September 2010


Lucy Cavendish is the English author of the Samantha Smythe series, including the most recent A Storm in a Teacup. She also works as a journalist and is involved in the Contemporary Women Writers' Club. (Interview by Angela Smith)

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  1. 1. Tell us about the main character of your novels, Samantha Smythe.

    Samantha is a mother of three – then four – children. She lives a simple-ish life in the countryside in England and is trying her hardest to keep everything going. She loves her husband and she loves her children, but things keep getting in the way like an ex-husband (the father of her eldest son Edward) who turns up in Samantha Smythe’s Modern Family Journal, the disturbed daughter of a former friend in Lost and Found and a rather fascinating older man in A Storm in a Teacup. There is always a twist!

  2. 2. Do you think that mothers who read your book can relate to Samantha?

    I think all mothers can relate to Samantha! That is the point of her. She is Everywoman and she does what we all do; keep our families going, strive to be good mothers, good partners, good to ourselves, a good friend etc etc. Like everyone, Samantha gets it wrong some times. She shouts and loses her temper and feels like crying but, in essence, the family is the focus point, and the love, of her life.

  3. 3. Originally, Samantha’s story was loosely based on your own life. Is this still the case or has Samantha developed her own storyline?

    Yes it was loosely based on my own life but it certainly isn’t now! I do have an ex-husband, who I get on with very well. I do live in the countryside, which I love. But Samantha has developed a life of her own, as have all the characters that appear in the novels. However, I do take recognisable bits of my children and put them in to the characters. It’s like reading a diary of them and their behaviour when I look back at it all.

  4. 4. What is your favourite part about writing Samantha's story?

    I think it’s writing about the children. It always makes me laugh when I read it back to myself. I did a reading the other day and found I could barely speak I was laughing so much. I think that’s a good thing and it’s certainly fun to write.

  5. 5. Have you used any of your own experiences in your novels?

    I have used loads of my experience in writing this. All my feelings of love and warmth but also tiredness and hurt have gone in to these books. I have also set them round where I grew up so they make me feel rather nostalgic.

  6. 6. Can you explain a little about the Queenbee Society.

    Queenbee is actually the publishing arm of the Contemporary Women Writers’ Club of which I am a founder member. We are delighted to announce the upcoming launch of a new virtual home for the Contemporary Women Writers' Club - and ALL women who write - Launching in January 2011, it is a dynamic, new, online community that promotes women’s writing. Working at the cutting edge of publishing, our website will offer online writing programs, interviews with leading authors, journalists and agents, teleconferences, podcasts, forums and editorial services, plus access to live events and retreats. The CWWC will harness the potential of our global community by publishing new writing by talented women writers, both in print form and digitally. There will be many exciting events leading up to our launch and the great news is that you can register your interest now. If you care about quality women's writing, we want to hear from you. To mark the launch, we are creating an exclusive writing program, to be made available online to every member of The Women's Institute. On October 20, 2010, we are publishing a second collection of short stories, Ten Past Eight. This follows on from the phenomenal success of The Leap Year, which you can still order from Amazon.

  7. 7. You've lived all over the world, which is your favourite place?

    Too hard but probably Lamu, an island of the Kenyan Coast.

  8. 8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

    Italy – the food, the people, the wine, the sea. I recently went to Puglia and wrote and swum and did yoga every morning. I ate seafood all day, every day and felt healthy and creative. Perfect place for me.

  9. 9. Do you prefer writing for magazines/newspapers or writing novels?

    I prefer writing novels by miles! It’s so much more enjoyable to create a fictitious world full of characters and storylines. I do journalism to pay the bills.

  10. 10. Who or what influenced you to write?

    My father wrote a lot and always encouraged me to write. Also, on a basic level, I read books that inspired me – The Magus by John Fowles, The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell and The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I read them in the formative years of my life and just loved them. In many ways, they changed my life by making me see how words harness your imagination and how powerful that can be.

  11. 11. Did you always want to be a writer?

    Yes, I write every day and I cannot imagine not doing that. I loved writing stories as a child and that has never changed.

  12. 12. What other careers or jobs did you undertake before becoming an author?

    I sold books in Waterstones for a while. I used to dream of being a showjumper!

  13. 13. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

    Showjump! And read, do crosswords, see friends, walk my dogs, play a lot with the children and eat! I love cooking.

  14. 14. Who is your favourite chick lit author?

    Probably Jilly Cooper. I just love her books. They transport in to this lusty, very English world. I think she’s amazing.

  15. 15. Is there a message you'd like readers to take away from your books

    Well, I’d like them to enjoy them and also to realise these things – living and loving is hard but worth it in the end – oh and you can’t change people. You either accept what you have or walk away and try to find it elsewhere. People don’t really change. My children have the same characteristics now as they did when they were born. As adults, we don’t move that far away as people from where we started so, as a Mum, enjoy it!?

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