It is a great pleasure for me to turn the tables on this young lady. The time and dedication she gives to authors and their books is amazing and I thought it was time to hear her story.
Sophie, the obvious question. You have reviewed hundreds of books on reviewedthebook.co.uk in less than three years, supporting authors with reviews, Q&A’s, guest posts etc, How did this happen and why?
In the summer holidays before I started University, I began reading a lot more and browsing various book blogs. I joined Goodreads and posted a few short reviews and in the end I just thought why not, and made my own blog. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d keep going more than a few months. I’d really not read an awful lot before I began blogging. But then I found the book community on Twitter, I met lots of lovely readers and authors on Twitter, discovered tons of book recommendations and completely fell in love with reading. It wasn’t until life became really tough that I realised how books have the ability to not only distract you from your problems but to inspire, motivate and make you feel something again. My reviews (the positive ones anyway) are my way of paying back to the authors a little bit of what their writing has done for me, and I hope they encourage readers to buy the books and see for themselves.
What grabs you most about a book?
I’m drawn to a cover first and foremost, so if the cover or title doesn’t get my attention, it’s less likely I’m going to turn it, read the synopsis and buy the book. But as for the content, I love a book that can hook me straight away. The first thing that needs to grab me is the main character. I want to know their voice and see their personality shine through very early on. Of course, I love a dreamy setting and a sweep-you-off-your-feet romance (or a thriller full of shocks and unpredictability) but whatever book I’m reading, whatever genre, it’s the characters that need to grab my interest and have me turning the pages.
Speaking of Characters – Of all the books you’ve read, which characters have remained with you? Hero, Heroine, Antagonist, Friend, Setting?
Great question! Hero – Jed from Mandy Baggot’s Made in Nashville. He’s not your typical hero but that made him all the more attractive. I think I fell in love with him. Heroine – Can I pick two? Grace from Carmel Harrington’s Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is a really special character – she’s strong, positive and brave in the face of adversity and a really inspiring character. More recently, my favourite heroine has been Jacks from Perfect Daughter written by Amanda Prowse. She’s also a really inspiring person but too down-to-earth a character to realise that, and I love those honest, genuine characters you’re allowed to really get to know and root for. Antagonist – This is a toughie. Probably Patrick from Death Sentence by Sheryl Browne. We get to hear from his perspective and he is vile – disgusting, creepy, unrelenting. But a brilliant character. Friend – I love books that revolve around a group of friends – The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond, Nicola Doherty’s Girls on Tour series, Jill Mansell’s Three Amazing Things About You, The Vintage Cinema Club by Jane Linfoot and The Time of our Lives by Jane Costello are some of my faves. But if I’m picking a supporting character then probably my namesake Sophie from your book The Vineyard and Midnight from Tilly Tennant’s Mishaps in Millrise series because both characters are really supportive but lots of fun too – the ideal friends. Setting – Ashford from Rebecca Raisin’s Gingerbread Café books is magical and my absolute favourite. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town with a café selling the most mouth-watering cakes, a set of lovely, friendly villagers and a dreamy bookshop on the corner?
With the many invites you have to book launches, what are among your most memorable moments?
- I still can’t believe I get invited to book launches, and my aim is for one day not to be the awkward one stood in the corner. I remember being at the launch for Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue series and spotting Julie Cohen somewhere in the mass of guests and being completely star-struck and shy until the bloggers I were with dragged her over to chat to me. I was the same when I met Katie Fforde at the Festival of Romance. Passing Katie her handbag was about all the excitement I could cope with that day. The blogger launch party for Helen Lederer’s Losing It was another memorable experience, mostly because she was quite drunk before we got there and disappeared half way through (though she did chat to us all first!). Really, all these events are memorable to me and through signings, launches, parties, afternoon tea and meet-ups, I’ve met almost all of my favourite authors, so I’m very lucky.
With all that you do, including your studies in sports journalism, how do you manage your time?
- With no sleep! In all honesty, time management is not something I’m good at, I just get up early and stay up very late to try and squeeze everything in. When I’m at Uni, most of my free time is spent in the library either reading, writing, prepping some blog posts or catching up on some of my sports journalism work so I can crack on with my blog when I’m home. Now I’m trying to get into the habit of writing daily too, my routine is to spend the first hour or two of my day writing, study during the day, blog during the evening and read on the commute, in my breaks and until about 3/4am at night. Weekends I relax, tweet and occasionally say hello to my family and then back to it Monday. It won’t last forever but it works for now.
If you could lunch with three authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Oh no, I’m useless at these questions, and a total nightmare of a dinner guest. I would just have to cop out and pick Amanda Jennings, Rowan Coleman and Carmel Harrington, one because I’ve already met them so I wouldn’t hide under the table (much) and two, because they’re writers of three of my favourite books so I could steal all their ideas and inspiration.
What inspires you?
There’s so many things I take inspiration from. As a person, my mum has been my biggest inspiration for making the most out of life. For being strong and being kind. As a writer, it’s a bit of a cliché but there’s always something to inspire me. Books, nature, music, daydreams, other people’s conversations… I’m a big people-watcher, so there’s always something!
Social networking is an essential tool for you and, part of what you do, which medium/portal do you enjoy the most?
Twitter because it’s quick and interactive. It’s the best place to connect with authors, bloggers and publicists, and those people you’d feel a bit creepy sending a friend request to on other social media sites. From a blogging perspective, most of my readers have found me via Twitter and it would be pretty pointless for me to blog without using Twitter too.Facebook is a bit more personal but I tend to, other than linking to blog posts, only use it when I have some news to share. I really don’t care for all the attention seeking and selfies. Shelfies, however…
Thrilled that you have now begun your own novel and have recently become a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Scheme – Can you tell us about your novel?
Of course. It’s a contemporary romance, set in the run up to Christmas. Kayla and Jay’s relationship is in a bit of an extended honeymoon period, where they’re blissfully happy and madly in love, looking forward to their first proper Christmas together. But life begins to get in the way. There’s family crisis, work crisis, secrets revealed and then tragedy strikes, and Kayla and Jay are hit with the strong possibility that their first Christmas together could also be their last .I’m hoping it’s one of those books that will have you smiling one minute and moved the next. It’s set in a fictional seaside town and I’ve very optimistically planned out the next two books in the series. We’ll see how it goes.
Your young and beautiful Mum, who died recently – what do you think she would say about your journey so far?
Mum was the biggest bookworm and so I know she’d love where things have taken me. She’d have been proud when I won the Romance Blogger of the Year award – in fact, I’m pretty sure she’d have told everyone she knew and turned me into a local celebrity. She’d already started stealing the books I was sent to review so I think my TBR would be much smaller, instead of the complete chaos it is now. Mum always wanted to write a book, if she’d been well enough, and so I think she’d persuade me to keep on going with mine, although I know she wouldn’t let me get away with writing a bad one! She’d probably tell me to stop writing such soppy romance and go chop some characters’ heads off or something, because crime and thrillers were her favourites. It was the way my mum spoke about the books she was reading that made me take an interest in books too, so I like to think she’d know she’s the inspiration behind where my life is taking me.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I try to not think too far ahead. But, nice house, two cats, working with a successful sports broadcaster, three books published, another book driving me mental, still reading, still blogging, still dreaming a bit too optimistically.
Just You – Just for fun:
- Summer or Winter – Summer
- Book or Kindle – Both! Kindle at a push
- Pepsi or Coca Cola – Pepsi
- Handbag or Rucksack – Handbag
- Foyles or Waterstones – Waterstones
- Skirt or Trousers – Trousers
- London or Bradford – Bradford, just
- Train or Bus – Train
Where can we read your reviews and amazing Bookblog or find you on social media:
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004910118967
Blog Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reviewedthebook
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SophieHedley1/posts
Thank you so much for taking time out to tell me more about yourself Sophie. You really are a shining star!