Friday 24 June 2016

BLOG TOUR: Peanuts & Eggcups - Sara Mendes da Costa

I was really impressed with Sara Mendes da Costa's debut Peanuts & Eggcups so I was more than happy to join the Blog Tour and I have an amazing guest post from Sara.  Sara is the current voice of the BT Speaking Clock and when she's not telling us the time, she's writing her fabulous books.

You can read my review after Sara's guest post on her journey from voice artist to author and please do make sure to stop by the other blogs on the tour.

My journey from telemarketer to Voice Artist to Speaking Clock & to Author by Sara Mendes da Costa

Before I did what I do now, I ran my own little B2B telemarketing company – for my sins – and wow was I beginning to hate it! I had people in and out of my house (my office) every day. It was no longer a home, it was a business I slept in. And I had no space…I couldn’t breathe properly with the stress. I knew things needed to change – they had to change I was getting really ill and low – and one day I caught myself sitting on the sofa, clutching my knees and rocking back and forth, feeling like a caged animal. At that point at that very moment, I knew the time I had come; I had to do things differently, and I was the only one who could make that happen.

I called up my co-director Richard and said ‘Hey, you know you left your well-paid job in London in order to come and join my small set up…well, we need to talk!’ Luckily he was my best friend and understood that health and happiness came first and we needed to wind down the company. A couple of days later I called everyone off the phones and gave them the news, explaining I was gradually going to cease trading, that I didn’t want this anymore that it was making me ill and I wanted, I needed, to be creative. I gave them all three months’ notice and set about planning my future.

At that point I decided to seek the help and support of a wonderful life coach. Bit by bit she helped me to see who I was and what I wanted in life. I wanted to use my voice and I wanted to write. And she said, ‘You know what Sara, when you talk about being a writer, an author, you come alive!’ And I really heard that. So I made a plan. I was going to keep on a couple of telemarketing clients to keep the wolves from the door and I was going to do whatever I could to get myself into voiceover work – after all, with my telemarketing experience, I would be able to pick up the phone and clients would literally hear what I had to sell – my voice! But the driving force was writing. I wanted to eventually migrate from telemarketing to voiceover work and then voiceover work would (I hoped) continue to support me whilst I became a writer. And I’m happy to say that’s pretty much what happened.

I invested a lot of time (and a fair amount of money) building my voiceover business and luckily people started booking me, rebooking me and then recommending me. All the while I was single – six years single – and during that time I started writing in my spare time. That’s when I began really learning my craft and finding my voice. I travelled to Spain to write; first for a week and then for five weeks to write Peanuts & Eggcups. After the second trip, I came home and realised I’d literally galloped through the second half of the book and needed to do a lot of ‘filling in’ and to be honest, those five weeks in Spain, whilst amazing, were only the beginning of my writing journey. They gave me the head space to allow my ideas to really flow…but I was impatient to finish and I needed to properly apply myself and learn patience. Once home I got on with the voiceover career and continued writing – evenings and weekends. And I loved it. It was the one thing I did that I could lose myself in for hours without being aware of time. Eventually there came the hard part – finding an agent. As a writer, you need to get ready for rejections. Sometimes people get lucky with something that smacks an agent round the head and is just what they want at the right time but it’s tough when there are so many budding authors trying to get agents’ and publishers’ attention. So it took me a little while to get an agent. Then I got one who loved my work but then he became somewhat disillusioned with the changing ways of the industry so he changed direction and I moved on.

After a while, Derek, a previous telemarketing client, got in touch needing a voiceover artist. He worked just around the corner and came in for a cuppa. During that meeting in my kitchen, I talked about my novel and wonderfully Derek said he knew someone in the publishing industry. Well, it went from there really. He made an email introduction and the guy, John, got in touch. He wasn’t an agent but he knew an agent. I dropped my m/s round to John and he, in turn, passed it on to his contact Annette. I waited and I waited and I waited. Then I got a call from Derek who’d just come away from playing a round of golf with John who’d said that Annette had read my work and thought it was really, really good. Can you imagine how amazing that felt! Someone in the industry, a professional, loved my work! I was on cloud nine. Apparently she was going to call but I was to act surprised. I could do that! I would do whatever it took! So once again I waited and I waited…and I waited. But no call! In the end I wrote to Annette. She’d had other things going on in her life but said she’d like to meet. We met in Café Rouge in London’s Victoria Station and had a lovely lunch (with a fair amount of liquid!) got on really well, and it was all systems go! The whole process took a while but after a spell she set her new literary agency - A for Authors - and her colleague Bill joined her and together they took me on as their client. There was more writing, editing, rewriting, reading, editing etc. etc. …and then with a professional team involved and I was on my way.

So, after a lot of years and an awful lot of patience, here I am with Peanuts & Eggcups out there as my debut novel. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, feeling (scary too I must admit!) But I do feel pretty blessed. I’m still doing the voice work – I’ll likely do that for many years to come and there are two more novels on their way next year: Time and Time Again and Maggie Ever After - a sequel to Peanuts & Eggcups…plus a third novel in the planning stages called Accidentally Alice.

Looking back, it all seems like a bit of a dream. Sure, it has been hard work, but once I’d dumped the stuff I hated – and could breathe and be happy and healthy again – it was just about following my dreams and that can only be a good thing – for us all. I intend to follow my heart always now and happiness and freedom are key. So, the next step I hope will be to travel more and take my work with me. For me, not much would beat being up a mountain somewhere or looking out to sea or over a lake…or anywhere beautiful ….and dreaming and writing! So I’m going to set my mind to that focus, and see what unravels over the next decade

A little bit about the book:

For Maggie Parsons there’s only ever been one man: the stunningly delicious Luke Henderson. Unfortunately, he left her, without explanation, after their ‘first night’ together …breaking her heart in the process.

Now ten years on, without any contact, he’s back and going to her school reunion. Great! And, to confuse matters…so is his suave, sexy, brother Tony who makes a major play for Maggie, then turns up with his insufferable - supposedly ex – fiancée!

Via the reunion, a black eye, getting the sack (as a result) a madcap girlie holiday and juggling her confused emotions around the two alluring brothers…Maggie starts to build a picture of what she really wants in life.

Trouble is, Maggie’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t even know she’s playing …and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. 

What did I think?

At a hefty 727 pages long (10 hours on kindle) I felt a little daunted about tackling this book, but I needn't have worried.  The pages absolutely flew by as I read about Maggie's trials and tribulations and felt like I ended the book as one of her close friends. 

I think you could guess from its size that this isn't simply a no-brainer chick lit book and I really must raise my glass to Sara Mendes da Costa on her epic debut; she has really allowed the reader to fully immerse themselves in the book and be part of Maggie's story.  I absolutely loved the writing style and regularly laughed out loud at Maggie's escapades that sometimes resonated all too frighteningly well with me.

Maggie and Catherine have been best friends since school, together with Jenny and Pauline they form a close knit group of four.  As they arrange to meet up at their school reunion, Maggie is worried about bumping into her old flame (and Jenny's brother), Luke, so she contemplates missing the event.  As her friends talk her into going, she is disappointed to learn that Luke will not be there so in the spirit of having a good time she flirts with some old pals, including Luke's brother, Tony.  When things get a bit more serious with Tony, Maggie has to decide whether she really likes Tony or whether he simply reminds her of Luke.

Aside from Maggie's story, there are some excellent storylines for the other characters; Catherine is searching for true love and saving her virginity for 'The One'; Jenny has had an affair with a married man and has bowed out after the wife announced her pregnancy; and Pauline is stumping doctors with a mystery illness and has an unsympathetic husband who doesn't seem to be interested in her health.

As a debut, this is a really exceptional novel and I can't wait to see if we'll hear some more from this group of friends.  There are some absolutely hilarious moments that did literally have me laughing out loud.  I'm not going to spoil any of the book but I am still laughing thinking about Maggie at the dentist.  When the dentist announces that she needs four fillings and a crown, whilst all his tools are in her mouth, she answers with "Huck" and I almost choked.  Why do dentists ask questions when we can't move our mouths?  I also have to give a shout out to my football team, Sunderland, for getting a small mention.  Not in a hilarious way, surprisingly ;-)

This would be a great holiday read, keeping you entertained for hours as you soak up the sun.  Of course there are some predictable elements, but at that point we care so much about the characters that it's exactly what we want to read.  Peanuts & Eggcups is an absolutely delightful read and, despite its mammoth size, I didn't want it to finish.  

I received this e-book from Authoright in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Available from Amazon UK

About Sara Mendes da Costa

Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936.

A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media.

Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist.

Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel - hotly anticipated by the industry - is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. `

A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire.

Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.


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