Lizzie Chantree Interview Published on: 22, Aug 2019

What was your dream as a child? Did you always want to have your own business?

I wanted to have a creative career when I was a child. I really enjoyed writing and wrote lots of short stories. My first job was in a design agency, but I decided very quickly that I wanted to be self-employed and started my first business soon after that. I designed and sold products that I made, in to retail and wholesale businesses all over the world.

What inspired you to find your own company at the age of 18? What were the thoughts that came to your mind when you first considered starting your own business?

I was inspired by my parents who ran their own creative business. I had begun to design products that people were enquiring about buying and it made me consider setting up my first shop. I started with a market barrow in a shopping centre, then moved to a static shop unit and then onto having two shops and a wholesale business.

What is The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year about? What was your reaction when you became one in 2000?

Fair Play London and The Patent Office held a competition to encourage more women into design and innovation. There were some amazing products and I was lucky enough to selected as one of the winners in the innovation category for my product Runaway Spray, which is a ‘run' or ‘ladder' stop spray for hosiery. The publicity meant that my first customers were Superdrug and The Arcadia Group, which was beyond my wildest dreams at that stage.

How did you discover your love of writing fiction? What inspired you to start a writing career?

I have always loved writing, but my daughter was unwell for nine years and I decided to write my first book as a way to keep myself awake at night to listen to her breathing. It’s so hard to stay awake when you are sleep deprived. I wrote a book full of sunshine and happiness to try and bring some light into a very dark time in my life. My daughter is fine now, although she has serious allergies, but she proudly tells everyone that she helped me start this amazing new career.

How did you come up with the story of "If you love me, I’m yours"? What is most difficult about writing a romantic comedy?

My own parents have always supported me on all of the weird and wonderful schemes and ideas I have come up with. I have been on television and radio and invited to the houses of Parliament. All because of some creative ideas. I wondered what it would be like for a woman with big ideas, who didn’t have any support from her closest family. The story idea grew from that.

Who is your all-time favorite character from Babe Driven? What inspired you to write this character?

My favourite character in Babe Driven, is the main character Harriet. She is so shy and unassuming, but she is feisty and bites back! She was a joy to write and I absolutely love hearing from readers who relate to her. She doesn’t want to be in the limelight, but is thrust into it because of the success of her business.

What sort of significance does the title "Ninja School Mum" hold? How important do you think a book title and cover is?

It is so important, as it hopefully stands out. Many readers pick it up as they are intrigued. There is also a big twist at the end of this book, which readers seem to enjoy. This book was fun to write, as the main character is trying to hide everything about her personality and comes across as an obsessive compulsive lair. She’s trying to protect her son from her past and pretends to be something she’s not.

Of all the shows you've appeared on, which one was the most fun experience?

I have been so lucky to have appeared on quite a few, but I loved going on This Morning, with Richard and Judy. They asked me to write them a very short script for them to act out, about women inventing things and it was hilarious! They were brilliant and did it with ease. I was in total awe of the whole show and the production staff behind it. I really enjoyed Open House with Gloria Hunniford, The Big Breakfast and Sky News and The ITV lunchtime news too.

What are some mistakes you made when you first started writing your romances and how can other authors avoid them?

I felt very isolated at the start, but the writing community is huge! Find online book and writing groups and enjoy chatting to readers and writers. I wish I had done this earlier. I also turned down a book contract for Babe Driven, as my daughter wasn’t well enough for me to commit the time I felt a publisher deserved. I self-published my first three books by choice before submitting Ninja School Mum to three publishers. The first one I contacted offered me a contract, so I was very lucky.

What are some habits that are crucial to developing if you want to become a successful writer?

I work a lot of hours and try to fit in as much writing as I can. Writing a book involves marketing too and that can seep into your writing time. Chatting with readers is something I really enjoy doing and is good for building support. Networking with other writers. You can build writing teams and cross promote, which helps everyone.

How do you decide the names, appearance, characteristics, etc, of your characters?

The characters tell me!

What is your author dream? Do you have any other aspirations that aren't writing related?

My author dream is to have all my books as bestsellers, which I’m thrilled and amazed to say has happened so far. I dream about having my books made into films. As far as other aspirations, I work as a creative mentor and was one of the judges for the Shell LiveWire Grand Ideas award. I’d love to be involved in more competitions or networks to promote innovation. Seeing businesses thrive makes me very happy.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? When can they expect a new book?

I would like to say thank you for all of your continuing support. Without my wonderful readers, I wouldn’t be able to continue to write books. They inspire me all of the time and when I hear someone has enjoyed my stories, it literally makes my day. I have five books published and two that are in the editing and design phase. I’m not sure when they will be published as I don’t have a date from my publisher yet. I’m currently writing my 8th book about a woman who is not at all who she seems. She is a dog sitter who also works in a stationery cupboard. She makes me giggle every day and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to get up to next.

What is the toughest criticism you've ever received as an author and how did you take it? What about the best compliment you've ever received?

I try not to read harsh reviews as loving a book is so subjective, but it’s hard not to peek, or let it get you down. Luckily, most of my reviews are hugely positive and I adore my readers. It takes time and effort to post a positive review and share it with friends and family and I really appreciate the effort involved. I always say that giving an author a positive review for a book you’ve loved is like handing them a rainbow.

How did you first come across the AllAuthor website? What do you like or dislike about the site?

Another author friend recommended the site to me, but I had already heard of it and registered. It just gave me the nudge to try a full membership and I haven’t looked back since. I really like the interaction and the book banners and networking. There’s nothing at all that I dislike about it. I think it’s a great site that offers useful tools for authors. I’d definitely recommend it, in fact I have! Many times.

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