughnut bags got wet because the rain soaked through the bag I had them in, and they got squashed, so the eating pleasure wasn’t quite the same and didn’t make up for the experience.
The stress of all the arrangement changes, the horrendous weather, the bear shop closure, the disappointing film, the transport problems, the doughnut incident, and the Covid restrictions made everything about this weekend so difficult. I loved the show and the time with the munchkin but I kind of wished we hadn’t booked our tickets early and had had to defer until next year instead. I’d rather have stayed at home where it’s safe and dry and there are no angry doughnut sellers! Hopefully our next trip out will be more successful.
Big hugs Jessica xx
Wife 1 – Catherine of Aragon – divorced for not bearing a son as Henry VIII was obsessed with keeping the tudor line going. The Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t grant a divorce so the monarch broke away and formed the Church of England
Wife 2 – Anne Boleyn – beheaded. Henry lost interest in her when she didn’t give him a male heir. She was accused of adultery and treason and their marriage was annulled two days before her execution although the exact legal reasons surrounding the execution remain a mystery
Wife 3 – Jane Seymour – died. Finally Henry had the male heir he wanted (Edward VI) but she died from birth complications a few weeks later
Wife 4 – Anne of Cleves – divorced. This was a strategic European alliance to marry one of the daughters of Germany’s Duke of Cleves. Henry wanted to see a portrait of each to decide which one to marry and he choose the best-looking. Except the portrait was super flattering and he was shocked at the lack of likeness when he met Anne. It was too late to halt the wedding (he tried!) and his “ugly wife” (isn’t that awful?) agreed to a divorce and generous settlement after six months. She lived in luxury on the back of that
Wife 5 – Catherine Howard – beheaded. She was only 19 and he was 48 (if I’ve done my maths correctly) when they married but he was overweight and unable to walk by this point. Rumours of infidelity on her part surfaced after less than a year of marriage and she was executed for adultery and treason
Wife 6 – Katherine Parr – survived. She was known as a peacemaker and had great influence on so many aspects of court and European relationships. She outlived Henry by a year.
The other week I posted my first interview post with Heidi Swain and it went down a storm! If you’ve not seen it yet you can check it out here but today I’m spending some time with the lovely Jessica Redland, another of my auto-buy authors and I’m so excited to share this with you all!
She is now working with Boldwood and has written a number of different books, but all with a little touch of magic. I’ll pop some links to all of my reviews for her books at the end so you can check them out if you want to know more!
Hi Jessica, first off can I just say a massive thank you for letting me interview you and appear on my blog. I’ve discovered your books over lockdown, starting with Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes but I’ve recently been reading the Hedgehog…
I think most of us have found solace in books this year, I certainly have. These are my favourite reads of this year in no particular order. It was hard to whittle them down to just 26. There have just been some brilliant books out this year.
Hunting Abigail By Jeremy Costello
Six idiots witness a murder By Rob Hickman
Mainely Fear By Matt Cost
The Boy Between Us By Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley
The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside By Jessica Ryn