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22 April 2014

Blog Tour: 'Follow Me Home' by Cathy Woodman (2014)

Today I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Cathy Woodman's upcoming release 'Follow Me Home.' Be sure to get your own copy of the novel as soon as it is released on the 24th of April! :)

Zara loves her job as a community midwife caring for pregnant mums and their babies, but her great regret is that she will never be able to have a child of her own. So when she discovers that her ex-husband's new girlfriend is pregnant she is devastated. 

But life must go on, and one day on her rounds she rescues an abandoned puppy. Unable to give him up, she decides to keep him. But though Zara has plenty of love to give, she has no idea how to train a dog, and when he gets expelled from dog training classes she is at the end of her tether. 

Until she meets young shepherd Lewis who offers to help her with her naughty dog. It's a perfect solution and Lewis is brilliant with the puppy, and, if she's honest, with Zara herself. But she can't help worrying that the age difference between them can only lead to heartbreak.

Several weeks ago I received an e-mail about Cathy Woodman’s exclusive short story ‘The Three of Us’, which provided readers with a chance to be introduced to village midwife Zara, the main character of Cathy’s upcoming release, ‘Follow Me Home’ (released on the 24th of April). I immediately loved the sound of both the short story and the novel, even though I wasn’t familiar with Cathy Woodman’s earlier works. Thanks to the lovely Philippa at Century, I not only received a review copy but also got the chance to be a part of the blog tour for ‘Follow me Home’, which includes an author interview with Cathy Woodman, be sure to check it out! 

Zara works as a midwife in the small and lovely village of Talyton St. George. She loves her job, but is still struggling with the fact that she can’t have children of her own, which also caused the break-up between her and her husband. One day, Zara finds an abandoned puppy on the side of the road and even though she has always been scared of dogs, she decides to keep him. However, training a dog turns out to be slightly more difficult than Zara originally expected, and she needs to find someone who can help her. Thankfully, local shepherd Lewis is great with dogs and offers to help Zara out. Zara is thrilled, also because Lewis is quite handsome and seems to not only have eyes for the puppy but for its owner as well...

‘Follow Me Home’ is the eighth part of Cathy Woodman’s ‘Talyton St. George’ series, which started with the best-seller ‘Trust Me, I’m a Vet.’ I hadn’t read any of Cathy’s other novels before starting this new release, but this wasn’t a problem at all. The author provides the reader with enough background information, and I immediately felt myself falling in love with the fictional village of Talyton St. George and its inhabitants. Zara is a great main character; I easily warmed to her and wanted her to find happiness. Yet, the novel is packed with wonderful characters (such as handsome shepherd Lewis and Zara’s endearing grandmother) and I loved reading about all of them and discovering more about their lives.  

Cathy Woodman’s writing style has a great and comfortable pace and the wonderful detailed descriptions made it very easy to jump into the story, making it almost feel like I was an inhabitant of Talyton St. George myself, experiencing it all up close. I’m so glad I received a review copy of this novel, because it led to me discovering this new series and I honestly can’t wait to pick up the previous parts to read more about Talyton St. George and its inhabitants. ‘Follow Me Home’ is a delightfully warm, charming and captivating story with a brilliant setting; a real treat to read!
For more information about this book: / Goodreads 
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview with Cathy Woodman

Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘Follow Me Home’?
‘Follow Me Home’ is the eighth book that I’ve set in the fictional market town of Talyton St George in Devon. In this novel, I tell the story of Zara, the midwife, and the new mums and babies she cares for. I loved writing about the new characters and revisiting some from previous books in the series, and there are plenty of animals that feature in the story, including a pair of sheepdogs and some cute newborn lambs.      
Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Follow Me Home’? Is it in any way based on your own personal experiences?
When I started writing ‘Follow Me Home’, I wondered how it would feel for a midwife to deliver babies every day, knowing that she’s unlikely ever to have children herself, especially when her sister has no trouble conceiving. I’ve experienced the ups and downs of fertility investigations and treatment myself so I know how painful it is to have to face up to the fact that you might never have a baby, and I also know how lucky I am to have children now.
‘Follow Me Home’ is one of several novels set in the same village, Talyton St. George. How did you get the idea for this series of books?
My parents moved to Devon when I was four years old and we stayed there until I went off to university to train to be a vet, so it feels like home to me. I wanted to share my love of the countryside with my readers, the friendly people, the green hills, the coast and moorland, the cider and, of course, the cream teas, and so Talyton St George was born. It’s a fictional market town, but it is very loosely based on the real town of Ottery St Mary. 
What about the protagonist of the novel, Zara. Can you tell us a bit more about her and how she became your main character? 
When I settled on Zara as the protagonist in ‘Follow Me Home’, I wanted someone who played a key part in the community of Talyton St George and who had come to a point of change in their life. With Zara being a midwife and recently divorced, she fitted the bill perfectly. 
I think many of us can identify with her. She is caring and kind, but sometimes takes on too much, for example, taking responsibility for her grandmother who is growing confused. Trying to juggle too many balls can get her into trouble, yet she remains optimistic that everything will turn out well in the end. 
There’s a great mix of support characters in the novel. Which character did you most enjoy writing about and why?
That is a hard question to answer!  When I was writing ‘Follow Me Home’, I realised that every family Zara comes into contact with is different and each has their own tale to tell, and I particularly enjoyed writing about Tessa and Jack who met in ‘The Village Vet’. In fact, I’ve continued their story to show what happened after their baby was born in the novella, ‘The Three of Us’.
I loved writing about Zara’s grandmother too, a strong and capable character who runs the newsagent’s shop very successfully until she begins to get into a muddle as her health declines.    
Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I’m working on some short stories and I’ve already started writing the next book in the Talyton St George series which has a veterinary theme. 
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
The most important advice I’d give to aspiring writers is, ‘Never give up.’
I’ve always loved animals and books, and making up stories, but it wasn’t until after my children arrived that I gave up working full-time as a vet and joined a creative writing group. I sent short stories and novels to agents and publishers, but I received rejection after rejection. I was close to giving up when I had a lucky break, being joint winner of the Harry Bowling First Novel Award through which I met my amazing agent, Laura. 
Persistence definitely pays, and you need a thick skin to cope with the rejections. I looked on them as constructive criticism. If an agent or publisher didn’t like my writing, then my readers wouldn’t like it either.  
What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of ‘After the Honeymoon’ by Janey Fraser which is published by Arrow in May. I loved it!
Which book could you not live without?
There are so many books to choose from, but the one I pick up most often is the Jane Austen classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’.  Mr Darcy is the perfect hero and I love the supporting characters, such as the fawning Mr Collins and superior Lady Catherine.     
And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Follow Me Home’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
‘Romance’ and ‘special deliveries’.
Thanks so much for your time, Cathy!
Be sure to pick up your own copy of 'Follow Me Home' from the 24th of April! 

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