Friday, 4 November 2011

The One-Link Lowdown On...Paula Martin!

My guest today is UK writer Paula Martin. Paula shares my love of theatre, and her latest novel His Leading Lady, set in and around that fascinating world, has been getting rave reviews. Read on to find out more about her and her work!

Welcome, Paula! Let's kick off with the question that almost all of my guests love to answer - if you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

I wish I still had all the notebooks in which I wrote my earliest stories (starting when I was about 8 or 9) and all my teenage stories (dozens of them). I can remember some but not all. My first published novel was based on one of my teenage stories, so maybe some of the others would give me inspiration for more novels - if I still had them. On second thoughts, maybe they’d made me cringe with embarrassment, so perhaps it’s as well that I no longer have them!

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I met the Queen at a Buckingham Palace Garden party.

I once flew all the way from the UK to Los Angeles for 3 days to see Martin Sheen in a play there.

The first novel I ever submitted was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

Anything from Les Miserables which is my favourite show of all time. Songs like ‘Can You Hear the People Sing’ and ‘One More Day’ make the hairs on my neck stand on end though. Can’t really choose one special song, I love them all.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

How many am I allowed? Martin Sheen would have to come because he’s been my favourite actor for 30+ years, and I’ve seen/read enough of his interviews to realise what a fascinating and complex man he is. Colin Firth would be my second choice, not just because he’s eye candy but also because he’s an intelligent, articulate man. Oh, who am I kidding – he IS eye-candy! Third choice – Hugh Jackman (eye-candy again?) – love his smile and laugh, and he can entertain the guests after dinner with his wonderful singing voice. Female choices would be author Sharon Kay Penman, the writer of the best medieval novels I have ever read. Her knowledge of all things medieval is amazing. Also British actress Julie Walters, because she’s so down-to-earth and would make everyone laugh.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Luxor in Egypt. I had two weeks there last year, and loved it. So much history to see everywhere you go. I’ve set my latest novel there, a lot of it in the famous Valley of the Kings, burial place of many of the Pharaohs. Going into the Valley was a long-time dream, and I’d love to see more of the tombs there.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

To London in 1483, to find out the truth about the ‘Princes in the Tower’, allegedly put to death by their uncle, Richard III. I’m one of the many people who believe Richard was maligned by Thomas More and Shakespeare, and was not responsible for the deaths of the princes. There are various theories about who had them killed, so I’d interview them all and find out the truth!

What’s the best review you've ever had?

This review of His Leading Lady came from someone who admitted she did not usually read romances: 'If you had asked me a few months ago if I read `romance' novels, I would have replied with a definite no. But after coming across the first chapter of Paula Martin's His Leading Lady online, I wanted to read the rest....Paula Martin expertly weaves a tale of not just romance (though there's plenty of heat!), but also of family, intrigue, drama, and ultimately, of the choices we make in the name of love. The story takes a handful of turns, leaving readers with just a spot of uncertainty as to whether or not this character is as sweet as she seems or that character is to be trusted. The journey through this book was utterly enjoyable and the conclusion satisfying. Ask me today if I read romance novels and I'll answer, "If Paula Martin wrote it, you bet'cha!" '

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

As a child, I always wanted dark curly hair instead of my straight mousey-brown hair. But these days, it’s my weight which I wish I could change i.e. lose some of it! When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted and not put on any weight. Even after having my two daughters in my twenties, I soon returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. Sadly that changed when I got to my mid-thirties and gradually the extra ounces became extra pounds. Although I’ve had several attempts at losing weight, I manage to shed about 5 pounds (over 3 months) and that’s it, even though I continue eating ‘sensibly’. So frustrating and soul-destroying!

What single invention would change your life for the better?

Since I hate ironing, I’d love a robot which could do the ironing for me, and hang up all the clothes afterwards!

Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

In the 80’s and 90’s, I directed two shows each year with the junior section of our local Musical Theatre Group, and I’m proud of being able to give so many young people the opportunity to develop their talents, especially those who started as shy chorus members and had gained enough confidence a few year later to take lead roles. Many of them are still involved in amateur theatre, and I know of about five who went on to the professional stage.

Thank you, Paula! I agree with you about the Richard III issue, much as I love Shakespeare, I think he did give Richard a bad rep, and it's a pity that what we 'know' about the man nowadays is most probably myth.

By the way, Paula's fib was about meeting the Queen. She told me, "Yes, I did once go to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party (along with about 6,000 others) but no, I didn’t actually meet her, just saw her from a distance!" Ah, well - one day, maybe!

You can find out more about Paula herself plus her contemporary romance His Leading Lady HERE at her website.

Paula, thank you so much for being my guest today, and good luck with all your future projects - or should I say, 'break a leg!'


  1. Super interview, Paula and Jane! Love the ironing invention.
    Congrats, Paula on that lovely review from the non-romance reader. Reader reviews are always most precious.

  2. Jane, thanks so much for having me as your guest today, I really enjoyed your interview questions.

  3. Lindsay, thanks so much for dropping in - and yes, lovely reviews are great, I'm always so thrilled when someone takes the time tell me how much they liked my book.

  4. PAULA--I couldn't miss this. I did not know you directed plays. That makes you and Jane two of a kind--although I think she worked with plays, maybe not directed.
    Your three things? You gave one away about Martin Sheen, so that one is True. I don't think you met the Queen at a Garden Party, but I could easily believe you got a contract for the first book you ever submitted to a publisher.
    So, you're a fascinating woman--why Martin Sheen? Will you see his new movie in which he stars and his son Emilio Estevez is the director?
    Have a wonderful day--and remember I read and loved your book.

  5. Paula, great interview! I knew which one was your fib. I'll have to check out your medieval author--I love that time period. And Les Mis is my favorite as well. Good luck!

  6. Hi Celia, thanks for dropping in. I directed musicals with my juniors for about eight years and loved it. I also worked back stage with the senior society, either with props or wardrobe - great fun. And I've been a fan of Martin Sheen since the 1970's. I saw his latest movie 'The Way' when it was released over here earlier in the year and have jsut bought the DVD, which must bring my collection of his movies to about 80!

  7. Hi Jane and Paula,

    I'd have to say meeting the Queen is your fib....

  8. Hi Jen, not to difficult to guess my fib when you know me :-) Do read Sharon Penman's 'Sunne in Splendor' which is a superb novel about Richard III. Her Welsh trilogy is excellent too, and she's just released a new novel about Richard Lionheart.

  9. Hi Debra - you're right, although I DID see her - from a distance! I did actually meet and talk to Prince Charles on another occasion about 12 years ago though.

  10. Great to see so many comments, Paula - and so many stabs at your fib! :)

    Jane x

  11. Hi Paula,
    Great blog. At least you got to the garden party, and seeing the Queen in the distance, well it is kind of meeting her. She has just been to Australia, a mighty effort for one of her age.



  12. Thanks, Margaret, and great to see you here. I did actually see the Queen closer up at the Millenium Service at St Paul's Cathedral in London in 2000. I was 8 rows behind her, but got a good view of her when she walked down the aisle and then back again at the end of the service. Agree with you though that at 85 she can still cope so well with long-distance travel and all the pressures of a royal tour.

  13. Lovely interview, ladies. That was such a wonderful review to get, Paula, but well deserved! Looking forward to that Egypt book.