Thursday 28 November 2013

Twenty Questions with... Samantha Tonge

I am delighted to welcome Samantha Tonge onto my blog today, author of Doubting Abbey, released recently by Carina (Harlequin UK).

Perfect for anybody missing their fix of Downton Abbey, it's so exciting to see Doubting Abbey storming up the Amazon UK charts - #80 overall at time of posting - which means it's champagne instead of the usual hot beverage for today's round of twenty questions with a slightly festive twist in the run up to Christmas.

ACT ONE – all about you…

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. She has sold more than 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines, most of them to The People’s Friend. When not writing, she spends her time telling herself to go swimming and willing cakes to rise. Debut romantic comedy, Doubting Abbey, is out now from Carina UK Harlequin. 

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

It sounds corny, but I always knew I would write and was a voracious reader as a child – I just never got around to it until my youngest started school. Then the quest to become a published author became overwhelming!

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

No, I just go up to the spare room and tap away. Mornings are best. The only rituals I have are obsessively checking social media!

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing? Or perhaps one piece of advice that has stuck with you that you’d like to share?

I loved Enid Blyton as a child – she inspired me to read which, undoubtedly inspired me to write.

4) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I’ve attended Disney university, I was blonde all my life and became a brunette in my forties and I (apparently) speak French like a Belgian.

5) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

I’m not a luxury or a gadget person really – give me my family and cats and I’m happy! Although I do like my Kindle…

6) The festive season is looming large, do you have a particular Christmas tradition that you like to indulge in? Or how about New Year’s resolutions; will you be joining in the madness for 2014?

We defy convention and take all our decorations down on New Year’s Day! I adore Xmas ornaments but by then it’s nice to clear the clutter. Food-wise, not all of us like Xmas pud, so there is usually a choice of three – traditional, syrup sponge or chocolate. One year I accidentally served pudding with Hollandaise sauce on top instead of custard!

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?
Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke!
The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion.
So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.
Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…

7) Congratulations on your recent release of your debut novel Doubting Abbey; what was your inspiration for writing Gemma’s story?

The public’s fascination for Downton Abbey in turn fascinated me – it is such a different era, when personal problems had to be dealt with, within the social constraints of the day. I wondered what would happen if a thoroughly modern gal were thrown into such a scenario.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

No, it flowed – in fact one very large chunk, about 70,000 words, was written in about six weeks.

9) Did you have to a lot of research for Doubting Abbey?

Yes, so that I got the architectural detail of the stately home, Applebridge Hall just right. Also I needed to look into aristocratic titles and how, for example, one would address an earl’s son or wife.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
"I am a down-to-earth gentleman who will never, under any circumstances, resemble some sort of romantic hero like Mr Darcy. "
Lord Edwards says this and I feel he’s almost throwing down the gauntlet to the reader, not to see him like that.

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Doubting Abbey, to make us rush out and buy it?

It’s a fun read that will especially appeal to fans of Downton or reality TV! Pizza waitress Gemma must pass herself off as aristocrat Abbey to help run-down Applebridge Hall win reality show, Million Dollar Mansion. The question is, can she do this without blowing her cover or falling for uptight but gorgeous Lord Edward? She is impulsive and this often gets her into trouble – but loyal, determined Gemma has a good heart.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

I’ve had a really fun idea for a sequel to Doubting Abbey, but I can’t say any more!

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?


14) Digital books or print books?

Digital books

15) Tea or coffee?


16) Extrovert or introvert?


17) Facebook or Twitter?


18) The Snowman or A Muppet Christmas Carol?

The Snowman

19) Christmas pudding or Yule log?

Yule Log

20) Give or receive?


And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Samantha, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Samantha Tonge, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Facebook     Twitter     Website     Doubting Abbey

Buy it now…

If you're quick, you'll be able to snag a bargain!

Doubting Abbey is currently on a special promotion and you can pick it up for an absolute steal - the sale prices are in brackets but the offer must end soon...

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472073778
Release Date: 10 November 2013

Amazon UK / Amazon (sale price 65p / 99c)
Nook UK (sale price 59p)
Kobo (sale price 98p)
iTunes (sale price 99p)
Google Books (sale price £1)

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