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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Guest Post - Carole Matthews


Today I am lucky enough to have Carole Matthews join my blog. Tomorrow Carole publishes her latest fantastic book, Summer Daydreams, which is a great read and will be reviewed on my blog shortly. The main character, Nell McNamara, loves design and decides to set up a new business, designing and making handbags. Carole joins me now and talks about one of her passions ...........handbags!

What Came First: the Bag or the Book?



I knew something was amiss when I first moved in with my partner, Lovely Kev ,and his children, mouths gaping and wide-eyed with amazement, they stared at my three packing cases crammed with handbags and declared in the manner of discovering dinosaurs eggs in the living room, ‘Have you seen how many handbags, Carole’s got?’
                Er, yes. I do have a few. If there is such a thing, I’m a handbagaholic . Whilst in a rush to go out a few weeks ago, I asked Lovely Kev to bring my black clutch bag for me. He came in with a selection of five - all pretty much identical - and a raised disapproving eyebrow.
                It’s such a girl thing, but I do love handbags. A few years ago, there was a solitary present nestling under the Christmas tree with my name on it. It looked like a pairs of slippers. ‘Slippers are good,’ I muttered to myself through gritted teeth. On Christmas day I opened the present to find the most beautiful Lulu Guinness handbag. It’s slim and black and has a big, red bus on it filled with women wearing Jackie O suits. And this from a man who, like most men, just doesn’t get handbags.  Every time I use it, I get fabulous comments. It still ranks up there on my list of Best Presents Ever.
                When we first started going out I went to a friend’s handbag party. It was Lovely Kev’s Mum’s birthday. I called him. ‘Would your mum like a handbag for her birthday?’
                ‘Um...,’ he said. ‘I think she’s already got one.’
                Just doesn’t get it.
                But I do.
                So, imagine my delight when a few years ago now, Barbara Cartland’s resplendent face complete with blue eye shadow and false eyelashes popped up on my Facebook page and I found that the owner of the status photo wasn’t, in fact, a romance writer but a designer of the most gorgeous pop art handbags. I sent a glowing message of admiration and, Helen Rochfort, designer of the handbags of loveliness, sent me a note back. For some time we chatted back and forth, then my publisher thought it would be a brilliant idea to create a promotional handbag for The Chocolate Lovers’ Club and Helen was duly called on. Our friendship flourished.
                It was a few years later and, over an increasingly regular lunch, that Helen told me the story of how she’d become a handbag designer. It certainly wasn’t an easy ride for her! And, by the time, my second class of Chardonnay had been downed, I realised that I had a great book just staring me in the face.  She’s quite an amazing lady who juggles a successful business in a  highly competitive area with the demands of a home and family. I felt it was a story that a lot of women would find familiar these days.
                So we worked together on an outline for the book and the result is Summer Daydreams which is loosely based on Helen’s life and experiences. It features Nell McNamara and I think it’s a lovely, warm story of someone who’s prepared to step out of their comfort zone and really go for what they want. And what Nell wants is a better life for herself and her family. She throws caution to the wind and gives up her job in a chip shop and sets out to follow her dream. It was a fun story to write and I got to talk a lot about handbags too!
                Even better, Helen has been inspired by the lovely, sparkly cover of the book and there’ll be a Summer Daydreams handbag coming along soon! How many authors can say that they’ve had not one, but two handbags inspired by their books! 

Thank you Carole for joining me today. I too am a handbag fan and I would love to own my own Nell McNamara creation in my collection. 
Come back to my blog soon for my review of Summer Daydreams.

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