It’s been a while since I’ve had an author interview on the blog and what a great way to kick it off again, than with the wonderful, Kiley Dunbar, giving us an insight look in to her newest book, ‘Summer at the Highland Coral Beach‘. Get yourself comfy wherever you are and enjoy!
Hi Kiley, welcome back to BreakfastAtShelbys, I’m always so happy to have you return and give us all the behind-the-scenes gossip on your newest releases, this time around that new release being the delightful, Summer at the Highland Coral Beach. Let’s begin with a brief description!
Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), the first in the Port Willow Bay Series, takes you on an impromptu crafting holiday in the Scottish Highlands and reminds us that after the storm comes the rainbow. There’s crafts, ceilidhs, coral bays and gentle recovery.
What inspired you to write Summer at the Highland Coral Beach?
I wanted to write a true starting all over again story about a woman who has lost absolutely everything and is, frankly, a bit of a mess. All she has is her courage and her talent (she’s an A-star organiser and is brilliant at helping others – but not so good at attending to her own needs). I wanted to throw her together with a man who has been neglecting his own dreams and ambitions and see what happens to them.
Dare I say, I have never really thought of adding Scotland on to my list of places to travel, but with the way you described the settings so beautifully, it now feels like a place I should not miss out on! I remember in your letter at the end of the book, that you had actually visited Coral Beach yourself in West Highlands – was there any other highlights to visiting Plockton that helped you create Port Willow?
Port Willow looks a little like Plockton, a beautiful village close enough to Skye for a day trip to visit the fairy pools (which is exactly what we did during our sunny August 2018 holiday in Plockton). The seafood in the few pubs and restaurants is amazing and there are so many stunning walks from the village, including the clamber to the jaw-droppingly beautiful Coral Beach where I swam in the turquoise water, oh it was beautiful. None of my family joined me in the water – they said it was too cold – and it really was, even in August.
I always love to know whom you imagine for your gorgeous characters, along with the all of the other photos off your mood board that inspire and set the scene for your stories. What did your mood board look this time round?
My moodboard was basically a Sam Heughan (Jamie in Outlander) board, especially Sam’s fashion shoots for Barbour – they had just the right rugged, sexy, outdoorsy and practical aesthetic for gorgeous Atholl Fergusson, the willow weaving, redheaded Scotsman.
I remember during the making of Summer at the Highland Coral Beach, you had fallen extremely ill. How was your writing process this time round, compared to previous books?
That’s right, I had pneumonia in October 2019 that put me in hospital and meant I couldn’t stay awake, let alone write, for many weeks. Luckily I had the first draft down on the page by then, but I’d normally crack on with edits pretty quickly. Hera Books were amazing and supported me throughout and we managed to stay on schedule for publication.
The prominent theme to Beatrice’s story was dealing with the loss of a baby, which was written extremely well and an important topic to focus on. What made you decide on this journey for Bea?
I think seeing aspects of our lives reflected in the fiction we read can be very helpful and healing. Miscarriage isn’t often represented in mainstream romantic fiction even though one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. I think there are women looking for stories of baby loss and Summer at the Highland Coral Beach offers hope and comfort by focusing on recovery and finding new ways of expressing a kind of grief that’s still largely taboo.
The locations you described in Port Willow were so magical and with the power of your words, an easy place to escape to whilst reading. Did your time in Scotland inspire your settings or did your imagination take the lead?
I’m Scottish and I wanted to capture the kind of sentimentality a lot of Scottish people feel when they think about their homeland, so Port Willow has all that nostalgia and pride that tells you this is a story written by someone who loves the country and all its self-mythologizing. Lots of the places Beatrice visits you won’t be able to find in real life, though; like the Princess and the Pea Inn with its towering fairytale bed.
If you could describe Summer at the Highland Coral Beach in three words, what would they be?
Dreamy, emotional, romantic.
Lastly, do you have any future book news that you are able to share with us?
Keep an eye open for a summer cover reveal and pre-order info for my next book, the sequel to One Summer’s Night (which was my debut novel). I can’t wait to share the second instalment of Kelsey Anderson’s adventures in Stratford-upon-Avon with you!
Thank you so much, Kiley for joining me on the blog again! It is always and absolute delight. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that you added a little Harry Styles shout-out in there for myself and our friend, Lucy – it had smiling very big! Speaking of smiling very big, I was beaming with pride when my name popped up in the acknowledgements section. My favourite part of being a book blogger definitely has to be supporting wonderful authors like yourself and being able to witness/follow the makings of your stories, as you document it on social media! I’ll definitely be seeing you again when your next, no doubt, gorgeous story is released and I can’t wait! x
I’d be lost without your support. Book lovers and bloggers keep an author’s world turning!
Lots of love, Kiley, x
Summer at the Highland Coral Beach is currently 99p on Amazon!
Check out my book review for Summer at the Highland Coral Beach here.