On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.
Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.
Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...
Thank you for answering my questions today.
Can you tell us about your latest book, You and Me, Always?
Have you ever wondered what it might be like if you were to discover that an A-list celebrity has moved into a house around the corner from you? No? Just me then! This is what happens to Lily at the beginning of the book, and it ends up affecting quite a few people's lives in the Cotswold village where she lives. (I wish it would happen to me!)
Looking at your back catalogue you have over twenty books to your name. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Oh, I'm constantly on the search for interesting new ideas. I'll scour newspapers, magazines, the Internet and sometimes my own friends' lives. With their permission, of course! It does get more difficult to think of plot situations that I haven't used before, but I do my best not to repeat myself.
If you had to write a bio for yourself, what would it say? (5 words or less)
Sparkly writer, loves snacks.
How old were you when you started writing?
Oh, very young - I used to write long happy stories where nothing bad ever happened, back when I was nine or ten. I was always trauma-averse as a child!
Are any of your characters based on people you know?
Never ever. It would feel far too weird to even attempt to write fiction about people I know. I like my characters to be entirely made up. (Needless to say, this doesn't stop people telling me they recognise themselves as characters in my books. And when I tell them they've made a mistake, they never believe me…)
Have you/would you ever consider teaching a creative writing course?
This isn't something I've ever considered – I think some people are natural teachers and some aren't. Apart from anything else, I wouldn't feel remotely qualified, because I only know how I like to write, and all the successful authors I know have different working methods. I could never tell someone their way of writing was wrong!
Can you tell us about your writing process?
I have my initial starting-off idea, and I take a bunch of characters, and from there the storyline is made up pretty much as I go along. If I planned an entire book out in advance, better ideas would occur to me as I got further into it, and then the initial plan would no longer work - so for me, doing it that way would just be a waste of time.
But I write the book by hand, divide it up into chapters afterwards, and then my daughter types it up for me. That's the process!
If one of your books was made into a film/TV series, who would you like as the leading lady/man?
This is one of those questions I simply can't answer – I never know what my characters look like and have no clue as to who would play them in a film. I kind of wish I did!
Do you have a process for planning your book, ie do you talk over an idea with a friend or a partner?
Oh goodness, never never! I really couldn't bear to discuss my books with anyone before they were written – the very idea makes me squirm with embarrassment!
Tell us something about yourself that readers won’t know from reading your books or web page?
I always like to wear clothes that are too big for me.
What's the best/worst thing about social media?
The best is undoubtedly the fantastic amount of contact we writers can now have with our readers. Most of the time it's an absolute joy!
And the worst? Well, the same thing of course - but it's so much less fun when people haven't enjoyed reading your books! I think the Amazon reviews are the worst, particularly when they're from disgruntled readers giving your book a one star review purely because they ordered it secondhand and it arrived with a torn cover.
Have you ever heard a strange/different story that you thought would be great in a book?
Oh, dozens of times. Every single new novel of mine starts as a result of this happening. And that moment when you realise you've just found the pivotal idea for the next book feels like magic!
Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including THE ONE YOUR REALLY WANT, DON'T WANT TO MISS A THING and THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.
She lives in Bristol with her family.