I love talking about the books I’ve written – Its great fun to answer questions and chat about the things I’ve learned and continue to learn along the way.

So, thank you to Pen to Print and Write On Magazine for inviting me on to talk about my latest novel, Summer in Your Eyes and answer a few questions about writing

Below is the article and here is the link to it if you’d like to browse the magazine:


Write On! Interviews: Author Chris Penhall

Write On! Interviews: Author Chris Penhall

Write On! interviews Author Chris Penhall

Chris Penhall writes uplifting stories in gorgeous places and won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search For A Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. 

Having found her writing mojo, she’s now written six books and is working on another one. 

Chris is an author and freelance radio and podcast producer. 

She produces and presents Books and Tunes for West Wiltshire community radio, and also has her own occasional podcast: The Talking To My Friends About Books Podcast, in which she chats to her friends about books.  

As well as this, she runs a monthly buddy writing meet-up in a local cafe with fellow author, Lizzie Chantree, to encourage people to write. 

She has helped make radio programmes for many years, mostly at BBC Essex, and many, many, many, many years ago at BBC Radio One and Radio Four, was an Associate Producer for the Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast with Jibba Jabba Pods for nine years and has also interviewed authors at Essex Book Festival events. 

A lover of books, music and cats, she’s also an enthusiastic salsa and tap dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She’s never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. 

WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it? 

CP: I write uplifting stories set in gorgeous places, with female characters at their heart. There’s romance, humour, and it only rains for dramatic purposes. 

WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book Summer In Your Eyes? 

CP: Summer In Your Eyes tells the story of travel blogger Holly Merriweather, who is relocating to London following the break-up of her relationship with her childhood sweetheart and the failure of the business they started together. She’s thrilled to land a job with an iconic travel book company and is hoping for sunsets in Marrakech, cocktails on the French Riviera and gondola rides through the Venetian canals.

She’s finally decided to put herself and her career first, and enjoy living in her favourite city, which feels like a giant film set to film fan Holly.

But of course her new boss Jack is drop-dead gorgeous. And, it turns out, the job is less glamorous sightseeing and more crumbling offices and a struggling family business, rocked by the death of their larger-than-life founder. As she struggles to keep things strictly professional with Jack, they begin working together to ensure the company’s legacy and uncover a local mystery.  

WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?

CP: I always wanted to be a writer. But, when I was young, I thought it was something other people did. As an adult, I dabbled in writing, but had loads of excuses to hand about why I didn’t do more. Although, actually, life was quite busy, and it wasn’t easy to find the time. My move to Cascais in Portugal many years ago proved to the be the catalyst; I was so inspired by the place I began to write. What I wrote when I was there was not good at all, but I now realise I was just practising.

Then, when we moved back to the UK, my commitments grew. So I dabbled in writing off and on until I started working on The House That Alice Built, which eventually won the Choc Lit Search for a Star Competition in 2019. So, I suppose what inspired me to write at the start was being in a different environment and, ever since, I have, in my imagination and through my books escaped, whether it be to Portugal, Wales or London. As far as the plots are concerned, I get ideas from hearing things and seeing things and just generally somehow hoovering up information, feelings and all sorts without realising until a fully formed idea comes out!

It was a bit like that with Summer In Your Eyes. It’s based in London, and I wanted London to be a sort of character in the book, but I wasn’t sure how I could do that – it’s entirely different to the coastlines of Portugal and Wales, where my other novels are set. So, given I love films and when I often wander around London, I think about the movies I’ve seen and where they were filmed, I thought: I know – Holly Merriweather will love movies, so the city sort of became a filmic backdrop for her. At the heart of the story, is a little square with struggling shops, a café and a mysterious building that may or may not hold the key to helping the people around it. That idea came about because of the issues many small businesses are having and, of course, in cities such as London there are a lot of old buildings amongst the new, and they all have their stories.

WO: The current issue of Write On! explores the theme of ‘Beginnings And Endings’. With that in mind, what do you find easier to write, the beginning or the end? And do you always write the beginning first and the ending last? 

CP: That’s an excellent question and I wish I could give you a straightforward response… 

I know how I want the book to start, but finding the right words is not easy – not for me, anyway. Before I start writing, I’ll have an idea of how my main character is feeling and where they are, as well as an idea of their story arc, but thinking of the wording in order to catch a reader’s attention to make them want to follow the character takes me a while. I’d love to write something as evocative as ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,’ or ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ Those words conjure up so much, and once you’ve read Rebecca and A Tale Of Two Cities, you realise how masterful they are. I’m sure we all have our favourite first lines and, I think, being able to create that kind of feeling in so few words is something for me to aim for. 

Sometimes, I’ll write the beginning and, once I’ve finished the book, I realise it needs something ‘before’ that beginning. As for the endings, sometimes I’ll write the end when I’m in the middle of the book, so I know where I have to get to, and won’t rush the last few chapters. 

However, this is all subject to change. The book is only finished when the very final version is sent to the publisher! 

WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer? 

CP: The main one is just to start writing. Whether it be a line, a paragraph, or a whole chapter – as long as you’ve written some words, you’ve got something to work with. Once you can see those words on a screen, or on paper, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re on your way! 

WO: Question from social media: @Grasshopper2407 “What advice would you give to other authors interested in starting a podcast?” 

CP: I started my own occasional podcast, Talking To My Friends About Books, because during the lockdowns I missed talking to my friends about books! I arranged the interviews, recorded them at home, and uploaded them. I’ve been a radio and podcast producer for years, so am used to working with audio, and I may be simplifying it, but there is a lot of easy-to-use tech out there, and free platforms you can upload your podcast to if you don’t want to pay. They keep changing, but I use Zoom to record on, Audacity to edit with and, currently, Anchor for Spotify. 

My mindset is generally – unless it is long-distance running, mountaineering or caving (and a long list of other things I can’t or won’t do) – if you want to do something, why not? Just do your research, then find a way to do it. 

I’ve now got a radio show on community radio called Books And Tunes With Chris Penhall, so as far as I’m concerned, everything you do builds up your portfolio and brings other opportunities. 

WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects? 

CP: My fourth book in the Portuguese Paradise series is being published by Choc Lit/Joffe this year, so I’m waiting for the edits to come in for that and I’ve started working on another London-based novel.  

WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why? 

CP: I’m going to give you two answers, because one isn’t in a book, it’s in a film and I couldn’t have them as an actual pet, but… that first one is the turtle in Finding Nemo. The reason being that I had a pet tortoise called Leslie when I was little and I loved him very much, which means I am a lifelong fan of tortoises, terrapins and turtles. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Barbados on a couple of occasions and I did the usual snorkelling trip to spot turtles, but, better than that, I used to walk along the beach and watch turtles just float in the waves really close to the shore. And to me, they were probably just bobbing around saying, ‘Dude….’ just like in Finding Nemo. (I never said my level of maturity matched my age!)

Apart from that, I love cats. So, Mog, maybe, as a fictional companion to my actual cat. 

You can find out more about Chris Penhall here chrispenhall.co.uk and connect with them via X: @ChrisPenhall, Instagram: @christinepenhall and on Facebook: facebook.com/ChrisPenhallWriter

Summer In Your Eyes is available in e-book, paperback and audio from geni.us/summer-eyes-fbt and you can order the paperback from retailers including Foyles, Waterstones and Blackwells. 


Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets. You can find previous editions of our magazines here

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo, or find us on Podcasters.Spotify.com.