Book Club: Her Husband’s Mistake
Sheila O’Flanagan Author Q&A
As you head off on your summer getaway are you searching for the perfect book to take on your travels? Look no further than Sheila O’Flanagan’s spellbinding novel Her Husband’s Mistake. Centered on Roxy and her seemingly rock-solid marriage to Dave, this page-turner takes you on a journey of betrayal and discovery that will have you sitting on the edge of your sunlounger. Enticing and enthralling, Her Husband’s Mistake is just what you need for lounging by the pool!
We asked author Sheila O’ Flanagan the inspiration behind her first novel…
What inspired to you write the book?
I like writing about those unexpected events that make us reevaluate our lives and our futures. I was keen to write about how someone who prides themselves on being able to cope faces up to a challenging situation, and how something that is dismissed as a simple mistake by one person is a disaster for someone else. I also wanted to explore how everyone around them chimes in with their own unasked for advice which they do in Her Husband’s Mistake.
Roxy is just the sort of woman I like writing about. She’s vibrant and energetic and she’s put her life on hold during her dad’s final illness, taking care of his business, looking after her mum, and juggling the competing demands of her husband and her children.
In Roxy’s case, the catalyst for change is coming home the day after her dad’s funeral and finding her husband in bed with the next-door neighbour. The question she keeps having to ask herself is if she can accept Dave’s assertion that it was a one-off mistake, made in emotional circumstances, or if it’s something that will change their lives forever. And the other question is whether sleeping with the neighbour is the only mistake he’s making…
What research/travel did you have in order to write the book?
Some of my books are set overseas and I have to travel to research them. Her Husband’s Mistake takes place in my home country of Ireland where I’ve travelled extensively and obviously know it very well. But Roxy’s job, as a private chauffeur, meant that I needed to revisit some of our loveliest towns, villages and countryside, as well as some stunning hotels and castles, to fix them in my mind again. I travelled around the country when Ireland was at its greenest and most beautiful, so it was a real pleasure. I also did all of the journeys by car so that I saw exactly what Roxy saw as she drove.
What was one of the most surprising things you learnt when creating your book?
It’s always a surprise when you travel around your own country to be reminded at how lovely familiar places can be; but it wasn’t that much of a surprise to know that there aren’t that many female chauffeurs doing Roxy’s job. I think it’s one that women can do very well, so hopefully there’ll be more Roxys in the future.
What’s your favourite book to take on holiday?
I always bring at least three books with me on holiday. One will be by a favourite author – it might be a rom-com, crime or historical fiction. Then I add one by an author I haven’t read before. And a third will be a non-fiction book – I quite like popular science or biographies.
What would be your favourite destination to write about?
I spend a lot of time in Spain and I love setting novels there because it’s a country that has so much to offer. The coastal regions are fabulous for a beach holiday, but even a short drive inland will bring you to areas of spectacular scenery. One of my favourite locations is Valencia, the setting for The Hideaway, where the mountains and orange groves are amazingly colourful. I’ve also brought my characters to the Basque country which covers both France and Spain and which is equally beautiful. When my characters are going through a traumatic time, it’s nice to allow them a few days in a gorgeous location!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and authors?
Not everyone writes to be published and you don’t have to feel pressurised to have anyone else read your work if you don’t want them to. Regardless of why you write, you should always write about what matters to you and what interests you. You’re going to spend a lot of time with your characters so you have to want to like them, care about them and be with them.
Set yourself manageable targets. I like to write in scenes rather than worrying about a word count because I feel good each time I finish a scene.
Although it wasn’t a factor for me when I first started out, I sometimes have to remind myself that posting stories on social media about writing isn’t getting me any further with my book. As writing is a solitary process, it’s nice to be able to dip in and out of social media, but if you want to get your book finished, you really need to limit your time getting distracted online.
Finally, when you do have your book finished (and congratulations on that) it’s important to do some research on the agent you’re going to send it to. Follow the guidelines on their website and be as professional in your approach as possible.