Thursday, 30 April 2015

Blog Tour! The Inspiration behind Wendy Holden's Wild and Free

Today I'm hopping on the BookBridgr blog tour with Wendy Holden! Read on to find out more about Wendy's new novel and the inspiration behind it!


The bit on the back...

Wild & Free is the festival du jour. Everyone piles through its gates - and Cupid lies in wait to sprinkle a little midsummer madness on them all.

Teacher Ginnie is desperate to forget her crush on headmaster Mark, and hopes glamping might do the trick. But Mark is also heading for Wild & Free to reform his college band ... desperate not to be seen by anyone he knows.  

Mark's bandmate James dreams of a festival blow-out with his son, Guy ... until his wife Victoria's ambition kills the dream. Now she and Guy are en route to Wild & Free instead but when Guy meets Shanna-Mae and falls for her earthy charms, Victoria is determined to snap Cupid's arrow.

Will the magic of the festival send them wild? Or set them free to find peace and love?

Wild and Free on Amazon


The inspiration behind Wild and Free...

My new novel, Wild and Free, is a comedy set at a summer festival. It was inspired by a weekend at one of those aristo-boho shabby-chic affairs that are set in the grounds of stately homes. The ones with pop-up spas and champagne bars and posh yurts in what I recently heard someone inadvertently calling the RIP area.
I’d gone to this festival to write a piece for a newspaper and never in a million years had I expected it to be as funny as it was. There was an ironic flower show where the entries were things like broken pieces of pipe with a few dead flowers sticking out. There was a disco – for dogs. There were champagne bars and cheese boutiques and foraging masterclasses where you paid hundreds of pounds to eat weeds. The festival’s high point was the wild swim on the Sunday morning where scores of scantily clad Hugos and Jemimas flung themselves into a muddy estuary with mosquitos as big as Messerschmitts. I watched it all with amazement and delight. I knew I had found the perfect subject.
Writing Wild and Free has been a delight. The thing about festivals is that they are now so mainstream. They attract people of all ages, so I’ve been able to include characters ranging from teenagers to septuagenarians. One of my favourites is a character called Lady Tamara Wilderbeest, a celebrity socialite who wanders around in a big-chief feather headdress, a bikini and Chanel wellies. I think she has legs, as it were, for several novels to come.
I’m very proud of Wild and Free and think it’s my best novel yet. Although I love all my books.
They’re all glamorous comedies with an upmarket spin – a sort of extended autobiography, reflecting my interests and situation at the time I’m writing. Bad Heir Day was about life as a castle chatelaine and drew on my many soggy summers on the Scottish West Coast. Pastures Nouveaux was about moving from London to the countryside, where I still live. The Wives of Bath was a comedy about motherhood, a competitive sport I’d had little idea about until I actually had children myself. Filthy Rich returned to the countryside and was about a group of village allotment-holders whose eco-idealism and sense of community hits the buffers after they find buried treasure under their broccoli. And I wrote Gallery Girl, about contemporary art, after I had dipped a toe into that crazy world of gold-sprayed shopping trolleys and heads made of frozen blood during my brief and shining moment as an art collector. You can see my own spoof contemporary art exhibition, done with my husband for the launch party, on my website, wendyholden.net. The novel before Wild and Free was a campus comedy, Gifted and Talented, which drew on some of my experiences at Cambridge.
My first novel, Simply Divine, was based on my experiences ghostwriting a newspaper column for Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. The Sunday Times’s initial idea was that Tara wrote the column herself and I merely edited it. But I soon ended up writing the whole thing. And while at first I was fed up about this, after the first phone call with Tara, in which she told me how her boyfriend’s helicopter had landed in her parents’ enormous garden and blown all the petals off her mother’s herbaceous borders, I realized I was on to something seriously good. 
Where to park your helicopter was only the first life lesson I learned from Tara. There were many others. Champagne, she believed, made your breath smell. Another maxim was that you should never eat canap├ęs because the ones dropped on the floor get put back on the trays. She had some invaluable advice about air travel. When booking, or getting your assistant to book, you should always bear in mind that in First you make Friends and in Club you make Comrades. But in Economy, you make Enemies.
Once I ‘became’ Tara, there was no stopping me. Simply Divine concerned the adventures of the lowly newspaper hack whose job it is to ghost the column of a celebrity socialite. But writing it was tricky given newspaper hours. And so, hanging up the Palmer-Tomkinson Jimmy Choos, I moved from the Sunday Times to be deputy editor of Tatler magazine.
Here I found more wonderful material. My assistant on the Tatler features desk grew up in an enormous stately home and had driven to her wedding in the ancestral coach complete with postilions and nodding ostrich plumes. But generally my new colleagues were a histrionic lot. They ate little but rice cakes and were constantly on edge, always rushing out in floods of tears to the loos, where they were prevented from using the facilities because the basins were full of flowers from admirers. One day the editor called me into her office and asked me if I knew the difference between upper- and lower-class legs. The upper-class leg, she said, extending a lanky lower limb, is thin and long and the knee joint is equidistant between the hipbone and ankle bones. While the lower-class leg is generally thicker and shorter, with a long thigh and a short calf. You can be sure that that particular pearl of wisdom went straight into my ever-growing book! 


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