In Conversation with Jane Harvey-Berrick

Interviews with people from the wonderful world of romance publishing

This series of interviews started because I’m fascinated by everything to do with our world. If you’re not ‘in it’, then it probably seems a little strange – or a lot strange. But being a writer means that I’m always interested in people’s lives, what makes them tick – so what better way than to talk to the people I know and work with.

And because I spent time asking them a ton of questions, I thought I’d better start this series by answering some of them myself…

I hope you enjoy them!

 

Interview with Jane Harvey-Berrick

Jane Harvey-Berrick is the author of the taboo romance The Education of Sebastian/The Education of Caroline, and possibly the luckiest woman in the world, because she also co-authors with model and former professional rugby-player, Stuart Reardon.

 

Q So, what’s Stuart Reardon really like?

Well, I’d say that ‘what you see is what you get’ because Stu is very straightforward, also very calm and even tempered. But there’s a lot more to his handsome face and cover-worthy body. He’s also smart, resourceful, thoughtful and kind. Yes, I think that’s the word I’d use to describe him, kind.

He’s very determined and hardworking, but he’s also stubborn LOL. If he doesn’t agree with something, he won’t lose his temper, but you won’t win that argument either.

He’s also very loyal and he’s become a good friend. I absolutely love him to bits.

 

Q When did you start to feel like a writer?

It wasn’t when I wrote my first book, or even my second or third, it was several years before I didn’t feel like a fraud when people asked me what I did for a living. Even now, in the tiny village where I live, most people don’t know what I do. They see me walking my little dog and drinking coffee at the beach café with my husband—they have no idea that I’m planning and plotting my next book. And that doesn’t bother me at all.

 

Q What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

There are so many rewarding parts—creating a universe of people from your mind; seeing that become a book; and getting messages from readers that the story has touch them in some way. That’s an incredible and humbling feeling.

 

Q What do you want to achieve?

To write, forever. I have the best job, despite the odd hours, the intensity, the aloneness. I wouldn’t say ‘lonely’ because my world is filled with hundreds of made-up people. But it’s a strange existence. I spend 95% of time alone, and then go to an event where it’s full on. It does lead for a rather split personality at times.

 

Q What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at a Gift Box event?

There have been many. One that always comes to mind is a reader who emailed me after she’d read The Education of Caroline. It’s set largely in Afghanistan, and US Marine Sebastian Hunter is in love with Caroline. He gets badly injured and it’s touch-and-go whether he’ll survive.

A reader wrote to me to say that Sebastian reminded her so much of her love, who was also a US Marine, but he never came home from Afghanistan.

I realized then that being a writer comes with a great responsibility to tell the truth within the framework of a fictional narrative. I don’t always get it right, but I take research very seriously.

On a lighter note, Brazilian readers give the best hugs. I’ve learned that there are two kinds of hugs: a British hug, which is friendly and nice, rather quick and gentle; and a Brazilian hug where your heart beats next to the person who’s hugging you. AmaZing!

Thank you for giving me that experience, Gift Box.

 

Q What is your philosophy in life?

Simple: be nice.

 

Q Describe yourself in three words.

Born to write.

 

Q How would your best friend describe you?

Ooh, ouch. Okay, um: driven, moody, loyal.

At least I hope they’d say that.

 

Q If you were an animal, what would you be?

My little dog Pip has a great life. But maybe a bird like a golden eagle, soaring over the mountains. No, wait! A dolphin, swimming through the world’s oceans.

 

Q Most likely to say…

I shared a room with author MS Fayes, and she very quickly picked up the word ‘bollocks!’. It’s a very British swear word. Yeah, sorry about that.

 

Q Least likely to say…

I don’t read books.

 

Q What is your favourite colour and why?

Yellow, because it’s cheerful.

 

Q When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

A good book and a hot chocolate.

 

Q What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?

Walking on the beach with Pip, then going for a coffee with my husband, then going home and writing a bestseller. Two out of three is pretty good, right?

 

Q Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?

Can I have snow on the beach?

 

Q Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?

Yes, definitely. We make things up for a living. It’s magical but weird when you think about it.

 

Q Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?

Yes! Stuuuu! It was fascinating and I loved it. We can’t wait to write together again soon. We’ve got soooo many books planned, we just don’t have the time.

I spend so much time alone, it was great to be part of a team again. He has my back – I know that without question.

There have been no cons. I’ve made a friend for life.

 

Q Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Giving my Oscar speech for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ or ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’. Failing that, right here, writing another book.

 

Q What message would you like to give to the people who read your books?

Thank you. Without you, there is no me.

 

In Conversation with Stuart Readon

 

Interview with Stu Reardon

©Jane Harvey-Berrick, 2019

Stuart Reardon is a rare figure in the world of romance novels—he’s a man, he’s a cover model, a fitness trainer, a photographer and videographer, and he’s reached the highest level of professional rugby it’s possible to achieve, having played for his country. So how do all those fascinating and diverse parts fit together?

Q Do you remember any books you read as a kid?
Pinocchio. Because it taught me never to tell lies—I didn’t want a big nose.

Q What books did you read to your son when he was young?
Bob the Builder was one, but mostly I made up stories for him. He used to love them, and I have a good imagination—some were based in reality, some fantasy.

Q What’s the book you most wish you’d written?
The Bible.
And now I have Jesus-hair…

Q When did you start to feel like a writer?
I still don’t. Maybe after a few more books, or a world tour, signing books in every capital city!

Q What has writing taught you?
Everyone has a story in them.
Or possibly … never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Q What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
Meeting my amazing my co-author Jane Harvey-Berrick. A class act.
And then all the great places we’ve visited and the fantastic people we’ve met.

Q What do you want to achieve?
In life? Hmm, interesting. I don’t know… does anyone know their purpose?
I’d like world peace, to end famine, and for everybody to live together in peace and harmony. [said like a beauty pageant contenstant]
No, seriously, my personal goals? To get to a place where I’m comfortable in life, financially, too: a simple life with Emma. She works a lot of hours.

Q What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at a Gift Box event?
When they write and say that the story resonated with them. One reader from Samoa had a brother who was a professional rugby player and he got injured. She said Undefeated reminded her of him, and it made her very emotional. I felt very proud then of what we’d written.
I’ve been to Brazil three times now and every time I enjoy it. Roberta and the girls at Gift Box have become friends. They really took a lot of time and showed us around Brazil. We’ve been to Roberta’s family home, too. By far the best people I’ve met in this business.

Q What is your philosophy in life?
Say yes more than no.

Q Describe yourself in three words.
Dy-na-mite.

Q How would your best friend describe you?
Crazy!
No, calm, collected … no wait … a good person. A crazy good person!

Q If you were an animal, what would you be?
A lion. An old, scarred, battle-hardened lion.

Q Most likely to say…
“Don’t be grumpy, Fran!”

Q Least likely to say…
The correct pronunciation of anything Portuguese when I’m in Brazil!

Q What makes you angry?
People who are mean.

Q What makes you swear? Because I’ve never heard you swear. Do you save it for when you’re with guy friends?
Sometimes. I don’t feel the need. It can be aggressive. If someone gets aggressive with me, I can get aggressive back, it’s a sign of anger.

Q In Brazil, you shared a hotel room with Franggy Yanes. What’s he like as a roommate?
He’s cool. A good guy. I’ve known him four or five years now, and on trips I always share with him, so it’s easy for me now.
He’s my brother from another mother.

Q What did you think the first time you met him?
I thought he was a cool guy, a bit hard to read. But then again, the first time we met, I don’t think he understood anything I said because of my accent!
It’s easy to get on with him. He’s a good person, he’s helped me.
Sometimes he needs time on his own, but I think that’s true of all of us.

Q Who spends longest getting ready?
Fran will say me! I’m always late! He says, “I’m not waiting for you anymore,” and walks out the room. But that’s because he always gets in the shower first.

Q Who’s the messiest/tidiest?
He’s not messy, and I’m not either. Although Emma would said I’m messy! We’re both really tidy but our girlfriends wouldn’t say the same.

Q You’re working on a photographic book project with Fran. What’s that been like? What have you learned?
It was really cool. Every time I’ve met him he’s taught me loads. How to shoot, how to use my camera properly, frame rate, shutter speed, the technical side. He helped me with editing and to set up my light room. How to correct things, composition—just a lot. Every time we meet, he teaches me more.

Q What is it about photography that you love?
The creative side: something that looks good, it’s timeless, the originality of it.

Q What is your favourite colour and why?
Black and white, probably black. I wear a lot of black—it makes my muscles look big [laughs].

Q When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
I listen to music or an audio book, see Emma. Usually, I can snap myself out of it. You have to put it in context—there are a lot people worse off than me. I’m pretty harsh on myself.

Q What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
Lying on a beach in an all-inclusive hotel!
Bora Bora or Mauritius, or in one of the wooden huts, relaxing and chilling for a week. Then I’d start taking pictures.
I don’t really take many holidays. That’s why the first week would just be about relaxing. If I’m photographing, I’m thinking about that—it’s nice just to recharge and enjoy somewhere with Emma.

Q You’ve probably already answered this, but mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?
I like mountains and snow, too, but that would be about climbing and skiing, whereas a beach is just relaxing.

Q Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?
Everybody has something they want to do, something they’re passionate about, but writers and photographers are always thinking about what they’re going to create next. Some people are creative with cooking—it’s what you’re interested in. People have different passions—that’s what drives you.

Q Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?
Pros: she’s great! And it’s less stress than writing a book by yourself.
Cons: I can’t think of any. Oh, wait! The other author always wants to be on the cover. [Stu laughs, Jane doesn’t]
There’s so much to writing, so much more than just the plot. The flow is really important, the highs and lows, the characters. There’s more than people know about, I think.

Q Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully still alive! With my family with Emma in a nice house, more freedom. Yeah, maybe near a beach or in the country—you can get both at the same time in England. I think I’d probably still be in England, although there was a time when I wanted to live in Spain, but there are lots of great places here in the UK.
I used to think that far ahead but I don’t really now.

Q What message would you like to give to the people who read your books?
Thank you for the support. I hope the books inspire you and that you enjoy them.

Q Looking back at everything that you’ve achieved, how does it make you feel?
I’m proud of the stuff I’ve done. I think I could have done better. I could have had a better rugby career but I got injured a lot. If I could change anything, it would be that.
I’ve definitely always tried my best.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If we all had that, we could all live perfect lives. I’m proud of what I’ve done but there’s more to do.
I had some good times playing for my home town, playing for my country. Not bad for a skinny kid from Bradford.

Q What’s next for you?
A famous YouTuber! No, an established photographer and videographer with YouTube as my platform. I don’t have a foolproof plan yet, but I’m going to try and make that happen. I don’t class myself as a photographer yet, but I will be able to soon.
And I’m going to climb every mountain in the UK this year. Because I want to be proud of what I created, and I’m making videos as I do it. This Christmas, I thought I’d create things that I want to do, that I can be proud of.
I’m cutting back on travelling this year—so I’ll climb every mountain instead. I’m going to try and do one or two a week.
The biggest ones in the Lake District and Scotland will be in the summer time.
And I’m writing a book called Gym Or Chocolate? It’s going to be a bestseller!

There’s so much going on under that easy-going smile and beautiful eyes. Don’t underestimate the enigmatic and charismatic Mr. Reardon.

Book Bash Does Brighton, November 2018

              

Poseurs!

 

Gergo’s first signing – and he meets a unicorn!

 

               

Gergo hard at work

 

Gergo Jonas, cover model for TICK TOCK

 

               

With Sheena Lumsden

 

Gergo and his lovely girlfriend, Vivien

 

 

 

Festival of New Romance, Paris, October 2018

Festival of New Romance, Paris, October 2018

Meeting readers and hard at work

 

             “You’re not the only one who can pose like a cover model”

At the Louvre with Stu and his gorgeous fiancee, Emma

Coming in 2018

In 2018, you can meet me at:

RARE 18 London: 23 February

The Gift Day: 10 June, Rio de Janeiro – see photos

RARE18 Rome: 23 June 2018 – see photos

Colleen Hoover’s Book Bonanza, Denver: 20-21 July 2018

New Festival Romance, Paris: 19-21 October 2018

Brighton Book Bash: 10 November 2018

Dublin – October 2017

I’d never been to Ireland before, and it was a flying visit in October, but I met so many lovely people at #Claddagh16. I certainly enjoyed ‘the creic’!

Stalking Angels

Meeting just a few of my reader group, the Stalking Angels: Mary, Jade, Selma, Rose and Sejla.

Rose

The wonderful Rose, who acted as my assistant and Girl Friday

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Edinburgh – October 2016

Edinburgh was buzzing this July with authors and readers galore for #RARE16!
It was so busy, I hardly had time to get my camera out, but here are just a few pix that I managed to snap.

Crystals’ 30th birthday

Crystal

Crystals’ 30th birthday coincided with the event. It was all a bit much for this gorgeous gal who’d flown in from Maimi. Aw, hugs, Crystal!

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