This week I’m very pleased to announce it’s the turn of Zara Stoneley to share her Five on Friday with us. I met Zara through the group that was the fore runner of the current Cheshire Book Connections. At the time she had just written the third in her Tippermere Series, and has since gone from strength to strength with several best selling stand alone titles and The Little Village on the Green series.
Born in a small village in Staffordshire, I wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when I grew up. After many years, and many different jobs, my dream of writing a bestseller came true.
I write about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hope that my tales make you cry a little, laugh a lot, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.
I now live in a Cheshire village with my family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.
So over to Zara…
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Only 5? This is far too difficult! Okay then…
Puff the Magic Dragon – I still annoy my son by singing this now, but it was one of the first pieces I learned to play on my guitar and brings back happy memories. Me and Dad used to play together. (Chopsticks was, of course, the first tune I learned to play on the piano!)
Barcarolle from Tales from Hoffman (Offenbach) – this was the music used in a Baileys advert years ago. It took me ages to find out what it was (before the days of Google and YouTube!). It’s just a beautiful, haunting piece of music (and I still like Baileys), and I love that cat.
I Wanna be Free (The Monkees) – I loved the Monkees when I was younger, and this track suited my angst-filled teenage years. I’ve always been hugely independent and have needed to be with people who will give me the space I need to be ‘me’. I’ve softened at the edges (and the middle) now, but this track was like an anthem for a while!
Lady in Red (Chris de Burgh) – I’ve loved watching romcoms as long as I can remember, this was in ‘Working Girl’. I suppose as a romance writer it captures a lot of those feelings you’re trying to get down on the page. There are lots of other tracks from Working Girl, Pretty Woman and other romcoms that I love – but I’m only allowed a total of 5!
Krazy Krush (Ms Dynamite) – I love the beat, and haven’t we all had one or two in our lives?
This list is far too short, I’ve not had chance to cover my crazy student years, and more recent ‘dance in the kitchen’ tunes!
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
My dog Harry
Pens and notebook
Coffee – strong, black, essential.
Google – so that kind of implies I need a laptop or mobile, and internet – I think I might be cheating a bit here.
Fresh air – I need lots of what I like to call ‘blue sky space’.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself, trust your instincts and grab the opportunities you are offered. You will regret not doing things far more than you’ll regret trying and failing.
Life isn’t a one-way street, you’re allowed to U-turn, turn off, make a whole new road of your own. Just do ‘it’, you can always change direction later.
Sometimes you have to follow the crowd before you can follow your dreams – do a job that will give you income and independence, then you have the freedom to do whatever you want.
Don’t be afraid to ask. When I was younger, I hated admitted I didn’t know something, I suppose I saw it as a weakness.
Don’t try and please everybody all the time – it’s impossible. Aim to please the people you love, trust and believe in.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
David Essex was my first crush.
I have a computer science degree, started my working life as a computer programmer then worked my way up to consultant. I’m your girl if you want advice on IT testing and quality control (stop yawning).
I’m a company director.
I can do a mean poodle-cut (no, this is not a weird euphemism) I ran a dog-grooming business when my son was a baby.
I love water, but hate swimming, I’m one of those keep-your-head-above-water-breaststroke-ladies.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
Horse-riding in the Canadian Rockies. This has been on my list since I fell in love with horses when I was still at primary school.
A luxury cruise.
Driving a supercar round a race track (a Jaguar F-type would be perfect, but I’m not fussy!). I’m a bit of a speed junkie, and I love fast cars.
Sky-diving. I think it’s important to carry on challenging yourself, and the biggest challenge of all is to give up control.
Buying a motorhome – I’d love to explore more of Europe, and be able to take Harry my dog along as well. This would be perfect.
Thanks for sharing with us Zara, while David Essex wasn’t my first crush (I go back to The Monkees for mine) he was certainly on my wall as a teenager. Great advice for your younger self, I wonder how many of us would have actually taken it back then? Hope you get to achieve your bucket list – as per your advice hopefully you can ‘follow your dreams’.
No Once Cancels Christmas – published 19th October
It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.
The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!
With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….
But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.
With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…
One little white lie.
When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…
1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)
So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.
Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.
But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!
As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…
The Little Village on the Green Series
Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!
Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.
Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…
The Tippermere Series
You can follow Zara via
Love these posts Jill xx
Thanks Nicki x
That reference to Puff the Magic Dragon brought so many memories rushing in. Wonderful post thanks ladies.
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Thanks Linda, that song does take you back doesn’t it. On the rare occasions I’ve heard it more recently I remember every word!
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Umm the Monkees – loved them too! I think I was probably in a minority of girls who fancied Micky Donlenz rather than Davy Jones?!
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Davy all the way for me I’m afraid xx
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Thanks as always Nicki. x