Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany's in 2011.
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My Favourite Part of Writing
It’s always the first 30,000 words that I love best. Yes, it’s daunting in those first few minutes (okay, hours) fingers poised above the keyboard, blank screen beaming back at me, knowing that I’ve got to start to pull a world together from, literally, thin air. But there’s a freedom in that too and I deliberately make things easy on myself by not putting too much pressure on the first lines. I can always go back and redraft it – and very often do – the most important thing is just to begin. I know when I sit down to write, what the crux of the story is, so I just close my eyes and ask myself: what do I see? I usually go with my instincts there; the story will have been prowling through my subconscious for several weeks before I start to write so it’s not quite as spontaneous as it might appear.
That first segment – roughly a third of the book - is all about building up the world the characters live in to something three-dimensional and real: it charts the make-up of their daily lives and jobs, their backgrounds, emotional histories, the fabric of their social lives and friendships… It’s about bringing colour and tone to their worlds before the plot takes over and it becomes more about pacing. I slow down a lot in that middle section and that’s probably the stage I dislike most in the writing process. It makes me antsy as there’s usually a false lull to span and it takes all my self-control to have to hold back and not race towards the finish line. As for the back third of the book, that’s a whole different level of angst. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book and not rewritten the last 100 pages three times. That’s where plot and characterization have to blend seamlessly, where pacing, tone and high emotion have to work hand-in-hand and by the time I get to that point, the opening chapters have what seems like an almost artless freedom by comparison.
In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.
Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.
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