Aria welcomes Fay Keenan

I’m absolutely over the moon to announce that I’ve signed a three-book deal with Aria Fiction. Aria will be releasing my first novel, The Second Chance Tea Shop in Spring 2017, with books to follow in 2018 and 2019.

Getting to this stage has taken a little while – from putting fingers to keyboard at the start of 2014 to now, it’s been nearly three years in the making, but I couldn’t be happier. It feels like both an ending and a beginning; the end of a lifetime’s ambition to write a novel and be in print, and the beginning of my actual, proper career as an author. I can’t help thinking that there’s going to be a lot to learn on this new path, but as an English teacher by trade, you could say that learning is definitely in my job description!

I’ve always written stories, from early scribblings in notebooks as a six year old to the stories that have helped me to improve as a writer in recent years. From short stories to fanfiction, I’ve played with a lot of genres, and always had a lot of fun.  The Second Chance Tea Shop was written when I was on maternity leave with my second child, and I needed a mental distraction from the seemingly endless nappies and night feeds. In fact, most of it was plotted when I was awake in the night with her, and then written up in the gaps between looking after my two gorgeous girls. 

The Second Chance Tea Shop is the first in a series of novels set in Somerset, around the fictional village of Little Somerby. It is a tale of new beginnings and new love, and of getting back to your roots. My heroine, Anna, is a widow of two years who moves back to the Somerset village where she grew up to manage her godmother’s tea shop. The new venture is a challenge, and a welcome distraction from the grief that still haunts her, and gradually Anna, and her little daughter Ellie, begin to heal.  

As Anna makes the tea shop her own, an unexpected cherry on the cake appears in the form of Matthew Carter, fourth generation cider maker and CEO of Carter’s Cider. Single father Matthew has his own scars and secrets from a bitter divorce, but together he and Anna begin to heal. But when Matthew’s estranged younger brother Jonathan makes a surprise return to Little Somerby, trouble starts fermenting along with the apples. Will Anna and Matthew find lasting happiness, or will a tragic accident that brings Matthew’s past back to haunt him thwart their blossoming relationship?

While none of the characters of Little Somerby are based on real people, I’ve drawn heavily on my knowledge of the local area to give it a sense of place; look closely and you’ll spot quite a few Somerset landmarks in there! It’s such a wonderful part of the world that I wanted to try my best to capture it on the page. And it’s so lovely, now that I’ve signed a three book deal, to know that I can continue to explore the county in another two books. I’m currently working on the second book in the series, and I don’t think it’s giving too much away if I say that one or two familiar faces from The Second Chance Tea Shop will make an appearance! I like to think that the books have as much flavor of the county in them as cider and Cheddar cheese, and perhaps would be best read with a helping of each by your side, to really get a taste of Somerset. I know I found that particular side of the ‘research’ for the novels a great pleasure; it certainly helped with the writing, at times! 
 

THE SECOND CHANCE TEA SHOP publishes on 1st April 2017

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