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Tag: April HArdy

Excuse Me While I Pinch Myself …

I’m delighted to welcome April Hardy back to my place today to help celebrate the launch of her new novel!

Over to you April…

Excuse Me While I Pinch Myself … 

Hi Jenny, thanks so much for letting me share my excitement with your readers. I’ll try not to waffle on too much and bore them all away!

This time last year I was doing the edits on Sitting Pretty, which was to be my début novel. I was completely new to the whole editing process and, as I’m a 100% technophobe, must have driven my poor editor nuts with my silly questions! Whilst working on it I couldn’t help daydreaming about what it would be like to be a published author.

Fast-forward a year and here I am, Friday 3rd March 2017, not only doing my first ever author session at one of the biggest and best literary festivals there is, but launching my second novel at it too. It really is a case of Excuse me while I pinch myself!

The theme of this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is “Journeys”, and my own journey to this point started in January 2011, when my husband and I moved back to Dubai from Abu Dhabi. I’d been writing since 2008 – secretly at first, even my husband didn’t know – and, with no guidance or feedback because I wasn’t sharing my work with anyone, getting nowhere. And who knows how long that might have carried on if I hadn’t gone into Ibn Battuta, my new nearest shopping mall, by the entrance which took me past a huge branch of Magrudy’s bookshop having a closing down sale. I was sad to see another bookshop close, but that didn’t stop me buying so many books I needed a supermarket trolley to get them to the taxi rank. It was a mix of novels and writers’ reference books. I opened  a random page of the first one I picked up and my eye was immediately drawn to an article on Winchester Writers’ Conference.

Well, I’m from Southampton, and have family in Winchester, so it felt like I was meant to go. I had a fabulous week and met some wonderful writers, including  amazing Ali Spencer and Adrienne Dines, who told me about the Romantic Novelists’ Association and advised me to join its New Writers’ Scheme

It turned out there was another RNA member living in Dubai at the time, lovely Liz Fenwick, who kindly took me under her wing over many cups of tea in bookshop coffee shops. It was Liz who told me about the Emirates Lit Fest and so in 2012 I went  to my first one, rushing from session to session like an excited puppy, absorbing as much writerly wisdom as possible. I even collared agent, Luigi Bonomi in one of the corridors to ask his advice on what I was working on at the time. In 2013’s festival I entered the Montegrappa Fiction Prize. I didn’t get anywhere, but three new friends, Annabel Kantaria, Rachel Hamilton and Linda McConnell,  came first, second and third.

But 2014 was lucky for me. Armed with the opening pages of two romantic comedies, Kind Hearts & Coriander and Hazard at The Nineteenth, I booked two Quick Pitch sessions with Luigi Bonomi. I also entered both in the festival’s Literary Idol competition. Cutting a long story short, Luigi liked Kind Hearts and we arranged a meeting which ultimately led to my being signed by his agency. And, championed by Judy Finnigan, Hazard at The Nineteenth won Literary Idol. I couldn’t stop grinning for a week. All I had to do now was finish writing them!

As you can imagine, 2014/15 flew by in a flurry of writing and rewriting, and the excitement went up a further notch when, in August 2015, I was signed up by Accent Press. The subject of one day being an Emirates Lit Fest author myself was broached – ELF and its sister organisation, Dubai International Writers’ Centre are very supportive of the family of locally based authors they’ve helped nurture over the last nine years.

The 2016 Lit Fest saw me, like one of the Bisto Kids, nose pressed against the glass, thinking “This time next year … This time next year …” But there was still plenty to do before then. Sitting Pretty had to be edited and, when it came out we had a launch in London and another in Dubai, which might seem a tad greedy but we had so much fun! And I like to think I was better prepared when it came time to editing Kind Hearts ready for e-book publication in January.


And here we are, Friday 3rd March 2017. A very important point in my writing journey. Today I’m not a Bisto Kid. Today I get to be one of the authors up on the platform. Today I get to sit behind one of the tables in the book signing area, and see not just the one I expected, but two of my books on sale on the bookshop area. Oh, and the bookshop  in question? Magrudy’s! Magnificent Magrudy’s! I love that shop!


April Hardy grew up on the outskirts of the New Forest. After leaving drama school, her varied career has included touring pantomimes, children’s theatre and a summer season in Llandudno as a Butlins  red coat. All interspersed with much waitressing and working in hotel kitchens!

After moving to Greece, she spent many years as a dancer, then choreographer, and did a 7-month stint on a Greek cruise ship before working for a cake designer and training as a pastry chef in a Swiss hotel school in Athens. Whilst living there, she helped out at a local animal sanctuary.

Relocating to the UAE with her husband and their deaf, arthritic cat, she has lived in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where she is delighted to have found herself so unemployable that she’s had plenty of time to devote to writing her romantic comedies!

At the 2014 Emirates Lit Fest she won the inaugural Literary Idol competition with the opening page of Hazard at The Nineteenth. She also had a successful Quick Pitch session, showing Kind Hearts & Coriander to agent, Luigi Bonomi, whose agency, LBA Books went on to sign her up.

In 2015, she signed a 3-book deal with UK publisher, Accent Press. Sitting Pretty was her début New Forest rom-com. Kind Hearts & Coriander has just been published and Hazard at The Nineteenth is due out later this year.


Thanks April. Many congratulations on Kind Hearts. (You didn’t bore a single person away!)

Happy reading,

Jenny x

My First Time: April Hardy

It’s time for another in my interview series, ‘My First Time’- this week fellow Accent Press author April Hardy is opening the book on her recent publishing beginnings.

First Time

Can you remember writing the first story you actually wanted to write, rather than those you were forced to write at school? What was it about?

I must have been in the third or fourth year at secondary school, and those of us who wished to could hand write a “book” in an exercise book. A selection of these would go into the school library for other students to borrow. Anyone who’d tried to decipher my handwriting had advised me not to bother, as nobody would be able to read it!

So, with that warm encouragement ringing in my ears and a story burning in my mind, I’d grabbed a handful of scrap paper and set to work on a rough copy. My “book” was based on the true story of a woman called Kitty, who had run theatrical digs, a stone’s throw from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. My mother and aunty had stayed with her many times when their dance troupe had been working there, and had kept in touch after they’d retired from the theatre.

Kitty’s digs had still been popular in the 1960s when the lease on the building ran out. She was an elderly lady by then and, although she and everyone who knew her fought against it, she was re-housed in the brand spanking new town of Milton Keynes. A Londoner through and through, Kitty had hated the soullessness of the new town. She’d hated its concrete cows, its lack of theatres, history or community. It had been the beginning of the end for her and when she died, shortly before the “book “writing competition, my mother believed she’d died of a broken heart.

My “book” didn’t make it into the library in spite of my slow and painstaking efforts with my handwriting. Apparently it had the requisite beginning, middle and end but, the teacher said, the conclusion was far too fanciful. And too sad. I don’t know what happened to the “book”. I suspect if I could re-read it now I would cringe at my teenage prose.


What was your first official publication?

Well, that would be a recipe booklet I wrote for the Papadopoulou Biscuit Company when I lived in Athens! Food has always played a big role in my life, and I’d just completed a Diploma in Culinary Arts with an idea (a rather naive one now I look back) of writing cook books for a living!

What affect did that have on your life?

As we moved from Greece to Dubai at that time, the physical product slipped right out of my life. I didn’t even receive the copy I was sent. But the process of writing it certainly re-awakened the writing bug in me.


Does your first published story  reflect your current writing style?

Gosh! My first published story will be my debut novel, Sitting Pretty, a romantic comedy which comes out in July. I certainly hope it will reflect my current writing style as it’s one of three books I have coming out with Accent Press!

What are you working on at the moment?

Well, I’m working on a series of romantic comedies set in and around a trio of fictional villages in the New Forest, which is where I grew up. They are stand alone novels which feature the same settings and, in some cases some of the same characters may pop in and out.

Sitting Pretty is the story of pet sitter Beth, a young woman on the brink of a new life abroad, whose husband dumps her, by phone, just moments after the removal van has driven away with all their worldly goods. Suddenly homeless, Beth goes to some unusual lengths to keep her husband’s behaviour a secret, while she works out how to get him back …

Hazard at the Nineteenth, winner of the 2014 Literary Idol competition at the Emirates Lit Fest, is about bride to be Stella, who is sure someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. But would that someone go as far as trying to bump her off? Or has librarian Stella just read one too many Agatha Christies …

Kind Hearts & Coriander, a runner up in the 2014 Exeter Novel Prize, follows the story of London chef Polly who, on her mother’s death, learns she may be Hampshire hotel magnate, Charles Hetherin’s illegitimate daughter. Tracking him down, in search of answers, she finds more than she bargained on. A whole lot more …

The manuscripts for these are with Accent at the moment, so while I’m waiting to make a start on my edits on these, I’m tapping away at possible opening chapters for the next one in the series.


Sitting Pretty is out on 7th July 2016- The pre-order link is


Since leaving drama school I’ve had an interesting and (hopefully) creative working life, in UK, Greece and now Dubai. I taught infant ballet classes, did pantomime tours and summer children’s shows, interspersed with waitressing and working in hotel kitchens. I spent many years as a dancer, then choreographer, before re-training as a pastry chef in a Swiss hotel school, with a plan to write cook books. But it was having the words “Housewife – not allowed to work” stamped on my residency visa, here in the UAE, that gave me the freedom and the time to devote to something I’d always wanted to do – writing. The first manuscript I completed was a huge learning curve. It was a contemporary romance, set in London and Dubai and, though it remains unpublished, I learnt such a lot writing (and rewriting) it. And whilst at the Winchester Writers’ Conference in 2011, I met lovely Allie Spencer who advised me to apply for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. I spent four years in the scheme, soaking up the wisdom and knowledge of my “readers”. In 2014, I decided to try my hand at romantic comedy which, after all, was what I mostly read. I started writing Kind Hearts & Coriander, expressly to show to agent Luigi Bonomi at that year’s Emirates Lit Fest. It got me signed up by his wife, Alison Bonomi. In 2015, at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s conference, I met the lovely Hazel Cushion, MD of Accent Press. I’d sent her the opening chapter of Hazard at the Nineteenth and she liked it enough to offer me a three book deal – all these months later and I’m still floating!

Winner of Emirates Airline’s Festival of Literature’s Literary Idol 2014


Many thanks April,

Good luck with your debut story,

Jenny x

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