Today I’m delighted to welcome number one bestselling author Claudia Carroll to One More Page to celebrate the ebook release of her new novel, Love Me Or Leave Me. Claudia was born in Dublin, where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and television actress. For fourteen years, she appeared in Fair City, (Ireland’s answer to Eastenders) playing a character she likes to describe as ‘the horrible old cow that everyone loves to hate.’ She is now a full time writer. Welcome Claudia!
Of course! Just to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for the story first though; I stumbled on an article about a hotelier in the Netherlands who happened to be going through a divorce. He was stunned at how long and dragged out the whole process was and thought, hang on, you could actually agree a divorce settlement in a weekend, that’s all it should take and no longer. So – and this is a true story, by the way – he opened up the world’s first divorce hotel and it took off from day one. The idea is you check in married and check out single…..so of course, when I read that, I was instantly hooked!
My imagination started to run away with me and I fell to thinking about all the disastrous weddings I’ve been to over the years – and you’d be surprised at how many of them there have been. Then I started imagining the different types of couples who would all stay at a hotel like this and what their marriages would actually be like.
So LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is essentially a romantic comedy about life on the other side of the altar rails. What happens when three very different brides from three very different walks of life, finally take off the Vera Wang wedding dress, and realise that happy ever after isn’t all its cracked up to be?
Well of course, a divorce hotel seems like the answer to their collective prayers. Why not come to a calm place of tranquil reflection and work out all the nitty gritty finer details of your separation and divorce there, over a single weekend? And even better; all taken care of with room service, cocktails and maybe a little harmless lookout for husband no. 2 on the side? As Chloe Townsend, the hotel’s general manager can tell you, divorce can actually be painless and fast. And she of all people knows exactly what’s she’s talking about; after all, she’s living breathing proof that even after the most devastating of breakups, there’s still hope, even after all that hopelessness.
First we’ve got Dawn and Kirk, both mid twenties and who look too young to even have got married in the first place, let alone be on the brink of divorce. Then there’s Jo and Dave, late thirties and barely able to be in the same room as each other, never mind discuss legal and real estate matters amicably. Biggest mystery of all though, has to be Jenny and Andrew, early fifties and still so obviously mad about each other. No one can understand what could possibly have driven such a devoted couple to the point of breaking up?
And so over the course of probably the most intense weekend of these couples’ lives and amid all the mayhem, mishaps and mis-matches, we discover exactly what lies beneath the surface of each once-happy romance. And more importantly, just how will each love story play out in the last and final reel.
If leading lady and hotel manager Chloe Townsend was on Twitter, what would her bio say?
Hmm. Interesting question. I think probably something like, ‘@ChloeTownsend. Fixer. Go-to person. Dependable rock of sanity, discretion 100% guaranteed.
The novel focuses on three very different couples and their stories; did you have a favourite couple to write?
Oh God, that’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. Impossible, but I will say this; I loved, loved, loved writing Chloe in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. She’s had her heart smashed and been publicly humiliated in the worst way imaginable, yet still manages to keep hope alive that ‘The One’ is out there for her.
My ideal hotel? Well, I’ll give you a laugh. Years ago a few pals were all going to Mexico on what the travel agent told us was an ‘all inclusive’ package. Now this was a new concept at the time, one that none of us had ever come across before. And we were genuinely stumped. All-inclusive? What did that mean? Food covered but not drinks? Or the other way around?
So off we tropped, all buffed and spay-tanned, to the Moon Palace hotel in Cancun. And Oh. My. Actual. God. Turned out all-inclusive mean just that…absolutely everything. You name it, everything. You want room service at 2 a.m. with a bottle of champagne on the side? Covered. Cocktails at the pool whenever you feel them one? Covered. Or you fancy breakfast and lunch and a full afternoon tea, followed by a four course dinner, where you don’t even have to bring you purse with you? Ditto.
Well, we were only stunned. Now that’s my kind of hotel and my dream is to get back there one day.
The novel isn’t all about endings; what do you think are the top three ingredients for a happy marriage?
It’s easy for me to say, as I’m not married myself, so I stand to be corrected on this, but I would say the top three ingredients would be the same as for any relationship really. Marry your best friend. Respect them and try to have a good laugh together every day.
And finally … what can we expect next from Claudia Carroll?
I’m currently editing my new book, to be published in 2015. Our working title is WOULD I LIE TO YOU? And it’s about catfish…the internet kind, not the kind that swim! If you’d like to see a little snippet from my next book, here it is, the very opening paragraph…but I’m not giving any more away!
Exactly 8pm on a Saturday night and here I am. Sitting all alone at a table for two in Fade St. Social, only one of the swishiest restaurants in town, primped and preened to within an inch of my life.
Peppering with nervous tension of course, but we’ll come back to that.
It’s a perfect table too; if I’d planned it, I couldn’t have chosen any better. I’m right in the middle of the restaurant at a gorgeous table facing the door, so that every time it opens, I get a clear view of exactly who’s just arrived. And more importantly, so that when my date gets here, he can’t miss me.
Can he? I think, a tad anxiously.
No, course he can’t.
Now there is there’s the slight-ish concern that he hasn’t a clue what I look like in the flesh, or I him. But then we did exchange photos via the Two’s Company website and although mine is a slight bit of a cheat – taken ten years ago at twilight and with the light behind me so as to minimize the wrinkles, and come on, who of us hasn’t done it? Point is though, if his photo is even halfway accurate, then I’m seriously onto a winner here.
Thank you Claudia!
Love Me or Leave Me is out now in ebook formats from Avon and will be released in paperback on 23rd October.
Please do check out the other stops on Claudia’s Love Me Or Leave Me blog tour!