Welcome Joanna to my virtual café. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll build a real café on the edge of the creek where I can sit on the porch in warm weather and talk to fellow authors about books and writing. Right now, we are in the cold and rainy season here in eastern North Carolina. We rarely get snow so close to the ocean, but freezing rain can be worse. You are from Sussex, in the United Kingdom. How is the weather there in January?
Joanna: I love the idea of your Creekside cafe! Adorable! It’s very chilly here in Sussex. The trees are covered in frost. We can only go out for daily exercise at the moment, because we are in lockdown. Every afternoon people go for a walk in the park to meet friends and drink hot chocolate.
Sherri: Have you ever visited the United States? North Carolina? Well, if you ever travel to eastern North Carolina I suggest Bath and Beaufort during Pirate festivals, of course both are lovely especially in the spring. Fort Macon at Atlantic Beach is one of my favorite places, it always inspires stories and the Tryon Palace in New Bern as well as Union Point Park on the waterfront.
Joanna: Yes, I’ve been to California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New York, Yellowstone, New Orleans and the Deep South, Baltimore and Virginia, Cape Cod, Boston, Salem. I absolutely love America! Best country in the planet and I am frustrated not to be able to travel at the moment. I love driving through the States. It’s easy and smooth. People are welcoming. My aim is to drive through more of your wonderful country, but I’m not bothered about the grain states like Kansas!
Sherri: Visiting the UK is on my bucket list. Where would you suggest I visit?
Joanna: England is small and could fit into one of your smaller states so you could easily get round and see much of it in a fortnight – however the traffic is always heavy. We are a crowded country. If you come here, go to Penshurst in Kent. It’s near lots of stately homes like Chartwell where Churchill lived and exquisite gardens you can visit such as Wakehurst as well as castles to visit like Sissinghurst. Penshurst is a historic village with a stately home and beautiful beamed buildings and quaint old pubs with roaring fires and stunning views over farmland. It’s where I grew up, in a medieval manor house, built in 1280.
My parents ran a bed and breakfast here for years and welcomed many guests from the States. Some of them invited us to visit them – I went to Louisiana and Mississippi to stay with one family. My parents built a lake in the garden. (I attach a Victorian drawing of the house as it appeared in a book on Kent architecture) Beyond our field was the river Eden and hop fields and apple orchards. (Hops were used to make beer). My love for Penshurst was the inspiration for my latest book, Don’t Blame Me. Although I’ve used a fictitious name for the village, it is Penshurst.
Sherri: Tell us about Don’t Blame Me. How is it different than your other books? How is it similar? Is it part of a series? Tell us about your other books?
Joanna: Yes, Don’t Blame Me is a family drama inspired by the first lockdown, Spring 2020 and its impact on family life. It was also inspired by the death of my first baby in 1994. It contains my diaries from that difficult time in my life woven into a work of fiction. Readers will be very moved by the story and several readers have already told me it was incredibly sad and inspiring too in terms of overcoming grief. The character finds solace in the countryside around her, reflecting on the past and coming to terms with the fact that you cannot go back and change the past – you must move on. So, it’s about moving on.
Sherri: Your novel is fiction, but it is a family drama dealing with grief and loss. Is it based on true life?
Joanna: All of my characters are realistic and believable and loosely based on a mish mash of different people I’ve come across in my life.
Sherri: Have you always written? What started you on your writing career?
Joanna: The loss of my baby in 1994 started me on my writing journey. I wrote about it in diary form and put the diary in my attic. My first book was called The D Word and that is based on a very difficult relationship I had in 2008.
Sherri: What are the most relatable aspects of your characters? What was the most difficult part of their personalities to get right?
Joanna: It’s about a woman who returns to England from Australia when her father is dying. She moved to Australia 25 years ago when tragedy struck. Now she is forced to confront her past and the person who she blames for years of pain. It is part of a series, Sink or Sync but can be read as a standalone novel. It is more heartbreaking than my other novels although all my novels deal with family issues such as grief, divorce, addiction, teenage angst. My happiest novel is Holiday and Don’t Blame Me is the saddest novel!
Sherri: What was the most difficult scene to write? Which one was your favorite?
Joanna: Every scene is always hard. Even though you’ve experienced situations in life it’s always hard to put it across and make it believable. My favourite scene is an act of violence in Every Son’s Fear. I enjoyed making it shocking and dramatic.
Sherri: Do you have a favorite quote from one of your books?
Joanna: I can’t recall any one quote but The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish (which was The D Word but renamed) is littered with so many phases I absolutely love!
Sherri: How has your own life and career influenced your writing?
Joanna: My novels are totally influenced by my own life – my gambling boyfriend helped me with A Time To Reflect. My son got addicted to cannabis and his story is partly woven into Every Family Has One. Holiday is based on a family trip we did. Every Mother’s Fear and Every Father’s Fear were inspired by my thalidomide employer and the information for the novels gathered by my attendance at thalidomide events and meeting thalidomides. I wanted their story to be out there.
Sherri: As a multi-published author, what do you feel you have learned on your publishing journey? Are you traditionally published or an indie author, or are you a hybrid of both? What would you tell a new author as they prepare to publish their first book?
Joanna: I am self-published. My advice is not to be impulsive. Hold fire before publishing. Make sure it’s well edited. Make sure it is a great story. Don’t publish for the sake of it. There are far too many rubbish books out there already. Go on courses, talk to other authors, read David Gaughran’s books and other books about writing and publishing.
Sherri: Joanna, it has been great to have you here at my Creekside Café. I wish we could meet in person. I wish you good fortune with your books and in life. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.
Here is the link to Don’t Blame Me:
Joanna Warrington Funeral Celebrant & Author https://beautifulfuneralsussexkent.co.uk/
author website: https://joannawarringtonauthor-allthingsd.co.uk/
I am on Twitter as All Things D: https://twitter.com/Joanna942
I am on Facebook as Joanna Warrington Contemporary Women’s Fiction Writer: https://www.facebook.com/WriterJoannaWarrington
My Amazon.com page is: https://www.amazon.com/Joanna-Warrington/e/B00RH4XPI6?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000