Author Interview with Cat Hogan #TheyAllFallDown

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing an interview with Cat Hogan to share with you today. Cat’s new novel They All Fall Down is out now!

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself

My name is Cat and I love books! When I’m not writing them, my nose is constantly stuck in one. I’ve just released They All Fall Down- it’s my first novel and so far, so good. It has sprouted wings and has been spotted all over Europe lazing on beach towels.

When I’m not writing (content by day and madmen by night) I am Mam to two little mischief makers- Joey (11) and Baby Arthur (3).

We live in beautiful Wexford on the South East coast of Ireland.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I’ve always written- short stories, poetry, diaries, letters- you name it. My first serious dive into the world of writing was when I set up my own business as a content writer for businesses. I have an honours degree in Law, and a degree in Business Studies- so it made sense to me to do this. That kind of writing is very structured and very formal. I had They All Fall Down in my head for a while before I got down to actually writing it. Once I began in earnest, I couldn’t stop- I had the first draft written in about six months.

 

What is your book about?

They All Fall Down is a dark psychological thriller exploring the depths of flawed human nature, the thin line between love and obsession and the destructive nature of addiction. They story revolves around six characters- their lives, their motivations and the consequences of each of their own actions on each other. It’s set in Ireland in a fictional fishing village.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Music plays a huge role in my life. It always has done. My partner is a musician- originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne. He came to Ireland with his band to tour, I spotted him at his first gig and I guess the rest is history- he came for the music and stayed for love! We listen to a lot of music in our house and I find inspiration for lots of stories through lyrics.

Being close to the sea is a constant source of inspiration to me. We are blessed to live so close to the beach and the countryside. Just getting out for a walk to clear the noise out of my head is good- I carry a notebook everywhere and even write down snippets of conversations I eaves drop on!

I’m a people watcher. There’s nothing I love more than sitting outside my local coffee shop and just watching. (In a non-creepy way of course)

 

What is your writing routine?

The reality is, I’d love to have a writing routine but I don’t. I work from my kitchen table at home- we live in a small house and since Baby Art has gone into his own little room, my office is the kitchen table. I usually write at night when the boys have gone to bed. I have tried getting up at stupid o clock in the morning when they are all asleep- it doesn’t work for me. I’m a night owl, always have been. I would love a little space ( a she-shed would do) that’s just mine, with no distractions. That said, the library and the beach are good spots for writing- I do all my original drafts, ideas and notes long hand.

 

What has your journey to publication been like?

Swift! I was published less than a year after I first got my agent. I finished They All Fall Down in June 2015. In August, I signed with my agent, and by November, I had a two book deal with Poolbeg Press. They All Fall Down was published on July 1st and I was delighted to hit the Irish Times Best seller list a couple of weeks later. It’s been an absolute whirlwind and now the real pressure is on to promote the first book and get the second written to the September deadline- I love every minute of the madness!

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus and I’m about to start ‘The Panda Theory’ by Pascal Garnier. Stephen King is never too far out of reach. My TBR pile is getting out of hand and I have a weakness for book shops- I just can’t stop buying them. I also have a habit of doing an Amazon blitz here and there.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

I’ve been thinking about this question for about an hour- it’s a good one! I have finally decided on Stephen King. He has a huge volume of work and all of his characters are so diverse- from possessed cars, to vampires. You would never be bored- you might be terrified out of your mind- but entertained. His book ‘On Writing’ is an absolute must read for any aspiring authors.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

One question rarely asked in interviews is about how nerve wrecking it is to publish a book and put your baby on a shelf for all the world to see. The answer is: it’s absolutely petrifying.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

I’m a Twitter and Facebook lass. I think I have Instagram and Snapchat accounts but I rarely use them. Come find me for the chats on Twitter @kittycathogan and over on Facebook @catherinahoganwordsmith.

I love both platforms and am always there ready to chat!

 


About the Author

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Cat Hogan was born into a home of bookworms and within spitting distance of the sea. Her father, Pat, a lightship man, instilled in her a love of the sea and the stars. Her mother, Mag, taught her how to read before she could walk.
Writing, storytelling and a wild imagination is part of her DNA.

The beautiful County Wexford, Ireland is home to Cat, her musician partner Dave, two beautiful sons Joey and Arthur, and her tomcat Jim Hawkins. There they live a life of storytelling, song and adventure. The other love of Cat’s life is food. A self-professed foodie, there is nothing she loves more than feeding a houseful of friends round her kitchen table.

When she is not conjuring up imaginary friends, she can be found supporting local musicians and writers of which there is an abundance in her home town. One of her first endorsements for her novel is also her favourite and comes from fellow Wexfordian of Artemis Fowl fame.

‘If the Gone Girl met the Girl on the Train, they would have come up with They All Fall Down’ -Eoin Colfer.

They All Fall Down is Cat’s debut novel and two weeks within publication, it powered it’s way onto the best seller list.


 

Cat has recently been featured in the Irish Times, which you can read here:
She has also featured on a radio podcast which can be listen to here:
Cat is also appearing on other blogs throughout August and you can follow those posts here:
Cat Hogan Poster

WWW Wednesday (27 July)

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.


What I’m reading now:

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

I was beyond excited to receive a finished hardback copy of this book for review recently. I’m a massive Bowie fan and have always been quick to read new books about him. This one is wonderful because it’s a love letter about Bowie and is a must read for all fans. I’ve almost finished reading so will be reviewing soon.

Synopsis:

On Bowie is a thoughtful and loving meditation on the life of the late David Bowie that explores his creative legacy and the enduring and mutual connection he enjoyed with his fans

Innovative. Pioneering. Brave. Until his death in January 2016, David Bowie created art that not only pushed boundaries, but helped fans understand themselves and view the world from fantastic new perspectives.

When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and across generations paid homage to this brilliant, innovate, ever-evolving artist who both shaped and embodied our times.

In this concise and penetrating book, highly-regarded Rolling Stone critic, bestselling author, and lifelong Bowie fan Rob Sheffield shares his own feelings about the passing of this icon and explains why Bowie’s death has elicited such an unprecedented emotional outpouring from so many.

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

I treated myself to this book after it showed up on my recommendations on Amazon. It sounded like a powerful read and it’s not disappointing. It’s a book I want to read slowly because it’s so beautifully written.

Synopsis:

Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.

In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn’t dare to look, and the result is riveting – unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.

 


What I recently finished reading:

The Sister by Louise Jensen

The Sister by Louise Jensen

This is a review book from Bookouture and it was so good. I found it hard to put down! I’ll hopefully be reviewing it soon.

Synopsis:

“I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

 

#ReadWithout Prejudice by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (#ReadWithoutPrejudice)

This was a review book and I was so excited to receive a copy – I read it as the #readwithoutprejudice book so had no idea what it was about, who wrote it or what it was called! I devoured this book and it definitely got me out of my recent reading slump. I highly recommend pre-ordering it!

Synopsis:

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes. 

 


What I plan on reading next:

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

One of my favourite books is The Headmaster’s Wife by this author – I’ve read it three times now and every time I love it more so I was thrilled to receive this surprise book post last week! It’s a gorgeous edition and I can’t wait to start reading.

Synopsis:

When Margot and Henry meet, they fall deeply in love.

And then they lose each other.

But Henry can’t forget Margot and Margot is haunted by her memories of Henry. They live in each other’s minds.

Twenty-one years later, they meet, by chance, on a Manhattan street. And that’s where their story truly begins…

If I Forget You is a beautiful exploration of what it means to find the person you are destined to be with, but then spend a lifetime apart.

 

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

This was a book I wished for on Net Galley a while ago so was excited to have my wish granted recently. I’ll definitely be starting this book in the next day or so and I’m looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover’s past.

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.

 

 


What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Book Review: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker #NotForgotten

 

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You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

I was beyond thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review this novel. I had heard a few things about it on social media and was so keen to read it.

All is Not Forgotten is an unflinching look at a very traumatic attack on a teenage girl and the aftermath of that. Wendy Walker is a great writer and doesn’t shy away from anything in this novel and that makes it feel very real, I felt like I was in amongst the characters in this book and even though I finished reading it weeks ago, it is still very much with me.

My main reason for wanting to read this book was when I heard it was about erasing memories after trauma. The idea of a treatment to remove traumatic memories has always been fascinating to me. I’ve suffered with PTSD in the past and whilst I consider myself recovered after many years of counselling and CBT etc I do still remember what happened to me and I still have to be on my guard in certain situations in order to keep anxiety at bay. I do believe, based on my own experience, that people can move on from trauma and have perfectly normal, happy lives but it takes a lot of work. I love the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where people can have memories of failed relationships removed but All is Not Forgotten is even more interesting because it is focused on trauma. I liked how this treatment was groundbreaking and yet it had its flaws, the fact that Jenny is left with a ghost of a memory of what happened to her – like an itch that she can’t reach to scratch. It’s not a complete cure and she is then left in a horrible position of having to decide how she can put right the treatment that she had – it isn’t an easy thing to reverse as she will have to have intense therapy to help her remember what happened to her.

I was drawn into all aspects of this novel though, it is about so much more than a treatment to erase memories – it’s actually about the way people act to protect themselves and their families. The way that jumping to a conclusion about someone can lead to so many unforeseen consequences, the way that people don’t always try to help you for the right reasons and can sometimes have an agenda of their own. So many people end up caught up in the aftermath of the attack on Jenny and it’s horrifyingly fascinating to see it all unravel.

I loved how this novel was narrated; at first I wasn’t sure who was narrating and then as I realised and saw how the person narrating was also like a conductor in an orchestra and it was so brilliant to read. Sometimes the reader is ahead of the narrater and can work out what comes next so you think you’ve got it worked out but then it all moves in a different way and the rug is pulled from under you again.

I loved this book, it is an incredible read! It was edgy and twisty and just utterly fascinating to watch the unravelling and revealing of all the hidden memories – not just Jenny’s! I will be recommending to everyone I know and I’m sure it will be a huge bestseller.

All is Not Forgotten is out now and available from all good bookshops.

Thank you to Cara at Harlequin for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


 

I was recently very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Wendy Walker as part of the blog tour for All is Not Forgotten and you can read that here if you’d like to.

 


About the Author

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Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.

 

Crime series or Standalone novel? A guest post by Chris Curran #HerTurntoCry

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Chris Curran (author of Mindsight and brand new novel, Her Turn to Cry) to my blog! Chris has written this brilliant post for me all about crime series versus standalone, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

 

When I first started writing crime the received wisdom from publishing professionals was that readers wanted series detectives. So that was what agents and editors were looking for. But as someone who preferred Ruth Rendell’s psychological suspense novels (often written as Barbara Vine) to her Inspector Wexford series and whose favourite Christie was the sinister standalone, Endless Night, it was this kind of book I wanted to write.

Although it was before the Gone Girl phenomenon, Gillian Flynn had already written her first brilliant psychological thriller, Sharp Objects, which went on to win two CWA daggers.  Other wonderful writers of standalone crime, like Laura Wilson, were also having success so I knew there must be a market. In the event I had just completed my first novel, Mindsight, when psychological crime, domestic noir, grip-lit or whatever you choose to call it, became big news.

Crime series are still attracting hordes of readers of course and I love many of them myself. There’s something enormously satisfying about following a detective, professional or amateur, through a series of books. In effect you get two stories for the price of one: the immediate crime the sleuth is tasked with solving and the ongoing saga of their own, usually complex and often troubled, life.

Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brody, CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake, Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway and Sarah Hilary’s DI Marnie Rome all have fascinating back stories and personal lives that become more intriguing with each book. Who doesn’t want to know everything about Jackson Brody’s lost sister or to follow each new twist in Ruth Galloway’s on-off relationship with DCI Harry Nelson?

And then there are the side-kicks and the detective’s family and friends who often have their own enthralling and messy storylines. Marnie Rome’s sergeant, Noah Jakes, Shardlake’s assistant, Barak, and Ruth Galloway’s druid friend, Cathbad, as well as her gorgeous daughter, Kate.  In fact several of these characters seem complicated and vivid enough to head their own series.

Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels are interesting because they straddle the divide between series and standalone as a different detective takes centre stage with each new novel. It’s a clever ploy although, like many readers, I’m still dying to know the rest of Rob Ryan’s story, which was left tantalizingly open-ended in the first novel.

So what are the virtues of the standalone? One advantage is that readers can come to each book in any order with no previous knowledge required. This means that the author doesn’t have to hold up the narrative to reveal details of the ongoing saga. And, although one of the delights of the series is following the development of recurring characters, there is a danger that these can become so enthralling that they overwhelm the criminal case featured in this particular book. Alternatively the author may withhold too much and alienate readers by refusing ever to satisfy their curiosity.

In contrast all readers of a standalone start the book knowing nothing about any of the characters. No pattern has been established in previous novels so anything could happen. Since we are not looking at events through the perceptions of a trustworthy and familiar detective it can feel as if a safety net has been removed, which adds a delicious sense of menace. Anyone could die and anyone, including the narrator, could be deceiving us. Could even be the murderer.

There is a heightened intensity to many standalones because the characters are usually ordinary people intimately involved with the crime and are often blundering around feeling terrified and helpless. Or of course they might be hiding a guilty secret or even turn out to be a manipulative psychopath.

The standalone writer is not restricted by an established location or set of procedures and is at liberty to travel in time and space both between books and within a novel. My first book, Mindsight, was set in contemporary Hastings on the south coast of England, whereas my second, Her Turn To Cry,  moves from the variety theatres of the 1950s to the heart of swinging 60s London.

In fact writers of standalones do tend to follow certain themes in their work. Flynn is obsessed with dysfunctional families and manipulative women, Cathi Unsworth explores popular music culture, and the dark underbelly the 20th century, whilst Megan Abbott’s compelling and unsettling novels often deal with hyper-competitive teenage girls.

For the reader it’s a matter of choose your poison or, like me, have it both ways. Nor must it be either/or for the writer. Like Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie, Laura Wilson began a detective series with Stratton’s War. And I have a police character in mind for my own next book – so who knows.

About Her Turn to Cry

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London, 1965. Top model Joycie Todd lives a glittering life with photographer Marcus Blake. But her childhood tells a different story…

When she was eleven, Joycie’s mother disappeared. Run away with another man, so everyone says. But Joycie can’t forget the thumps she heard in the night, or the bloodstained rug hidden under the bed. A rug that was gone the next day.

Twelve years later, Joycie has left her past behind. But when an old friend dies, Joycie is left a letter beseeching her to find out the truth. Unable to keep the door locked any longer, Joycie sets out to discover why her mother left her – if she ever really did.

As she travels to the shabby seaside towns of her childhood, Joycie soon finds that it’s not just her mother who vanished all those years ago. Joycie knows the disappearances are connected, she just doesn’t know how. But there’s someone out there who does – and they will do anything to keep it buried.

Her Turn to Cry is out now in ebook and is due to be published in print on 8th September 2016 in the UK. Available from Amazon

About the author

Chris Curran

I was born in London but now live in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, on the south coast of England, in a house groaning with books. I left school at sixteen to work in the local library – my dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading my way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education I gained my degree from Sussex University. Since then I have worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when I would see my own books gracing those library shelves.

 

 

You can find Chris on her blog: chriscurranauthor.com

Twitter: @Christi_Curran

Facebook: Chris Curran

 


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I’m linking this post up to Talk of the Town, please check out the other posts on there and share your own. #TalkoftheTown

 

Blog Tour | Q&A with Wendy Walker, author of All is Not Forgotten

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker and I have a brilliant interview with the author to share today.

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

My name is Wendy Walker and I live in Connecticut, which is just northeast of New York City. I went to college at Brown University and law school at Georgetown University. I spent one year at the London School of Economics and I got to travel all around Europe. I have had many jobs from waitressing to investment banking at Goldman Sachs, to commercial litigation and now family law. I have three teenage sons and a large extended family.

How did you first come to be a writer?

After I had my first son eighteen years ago, I decided to stay home to raise my children until they were all in school. I felt lucky to be able to do that and so I took the job very seriously! But after about a year, I started to feel unfulfilled so I started to write whenever I had free time (which was not very often!). I had two more children in five years and all the while I kept writing. I even wrote in the back of my minivan while waiting for them at pre-school! It was a long road and 17 years getting to the writing and publication of All Is Not Forgotten. During that time, I published other novels, edited, and eventually went back to work as a lawyer (after 14 years away from the field). The work I found was in the area of family law and it was a wonderful fit for my life experience. I practiced for five years, eventually opening up my own practice, which focuses on consulting. But I never gave up the dream of making a career as a writer. I used to tell my boys that it was important to always have a dream, but to also be responsible. I kept on writing whenever and wherever I could. I am so glad that my children may get to see my dream come true (fingers crossed) so that they will believe what I told them about having dreams and never giving up.
What is your book about?

All Is Not Forgotten is about a teenage girl whose memory of a violent assault is erased with a controversial drug. In the aftermath, her family and the small town where she lives struggle with the inability to find her attacker and also with the emotional memory that still rages inside her.
I’ve suffered with PTSD so I was fascinated by the treatment concept in your novel – where did your inspiration for this come from? 

I read an article years ago about the emerging theories in memory science and the treatment of PTSD with drugs that can lessen the emotional impact of a trauma memory. I thought at the time that this could lead to significant moral, ethical and legal questions if such techniques were offered to victims of crime. When I decided to write a psychological thriller in 2015, I thought this concept would offer readers a great deal of substance and a real world issue that would be a talking point beyond the plot of the book itself. I started to do research and discovered that this area of memory science had just exploded and that drugs were now being developed with the hope of mitigating, reconsolidating and even erasing trauma memories. I developed the characters and plot in a way that I hoped would explore this fascinating topic.

What is your writing routine?

When my kids are in school, I start writing as soon as they are out of the house and I try not to stop until I have to pick them up! Sometimes, life gets in the way, especially because I work from home. But I have learned to be very disciplined about my time and I can write for 6 hours straight before I start to go a little stir crazy! I do not entertain writers block, and will always try to get something onto the page even if it doesn’t feel great at the time. I like to keep moving the plot forward and then revise as needed to flesh things out or improve the narrative.

For All Is Not Forgotten, I wanted to create a totally unique structure for the narrative. I designed it to move in different directions, backwards and forwards and sideways, but in a fluid, conversational way. It was my goal to grab the reader, make him or her stop everything else, put away computers and phones and televisions, and focus on the characters and the story and emotions they contain. So I used coloured notecards for each of the characters and their plot lines and then layered them carefully into each chapter so they would move forward but at points in the story where they fit organically. All Is Not Forgotten attempts to create that feeling of total escape by telling the story in a way that is new, but that feels as seamless as an engrossing conversation with a friend.

What has your journey to publication been like?

It has been wonderful and busy and everything you can imagine after 17 years of writing! Certainly, there have been BIG moments, like signing a film option with Warner Brothers and speaking with Reese Witherspoon about producing the movie. But mostly, I am working as hard as I can to write another engaging thriller, and to connect with readers about All Is Not Forgotten.

What are you reading at the moment?

Nothing but the draft of my new novel which is in the revision stage! I find that I cannot read while I am writing because I get the tone and cadence of the other book in my head and it’s hard to get it out! But I have a pile of books waiting for a short vacation in August. Can’t wait!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

Right now, I am loving Mary Kubica’s work which is dark and suspenseful but also full of complex characters and family dynamics.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

I am rarely asked what it feels like to be a writer after spending most of my life in more traditional jobs. I have some amazing author friends who also came to this world later in life and who manage children and homes and a writing career. And we laugh about the reality of our lives compared to the perceptions we sometimes come across. It is not at all glamorous and at times can be incredibly stressful! The thing about writing is that you do need blocks of time and rest and some stillness in your mind, and these things are very hard to find when you have children and work at home. It is also a lonely occupation filled with tremendous self-doubt each and every day. To sit in a room, alone, pulling thoughts from your mind and then turning them into words on a blank page, hoping they will be of interest to other people, is a very strange process! Being an attorney, you develop a certain amount of confidence that you know what you’re doing and that you are doing a good job. Writing does not afford that luxury. I don’t think I will ever stop worrying about whether my story is good, whether it will resonate with readers, whether it will find its audience. And yet, I would not want to be doing anything else!

How can people connect with you on social media?

I have an email which can be found via my website: wendywalkerbooks.com

Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker

Facebook is: Facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor

Instagram is: Instagram.com/wendygwalker

 


 

I’ve read All is Not Forgotten and it’s a brilliant novel – I highly recommend it! My review will be posted soon on my blog. The novel is out now and is available from all good book retailers.

You can find the rest of the stops on this blog tour on the poster below:

 

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Blog Tour | Book Review: The Museum of You by Carys Bray #MuseumOfYou

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Today is my stop on The Museum of You blog tour and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of this wonderful book along with an excerpt from the the book.

About the Book

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

My Review

I’m a huge fan of Carys Bray – I adored her first novel A Song of Issy Bradley so was beyond excited when Carys offered me the chance to read and review The Museum of You.

The Museum of You is a quiet novel but it is so beautifully moving. It’s told in alternating chapters between Clover and her dad, Darren, and then between the chapter breaks there is a page about an item that Clover is planning to show in her museum. These pages, and her innocence, were some of the most stunning moments in the novel. Things like the way Clover envisages her mum collection holiday brochures because she must have loved holidays broke me because reading this through adult eyes, it seemed that really Clover’s mum probably was just desperate for escape. It’s a cleverly written novel because we don’t know at the beginning what happened to Clover’s mum but as the novel goes on we learn bits and pieces and a picture emerges but Clover, as a child, fits the pieces together in a much more naive way. It’s so beautiful and is a real tear jerker.

I adored Clover throughout this novel. She’s such a big-hearted and intelligent girl. She loves museums and finding out about things and so when she discovers that all of her mum’s things are still stashed in her bedroom Clover forms an idea to make a museum of her mum. It’s such a gorgeous idea and so heartbreaking at the same time. I cried so much as Clover carefully put on gloves and started to carefully, and strategically work through her mum’s belongings – all done when her dad was out so that he wouldn’t know about it and get upset. I know it’s a slightly different thing but I remember having to sort out my mum’s possessions after she died and having the longing to keep everything as it was left but knowing I had to let most of it go, and I was an adult at the time. For a child to not really know about her mum, or really understand what happened to her, to then approach her mum’s things on her own is really sad. I loved how pr0-active Clover was though, she knew that she couldn’t ask anyone about her mum as the best she got was a slow drip feed of information from her neighbour Mrs Mackerel and so she decided to become an archivist and figure it all out herself. I love how matter of fact Clover is – she’s a real thinker but she gets on with things. She doesn’t dwell on how her life has ended up, she just keeps moving forward. I think we all need a Clover in our lives!

I cried quite a few times whilst reading as there are sentences in this novel that just make your heart break for Clover. A line that got me, which is in the excerpt below was ‘When you grow up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story you’re forever skating on the thin ice of their memories.’ – I had to pause for a few minutes after reading that because it is just utterly heartbreaking. For a young child to know that their childhood is so linked in with the saddest part of her mum and dad’s life together is just so hard to think about, but also it made my heart break for her dad who has had to live with the happiest and saddest times in his life overlapping in such a tough way.

Darren is doing the absolute best he can to raise his daughter, it’s so evident that he loves her more than anything and is trying to give her a good life but it feels that as Clover is growing up, he is burying his head in the sand a little. It must be so hard for men to deal with raising a daughter alone, especially as they reach puberty and there is no female role model in their life. He knows there are things Clover will want to know beyond the basic lessons he can teach her and he’s really floundering as to how he will get her through the teenage years and beyond. He knows Clover needs her mum, and needs to know about her mum but you can feel his hesitation and his need to skate around it for his own wellbeing. He seems like such a lovely man who is simply left so lost after his partner died. I felt the longing that he had to not let his partner’s memory go but also his desire to form a stable home life for Clover. It is apparent very early on in the novel that Darren is something of a hoarder – it really felt like he was someone who was just desperately trying to cling on, to keep things right for Clover and to be a good dad. It felt to me like Clover was very much like her dad in wanting to keep things but Clover is much more organised, hence her museum idea. Reading about when Darren was younger and seeing how simple his life was, with two parents who were still together and who obviously loved him very much and did their best by him, it is obvious that he is badly wanting this for his daughter too – ‘life [back then] was ordinary, unremarkable and occasionally boring. It was, looking back, wonderful’.

This novel builds as it goes along – the more you read the more you put the pieces together and the more you get a sense of heartbreak for what this family have been through. I had such sympathy with just about all of the characters in this novel, they had all had tough times in their lives and were all muddling through as best they can. It is apparent that the thing that defined them all and kept them connected was their love for Clover, and as the novel headed towards the end, I was hoping there would be some sort of happy ending for them all. Life isn’t perfect and bad things happen to lovely people but this novel gives us such a great reminder that life goes on and things will get better with time and openness.

It’s such a wonderfully profound novel. I rated it 5 out of 5 and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s one of those quiet novels that packs such a punch emotionally; it’s so beautiful and is one that will stay with me for a long time to come. Simply wonderful!

Excerpt of the novel

When she got home from the museum Dad was kneeling in the hall. He’d unscrewed the radiator and his thumb was pressed over an unfastened pipe as water gushed around it. The books and clothes and newspapers that used to line the hall had been arranged in small piles on the stairs. Beside him, on the damp carpet, was a metal scraper he’d been using to scuff the paper off the wall.

‘Just in time!’ he said. ‘Fetch a bowl. A small one, so it’ll fit.’

She fetched two and spent the next fifteen minutes running back and forth to the kitchen emptying one bowl as the other filled, Dad calling, ‘Faster! Faster! Keep it up, Speedy Gonzalez!’ His trousers were soaked and his knuckles grazed, but he wasn’t bothered. ‘Occupational hazard,’ he said, as if it wasn’t his day off and plumbing and stripping walls was his actual job.

Once the pipe had emptied he stood up and hopped about for a bit while the feeling came back into his feet. ‘I helped Colin out with something this morning,’ he said. ‘The people whose house we were at had this dado rail thing – it sounds posh, but it’s just a bit of wood, really – right about here.’ He brushed his hand against the wall beside his hip. ‘Underneath it they had stripy wallpaper, but above it they had a different, plain kind. It was dead nice and I thought, we could do that.’

Dad found a scraper for her. The paint came off in flakes, followed by tufts of the thick, textured wallpaper. Underneath, was a layer of soft, brown, backing-paper which Dad sprayed with water from a squirty bottle. When the water had soaked in, they made long scrapes down the wall, top to bottom, leaving the backing paper flopped over the skirting boards like ribbons of skin. It felt like they were undressing the house.

The bare walls weren’t smooth. They were gritty, crumbly in places. As they worked, a dusty smell wafted out of them. It took more than an hour to get from the front door to the wall beside the bottom stair. That’s where Dad uncovered the heart. It was about as big as Clover’s hand, etched on the wall in black, permanent marker, in Dad’s handwriting: Darren + Becky 4ever.

‘I’d forgotten,’ he murmured. And then he pulled his everything face. The face he pulls when Uncle Jim is drunk. The face he pulls when they go shopping in March and the person at the till tries to be helpful by reminding them about Mother’s Day. The face which reminds her that a lot of the time his expression is like a plate of leftovers.

She didn’t say anything, and although she wanted to, she didn’t trace the heart with her fingertips. Instead, she went up to the bathroom and sat on the boxed, pre-lit Christmas tree dad bought in the January sales. When you grow up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story you’re forever skating on the thin ice of their memories. That’s not to say it’s always sad – there are happy things, too. When she was a baby Dad had a tattoo of her name drawn on his arm in curly, blue writing, and underneath he had a green, four-leaf clover. She has such a brilliant name, chosen by her mother because it has the word LOVE in the middle. That’s not the sort of thing you go around telling people, but it is something you can remember if you need a little boost; an instant access, happiness top-up card – it even works when Luke Barton calls her Margey-rine. Clover thought of her name and counted to 300.

When she went downstairs Dad had recovered his empty face and she couldn’t help asking a question, just a small one.

‘Is there any more writing under the paper?’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘She didn’t do a heart as well?’

‘Help me with this, will you?’

They pulled the soggy ribbons of paper away from the skirting and put them in a bin bag. The house smelled different afterwards. As if some old sadness had leaked out of the walls.

About the Author

Author Carys Bray, photographed near her home in Southport, Lancashire.

Carys Bray’s debut collection Sweet Home won the Scott prize and selected stories were broadcast on BBC Radio Four Extra. Her first novel A Song for Issy Bradley was serialised on BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, the Association of Mormon Letters Awards, the Waverton Good Read Award, the 15 Bytes Book Awards and the Desmond Elliott Prize. It won the Utah Book Award and the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and was selected for the 2015 Richard and Judy Summer Book Club.

Carys has a BA in Literature from The Open University and an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Edge Hill University. Her second novel The Museum of You will be published in June 2016. She is working on a third novel.

 

You can follow the rest of The Museum of You blog tour at the dates and blogs below:

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Blog Tour | Review: My Girl by Jack Jordan

MY GIRL BOOK COVER

Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man. 

She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house. 

Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death? 

Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets. 

But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me. 

I started reading My Girl without really knowing much about it but it immediately hooked me in. I read the whole novel in one sitting because I simply had to know what was going on!

This novel is about Paige Dawson whose daughter was murdered and her husband has recently committed suicide as he just couldn’t cope anymore. Paige is in a really bad way – she is drinking heavily and taken a lot of medication to try and numb her devastation but it’s not keeping the emotions at bay. She is desperate to get more pills and will do anything to get them. This part of the book was quite shocking at times as we read what lengths Paige goes to but it’s more shocking how she is treated by others. People take advantage of the mess she is in and use her in awful ways. It was really difficult to read at times but at the same time I wanted to know where the story was going. Paige does have people in her life who want to help her but no one seems able to pull her back from the brink. She is just a very broken woman who can’t get over the loss of her child. She clings on to the past because it’s all she feels she has left. It’s very well written because I my heart was breaking for her as if she were a real person.

This novel is chilling at times, for more than one reason, and even though it was a tough read, it is a novel that I couldn’t put down. If I’m to be completely honest the only slight criticism I have is that I wish the second half of the novel had been longer. The first half is paced really well and gives such a sense of Paige’s despair but the second half lacked just a little of the character development of the first half. I just wanted to know more and for it to be expanded a little but this is only a minor point. It still works very well though and it wouldn’t stop me recommending this book.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Jack Jordan but I’ll definitely be buying his other novel Anything for Her and will be looking out for whatever he writes next.

I rated this novel 4 out of 5.

My Girl is due to be published on 4th July worldwide and is available for pre-order now.

I received a copy of My Girl from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Here is the blog tour poster so you can visit the other blogs on the tour:

MY GIRL BLOG TOUR POSTER