Doubting Abbey is the story of a pizza waitress who has to pass herself off as an aristocrat - and a fellow Carina author, the very talented TA Williams - Trevor to you and me - has just seen his latest book published, What Happens In Tuscany, and it is a kind of Doubting Abbey in reverse...Here's the wonderful cover and blurb:
From rainy England…
Katie never imagined her life was perfect. But when she finds herself on a rainy street, soaked to the bone and with only a cheating boyfriend and a dead-end job keeping her in town, she knows something has to change. Which is what leads her to Iddlescombe Manor, to be companion to Victoria Chalker-Pyne – the only 25-year-old Katie’s ever met who hasn’t heard of Twitter, hasn’t used a computer, and desperately needs an education in the 21st century!
…to the Tuscan sun!
But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday – and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victoria’s family villa, it’s soon clear that this place really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?
I thought it might be fun to invite Trevor over and find out a little more about the inspiration behind the book and why he enjoys writing for women...
Hi Trevor - how easily does
take to her lessons about modern life?
Amazingly easily. You see, for years she’s been cooped up by her crazy, overprotective dad and now, after his death, she realises she has got a lot of catching up to do. She is bright enough to realise that she needs somebody to help her. In fact it’s Victoria herself who comes up with the idea of looking for a guide or mentor. And that’s where Katie comes in. She’s five years older (30) and she is a teacher. She quickly realises that
is a 15 year old in a 25 year old’s body and she does her best to guide her
step by step down the road to modernity. Victoria
takes to it like a duck to water.
What does she find most difficult?
Predictably, the area where
has most trouble is with men. She has inherited her father immense wealth and
her mother’s good looks, but she has totally missed out on the tentative
adolescent first experiences with the opposite sex the rest of us had. Before
long, the vultures are circling. Katie sits down with her and has The Talk.
Afterwards, she tells Victoria
that, even after teaching sex education to teenagers, this was the hardest
thing she’s ever had to do. In particular she gives Victoria
this valuable piece of advice:
‘Listen Vicky. They say that when God invented man, He gave him enough blood to work his brain or his penis, but not both at the same time.’
Who is your favourite character in the book?
Difficult question. I suppose it’s a tie between Katie who is the main character and through whose eyes we see everything and Dante. Dante is reliable, comforting, strong, very handsome and a
Labrador. I’ve already had a couple of
reviewers telling me they have fallen in love with Dante. There’s something
about a sleek, dark-haired Italian with big brown eyes, even if he has four
legs and a tail. Katie is my hero. I mean, she is not only the main character,
but the one who holds it all together. We see her at the start of the book at a
low ebb. She has just dumped her slob of a boyfriend and has jacked in the job
she hated. She’s scouring the papers for jobs, terrified that she’ll end up
working in a fast food shop, selling burgers to her former students. But she
goes for it. She meets adversity along the way, but she fights it. I like Katie
What was the inspiration for the story - do you like modern life?
Mmh, interesting question. I suppose there is a part of me that finds modern life a bit daunting. Bear in mind that when I was born, TV was in black and white, Bruce Forsythe was still a teenager and if anybody had said, ‘I’ll have to Google that. I’ll tweet about it when I find the ap,’ they would probably have been frogmarched off to the funny farm. The other reason is linguistic. My previous book, When Alice Met Danny, had sold quite well and has collected some very good reviews. A recurring objection by a few reviewers was that my language was “too old-fashioned”. It occurred to me that I might not be the only person with that sort of problem so I transposed my linguistic anachronisms onto a modern girl.
has been fed a diet of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and a good part of
Katie’s job is to correct her speech. I sympathise
Why do you particularly like writing for women and what do you find easy/challenging about it?
All my books up till last year have had male main protagonists. I’ve written bloodthirsty thrillers and tales of medieval knights. Men dominated the Middle Ages and so my books reflected that. The fact is, however, that I have worked among women pretty much all my life and I reckon I’ve got a reasonable handle on you lot by now. I spent my life before retiring running a big English language school. Most of the staff and most of the students were female. Add to that the fact that in our family, there was my wife and my daughter on one side of the great divide and Merlin the
Labrador and me on the other. Now, heaven
forbid that I should even begin to presume that I fully understand women (ask
my wife; I’m nowhere near), but I think I do know enough to know that men and
women aren’t as different as we think. The same stuff makes us angry or sad,
some people are assertive, others submissive (ask EL James). My female
characters are always competent, resourceful women. I haven’t met a lot of
meek, passive women in my life and that’s reflected in my characters. And the
other reason I like writing for women is that you buy the books. Allegedly 66%
of books are bought by women, while men rely on football and videogames.
Ultimately, as a writer, I have to imagine and invent stuff. I’ve never been a
medieval knight and I’ve never been in the SAS. That doesn’t stop me writing
about them. However, just as I have to check online to see how an MP5 automatic
weapon works, so I have to check with my wife how a front-opening bra works.
All it takes is a little research…
Sounds like a fab read - why not treat yourself!