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Second Chances: An Interview with Gabi Coatsworth, author of A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over

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Gabi Coatsworth was born in Britain and work brought her to America. She’s an award-winning writer and lives in Connecticut in a cottage that’s American on the outside and English on the inside. If she’s not writing or traveling, she’ll be in her flower garden, wondering whether to weed or read and holding a cup of her preferred beverage, strong English breakfast tea. A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over (Atmosphere Press 2023) is her first novel, and she’d love to connect with readers through her website and social media. She loves to read reviews from readers who like her books, and she’s grateful for each one.

You can buy A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over was the fifth or sixth title for the book. It started out as Match Made in Heaven, because there’s a ghostly husband in it who shows up to tell his widow that he’ll help her find a replacement who’s not quite as good as him, but will do. My agent thought a bookshop title would work better, since the widow, Molly, owns a bookstore, so after a couple of false starts, it became The Bookstore of Second Chances. Then a book with the same title was published in 2022, and so we changed it to The Bookstore of New Beginnings. A publisher told me that there were too many bookstore titles out there, so I finally came up with A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over, which sounded like something you might find in a bookshop. Turns out readers love it!

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

People have told me they LOVE the cover. After having all the input I wanted, Ronaldo, the art director at Atmosphere Press, came up with the perfect design. It conveys the genre instantly (a relaxing read for when you have time to put your feet up, with some humor and great characters). And you can read the title even when it’s small, as it is online. I couldn’t be happier, and hope he’ll design something as good for the sequel. (I’m sure he will!)

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but the task of producing a whole book seemed overwhelming. Then I saw an ad in the local paper offering writing classes in a small group and decided to go for it. I tried writing literary fiction, but other people always preferred my more informal style, so I went with that.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I used to work in marketing and market research, which taught me a lot about considering the audience for your product (or book). Something people won’t know about me is that I speak four languages fluently, and can get by in some others.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I loved the encouragement I got from Atmosphere Press, and the fact that I wouldn’t have to wait until 2025 to get it out in the world, which I would have had to if I went the traditional route. And I loved having so much input into the finished product. Traditional publishers can do anything they want with your book—you have no say in it. But Atmosphere Press listened to my vision and produced a wonderful book. If I’d had to do all this work myself, it still wouldn’t be out in the world!

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers feel they can relate to the characters, even though they may not be like them. The theme of starting over and not having to do it on your own is something I hope everyone can get behind. I thought my perfect reader would be a woman of a certain age, but in fact, younger women seem to love it too. I’ve even had reviews from a couple of men!

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m working on a companion book based on one of the characters in A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over that readers tell me they love. She’s a ninety-year-old who wears Pippi Longstocking tights and miniskirts, and whose hair is still bright red. She has something of a mysterious past that I wanted to explore. And there’s another book in the works set in the Library in Brentford, my imaginary Connecticut town. The characters from A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over will show up in both the sequels.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

I’ve told a number of other writers how much I love working with Atmosphere Press because they listen, they encourage, and they have your best interests at heart. There’s always someone to contact if you’re anxious about any aspect of the process, like the editing, the cover design, or the timetable. I really appreciate that. And they have all the additional services you might need, but they never force them on you. No hard sell! Plus, they’ll get your book out long before a traditional publisher can, and in more outlets than you can if you self-publish. They can even produce an audiobook for you, if you want one.

You can buy A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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