I came across’ Suddenly Single’ by Carol Wyer whilst scrolling through Netgalley – the cover and synopsis focusing on social anxiety had me pulled in straight away! (Thank you Netgalley, Canelo and Carol Wyer for giving me a free copy of this book.)
‘Suddenly Single’ is a book that tackles an important issue that people deal with on a daily basis, whilst also being a light-hearted comedy, featuring some unique and eccentric characters. I fell in love with Chloe’s journey to tackling social anxiety and becoming her own person so much, that I couldn’t help but get in touch with Carol, so we can talk about it some more, whilst also learning more about the author along the way!
Read my full review of ‘Suddenly Single’ here.
Without further ado, let’s get in to the interview:
Welcome to BreakfastAtShelbys, I’m so honoured to have you on here! Why don’t we kick start this interview off with you telling us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for inviting me here. I’ll try to keep it brief… where to start? Erm, I used to be a teacher and translator, and started my working life in Casablanca where I’d zoom about on a Solex motorbike to various companies, until I had a run in with a donkey at some traffic lights. After a few years, I returned to the UK and became a teacher at a school much like Hogwarts but without the magic and dragons… and Quidditch. I then set up my own language company and taught a variety of languages but also wrote and produced a series of books for children that helped them learn French. I was also a personal trainer at one point, but in 2009 I decide I wanted to write and that was the start of a whole new career.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been a raconteur – a person who views life through slightly funny-shaped lenses and sees the amusing side of most things. It came from life as an only child – one who moved schools regularly thanks to my father’s occupation, and who was (sadly) very ugly! After I smashed out my front teeth at the tender age of eleven and was fitted with false ones which kept falling out every time I opened my mouth, I learned the only way to get through life was to try and laugh at myself before anyone else did or be the class clown. As I got older, that ability was transferred to the written word and when I found myself stuck in hospital following serious spinal surgery and unable to walk for months, I wrote lengthy, pithy letters to family and friends about the secret life of the hospital and what went on behind the scenes. They were well received. Everyone wanted more and loved them and I discovered I had an ability to make people chuckle. I then started as a hobby – short stories for children with morals and humour until finally taking the plunge to write full-time.
‘Suddenly Single’ is your latest release, which I absolutely loved! Congratulations! Can you tell my readers – who may not have had the opportunity to hear about it yet – what it’s about?
Chloe Piper, author of best-selling saucy novel, Spank Me Harder, Vicar is going through a difficult separation from her husband, William. Hiding away from the world, on a new development in rural Staffordshire with only her faithful dog, Ronnie, to keep her company, she thinks she can just about survive, that is, before she meets her new neighbours who decide to make Chloe their pet project and introduce her to the members of their singleton club. Chloe’s life is about to be turned upside down and she will have to face her biggest fears and anxieties. Can she pull it off, let alone keep her true identity as writer of the hottest novel of recent years, a secret?
The main focus of ‘Suddenly Single’ was Chloe dealing with her social anxieties, which I found was a great topic to put in the spotlight, as so many people deal with it, day in and day out – does this come from experiences yourself or from friends/family members?
It is a condition I wanted to highlight and the simple answer is yes. For someone who appears to be as confident as I do, it might come as a surprise to know I’m not. Like Chloe, I hide away in rural Staffordshire on a tiny development, far away from other people. I can only cope if I ‘act the fool’ which is my default setting when I meet new people and is a tactic I learned years ago, as I mentioned earlier. Others don’t have such coping strategies and one of my close relatives was actually unable to leave her house, other than to walk down the road to the local shop. No cajoling would get her to mingle. Social anxiety comes in various guises. Some people can get by but they are still anxious and can make themselves ill with worry about certain situations.
The Singles Club got involved in some really exciting, fun, out-of-the-box type of activities throughout the book – did you get to experience any of these (or all of them) for yourself?
Ha! I have been known to try out a lot of what I write about (I think you can write better about something if you’ve experienced it) and have done some pretty wacky things in the name of research, so yes… I had a go at a few of them. The sumo wrestling is a must-do although you end up very sweaty and the duck herding is hilarious, especially when you can’t control your dog. I didn’t do the Haka but watched several videos of corporate events where they learned and performed it.
All of the characters involved in your story were so wonderful to read about, with unique and loving personalities. Who was your favourite character(s) to write about besides your leading lady?
I love all my characters (except William!) and they all ‘speak’ to me when I am writing. I suppose I have a soft spot for Faith, Chloe’s agent who lost her husband at such a young age, and pretends to be hard, but is actually vulnerable and deserves happiness. She has some great lines and comebacks. I like witty characters.
What did a day to day life look like for you whilst writing ‘Suddenly Single’?
This book was an exception to my usual ‘work-all-day-and-night routine’. I was 25K words into it by the time I went on holiday to France. We stayed in a lovely secluded spot, overlooking vineyards. The weather was lovely and I found a shady area beside the pool and was so inspired by the surroundings and the place itself, I sat with my notes and typed all day, every day, stopping only to swim up and down the pool a few times. By the end of the holiday, the book was written. It flowed so easily. Of course, there was stacks of work to do afterwards with edits and so on but the actual plot was written in the middle of vineyards.
Would you consider writing a sequel on ‘Suddenly Single’, focusing on Chloe dealing with social anxiety whilst having a new little member of the family to take care of as well? I’d love it!
Absolutely, I would. I have already given it some thought.
What’s one important piece of advice you would give to people currently dealing with social anxiety?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are online forums and FB private groups and stacks of medical advice and help. You should not be embarrassed by your condition – it’s far more common than you think, so talk about it. There are people who understand!
If you could describe ‘Suddenly Single’ in three words, what would they be?
Uplifting, inspiring and downright funny
Drat! That’s four words. Maths never was my strong point!
Lastly, do you have any future book news that you are able to share with us?
As you probably know, I also write crime novels, so I’m currently working on two more in the DI Natalie Ward series which will come out in September and December, but I also have another comedy lined up. The synopsis is written and it’s been pitched with great reactions, so it’s just a question of finding time to get started on it. No spoilers but it involves a kunekune pig a valuable lavender duck and a young woman on a journey that will change her life!
It all sounds very exciting – I can’t wait to get stuck in to your crime novels and find out more about this new comedy! Thank you so much Carol, for taking the time out of your day to answer these questions and feature on my blog! I look forward to our next catch up.
‘Suddenly Single’ is available now on e-book.