Cathy Bramley answers her fans' questions

Dear lovely readers,
Just a quick note from me to say how much I cherish your company, comments and support. Writing books can be a bit of a lonely job at times, and so finding an email or a comment on social media from someone saying how much they have enjoyed one of my books can make such a difference to my day.

So please do keep on getting in touch via my websiteFacebook and Twitter
Until I hear from you, here are some answers to a few questions I’ve received this year. . .
Much love,
Cathy xx

Cathy Bramley

Author Cathy Bramley

White Lies and Wishes is about three women who, one day, throw caution to the wind and decide to make a bucket list for that year. What’s on your bucket list?

I LOVE this question! I’m always saying or sometimes just thinking ‘that’s one for the bucket list’ and half of the time I forget all about it. But these are the ones currently taking up too much of my daydreams: I’d like to own a cape. A big swishy one like Demelza wears in Poldark. I’d like to go to a proper Regency ball and learn all the dances and get dressed up in all the requisite finery. There was one at Chatsworth House recently and I was so sad to have missed it (my husband, on the other hand, was most relieved). I’d like to live by the sea for a while, perhaps rent a house for six months and take long walks on the beach. Finally, did you know that Hotel Chocolat has a real hotel in Saint Lucia? It’s the most gorgeous, decadent retreat and a stay in one of their lodges is most definitely at the top of my bucket list.


Was there any real-life inspiration behind Jo, Sarah and Carrie?

Between you and I, there is a bit of me in all of them. Jo is in charge of a business and is acutely aware of her responsibility to her staff. I used to run my own company and when things were tough, I felt very worried not only for my own livelihood but for those of my team too. Sarah is struggling to cope with a career and motherhood. I took very little maternity leave when my children were small and spent a lot of the time feeling guilty. It was also quite difficult to keep up with breastfeeding when I spent the day apart from them. There is an incident in this book which is taken straight from my own personal experience on that front! Carrie is probably the least like me; for a start, I can’t arrange flowers to save my life! But I have had hypnotherapy and struggled to relax in the chair just like Carrie does.


Describe a typical writing day for you.

My day begins as follows: school run, dog walk, breakfast, more coffee, thick socks on… and then I’m ready to work! I usually will spend seven hours at my desk, punctuated by sneaky peeks at Twitter and Facebook and trips to the kettle. I start by reading through yesterday’s writing and then make a few bullet points about what today’s words should convey. I plot quite extensively before I begin writing a book. Sometimes I stick to my plan, sometimes I don’t, but I need the plan before I can begin. My chapters are around 3,000 words each and an excellent day means starting and finishing a whole chapter. But I don’t beat myself up if this doesn’t happen; some days I write faster than others. Arguments are super-fast to write! My daughters arrive home around four thirty, starving, which is usually a good time to stop writing and have a think about what I’m going to tackle tomorrow.

Reading has always been an important part of my life, I can’t imagine not having a book on the go

Female friendship is at the heart of this novel. How do your characters help each other develop throughout the book?

Jo, Carrie and Sarah have such an inauspicious meeting – all outside at a funeral, doing things they’d rather not be seen doing. This throws them together and I thought it would be fun to see how a friendship could grow out of an awkward situation. They start off with such low expectations of each other: Carrie is convinced neither of them will like her; Jo thinks she’s wasting her time; Sarah is intrigued by the other two and initially the most reluctant to make a wish. But gradually they form a support network for each other, at first offering advice but then later, seeking each other out for help and eventually wanting to extend the friendship circle by bringing Abi into it too. They are all happier people for having each other as friends by the end of the book.


Did you know you always wanted to be a writer?

Reading has always been an important part of my life, I can’t imagine not having a book on the go – it just wouldn’t happen. Actually writing one myself didn’t occur to me until I was in my mid-forties, but when I did, I fell in love with it. I hadn’t been planning a career change but after writing three novels, I decided to give up my marketing business and write full time.


At first, Carrie is shy and self-conscious. How does she change throughout the novel?

Carrie begins to contrast her life with that of Jo and Sarah and realizes how much more she could be achieving. Once she identifies what has been holding her back and that she has been comfort eating for years, she is able to begin taking control of her life. This grows her confidence and she starts to plan a brighter, fuller future for herself.


What authors and books have had a strong influence on your writing?

I can’t really distinguish between authors I love and those who influence me, I guess it’s probably one and the same. There are authors whose books I will automatically buy without even reading the blurb, like Lucy Diamond, Jenny Colgan, Miranda Dickinson, Rachael Lucas, Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Diane Chamberlain. However, my number one is still Marian Keyes, whose characterization and wit can make me laugh days after I’ve finished the book.


White Lies and Wishes deals with lots of issues modern women experience, including motherhood and work-life balance. How hard do you think it is to seize the day while living a busy life?

Incredibly hard! Sometimes it’s enough just to get to the end of the day without a stiff drink (and/or a little cry!) But at the same time, I think we all make time for the things we really want to do and similarly make excuses for not doing the things we’d rather avoid.


What advice would you give a budding novelist?

Write the best book you can and then go on a reputable course or guided retreat to learn how to critique and improve your work. Some people prefer to go on courses first before starting to write, so whichever works for you, I guess. But think of that first draft as just you telling yourself the story. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to re-tell it for the readers – this can be the tricky part!


White Lies and Wishes is about finding your own happy ending, no matter what your life looks like. What does happiness look like to you?

A family Christmas; baking the perfect Victoria sponge; date night with my husband; a hug from my daughters; a country walk on a crisp, sunny winter’s morning; a glass of Champagne on publication day!

More about the author

White Lies and Wishes

Cathy Bramley

What happens when what you wish for is only half the story...?

Three strangers and a funeral, that’s all it takes for these women’s lives and wishes to intersect. Death has a funny way of showing you what you really want out of life… or so they say, anyway.

Jo is flirty and a little after thirty, but what she really wants is to get her business back on track and conquer her fear of heights. That’s what she’ll say when asked, anyway. She has things to prove and finding love can always wait…

Sarah has the best of both worlds, baby in one hand and job in the other. All she wants is to get that promotion, then all those missed bath times will be worth it. So she says, anyway. She can’t stop to think about it too long or she might drop something…

All Carrie wants is to shift the excess pounds and look good for summer. Wearing a bikini is all she has ever desired. So she has always said, anyway. But it’s not the only weight she’s carrying, dark secrets from her past are threatening to surface…

So the three unlikely new friends set themselves a deadline to get their lives in order; juggling blokes, babies and bikini bottoms along the way. There’s nothing to stop them from achieving their dreams – except those little white lies we all tell…

A feel-good romantic comedy that's guaranteed to make you smile - perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Your favourite authors have loved reading bestselling Cathy Bramley:
‘Delightfully warm with plenty of twists and turns’ Trisha Ashley
‘Engaging characters and a sweeping romance. This is delightful!’ Katie Fforde
‘A witty, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy’ Miranda Dickinson
‘The perfect romantic tale, to warm your heart and make you smile.’ Ali McNamara

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