Today I’m delighted to feature best selling author Jessica Redland who writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Over to Jessica:
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ by Tiffany. This is such a classic piece of pop. Out in 1987 when I was still at senior school, it takes me right back to the 1980s (my absolute favourite era of music) and never fails to make me smile. I used to do a convincing impression of Tiffany – singing and dance moves – but don’t think I still could these days!
‘Mr Blue Sky’ by ELO. I was only 5 when this was released so I don’t remember it from then but I discovered ELO after watching Xanadu (starring Olivia Newton-John in 1980) because ELO recorded the soundtrack. There’s something about an ELO hit that lifts the spirits. This particular track plays an important part in Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow, out on 28th June
‘The One and Only’ by Chesney Hawkes. This came out during my first year at university and brings back so many happy memories of my university years. Like ‘Mr Blue Sky’, I don’t think it’s possible to feel down when this song is playing
‘I Knew I Loved You’ by Savage Garden. My husband and I chose this as our first song for our wedding. He doesn’t dance and he doesn’t like being the centre of attention so it was a big thing for him to get on the dance floor with me, even if that was just for an uncoordinated shuffle. I think Savage Garden were amazing and, more than two decades after their two albums were released, I still listen to them regularly
‘Un Love Me’ by Leona Lewis. This is a track from her 2012 Glassheart album about wanting her boyfriend to ‘un love’ her and let her go because she knows the relationship is toxic but can’t let go of him herself. I was listening to the album in the car and got thinking about other scenarios where a woman might be struggling to let go of someone. This became the premise of The Secret to Happiness – exploring whether three women who are struggling to say goodbye to someone or something on their own can do so using the power of friendship. This book secured me my publishing deal with Boldwood Books which completely changed my life
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Books/my Kindle – we all need escapism and, even though I struggle for time to read around my writing, I love reading
My laptop – so I can write my books. Writing is such a part of me that I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I couldn’t write. I feel twitchy if I have more than a few days away from it!
Teddy bears – I collect them and they make me so happy
Cake – I love a bit of cake although it’s a very one-sided relationship!
Cuddles – the darkest moments feel so much better with a hug
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
You’re not fat. If I’d realised I wasn’t fat when I was a size 12-14 at school and bullied for being overweight, I don’t think I’d have the food demons and weight issues I have now
Keep going with those piano lessons. Being able to play a musical instrument is such a gift. I actually started re-learning a few years ago and am back to the same grade standard where I finished (grade 5) but I get very frustrated with myself for not being able to play anything without lots of bum notes
Chat more to your grandparents because, when you’re older and they’re gone, you’ll wish you’d found out more about their lives
Don’t fret about all the relationship disasters. You’ll find love and happiness eventually
Unfortunately the bullying won’t end when you leave school. You’ll experience it in the workplace too, several times over and for different reasons. Stay strong and know that it’s about them and not you. You’ll secure a dream job as an author and can channel those negative experiences into your stories. And, if you ever write a crime novel, you can kill them off!
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
Most people know that I’m an arctophile (collector/lover or teddy bears) but what they may not know is I can’t get to sleep if I don’t have my teddy bear in bed with me. Yes, I’m 50 and I still sleep with a bear. I strongly advocate it as it’s so comforting
We have a dog – a gorgeous 6-year-old sprocker spaniel called Ella – but I’m actually scared of dogs!
I’m a big crier. Everything makes me sob, even when it’s not meant to be sad – adverts, the news, films, people being nice to me, a beautiful view… the list goes on. I suspect that’s why I write emotional stories although I cry bucketloads while writing them
I worry about running out of everyday products like toothpaste, shampoo, liquid soap and loo roll so I always have spares and get twitchy when stocks get low. (Will just clarify that I didn’t do any pandemic stock-piling before anyone thinks I was one of the ones who emptied the shelves of loo roll and soap!)
On holiday in New Zealand in my twenties, I did a bungee jump over a river. I said I was happy to touch the water but they completely dunked me. My soaked baggy T-shirt rode over my head, revealing my bra to all the onlookers
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
UK Kindle Top 10 – I’ve made it as high as #14 so far in the overall UK Kindle chart and have had top 10 in Canada and Australia, but it would mean so much to have a UK top 10. Actually, a #1 in any country would be the ultimate goal but I honestly don’t think that will happen so I’m being realistic here
TV/Film – I’m sure most authors would say this but it would be an absolute dream to see my books made into a TV series and/or film. Anyone got any contacts at Netflix?
Overcome imposter syndrome – I worry so much about whether readers will love my next book because the dreaded imposter syndrome keeps telling me that my next release will be the one where they discover I can’t really write and it’s all been a fluke so far. I wrote a series of blog posts about this in September 2000 when my career took off and I found myself struggling to enjoy that success. It helped so much identifying why I had it, how it manifested, and how I could cope with it so it has improved … but still rears its ugly head from time to time
Lose weight – I’ve struggled with my weight since I was ten. I don’t like being the size I am but I’ve accepted it as I’ve got older. I don’t have the time or inclination to put in the planning and effort so I’m after a magic pill that will make it all disappear overnight. Anyone invented one yet?!
Get the house in order – We’re terrible for starting DIY projects and not finishing them, or having boxes full of stuff to sort through. We’ve lived in our house for twelve years and it still looks like we’ve just moved in!
Thanks so much for joining me today Jessica, and especially for giving me the excuse to play Savage Garden. I am another big fan and was distraught when they split up. You’re advice to yourself sounds heartfelt but look how far you’ve moved from that – you now have the job you dreamed of. Ignore that Imposter Syndrome too, you make thousands of readers very happy and that is something to be proud of. I can understand your fear of running out of essentials as I’m the same. My OH has a habit of using the last of something, saying nothing then asking when he needs it again – have we got any more …? Your description of having boxes full of stuff reminds me that we boxed up china, glasses, books etc when we tried to sell the house back in 2015/6. As these boxes have never been unpacked when we didn’t sell suggests we don’t actually need any of that stuff. I suspect what really happened is we just filled the spaces with more stuff – nature hates a vacuum so they say!
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
Hedgehog Hollow series
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (Book 1)
Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?
As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.
But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.
Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.
Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (Book 2)
With new arrivals comes new responsibilities…
The sun is shining, wild flowers are blooming and Hedgehog Hollow is officially open for business.
For Samantha, the proud owner of this beautiful rescue centre, life has never been busier. But with an influx of new hogs and hoglets to take care of, not to mention a full-time job and ongoing family issues, can she accept the possibility that she has taken on more than she can handle?
Fortunately, she has the love of her life, Josh, by her side for support and encouragement. But Josh has his own family troubles to deal with. And soon he must decide if he’s ready to do the one thing he swore he’d never do – forgive his father.
For both Samantha and Josh it’s a season of change and for figuring out whether the past can ever truly be forgotten.
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow (Book 3)
It was always Samantha’s dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests – all with their own problems and secrets – looking to her for support.
When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm – swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James…
As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down…
A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow (Book 4)
It’s time for the wedding we’ve all been waiting for…
Life at Hedgehog Hollow is never dull, although Samantha hopes that the new year ahead will be a little less chaotic as she prepares to marry the love of her life, Josh. But disaster strikes when she checks the rescue centre’s bank account after the festive season and discovers it has been emptied. Who would do such a thing, and why? With the future of Hedgehog Hollow now in jeopardy, planning a wedding has lost its shine.
Phoebe is desperate to escape the shadow of her family, infamously known for their attacks on Samantha’s beloved rescue centre. Could the kindness of the Hedgehog Hollow team be the chance she needs for a fresh start, or will her family’s secrets continue to drag her back?
Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow (Book 5 – out in June)
Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she’s ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.
Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can’t face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she’s dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.
Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing…
Whitsborough Bay series
Making Wishes at Bay View (Book 1)
Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…
Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.
Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self.
But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?
This book was previously published as two novellas – Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish.
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (Book 2)
Sometimes love can bloom where you least expect it…
For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.
So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!
But, as she packs up her life in London, she isn’t prepared for the discovery of a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All of the predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven…
As she prepares for the biggest move of her life, Sarah can’t help but wonder if Seaside Blooms could be a new beginning for love too?
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is a new, revised and updated edition of a novel previously published as Searching For Steven.
Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3)
When it feels like everything is against you, sometimes you just need a little bit of hope…
Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However her husband, Gary, has other ideas…
Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.
So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?
Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?
This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary
Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4)
For Clare O’Connell, home is where the heart aches…
Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:
1. Don’t talk about Ireland
2. Don’t think about Ireland
3. Don’t go to Ireland
4. Don’t let anyone in
And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future is all that counts, isn’t it?
However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can’t always hide from it…
When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…
With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?
Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?
This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.
Christmas on Castle Street series
Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop (Book 1)
Sometimes you just need a little Christmas magic to make your wishes come true…
When master chocolatier, Charlee, takes the leap to move to the picturesque seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, she is determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and set up a chocolate shop.
Luckily, she finds the perfect location for Charlee’s Chocolates on beautiful Castle Street… Now she just has to refurbish it in time for Christmas!
With a useless boyfriend and countless DIY disasters, Charlee doesn’t know if she’ll make it in time. With no ‘traditional’ family to support her, she feels lost in her new surroundings and the secrets of the past are weighing her down.
But the warmth and festive spirit of the Whitsborough Bay community will surprise her, and when plumber, Matt, comes to the rescue, it might be that all of Charlee’s dreams could come true this Christmas, and she could learn what family really means…
Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop was originally released as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes (Book 2)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.
For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…
As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitsborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?
Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?
This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.
Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe (Book 3)
Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.
But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely.
With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.
But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was originally released as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.
Starfish Cafe series
Snowflakes Over the Starfish Cafe (Book 1)
Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
Two broken hearts.
Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…
An unexpected meeting.
Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…
The chance to love again.
Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…
Spring Tides at the Starfish Cafe (Book 2)
Welcome back to the Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
A new season…
As winter turns to spring, Hollie – owner of The Starfish Café – is feeling content as she settles into her new life with her loving boyfriend, Jake, and their adorable dog Pickle.
But when an unwelcome visitor threatens the future of her café, Hollie must stay strong to protect her family’s legacy…
A leap of faith…
Emerging from an unhappy relationship, Tori finds herself with nowhere to stay and nobody to talk to. The long-hidden secrets of her past weigh heavily on her until a chance encounter with Finley, struggling to come to terms with his own secrets, provides an opportunity to open up.
Can she find the strength to stop hiding from her past and face up to her family? Especially when that would mean letting her guard down and learning to trust again…
A fresh start…?
Little do Hollie and Tori know that their lives are about to collide at The Starfish Café and they may be able to help each other with a fresh start. After all, with good friends in your life, nothing is impossible…
All You Need is Love
Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.
Sam thinks he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?
This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up.
Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?
This book was previously published as Bear With Me.
The Secret to Happiness
Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…
Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.
Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through…
When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…