Monday, November 5, 2012

A Walk in the Park Guest Blog by Jill Mansell (and Giveaway!)

I am excited today to have author Jill Mansell on my blog.  I have enjoyed reading her novels the past couple of years and look forward to each new one.  She has wonderful way of writing realistic wonderful community of characters that really draw me into the story.  The worst part about her novels is that they end and I can't find out more about them!  Thank-you for your wonderful guest blog today about your new novel, A Walk in the Park. Hello Laura, and thanks so much for the invitation to appear on your lovely blog!

Starting a new book is always an exciting time. I start off with a situation that's been borrowed from real life, but not necessarily my own life - an idea can be sparked by a TV programme, a line from a movie, a story in a newspaper...anywhere really. For A Walk in the Park, the inspiration came from a wedding we attended, of friends of ours. The bride was really really late arriving at the church and we couldn't understand why she eventually turned up in a flustered state. It wasn't until later that we heard the story: a day or two before the wedding, she'd had a falling out with an old friend, who had gone off in a huff. The wedding present from this old friend had been to provide hair and makeup artists for the bride, the bridesmaids and the bride's mother on the day...

So there they all were, at home on the morning of the biggest day of her life, waiting for the hair and makeup artists to arrive and begin the transformation. What they didn't know was that the old friend had cancelled them. The panic was terrible...they were having to peer at YouTube videos to learn how to curl hair into ringlets using straighteners. Luckily my friend is good with makeup, but they had a fraught time getting everyone ready.

Needless to say, the old friend is no longer any kind of friend at all. But, being a writer endlessly in need of ideas, I asked if I could use the story in my new book. (I know, I have no shame!) And luckily my friend was delighted to let me do it. In the story, though, my characters have NO CLUE how to do their own hair or apply make-up. And there's another reason entirely why my fictional hair and makeup artist doesn't turn up...

Creating the cast of characters is more of an organic process, like a gradually expanding cobweb. The main character has to have family...and friends...and work colleagues...and so do each of those people too. It's hard to limit the number of characters in my books - there always seems to be room for more. But I love choosing names and personalities for them. I'm in charge of everything! It's like being God! After twenty five books, I really wish I had compiled some kind of chart or database of names used, as I have a dreadful memory and it's incredibly difficult to keep track and remember if I've used a name before. Surnames are even trickier, because people who enjoy my books might spot that two entirely different characters from different books share a surname...they'll then write and ask me why, and try to work out if they're related to each other in some way!

Finally, choosing personalities for my characters is something I've never had to worry about - that's the magical bit for me. As soon as I create them, I know everything about them and they spring to life. I might not have any clue what they look like - I have to keep a cheat-sheet for that aspect - but I instantly know their personalities inside out.

Thanks so much for letting me witter on, and I do hope you'll enjoy reading A Walk in the Park. When I wasn't struggling with the tricky parts I absolutely loved writing it!


Jill xx


No one could have planned for this...

Lara Carson left her family and boyfriend Flynn eighteen years ago without a word to anyone. Why has no one heard from her since? Does it mean anything that she's suddenly reappeared in Bath just in time for her ex–best friend Evie's wedding? And what about Flynn? Even the most eagle–eyed observer can't tell whether he's happy to see her, or just stunned.

While secrets pile up on secrets, and the gossip mill wings into high gear, the brand–new life Lara's searching for becomes ever more elusive. There's a lot of catching up for everyone to do, and Lara's return is going to be anything but a walk in the park.

Praise for Jill Mansell:

“Bestselling Brit Mansell delivers a romantic and lighthearted story about a woman's struggle to overcome grief—and the quirky people who help her along the way… Enjoy feeling warm and fuzzy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Mansell crafts a lovely story with multiple plotlines, characters and love interests.”—USA Today

“A master storyteller who creates characters with unique personalities that captivate the reader’s imagination and heart.”—Long and Short Reviews

“Exquisitely told... Compelling. The book was irresistible.” —Fresh Fiction


A New York Times, USA Today and international bestseller, Jill Mansell has written over 20 funny, romantic novels, and has sold millions of books around the world. Jill lives with her family in Bristol, England. For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter: @JillMansell.

Giveaway Details

Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell.
If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this great Guest Blog.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday November 16, 2012.

Please make sure to check the fourth week of November to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner but lately I have been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.
Good luck!


  1. This book sounds like one I'd enjoy, due to the subject matter and the characters! Please enter me in this great giveaway. I'll post it in my blog's sidebar.


    Thank you, Laura!

  2. I would like to thank you for such a fantastic blog post, that was so interesting to read. Jill Mansell's book 'a walk in the park' sounds like a brilliant read, as well as also being of a genre that i love.
    What facinated and intregued me most was finding out about the author behind the work, and what inspired her to write the story. It sounds just so origonal and which makes me want to find out about the heroine of her romantic tale.

    Thank you so much for this unmissable oportunity and i shall add this book to my to-read list! x

    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

  3. Books about secrets are always good.

    littleone AT shaw Dot Ca

  4. This novel sounds compelling. The story and the characters are fascinating. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. An intriguing story. Jill Mansell's fiction is appealing and unique. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. I want to know the secret of why Lara left.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  7. Who wouldn't want to know why Lara left everyone behind and why she has suddenly shown up again? Also, I love learning how a story came about and what influences affect an author's decision about what to write about. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  8. I'm intrigued with Lara's story and wonder at her secrets. I really enjoy British fiction and Jill Mansell is a new author for me. I appreciate the chance to read it.


  9. I have yet to read a book by this author so it would be wonderful to win, thanks!


  10. It looks like an interesting story since I would like to know what caused the character to disappear.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  11. This sounds great. I haven't read anything by Jill Mansell yet and would enjoy the opportunity to correct that!

    undermyappletree at gmail dot com