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Friday, August 5, 2016

Reading in the Sun - Interview with Annie Lyons & Giveaway

About Annie Lyons

My writing career began in the mid-eighties when I penned the accurately named ‘My Holiday In Switzerland.’ It was fully illustrated but remains sadly unpublished.

At the age of eighteen I entered the Cosmopolitan Young Journalist’s competition fully expecting it to be the first step towards Pulitzer-winning glory. I can only imagine that the letter telling me I had won is still languishing in the corner of a Bristol sorting office. One thing I’ve learnt as a writer is that confidence is key.

My writing career endured something of a hiatus after leaving university as I chose rather selflessly to sell other people’s books firstly as a bookseller in a bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London and then during an eleven-year career in publishing. Following redundancy in 2009 I was thrown back into the world of stay-at-home motherhood. Realising that my brain was starting to fester like an old potato in the bottom of the vegetable tray, I enrolled on a creative writing course and started on my first novel. After a lot of writing, some wailing, more writing and a strict telling off by myself, I managed to produce Not Quite Perfect. It was at approximately 3.56pm on Friday 1 March 2013 when I got my publishing deal. The summer that followed was rather exciting because my little old book reached number 6 in the Kindle bestsellers. This summer it was published in paperback leading to many fun and educational family trips to Asda to view it on the shelves. I spoil my children.

My second novel, Dear Lizzie was published as an eBook in 2014 and I was ridiculously proud when it was nominated in the Best eBook category at the Festival of Romance. I even wore a dress and brushed my hair for the ceremony.

My third book, Life Or Something Like It was published in July 2015. It tells the story of Cat Nightingale, who is something of a reluctant heroine – she loves her job in PR and the five-star lifestyle it affords her. She is unapologetically single, child-free and blissfully happy. When a PR launch goes badly wrong, she is forced to take a step back from her job for a time. This coincides with her beloved brother needing someone to look after his children over the summer – enter Cat, PR Guru and childcare rookie. She assumes that her new role will be a breeze and she will return to her old life unscathed once the storm has passed. She has no idea that it will change her and her life forever.

My next book, The Other Silver Lining will be published in November 2016. I am as excited as my son after one Haribo too many for three main reasons:

Firstly, the book will be available as book an eBook and a paperback and despite what some authors tell you, it is lovely to have an actual real life book to sniff (try it, it’s heavenly).

Secondly, it’s the first in a series of three books set on Hope Street – a south-east London road loosely based on the area where I have lived for much of my life. It’s a celebration of the colourful, lively and friendly London community I call home.

Thirdly, The Other Silver Lining, features a wonderful community choir and I am a proud member of my local community choir. In this story, the two main characters – chaotic mother Natalie and PTA Tiger-mum, Caroline – form an unlikely friendship through singing with their choir, which Caroline starts in a bid to save their beloved Hope Street community hall from closure.

Think Calendar Girls meets Pitch Perfect and you’re on the right track.

I can’t wait to share this story with you later in the year and hope it makes you laugh, cry and sing with joy!


1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in a shambolic money-pit of a house in south-east London with my husband and two children plus a cat, who I pretend not to like. I enjoy writing about families, friendships, motherhood and the amusing things children say, that always teach you some truth about life. I have a weakness for Double Deckers and a penchant for a strong gin and tonic. I am not as organised as I would like to be. As a result I buy a lot of notebooks and post-it notes in a vain attempt to solve this problem.

2. What kind of books do you bring with you when you go on holiday?

All types of fiction – I love discovering new authors but always take along one by a trusted favourite, like Anne Tyler, Kate Atkinson or David Nicholls.

3. If you could spend a sunny day anywhere how would your perfect day look like?

We re-designed our back garden earlier this year and have become keen but rookie gardeners. I like to sit out on our patio, overlooking the garden (whilst ignoring the weeds) having a leisurely breakfast with time to do the crossword, then stay there with a book and a coffee, followed by lunch, more reading, leading beautifully into dinner, a cheeky glass or two of wine and more reading. Heaven.
4. Could you tell us about your hobbies (when you are not writing or reading)?

I have recently started playing tennis again after a twenty year gap and absolutely love it. After watching Wimbledon with a more critical eye this year, I was convinced that I could play like Roger Federer. It hasn’t gone exactly to plan…

I also joined a community choir last year and singing with this amazing group of people has been one of the best experiences of my life. Earlier this year, we sang at the opening of the new wing of the Tate Modern – it was a truly awe-inspiring.

5. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

Everywhere! I might overhear something in a coffee shop (my advice is to avoid me if you don’t want to end up in a book) or on a train and it will often end up as a piece of dialogue. Or I might see an interesting looking person and make up a story about them. Sometimes, I’ll read an article about something unusual and suddenly think, ‘that would make a good story.’ My children are a great source of inspiration too – they really do tell it like it is.

6. If you could be any leading character from a bestselling book, who would you be and why?

Lizzie Bennet – smart, funny, flawed and actually just very cool – I either want to be her or be best friends with her.

7. What's your favorite reading spot?

In bed when all the thinking and stuff of the day is done.

8. What is your favorite holiday destination and what do you like so much about it?

Southwold in Suffolk – it inspired the setting for Cat Nightingale’s story in ‘Life or Something Like It’ – it’s one of the few places in the world where I really switch off and become a fully functioning wife, mother and human being again!

9. Do you have any advice for authors who would like to write a sunny story?

Go to your favourite sunny place for inspiration, take a notebook, have a seat and let the ideas flow! Also Double Deckers help with the creative process but maybe change that to a Magnum on sunny days.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

My new book, ‘The Other Silver Lining,’ comes out on the 3rd November and will be the first of three books in the 'Hope Street' series, which are set on the same south-east London street. The inhabitants of Hope Street come from a mix of different backgrounds and cultures, and each story follows their struggles, joy and way that they support one another through everything that life throws at them.

The first book tells the story of two women - recently separated mother, Natalie and perfect PTA mum, Caroline. They form an unlikely friendship as Caroline persuades Natalie to help her start a community choir in a bid to save their beloved Hope Street hall from closure. Add in an array of colourful characters including star baker, Pamela, cheerful postie, Jim, delectable choirmaster, Guy and serene local shop owner, Doly and you have a story that's a little bit Calendar Girls with more than a dash of Pitch Perfect.

It's a book, which I hope will make readers laugh, cry and sing in the shower!

The Kindle version of Life or Something Like It has a 99p promo for the whole month of August.


Amazon USA Amazon UK

One very lucky reader will win a signed paperback of Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. My sister would enjoy this book to read and I like to get her some while she watches my kids when I work. Thanks for the chance!

  2. It looks great! Congrats on the book :)

  3. It sounds like a fantastic book, and I love the cover. Thanks for this chance.

  4. I Love Funny books Thanks for the chance to win

  5. I loved reading about her inspiration. I sometimes worry that someone will see how crazy I am, and will use me in a meme or something. Never thought about being inspiration for a novel just from being in a coffee shop.

  6. Your books look like my type of reads. Thanks for the chance x

  7. Loved how you described your reaction on winning the Cosmopolitan Young Journalist’s competition lolol

  8. i love the cover of "life or something like it"
    thank you for sharing so much about you with us ( i do tend to react teh same way to my cat^^)

  9. You should totally publish ‘My Holiday In Switzerland’ as I love reading about traveling :)

  10. Whoa! The cover alone would tell that it's worth the read. Thank you for sharing your works, Annie!

  11. Interesting interview! I wouldn't mind reading about Switzerland. It sounds fun.

  12. Loved the interview! Seems a beautiful read

  13. Great interview. Can't wait to read your work!

  14. The book cover is so cute - I wonder how much of a say did you have in its design?

  15. Sounds like a fun story :) Would love to read it!

  16. Sunny greetings from Scotland - not much sunshine unfortunately but lots of good cheer! :)

  17. It would be terrific to win a signed paperback
    of Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons.
    I enjoyed reading your interview.
    This sounds like an interesting book.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.