Sunday, January 20, 2013


It's my pleasure to welcome English author Sarah Louise Smith to Books by Banister. Sarah and I met on Facebook (We are both members of the fab Chick Lit Goddesses group.), and it's been so much fun to share in her excitement over the release of her Chick Lit novel, Amy & Zach. Read on to learn more about Sarah and her first foray into publishing and grab yourself a copy of Amy & Zach (It's a steal at just $2.99!) 

1) Can you give us a brief overview of Amy & Zach?

This is a story about a year in the life of these two characters, alternating between the two so you get to hear both sides of the story. Amy is British and has moved to Boston, USA in search of something new and exciting, and is trying to work up the courage to meet her father. She meets Zach, and it all gets complicated…

2) What's your favorite quality about your heroine/hero?

I think both Amy and Zach are fairly determined. They know what they want, and have the courage to go with their gut instincts.

3) What made you want to write Amy & Zach?

I’ve been wanting to write a novel for years; I kept starting them and never finishing. Amy & Zach was born out of a variety of ideas from those previous attempts… The idea to set the novel in Boston comes from a trip I made there a few years ago, I wrote a bunch of notes and felt inspired to set a story there.

4) How long did it take you to write Amy & Zach? What is your writing process like?

Once I’d committed to actually finishing it (rather than writing random notes and paragraphs now and then!), about six months. I work full time, so it’s often difficult to have the time to write but I now treat it as a part-time, second job and ensure I sit down regularly to write. I am a morning person, so I prefer to get up early and just get started; often not stopping to drink or eat or even pee for several hours! 

5) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for Amy & Zach, who would you like to see play Amy, Zach, Libby, and Tim on the big screen?

That’s a tough question (but a lovely decision to make, of course!) Amy would have to be someone British and gorgeous. Zach, maybe Zach Braff – I used to have a thing for him, and my Zach is Jewish, so he’d fit the part well. Libby and Tim would again be British… I wouldn’t be too picky, just decent actors!

6) How do you think of titles?

I find titles really, really hard to come up with so that’s why I ended up calling this by the two main protagonists! Summing up a whole novel in just a few words is an art that I’m yet to master.

7) Tell us about your cover art design. How did you come up with the concept? Did you execute it yourself or have a professional do it?

My publisher (Crooked Cat) produced the cover for me. I made the suggestion of using a silhouette of a couple, and they took it from there – and I loved the end result! 

8) The fiction market is so competitive now. How did you find an audience for your work? What do you think are the most effective ways an author can promote herself?

I have a slight advantage as I have worked in marketing communications for the past 8 years. So I’ve tried to take the same “professional” approach to my writing and look at all avenues. Word of mouth is key and I think right now, social media is the best tool. You need to ensure you reach those people who may influence others and really target those who read a similar genre. I’m aiming to engage with readers, rather than blast them with sales messages over and over. I’m also looking to learn from others as much as I can and try to keep up with the latest trends.

9) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

I like a little spice but I’m not so keen on explicit scenes (I’d read erotica if I wanted that but for chick-lit I’m looking for a feel-good romantic moment rather than a sexy one), but that’s just me. Amy and Zach reveal a little, enough I hope to give you an idea, but without lots of detail!

10) What are you working on now?

I’m writing my second novel. I’m not sure what it’ll be called yet (like I say, I’m terrible with titles!) but it’s more of the same; girl meets boy and the path to happiness has many complications.

11) Who are the authors who inspire you?

My favourite author is Jane Austen; I love Pride & Prejudice and the fact that she’s still so hugely popular 200 years on, is amazing. My favourite chick-lit author right now is Paige Toon – she’s fabulous and I devour her books! Lisa Jewell and Marian Keyes are also an inspiration, they engage you into a story really well.

12) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

I mostly read chick-lit, but I do occasionally read other genres if a book appeals to me, is recommended or made into a movie. I really enjoyed the Twilight books, but I don’t usually like vampire/paranormal or teen books, so it’s good to keep an open mind. I quite like historical fiction too.

13) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon. I’d never heard of her but a friend recommended and straight away I was hooked, and wondering why I hadn’t read any of hers before! I also really enjoyed Slammed by Colleen Hoover recently, I couldn’t read that quick enough. 

14) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

Pride & Prejudice. I love that time period – the clothes, the etiquette, and so on. 

15) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

1, Jane Austen – because she’s my favourite author
2, Robbie Williams – because I’ve had a crush on him since I was 12 years old :)
3, Leonardo DiCaprio – for eye candy :)
4, Miranda Hart – a British comedian, she makes me laugh out loud
5, John Lennon – just to mix it up, and because I find him interesting…

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  Armani Mania (for men)
Favorite color?  Purple
Favorite food?  Cadbury’s milk chocolate
Favorite word?  Books
Favorite article of clothing?  My rainbow socks
Dream vacation spot? 
Anywhere mountainous
Favorite time period in history?  The Tudors (1500’s)
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Red wine
Favorite date night activity?  Dinner & wine in a nice city
Favorite song?  Shine by Take That
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Leonardo DiCaprio
Novel hero crush?  Mr. Darcy

Author Bio:   

Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, England with her husband, two cute cats and a loopy golden retriever. She has a 12 year old step-daughter, a huge extended family that resembles the Brady bunch, and likes to cook, travel and read chick lit. She's been writing stories ever since she can remember. Amy & Zach is her first novel.

Book Blurb:  

Meet Amy & Zach

Flying home to the
UK from the US for her sister Libby’s wedding, Amy has some major issues with her homecoming.

She is furious with Zach, who should have been travelling with her, but after he dropped a bombshell the day before she left, she hid his passport and flew alone.

Now, can she act normal when she meets Libby’s fiance Tim?

After he finds his passport, Zach heads for the
UK to surprise Amy. He wants to apologise to her and finally meet her family. He has kept his secret for way too long and knows he has a lot of explaining to do.

So, how did Amy and Zach get to this point? What is Zach hiding anyway? And what's going on between Amy and Tim?

How well do Amy and Zach really know each other?

Buy Amy & Zach:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Connect with Sarah Louise Smith:


  1. Great post, ladies! :)
    I LOVE Zach Braff... so I'm totally going to have him in mind when I read Amy & Zach!
    Also, I need an invite to that dinner party. Jane Austen and Robbie Williams? I am so there! :)

  2. Fantastic post! I love the Fast and Flirty. Sarah Louise, I'm so excited to read Amy and Zach, and I totally agree with Cat about her love for Zach Braff.

  3. I put this on my TBR earlier today, before seeing this interview with Tracie. Simply because I loved the cover. Love that is set in Boston, a city I wanted so much to visit, but now won't manage to for some time. Excellent post, ladies.

  4. I'll bring dessert if I can get in on that dinner party...