Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Joan Fleming: What the Future Holds

A warm welcome to the lovely Joan Fleming.

Joan hails from Scotland, originally Edinburgh. She spent years as a teacher of French and German before retiring to the west of Scotland, where she spends her time engaging in two of her passions -- the history of Robert Burns, and writing.

Today, Joan joins us with her debut novel, What the Future Brings, a contemporary romance set on the isle of Mull in western Scotland.

Amy Wilson was left the family cottage on Mull. It's a place near to her heart, as she spent her summers on Mull, a place where many of her dearest memories were made. She takes every opportunity she can to return for retreat. Unfortunately, her partner Matt doesn't feel the same about Mull. As the story opens, Amy has arrived at Mull on her own, as usual, while Matt is away on a business trip to New York. Just what she needs -- time away from real life, a break from work, a break from Matt, if she's honest with herself. Two weeks to unwind, walking the sandy strand, vising the isle of Iona across the sound (a place she can see from her cottage and relishes), and visiting with old friends. Bliss!

That is until she reads the contents of a packet that had been delivered to the cottage just prior to her arrival. Oceanview Holiday Homes was in the proposal stage, a development to be built on a parcel of land between her beloved cottage and her view of the abbey on Iona across the sound. Worse, the person behind the proposal is none other than the boy she fell in love with during her summer holidays, her cousin, Sandy McFarlane.

Sandy's older brother, Angus, has recently passed away and made Sandy the executor of his estate. Part of that estate includes building a holiday resort on Mull, using a strip of family land along the seafront. Locals won't dispute the added income will help support the community, but everyone knows about the land dispute between the McFarlanes and Amy's family. No one knows who owns the land, but they do know Amy won't allow the development to go through until the disputed ownership of the land can be solved.

Sandy has always been an enigma. Cousin to Amy from a side of the family which had been avoided by her people, there was always something *different* about the boy he once was. It still did't stop her from feeling soft toward him as children and falling in love with him. Now, ten years later, the proposed development has thrown them together. Unbeknownst to Amy, family secrets are about to be let out of the closet, and they could change Amy's life forever.

This is truly a wonderful romance. It has a little something for everyone -- an amazing location which Joan visualizes for readers with expertise; engaging characters who we can't help but love, even as they're in bitter disagreement over the proposed development; deep family secrets which add drama; and a wonderful love story to pull at the heartstrings. Joan is a wonderful storyteller. Her writer's voice is strong throughout this story. And she keeps things moving forward while giving readers a taste of island life in a remote part of Scotland. Very well done, Joan. I can't wait to read your next story!

Joan took some time to visit with us --

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Joan, and thank you for stopping in today.

I know you've recently retired. You must have a busy social schedule these days. How do you fit in writing? Do you have a routine or just grab a few words when the mood strikes?
My most creative time is in the morning (frequently when I’m in the shower!). I like to be at my desk by 9am, or earlier. If the words are flowing well I’ll delay coffee till around 11am, but sometimes I need a shot of caffeine to help them along. 
When I’m on a roll, I ignore other demands on my time, like domestic chores, and keep going till until I come to a natural stopping point. If I’m struggling, I tend to go back a few pages and do a bit of editing to see if that will get me started again. 
That said, I’m not too rigid about when I write. I aim for around 1000 words a day, but if other parts of my life intervene, I don’t always achieve that. On the other hand, on a good day, my word count could be much higher. 
I don’t produce much of substance after 3pm – the late afternoon is my ‘down period’, when I might do some editing or on-line research. I seldom write in the evening as I find my brain won’t switch off when it’s time for bed.    
I know how it goes when inspiration strikes at the most inopportune moment. Maybe you should consider some of that soap you and write on the walls with so you don't miss a thought. Of course, when you wash it off, that solves one of your domestic chores...washing the shower ;-)

So,when you do sit down to write, what is your space like? Is it a real writer's cave or nest, or do you have a laptop and anywhere you sit is your office for the day?
I write in a tiny, south-facing study. It tends to get cluttered at times, but I have everything I need at arm’s length. I have the occasional clear-up, but the effects of that don’t seem to last long, so I’ve learned to focus on what I’m writing and screen out the surrounding muddle. I sometimes think I would get on better if I had clear space around me, but since it almost never happens... 

Joan, I must say I love your screensaver image!

It sounds like you spend a lot of your free time writing. When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Needless to say, I love to read. Like most people I know, I have a TBR list on my Kindle that I’d dearly like to spend more time on.
I love listening to all kinds of music, although I make no claim to being musical.

I enjoy walking - the West Highland Way runs beside my flat in Milngavie, which means I can be on it in minutes. The weather in the West of Scotland can be a big disincentive to walking - but at least the rain keeps the midges down! I love to travel, both in the UK and abroad. Islands excite me and I’m still exploring some of our many islands off the coast here in Scotland.
We are well served in Glasgow by our theatres and our concert hall, which offer a great selection of programmes throughout the year. 
It definitely sounds like you're in an ideal place to satisfy all your needs and desires. The West Highland Way sounds lovely (I googled it ;-) ), and to have it, practically, at your backdoor must be wonderful.

Thank you so much, Joan, for giving us a peak into your life as a writer. You've been very generous with your time. Good luck with What the Future Holds.

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

Anticipating a relaxing holiday in her idyllic holiday cottage on the Scottish island of Mull, 29 -year-old Amy Wilson realises her plans will be ruined by a letter she finds when she arrives. It contains a proposal to build a holiday complex directly in front of her cottage.
The application is in the name of a member of the McFarlane family who are distant relatives of Amy. In their youth, Amy and Sandy McFarlane spent holidays on the island together as part of a larger group of young people.

Whilst she has no wish to enter into a conflict with Sandy, Amy nonetheless determines to fight the plan. This sets in motion a chain of events which changes her entire life, not only in Mull, but also in Glasgow where she works as an accountant and lives with her partner, Matt.

She is about to lose control of the steady pattern of her life, and has no idea what will replace it, what the future holds...

It was early evening by the time Amy Wilson opened the bulky envelope. Sitting by the fire, with a glass of red wine in her hand, she drew a deep breath of sheer contentment. This was what relaxation was all about: the scent of burning peats, silence except for the faint noise of the sea in the bay, and the view of the island of Iona that no picture post card image could ever reproduce.

Pure heaven. That was until she saw the contents of the envelope.

Flicking her dark brown hair behind her ears, her green eyes open wide in astonishment, she straightened in her armchair. The fireglow caught the dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose that Matt always said made her look so much younger than her twenty-nine years.

At first, she stared at the papers, trying to work out what they meant. Log cabins? Holiday homes? Leisure facility? What had all this to do with her? She looked again at the envelope.

Miss A. Wilson
Columb Cottage
Isle of Mull

There was no doubt it was meant for her. But why was it delivered here at the cottage in Mull when she had arranged for any mail sent to her to be forwarded to her Glasgow address? Then she realised there was no stamp on the envelope, and in a corner were the words “Hand Delivered”.

Closer examination revealed that the paperwork had been prepared by a firm of solicitors. The covering letter explained the purpose of the communication: a proposal had been submitted to build twelve log cabins – a ‘holiday village’ to be named Oceanview – on a piece of ground by the sea shore on the edge of Amy’s land. Enclosed was a plan of the holiday facility.

The more she read, the faster Amy’s heart beat. Build on the shoreline! What a preposterous idea! There was no way anyone could be allowed to ruin the natural beauty of this spot on the island. Jumping up from her comfortable armchair, she ran over to the window to look out at the bay. With the plan of the proposed holiday village in her hand, she glanced from the plan to the bay itself, trying to visualise where the cabins would be, how they would look. Would they interfere with her view? Would she still be able to see the Abbey on the island of Iona? Or the sea? No – this was unacceptable. It was out of the question. She could not allow it to happen!

• • •

Joan Fleming was born and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland. After university there, she became a teacher of French and German for a short period in the London area, then in the West of Scotland.

Since leaving education, she now concentrates on creative writing. She has had short stories and articles published in magazines in both the UK and America, and has won a number of awards for her writing.
Joan is a member of Erskine Writers, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.

Her interests include: reading, walking, travel, islands (anywhere!) and the life and work of Robert Burns
She now lives in a flat on the outskirts of Glasgow overlooking the West Highland Way.

Find Joan online --

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/joan.fleming.562
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Joan_Fleming
Blog - http://joanfleming-writing.blogspot.co.uk
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Fleming_Joan

-- > Don't forget we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.

Or you can grab a copy of this book now for just $3.99 through Tirgearr Publishing.


  1. Welcome, Joan, to Heart of Fiction. And congratulations on your debut novel, What the Future Holds. I believe this is aptly titled, because we just don't know what our futures hold, do we? Though I can predict your future as a novelist has just begun! :-)

    Perhaps you'll tell readers about your love of Mull and Iona, and what inspired this story of feuding families on the islands.

  2. My late husband's family came from Mull, although he was brought up in the Scottish Borders. We visited the island regularly for many years. Also, one of my school friends, in Edinburgh, now has her permanent home in Iona. I've always loved both islands.

    As for the family feud, that is a product of my imagination, as are all the characters. I'm interested in small communities, how people relate to one another. I always have the impression that minor grudges can become magnified, and lead to rifts in families, break friendships. The repercussions of these disagreements are sometimes far-reaching.

    1. That's interesting about the Mull and Iona connections in your life.

      I'm with you about small communities. And I think things get amplified more so in small communities because we notice them more readily there than in larger communities. In a community of 50K people, you're not likely to hear about an affair, but you will in a community of 5K people!

      What are you working on now? Any tidbits you can share about your WIP?

    2. I'm working on another island novel, possibly but not necessarily Mull again.At the moment, it's not flowing, perhaps because I'm tied up with WTFH.

      It's kind of you to host me on the blog, Kem. Thank you.

    3. Oh, I'm very sure your concentration for writing has been disrupted by your concentration on a new book release :-) Enjoy every moment of it. You deserve it!!

  3. Can't wait to start reading this! My husband and I have visited Mull and Iona.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

    2. Oops! pressed the wrong key. I hope you enjoy the book.

  4. Hi Joan - nice to see you here. Congratulations on the debut novel. What a great title.
    I love your photos and your workspace.
    Your chosen excerpt is great and gives a good insight into your story. Well done!

    1. Hi Cathy - thanks for your lovely comments.

  5. Great interview, Kem and Joan. I love the sound of your novel, Joan, and can't wait to escape into the story as I love those two islands.

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I hope you enjoy your escape!

  6. Joan, lovely to read about how you write. I'm really looking forward to reading it. :)

    1. Thanks for commenting, Jennifer. We all write differently, don't we? Hope you enjoy the book

  7. The book sounds great, Joan. I think setting books on the west coasts of small northern islands is a great idea! And my own next WIP is set in Scotland (Jumping on the bandwagon totally!)
    I have been introduced to the life of a small village in rural Spain and there are basically 2 families left there, and they really rub one another up the wrong way. One has cows, the other just grain etc. and the ones with cows let the cows shit in front of the other house just to piss them off! But they're all smiles face to face, and have to organise the yearly festivals together, or otherwise there'd be no living in the village at all.
    Best of luck with the book!

  8. Thanks for your comment, David. I can see our thoughts were going in similar directions. Good luck with the book.

  9. Your book sounds a like a great story, Joan. I love the island setting and the dark secrets in the family history. The cover's fab, too! Lovely to find out more about you here!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Helena. Nice of you to drop in.

  10. You really must stop taking your laptop into the shower, Joan, you'll break it ; )
    Debut novel at last. Really proud of you.

    1. Sara, I thought you'd be able to source me a waterproof laptop. Yes, there at last. Thanks for your encouragement.

  11. Your book sounds wonderful, Joan. Congratulations!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. blogger is being a bit temperamental tonight. It was a duplicated comment.

  13. Elizabeth, thank you for dropping in, and for your lovely comment.

  14. Joan - love stories set on our beautiful Scottish islands; look forward very much to What the Future Holds.

  15. Thank you for commenting, Kate. I hope WTFH does justice to Mull and Iona.

  16. Loved the interview, Joan, and am really looking forward to reading What the Future holds. I've always wanted to visit Mull so maybe your book will spur me on. Many congratulations on publication - hope there are more to follow.

  17. Thanks for dropping in, Mary. Mull is a wonderful island to visit - although my characters are fictitious!

  18. A really nice interview, Joan. Thank you. It's not easy to hook a reader with the first few sentences of a novel, but you've certainly done it here. I can't wait to read the rest now.

  19. Thank you for commenting, Rena. Now that you're 'hooked', I hope you enjoy the book.

  20. Kem, thank you so much for hosting me on the Heart of Fiction blog. It's lovely to have the opportunity to talk about myself and my book. and also to have such encouraging visitors.

  21. Just catching up on blogs just now so sorry for arriving late! I enjoyed reading your debut novel, Joan and loved the setting of Mull. Congratulations!