So today is the publication day for the final book in the fabulous Hedgehog Hollow series 'Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow' and so to celebrate this day I wanted to share with you my interview with the author herself - Jessica Redland.
I am currently reading this book and I am loving it, my review will be following soon, but until that point I want to get you all excited with this special content just for my readers!! So here is the interview. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about one of my favourite authors!
𝒯𝑒𝓁𝓁 𝓊𝓈 𝒶 𝒷𝒾𝓉 𝒶𝒷𝑜𝓊𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇𝓈𝑒𝓁𝒻
I live in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire Coast with my husband, our 15-year-old daughter and our sprocker spaniel, Ella. I’ve been a full-time author for two years now but worked in HR before that, predominantly in recruitment, training and coaching roles. I love teddy bears, lighthouses, stationery, hedgehogs and cake.
𝐻𝑜𝓌 𝓁𝑜𝓃𝑔 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒷𝑒𝑒𝓃 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔?
Nearly twenty years now although the first decade was very sporadic. I had the idea for my debut novel – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – in 2002 when I was at a bit of a crossroads in my life. The following year, I moved back to the north and took a career break to set up and run a specialist teddy bear shop. During quiet days in the shop, I learned my craft and began writing. It took a decade to write that book although that included huge gaps where I didn’t write at all, although I was always thinking about it.
𝒟𝑜 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒶 𝓅𝒶𝓇𝓉𝒾𝒸𝓊𝓁𝒶𝓇 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓅𝓇𝑜𝒸𝑒𝓈𝓈?
I write four books a year so at the time I’m celebrating the release of one, I’ll be writing another and thinking about the next two so my head is always full of characters and plots. A plot idea will usually brew for a while and I’ll know where that’s going to be set. I’ll also think about the characters who would fit the story and, once I’m ready to write it, I select a notepad and create a mindmap for those characters, covering everything from physical appearance to family to motivations. I keep adding to this as I write the story.
I typically just get on and write chronologically although I have taken different approaches when it feels right for the story e.g. writing the last few chapters on one book and writing all the chapters from one character’s perspective in another then filling in the gaps. I try to write without editing as I go although I will usually go back to the start on two or three occasions to get back into where the story is going and I edit at that point so that, by the time I get to the end, my manuscript is in pretty good shape.
𝐼 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓈𝑒𝓉𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒷𝑜𝑜𝓀𝓈 𝒾𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒶𝓇𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 𝒲𝒽𝒾𝓉𝓈𝒷𝑜𝓇𝑜𝓊𝑔𝒽 𝐵𝒶𝓎, 𝒲𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓌𝒶𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒾𝓃𝓈𝓅𝒾𝓇𝒶𝓉𝒾𝑜𝓃 𝒷𝑒𝒽𝒾𝓃𝒹 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈?
Thank you. When I started writing New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, I didn’t have a specific setting. All I knew was it was going to be northern as I’m from the north and had moved back here. Not long after I started writing, I met my husband and he lived in Scarborough. I’d visited the seaside town a couple of times when I was younger but didn’t remember it very well. After a couple of visits with my aspiring author head on, I knew I’d found the perfect setting for my books.
I wanted my setting to be fictional so that I could shape it to fit my stories and add or take away different settings without having criticism from those who knew the area. Although the main geography of two bays separated by a headland with a castle on it is the same as Scarborough, there are differences such as a river running below the headland which is inspired from Whitby up the coast. Robin Hood’s Bay between Scarborough and Whitby also provides inspiration and those three places blended are what gave the name Whitsborough Bay.
𝒲𝒽𝒾𝒸𝒽 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒸𝒽𝒶𝓇𝒶𝒸𝓉𝑒𝓇𝓈 𝒾𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒻𝒶𝓋𝑜𝓊𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓌𝒽𝓎?
My favourite isn’t actually one of my protagonists, although she is a main character. It’s Ruby in Making Wishes at Bay View. She’s in her mid-eighties and lives in Bay View Care Home where the protagonist, Callie, is a carer. As soon as Ruby arrived on the pages, I adored her. She’s had a colourful past and is great fun to be around. She frequently spars with another of the Bay View residents, Iris, and I love their conversations.
𝒲𝒽𝒾𝒸𝒽 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒷𝑜𝑜𝓀𝓈 𝒾𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒻𝒶𝓋𝑜𝓊𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓌𝒽𝓎?
This is such a difficult question, especially when there are seventeen of them! I love them all and different ones are special for different reasons e.g. my first one, the one with my favourite character in, my first Christmas book, the one that secured me my publishing deal with Boldwood Books and so on. If absolutely pushed, it’s maybe Coming Home to Seashell Cottage. This is the fourth (and final) book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series and tells Clare’s story. Readers meet her in book 2 – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – as she’s the heroine Sarah’s best friend from university. Clare’s spiky, distant and very closed about her past. It was a fascinating process for me to uncover her secrets and how these had shaped her behaviour in the present. I love Clare’s story. It’s full of twists and turns and it represented an important shift for me in the type of book I wanted to write. I’d set out to write romantic comedies but this was very much a move to women’s fiction.
𝒲𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓌𝒶𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒻𝒶𝓋𝑜𝓊𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒 𝒷𝑜𝑜𝓀 𝒶𝓈 𝒶 𝒸𝒽𝒾𝓁𝒹?
I was a massive Enid Blyton fan and particularly devoured the Faraway Tree series, Malory Towers and the Famous Five. I had every book in each of those series and read them so many times they fell apart. As an adult, I have replaced each set but haven’t read them yet – partly due to lack of time and partly a fear that the magic may not still be there so many decades later.
𝒲𝒶𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇𝑒 𝒶 𝓅𝒶𝓇𝓉𝒾𝒸𝓊𝓁𝒶𝓇 𝒶𝓊𝓉𝒽𝑜𝓇 𝓌𝒽𝑜 𝒾𝓃𝓈𝓅𝒾𝓇𝑒𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓉𝑜 𝒷𝑒𝒸𝑜𝓂𝑒 𝒶 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒𝓇?
A few. Initially Enid Blyton and then later Virginia Andrews (the Flowers in the Attic series) and Catherine Cookson introduced me to the concept of page-turners and how gripping a good story could be. Those authors made me a reader which ultimately made me a writer. Then in my twenties, a friend introduced me to Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell. I read a paperback from each while on holiday (Lucy Sullivan’s Getting Married and Millie’s Fling) and I absolutely loved this unfamiliar-to-me genre. I read all the backlists from both authors and, as soon as it was suggested to me that I should write a book, I knew this was the type of book I wanted to write.
𝒯𝑒𝓁𝓁 𝓂𝑒 𝒶𝒷𝑜𝓊𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓁𝒶𝓉𝑒𝓈𝓉 𝓇𝑒𝓁𝑒𝒶𝓈𝑒, 𝒞𝒽𝓇𝒾𝓈𝓉𝓂𝒶𝓈 𝑀𝒾𝓇𝒶𝒸𝓁𝑒𝓈 𝒶𝓉 𝐻𝑒𝒹𝑔𝑒𝒽𝑜𝑔 𝐻𝑜𝓁𝓁𝑜𝓌.
Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow is the sixth and final book in the Hedgehog Hollow series set in a fictional hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside. All the books are told from the perspective of the owner of Hedgehog Hollow, Samantha, but book two onwards also feature a guest narrator whose story runs alongside Samantha’s. That person is always a friend, relative or someone closely connected to the rescue centre. In this final book, the guest is Fizz who readers first met in the second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – when she brought in some rescue hoglets and stayed on as a volunteer.
I loved writing this book because, as well as bringing readers the final chapter in Samantha’s journey and finally telling Fizz’s story, it was about tying up loose ends for the rest of the cast of characters who’d grown across the series.
A lot of readers have expressed disappointment and sadness that the series is ending. It’s incredibly flattering that they’re so involved in the series that they never want it to end, but I never wanted to stay too long at the party and the time feels right for me to conclude things. Having said that, I plan to write a prequel book (probably in 2024) and there will be standalone books with connections to the rescue centre.
𝒜𝓇𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓀𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝑜𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝓎𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓃𝑒𝓌 𝒶𝓉 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓂𝑜𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉?
Yes. I’m in the middle of edits on my eighteenth book which will be out in January 2023. It’s called Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn and is a standalone book with strong connections to Hedgehog Hollow so it will please Hedgehog Hollow fans who want a bit more insight into what’s happening at the rescue centre (it’s set a year after Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow ends) but will work equally well for those who haven’t read the series.
I mentioned Fizz in my previous answer. Her brother Barney runs Bumblebee Barn so we get to see a lot more of Fizz. Like many of my books, it’s a dual perspective story where Barney is one of two narrators. I can’t say much more about it at the moment as I don’t have the final version written and things can change!
As soon as that’s complete, I’ll be moving onto the final book in The Starfish Café trilogy – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – which is out in early April 2023 (and already up for pre-order). Then it’s a brand new series set in the Lake District which I can’t wait to write. But don’t panic if you’re a Whitsborough Bay fan. There’s still plenty more to come from Whitsborough Bay and also other standalone books in the Yorkshire Wolds.
𝒲𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝒶𝒹𝓋𝒾𝒸𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝑔𝒾𝓋𝑒 𝒶𝓃 𝒶𝓈𝓅𝒾𝓇𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒶𝓊𝓉𝒽𝑜𝓇 𝓈𝓉𝒶𝓇𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝑜𝓊𝓉?
It’s a simple one: if you want to write, write. If there is a story burning inside you, begging to be told, then tell it and stop making excuses not to do so. For example:
I’ve got no time – Make time! Very few authors had the luxury of time when they wrote their debut novel. I’d written ten novels before I became a full-time author. Before then, I worked very long hours in a full-time job, did a Masters in Creative Writing, was a Brownie Owl and had a family. There’s always time!
I don’t know if I can write – Then study your craft. You don’t have to do a degree or Masters to be an author but you do need to learn your craft by reading how-to texts and by being a voracious reader, thinking about what makes a certain book a page-turner for you and why you might not gel so much with another.
I’m afraid of rejection – I’m afraid it comes with the territory for most authors. There are authors whose debut is picked up with their first submission but these are rare cases. Keep going. Not everyone will love what you write but all it takes is that one person who loves and believes in it. And if you go down the self-publishing route (something I did for several years after my original publisher ceased trading and before I got my deal with Boldwood Books) then you won’t experience this although my advice there is to seek the expertise of a professional editor and do take their valuable feedback on board.
𝒲𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝒹𝑜 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝑒𝓃𝒿𝑜𝓎 𝒹𝑜𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓌𝒽𝑒𝓃 𝓃𝑜𝓉 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔?
Good question! Not a lot. The tricky part about what I do is that my job is also my hobby and the thing I’d rather do than anything else so I do put in some ridiculously long hours writing! I enjoy reading but don’t do as much of that as I should as I always feel a bit guilty and as though I should be writing instead!
I love going on holiday and my favourite place to visit in this country is the Lake District. As I’m setting my next series there, it gives me a great excuse to go regularly. My husband and I are trying to get fitter so we can tackle Wainwright’s 214 (the 214 peaks/fells in the Lake District). We managed one of the smaller ones when we stayed over Easter so there are a whopping 213 to go!
𝒟𝑒𝓈𝒸𝓇𝒾𝒷𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝒻𝑒𝒸𝓉 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝒹𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓈𝓅𝑜𝓉, 𝓌𝒽𝑒𝓇𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒷𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓌𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓌𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒷𝑒 𝑒𝒶𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔/𝒹𝓇𝒾𝓃𝓀𝒾𝓃𝑔?
I would love to be in the Lake District, preferably overlooking Derwentwater, in a garden if the weather is lovely or in a cosy bay window reading nook or window seat if it’s raining. I’m not a big drinker so a hot chocolate would work well for me if I’m inside or a cold Ribena Light if outside. Cake would be most welcome. My needs are simple – a delicious slice of Victoria Sponge. Yummy!
Oh, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed Jessica. I have absolutely loved reading your answers! I too started with a love of Enid Blyton's books Famous Five and Mallory Towers, I have recently liberated the original Famous Five books from my mother in law and haven't dared read them again just in case they aren't as good!
I love the inspiration for Whitsborough Bay, now that I know it is loosely based on Scarborough I can see bits in my mind eye!
It has been so lovely learning more about you and your books - I am especially excited for your next two books they sound amazing, I love the Starfish Cafe series. I am now off to add the rest of the Whitsborough Bay books to my TBR as I haven't read them all yet!
Jessica Redland is a bestselling author of emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family, and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
The sixth book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – is out in most formats on 6th September 2022, but the audio version will be out on 20th September.
Link to author pages:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3tNQgh9
Amazon USA: https://amzn.to/3ne3zU9
Audible UK: https://adbl.co/3n8jOlK
Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3AuuDF8
Amazon USA: https://amzn.to/3Rd87aq
Audible UK: https://adbl.co/3e1ohFB
You can keep up to date with all things Jessica Redland using the following links!
Redland’s Readers (Facebook group exclusive for fans of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow): https://www.facebook.com/groups/409519133635791