Non-Fiction November Wrap-Up! #NonFictionNovember2018

NonFictionNovember!

I always enjoy joining in with Non-Fiction November but the month always goes by so fast! This year I had quite a lot of fiction to read and review so couldn’t focus entirely on non-fiction but I still read more of it than I thought I would… sixteen non-fiction books in total!

Of my planned non-fiction TBR I managed to read:

Waco by David Thibodeau

This is a memoir of a man who survived the Waco siege. It’s a really interesting read and I recommend it.

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown

I enjoyed reading this book and have actually already reviewed it so you can read what I thought here if you’d like to.

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

I listened to the audiobook of this and I have to be honest and say that I found it a little disappointing. It just wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped it was going to be, although it was still interesting to read how companies like AirBnB and Uber got started.

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

Even though I am now finally winning the battle with clutter (ever since I did the KonMari method earlier this year my house is staying clutter-free) I still can’t resist reading books about it. There were some useful ideas in this book and I definitely recommend it.

Three Things You Need to Know about Rockets by Jessica Fox

I’d had this book on my TBR for years as I was saving it for the right time. Unfortunately though I just didn’t enjoy it all that much. It wasn’t what it felt like it was going to be and was lacking in something for me. It has had lots of good reviews though so it may well be that it just wasn’t for me.

 

I then completely deviated from my planned non-fiction reads and picked up these books too:

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

I love watching Giles and Mary on Gogglebox so was really looking forward to reading this book by them and I’m so happy to say that I enjoyed it. They’re just how they are on TV and it was a joy to read this.

I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

This was a fascinating read about a woman who looks into the life of her rapist. She had buried her emotions for many years and then goes on a journey to know more about the man who attacked her. It wasn’t as emotional read as I was expecting but it was still very interesting and gripping.

I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller

I listened to the audio book of this and it was such a fun, nostalgic read. I recommend it to all Friends fans!

No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s by Andy McSmith

This is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for such a long time but I’m so glad I picked it up because it was such a good read. It was really accessible non-fiction but it helps puts some things in context from the 80s with regards politics and what was happening at the time.

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

I’d forgotten I owned this audio book so when I spotted it in my Audible app during November I immediately started listening. I love Kate Summerscale’s writing and this book lived up to my expectations, it was so interesting.

How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been so badly wanting to read it so I’m glad to have read it in November. I really, really enjoyed this, it was even better than I thought it was going to be.

Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button

I was a huge F1 fan for many years and followed Jenson Button’s career in the sport. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when it was in a recent sale on Audible I snapped it up. I very much enjoyed this book. It’s a really open and honest look at his career, and also a love letter to his late father.

Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence by William Clegg QC

I downloaded this from NetGalley on a whim recently and I’m so glad I did as it was such a good read. I actually managed to review this straight away so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

My Life in Football: The Autobiography by Kevin Keegan

I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether I wanted to read this book at the moment. I’m a Newcastle United supporter and the way the club treated Kevin Keegan, and the way the current owner is running the club makes it not fun at all. Anyway, I saw the audio book in a recent sale and decided to give it a go. It was such a good read, I’m glad I read it but it did make me so angry all over again at how he was treated. I definitely recommend the book though.

Mother of a Suicide: The Battle for the Truth Behind a Mental Health Cover-up by Joanna Lane

This book often pops up on recommendations for me in Goodreads so I finally picked it up just the other day. I don’t know what to say about this one. I feel for Joanna, and I admire her determination to find answers and her fight to get the medical profession to listen but the book felt like it needed editing. I also wish it’d had more of a sense of her emotion rather than just the facts of what was happening.

 

 

Did you take part in Non-Fiction November? Or have you read any good non-fiction recently? I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books in my post, or if you have any non-fiction you can recommend to me. I’m always on the look out for new books. 🙂

 

 

 

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Mimi Thebo writes of the accident, PTSD & recovery that inspired her novel Hospital High @JHPsocial

Today I’m sharing a very inspiring guest post from Mimi Thebo, author of Hospital High, about how what happened to her when she was a teenager inspired her to write her novel.

 

When I was 14 years old, I died in a car accident. I didn’t stay dead, obviously, but I was badly injured. I spent my high school years in and out of hospital. Then, when I was patched up sufficiently, I started my life and never looked back.

It had been a grim time. Dad left the family before the accident and my grandma died after it – all within nine months. My mother and I suffered poverty…we couldn’t afford to heat the whole house and we went without food. The car might have hit the tree, but I’d lost more than my voice and my health in that time…I’d lost my whole way of life. My best friend had been driving the car, and so, inevitably, we grew apart and, by the following summer, I had lost her, too.

It was no wonder I never looked back on the events of 1974.

I got on with my life. I was lucky enough to go to university, and even with health and mobility challenges…and my father refusing to pay the agreed maintenance…I eventually graduated with a good degree. The doctors had told me I’d never be strong enough to work, but I pulled long shifts as a waitress to make the money I needed and was just fine. They’d also told me I should never marry, since I’d be ‘a burden’ to any future husband. But I met a boy who wasn’t frightened of that. We married and I moved to the UK.

I continued to prove the doctors wrong. I climbed mountains. I worked double shifts, sometimes 80 hours in a week.  In London, I learned to type and was soon running whole offices. But then I confounded everyone – I quit work, did an MA in Creative Writing and, within a year, had published two books and began lecturing at a university.

I had put the misery of my youth completely behind me.

Only I hadn’t.

I write stories of hope and recovery and redemption.  I write not just because I want to be a writer or want to make money, but because I want to inspire other people, to help them in their life journeys. And I wasn’t sure I was doing that. My books were good – good enough to get published and sell reasonably well. But they weren’t best-sellers or winning important prizes. There was something missing in my writing, something that made it too fluffy and light, even when I was trying to write about serious issues. And I knew what it was.

I hadn’t really dealt with that horrible time in my past. It was an editor who first suggested that I should write the story of my accident, but I didn’t even consider her suggestion. Ten years later, however, I was ready to listen. I had to confront my past and I had to do it the only way I knew how. I had to write it.

It took five years. At times, I was afraid reading my hospital records and remembering the things that had happened would re-trigger my PTSD.  I didn’t want to try writing about it during the teaching year or when I was solely responsible for my young daughter’s care. So I wrote it in the margins of school life; when school was in session and university wasn’t.

At last I finished writing about the most horrible time in my life. And then I wrote my breakthrough book for children, Dreaming the Bear – it was nominated for every prize in children’s fiction. Writing my trauma had worked for me. And it had worked in more ways than one. It made my writing stronger, but it also made me stronger.

Now the story of my accident, slightly fictionalised, is being published. I hope Hospital High helps other people to deal with their own trauma…  Perhaps it might even inspire them to get the pain of their past down on paper and out of their minds forever. It would make me very happy if it did.

 

 

Did you know writing can help you heal from physical as well as mental wounds?

Studies have shown that writing for a few minutes a day helped cancer patients respond to treatment, made people’s wounds heal faster and even lowered T-cell counts in HIV sufferers.

According to research, writing for twenty minutes a day has a profound effect on anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to write stories or poetry to get the benefit –and you don’t even have to write about worries or illness. You can get the benefit by writing about anything – even scribbling about fashion, football scores or gardening can improve your mental and physical health.

If you begin to enjoy writing for pleasure, there are writers groups and evening classes in every area. Contact your local library or the Arts Council to find one near you.

 

Hospital High is out now in ebook and paperback!

 

About the Author

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Mimi Thebo is a Carnegie-longlisted author for children and teens. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, adapted for a BAFTA-winning BBC film, illustrated in light and signed for deaf children by ITV. Born in the USA, she is based in SouthWest England, where she is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol and a Royal Literary Fellow.

 

 

About the Book

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My life had been saved…and boy, was I annoyed. Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone’s working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn’t think ‘normal’ is enough… When she was fourteen, the author Mimi Thebo died in a car accident. Hospital High is a young adult novel based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident.

 

#BookReview: Last Seen by @lucyclarkebooks + guest post about beach hutting! @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for Lucy Clarke’s brilliant new novel, Last Seen! I’m sharing my review with you later in this post but first a wonderful guest post, with some gorgeous photos, from Lucy herself!

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

Lucy Clarke has grown up spending her summers in a beach hut. The stretch of beach where her family hut stands became the inspiration behind the setting in LAST SEEN. Here she shares some insights and photos about beach hut life.

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The setting for LAST SEEN was closely inspired by the summers I’ve spent in a beach hut. Our family have owned a hut since I was eight years old, and the friends I made during those first few summers are still – twenty-five years on – some of my closest friends. We grew up crashing through waves on body boards, or playing cards huddled in someone’s hut as the rain lashed down. I actually met my husband at the beach; his family owned the hut next door and I used to moon around on the shoreline watching him windsurf!

Now that many of us have children of our own, a new generation of little sandy-toed urchins are being introduced to the beach. Sharing a hut with our 2.5 year-old and a 9 month-old, has its own challenges (breakfast at 5am, anyone?), but their sheer excitement about a day spent at the beach is hard to beat.

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LAST SEEN is peppered with real details and observations from my own experiences of hut life – like crabbing from the jetty when I was a child, or digging a sand hole for my bump when I was pregnant. Although most of my beach hut memories are happy ones, like in any close-knit community there can also be conflicts and secrets and tragedies. In LAST SEEN I wanted to juxtapose the beautiful, remote setting of the sandbank with the darker threads that weave between Sarah and Isla’s friendship. (Thankfully though, all the events in the novel are entirely fictional!)

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I wrote much of the novel from our beach hut. It’s my very favourite place to write as I work so much better when I’m off-grid (I leave my laptop behind, turn off my phone, and write by hand). Sunny days are incredible, of course, but blustery, rainy ones hold a certain allure when the beach empties and the only sounds are rumbling waves or a whistling kettle.

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We spend much of our winters travelling, but come summer, there’s nowhere we’d rather be than in the beach hut. Like Sarah remarks in LAST SEEN, ‘What brings us back here, summer after summer, is that the beach hut unites our family . . . we step out of the rush of our normal lives and live outside-in, letting the rhythms of the weather and tides rule our days.’

 

 

About the Book

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing ever since I first read The Sea Sisters so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review her new novel, Last Seen for the blog tour! I have to say that Last Seen absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and I loved reading it!

Last Seen is predominantly a look at female friendship and how one decision can unwittingly set a relationship on a different course, one that you really don’t want to end up on. Sarah and Isla have been friends since they were younger, and Sarah has supported Isla through some of the hardest moments of her life. But then Isla decides to go travelling and what happens back home changes everything in a seemingly subtle way but as they appear to move on that one thing looms large throughout the book.

The reason I fell in love with The Sea Sisters was because of the way Lucy Clarke writes the relationship between women and Last Seen made me emotional for these two friends in the same way. Neither one of these women is perfect and neither is always likeable but they always felt like real people to me. I could see their flaws, and their issues and I liked them all the more for it. The detail is wonderful too – I smiled to myself when Sarah describes how someone from her past smelt of Dewberry shampoo. I must be a similar age to Sarah because I remember Dewberry so very well!

Sarah and Isla end up pregnant at the same time when they’re both still young and they look forward to bringing their boys up together. Sadly, things don’t work out like that when one summer, the year they turn ten, the boys go missing at sea and only one is found alive. This sets in motion a chain of revelations, guilt and jealousy that will affect these people forever.

This book so twisty, I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going to happen in the end. I had many suspicions as I was reading but all turned out to be wrong. It’s very rare for me to not be able to work out the ending of a thriller but this one got me and I loved it all the more for that. The end when it comes makes perfect sense and it sends you reeling but it’s so good!

This book is beautiful and twisty and utterly engrossing! I couldn’t put it down – I literally read it in one sitting. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Last Seen for your summer reading, you definitely won’t regret it!

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she’d love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy’s debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

You can follow the rest of the Last Seen blog tour at the following blogs:

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Find out what @EmilyBenet’s ideal hen party would be! #TheHenParty #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to welcome the wonderful Emily Benet back to my blog! Emily’s brand new novel, The Hen Party is out now and to celebrate Emily has told me all about her perfect hen party!

My Ideal Hen Party

Call me a party pooper but in my ideal hen party there are no rubber willies. Not dangling around my neck, not shooting up like a rocket from a hair band and not fixed to the end of my straw. I’m not that bothered about a sash either! Forget the L plates, at 33 years old I’ve only just learned to drive. The last thing I want to be reminded of while I’m trying to have a good time is my fear of driving alone!

In my book, the hens win a one-week holiday in Mallorca and are filmed for The Hen Party reality TV series. It sounds pretty great but the director has her own agenda and the hens themselves are keeping secrets from each other. I definitely wouldn’t want my hen party broadcast on national television and I’d only want my best friends around me.

In my ideal hen party the schedule would be very relaxed. I’d escape to an alpine cabin in the mountains and the day would begin with a swim and a picnic at the nearby river. Yep, I know it sounds a bit Enid Blyton, but hey, I love ginger beer… especially when mixed with rum. Although, I think cava suits the scene better. In proper glasses too. There would be a delicious spread. A lot of cheese. That bits important. A LOT OF CHEESE. And olives. I love olives.

It has to be sunny. We’ll go for a wander through the forest and all the wildlife will come out to meet us like in Snow White. Rabbits, hedgehogs, deer, maybe even a friendly bear. I love wildlife documentaries but would never have the patience to wait days on end for the perfect snap.

Back at our cabin, we’d have an Argentine-style barbeque with lots of red wine. The barbeque would turn into our bonfire which we’d inevitably end up dancing around to all our favourite tunes, because miraculously the signal will work perfectly for Spotify.

When the fire has gone out, we’ll lie on our backs and look up at the stars. I won’t have to pretend to see a shooting star like I did when I was little, because there will be so many. We’ll reminisce about the good times and have a good laugh at ourselves.

In short, my ideal hen party would be drama-free, unlike my book, The Hen Party!

 

 

I’ve previously interviewed Emily (you can read that here) and reviewed her last novel #PleaseRetweet, which I loved and highly recommend (you can read that here).

About the Book

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Film Director, Kate Miller, is in serious trouble. The entire cast and crew of the reality TV show The Hen Party has gone missing while filming in Mallorca. To make matters worse, the network boss has just flown in and will be arriving any minute to check up on her production.

Kate thinks it’s all her fault. She hasn’t exactly been following the guidelines.

But if she is to blame, why were the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears?

Kate doesn’t know the half of it. The hens have their own secrets and it’s only matter of time before they all come tumbling out.

A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone’s going home.

 

About the Author

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Emily is an author and award-winning blogger. Her debut book, Shop Girl Diaries, began as a blog. Her second, Spray Painted Bananas, racked up a million hits on the online platform Wattpad and  led to a 2 book deal with Harper Collins which led to social media comedy #PleaseRetweet. Her latest book, The Hen Party, is set in Mallorca where she lives with her husband and writes for abc mallorca magazine.

 

Universal Link:  https://books2read.com/u/b5Oyq7

My website: www.emilybenet.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

Twitter: @EmilyBenet

 

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

Hen Party-Summer Blog Tour

Author Kate Vane on the story behind the title of #TheFormerChiefExecutive @k8vane

 

Today on my blog I’m thrilled to welcome Kate Vane, author of The Former Chief Executive. It’s publication day for Kate’s novel and she’s very kindly written a fab post for my blog about the story behind her title for this novel. 

 

The Story Behind the Title – The Former Chief Executive

I usually only give my books a title quite late in the writing process. While I was writing The Former Chief Executive, the name of the file on my computer was ‘garden novel’ because the garden setting was key for me. I had an image in my mind of the garden almost as a theatre set, where key interactions take place, and are observed and overheard.

In The Former Chief Executive, Deborah has been forced into early retirement following a tragedy at the hospital she ran. She is experiencing a number of losses – the death of her husband has come on top of the end of her career and the damage to her reputation. She comes to know Luca through a garden share scheme, where he takes care of her garden in exchange for a share of the produce. Luca is young but appears to have had a troubled past.

While the setting is important, for me, character is key. Deborah is a strong woman and the title reflects it. It was partly a reaction against the plethora of titles in recent years with ‘wife’ or ‘daughter’ in the title (and don’t get me started on ‘girl’). I believe ‘wife’ was initially used ironically, to say that beside the man in the title there is a woman with talents and feelings and aspirations who should be judged on her own terms, but that meaning soon became lost.

I wanted to play with the reader’s assumptions. Most people will, on first hearing the term ‘chief executive’, instinctively think of a man, even if we wish we didn’t. The cover, though, prominently features a woman (thanks to Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco who kindly allowed me to use this gorgeous portrait). I hope the juxtaposition of the title and the image will pique the reader’s interest.

The title crucially refers to the fact that Deborah is a former chief executive. Her role was a key part of her identity but she no longer feels that she is that person. It is also the language of the media, which describes people in cold, concrete terms, without nuance. It is a description she recognises. Her very sense of self is undermined.

The Former Chief Executive is about a woman who feels that all her achievements and happiness are behind her. A woman who is afraid to even say her name. Luca, by contrast, is trying to leave his past behind, to live in the present and to build a new life. Their relationship forces her to assess her past and asks her to make choices about who she is and what matters to her.

 

About the Book

The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane medium

Without your past, who are you?

Deborah was a respected hospital manager until a tragedy destroyed her reputation. She has lost her career, her husband and even her name.

Luca wants to stay in the moment. For the first time in his life he has hope and a home. But a fresh start is hard on a zero-hours contract, harder if old voices fill your mind.

When a garden share scheme brings them together, Deborah is beguiled by Luca’s youth and grace. He makes her husband’s garden live again. He helps her when she’s at her lowest. But can she trust him? And when the time comes to confront her past, can she find the strength?

This sharply drawn short novel explores the distance between the generations – between health and wealth, owners and workers, guilt and blame.

The Former Chief Executive is published on 8 June in paperback and Kindle

 

About the Author

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 Kate Vane is the author of three novels, The Former Chief Executive, Not the End and Recognition.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and was a shortlisted BBC Talent Drama Writer. She has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday, and received a Yorkshire Arts award for her first novel.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

You can find Kate on her blog: katevane.wordpress.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Paul E. Hardisty on Claymore Stryker | Reconciliation of the Dead #blogtour @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the Orenda blog tour for Reconciliation of the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty. Paul has written a brilliant guest post about the evolution of Claymore Stryker for my stop.

 

The Evolution of Claymore Stryker

In the opening scene of my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, the lead character, Claymore Straker, is in Maputo, Mozambique, considering his future. It is 1997, and he is on the run, again. The events of the last few years (described in the first book of the series, the CWA Creasy New Blood Dagger shortlisted The Abrupt Physics of Dying, set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war; and the second book, The Evolution of Fear, set largely in Cyprus and Istanbul in 1995) are behind him now, but still raw in his memory.

He has just finished testifying to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, having returned to South Africa for the first time since being dishonourably discharged from the army and sent into exile over fifteen years earlier. Over three days of testimony, Clay takes us on a journey into the darkest chapter of his country’s history, revealing the horrifying events that led to him abandoning everything he was raised to believe in. It is 1980, Clay is a young paratrooper, fighting on the front lines in South Africa’s war against the communist insurgency in Angola. On a patrol deep behind enemy lines, Clay is confronted by an act of the most shocking brutality. It will change him forever. Wounded in battle, struggling to make sense of what he has witnessed, Clay tries to uncover the dark secret behind those events, and what lies hidden in apartheid’s murky core.

For fourteen years, Clay tries to forget the past, buries it deep. But as the years go by, his post-traumatic stress worsens. Then, working for an oil company in Yemen, everything starts to unravel, and the horrors of war come flooding back. As civil war erupts, he meets Rania LaTour, a French journalist. She becomes the dominant influence in his life. In the face of the terrible injustice he witnesses, he must decide whether to act, or turn away and abandon his friends. Later, in Cyprus, increasingly beguiled and influenced by Rania, he recognises his need for absolution, and realises that he must go back and tell the truth about what happened all those years ago in South Africa. Only then, he believes, will he find a measure of peace, and perhaps become the man Rania deserves.

As the series continues into its fourth, and quite possibly final, instalment (The Debased and the Faithful, due out in 2018), Clay continues to evolve as a person. In a way, I consider the series more a fictional biography in four parts, than a traditional crime series. The situations into which he is thrust, into which he drives himself, are the direct consequence of the events and the people that have shaped him. Each exerts its own unique influence, and together, combine to make him the person he is destined to become.  How it will all end, I don’t quite know yet. All I know is that Clay’s journey is not over, and is about to get a whole lot more difficult. Rania’s too.

 

About the Book

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Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

About the Author

Paul Hardisty

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

You can find Paul on twitter: @Hardisty_Paul

(Bio taken from Orenda Books website)

 

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

Reconciliation for the Dead Blog Tour poster

#BookReview: Good as Gone by Amy Gentry @unlandedgentry @HQStories #BlogTour

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About the Book

Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still alive.

And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Good as Gone to review for the blog tour as it sounded like such a gripping read, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. I read this in one sitting as I just got lost in the novel for an entire afternoon!

I’m always intrigued by novels where someone has gone missing and then seemingly returns years later. It’s one of those things that you can barely even imagine and yet it has happened in real life too. In this novel I was immediately curious as to where Julie had been, and if this even really was Julie that had come back. I would imagine that if your child had been missing for all those years and someone who looked just like her came to your door you wouldn’t immediately question if it really was her because you would so badly want it to be. In Good as Gone it felt believable to me that the family accepted Julie back so quickly and didn’t question the situation, but as a reader I was quickly wondering if this really was going to be a happy ending for the family and it really made the book a gripping, rollercoaster of a read that I was so unsure and unsettled by Julie.

As we begin to learn more about Julie and where she might have been in the intervening years and what might have happened to her I found I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages, I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out.

My favourite thing about this book was the chapters by all the different people and how each chapter gives a clue and gradually a picture is built up about what has happened. It was great how the reader has much more information than the family and we are there in each setting and trying to understand whether this person was Julie or if that person was, but we also see the family trying to come to terms with what has happened, and they start uncovering secrets that have been held in the intervening years and have to deal with the fallout from that. I found I was trying to put the pieces together from the start and some things I got wrong and others I got right, it was very cleverly written.

I definitely recommend this book – it’s a gripping, absorbing rollercoaster of a thriller that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Exclusive content from Amy Gentry:

What was your inspiration for writing the book? How has working in women’s shelters influenced Julie’s story?

For about a year, I volunteered as an on-call emergency room advocate for victims of sexual assault. When assault victims turned up in the emergency room requesting a forensic exam (aka rape kit), I would dispatch to the hospital to provide in-room advocacy and resources from the shelter. Thus I spent lots of time, often in the middle of the night, with survivors of sexual trauma in the immediate aftermath of their assaults. I was asked by women to sit in the room with them during the forensic exam, even hold their hands. I sat in hospital rooms with students, strippers, mothers, grandmothers, homeless prostitutes, veterans, political campaigners, athletes, you name it. The stories of abused and assaulted women were very real and vivid to me as I wrote the parts of my story that dealt with those topics. I became especially alert to the ways in which victims of these crimes struggle to protect themselves in the wake of trauma, often making choices which might seem to an outsider to be the wrong ones because they may hurt others or lead to the victim herself being retraumatized. Yet I came to understand how important that sense of choice can be for helping victims preserve a sense of agency and personhood that has been violated during the assault. Demanding that victims look or act a certain way, either before or after their assault, is one way we discredit victims and perpetuate rape culture. I also talked to many police and other first responders, and came to understand how flawed and human these professionals are in their own, often biased, responses to sexual assault victims. There is no such thing as a perfect victim, because people behave erratically in the wake of severe trauma; but for some reason we seem to demand perfection of sexual assault victims. This is really the underlying theme I wanted to explore with Good as Gone.

 

About the Author

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Amy Gentry lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two cats. After graduating in 2011 with a PhD in English from the University of Chicago, she began a freelance writing career, writing book reviews, cultural criticism, and, for one strange and wonderful year, a fashion column. She frequently reviews fiction for the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, and her writing has appeared in Salon.com, xoJane, The Rumpus, the Austin Chronicle, the Texas ObserverLA Review of BooksGastronomica, and the Best Food Writing of 2014GOOD AS GONE, her first thriller, is set in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Bio taken from the author’s website: amygentryauthor.com 

 

Follow the rest of the blog tour at these lovely blogs:

Good as Gone blog tour

Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel #RememberMe! #guestpost @LyndaRenham

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Today on my blog I’m thrilled to welcome author Lynda Renham, who has written a lovely guest post for me about her brand new thriller Remember Me.

 

About the Book

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A new neighbour moves next door. They seem nice enough. You go to their house for dinner. It’s a nice house.  And then things start to change. The vase in your house is suddenly on their landing. The colour of your kitchen becomes the colour of their kitchen. How much of your life will SHE take? ‘Remember Me’ is an unsettling and on the edge of your seat thriller.

 Clare is glad when the new neighbours move in. It’s nice to have a new friend.  But as time moves on Clare begins to fear for her child and her own sanity. 

 

 

Lynda’s Post

As a writer the thought of changing the genre that I normally write was a bit nerve-wracking but I decided to go for it because I had such great ideas in my head and after all, a writer is a writer. We surely can’t be expected to write the same things over and over.

I love writing comedy and very much enjoyed writing ‘Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog’

However, a writer’s life is a lonely one. Every book is your new baby and how it is received by the readers becomes a really personal thing.

I had a fair amount of writers block while producing the new one. There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a lap top with a blank document on the screen and absolutely nothing in your head. I always turn to the fridge unfortunately. Or even worse, the chocolate basket that sits tempting me.

My new novel titled ‘Remember Me’ saw me consume a lot of chocolate.

It’s not scary. It’s a thriller rather than a horror story but there are a few twists and turns and the twist is quite unexpected. I hope very much you enjoy it.

I love to hear from my readers so do get in touch. I’m on Twitter @lyndarenham and I have a Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/lyndarenhamauthor/ Do join me and tell me what you think of the books.

The next book will be a romantic comedy again. It’s quite nice to chop and change a bit. I’m very much hoping my readers will enjoy this new book. You can buy it at the promotional price of 99p or if you’re part of Amazon’s prime subscription then you can borrow it for FREE.  Click here to go to Remember Me on Amazon.

 

About the Author

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I’m the author of the bestselling Romantic Comedy novels ‘Croissants and Jam’ ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ and ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’  The Dog’s Bollocks Rory’s Proposal’ and ‘It Had to be You‘ I’m also the author of ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ I live in the beautiful Cotswolds with my husband Andrew and one cat, named Bendy.

 

 

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Speaking Up For the Voiceless| #guestpost by Mark Stewart #TheAbsenceOfWings @pendragonmist

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Mark Stewart to my blog. Mark is the author of the short story collection The Absence of Wings, and has written a great guest post about why he writes short stories for my blog today.

 

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Speaking up for the voiceless – why I write short stories

 

“I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”  

Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

 

Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.

There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.

I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.

My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.

I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.

About the Author

Mark Stewart is the author of two collections of short stories designed to highlight the plight of captive, endangered and mistreated animals. His first collection (The Screaming Planet) can be found online here:

http://markdestewart.wixsite.com/thescreamingplanet

The second collection (The Absence of Wings), which has consistently attracted five star reviews, is available on Amazon.

A third collection of short stories (“The Fire Trees”) is due out in June 2017.

Mark can be followed on Twitter @pendragonmist and on Facebook TheScreamingPlanet

 

About the Book

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The Absence of Wings is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.

Here you will find, among other stories:

•A mariner snatched from the deck of his ship by a sea wraith

•The lament of a whale dragged onto the killing deck of a harpoon ship

•A caged polar bear whose only taste of freedom comes from a racial memory of the arctic tundra

•A shark that can swim into the sleeping minds of human beings

•And a dolphin whose only chance of returning to open water lies in the movement of the tides on one particular night of the year

These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.

The Absence of Wings is available on ebook and in paperback from Amazon and is out now.

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 | The #JoyceGirl and Mental Health by Annabel Abbs #GuestPost

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Today I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Joyce Girl. I have a brilliant guest post to share, which Annabel Abbs has written for me about mental health issues. It’s such an important and relevant piece so please read and share it.

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The Joyce Girl tells the mostly-true story of Lucia Joyce, a talented dancer and the daughter of James Joyce.  Set in 1920s Paris, the novel explores Lucia’s affairs with a young Samuel Beckett and a young Alexander Calder, and her subsequent descent into what was then termed ‘madness’.

When I decided to write about Lucia, I knew she ended her days in a mental asylum, friendless and forgotten. But what I didn’t know was how many other women in 1920s Paris had followed suit.  As my research deepened, I came across more and more ‘bright young flappers’ who, like Lucia, were certified as insane and put into mental asylums.  In The Joyce Girl alone, three of the six female characters (all based on real people) went into asylums – all certified as schizophrenic. These included Lucia’s sister-in-law, and a fellow dancer -Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the characters who inhabited earlier versions of the novel (the sister of Lucia’s first love interest and the French translator of Joyce’s Dubliners) also went into an asylum. Sadly she was lost from the novel when I cut the cast to a more manageable size.

In those days, any adult male family member could have a female family member certified. And once you were certified you lost all your legal rights.  Lucia was subjected to a catalogue of often bizarre and sometimes inhuman treatments.  She was regularly straitjacketed and locked up.  In an age when there was no specific medication for mental health disorders, and when mental asylums were full of drunks, drug addicts and syphilitics, her experience must have been terrifying.  And Lucia loathed being restrained.  After being a dancer who expressed herself through her body, being forced into a straitjacket was a particularly cruel and violent act.

This was also an era when ‘madness’ was often viewed as shameful.  Although Lucia’s father stood by her to the very end, her mother and brother were only too ready to cast her off, seeing her not only as a taint on the family’s reputation but as a drain on the family finances.  In my Historical Note, I quote from a letter in which they are united as saying Lucia should be ‘shut in and left to sink or swim there.’

Fortunately huge progress has been made in the area of mental health. But while I was writing The Joyce Girl, I became increasingly aware of a surge in mental health issues at the schools of my three daughters.  This was reflected in newspaper reports and professional surveys showing the surge went far beyond my daughters’ schools.  Take these facts, for instance (source: YoungMinds and Beat):

  • In the last ten years the number of young people admitted to hospital because of self harm has increased by 68% .
  • The number of children and young people who have presented to A&E with a psychiatric condition have more than doubled since 2009.
  • Since 2005-06, there has been a 34% increase in hospital admissions due to anorexia (predominantly female).

The more I researched jazz-age Paris, the more I saw parallels between the 1920s and the 2015s, as new generations (particularly, but not exclusively, female) struggled to adapt to new values, to new ways of behaving, to new ways of being viewed by others and by themselves.

The flappers of that era were ‘victims’ of the rapid change sweeping through the developed world. The 1920s were a time of huge change – cars, cameras, cinemas, telephones and radios were becoming ubiquitous and altering the lives of everyone. In Paris, hems were up and stockings were down as young women embraced change and all it promised. Suddenly cameras were everywhere, the paparazzi was born, and glossy magazines began to feature ‘celebrities’, making icons of the new Hollywood stars.  In Paris Josephine Baker made naked dancing acceptable – no longer something confined to brothels. But beneath the glamour and glitter lay a dark underbelly, as many of these women succumbed to depression and mental illness.  The mostly-male doctors were untrained in mental health. Psychoanalysis (the ‘talking cure’) was in its infancy and there was still a tendency to write off these women as neurotics or hysterics.

Today, technology and social media have revolutionised our world and yet beneath the glossy technicolour of Instagram and Facebook lurks a similarly dark underbelly, with soaring rates of anorexia, bulimia and self-harm among the young, and particularly (but by no means exclusively) young women and girls.

In memory of Lucia, I decided to give my first year profits to a charity called YoungMinds who work with those needing help. We’ve come a long way since the 1920s – but there’s still a long way to go. No one should ever be left to languish in an asylum as Lucia was.

 

About the Author

Annabel Abbs

 

Annabel grew up in Bristol, Wales, Herefordshire and East Sussex – the daughter of two writers. She studied English Literature and History at the University of East Anglia and then completed a Masters in Marketing and Statistics at Kingston University. She started her career as a copy writer in an advertising agency then co-founded a marketing agency which she left after fifteen years to spend time with her four young children and to write. She currently blogs at http://www.kaleandcocoa.com and writes short stories and novels.

 

About the Book

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Paris 1928. Lucia, the talented and ambitious daughter of James Joyce, is making a name for herself as a dancer, training with many famous dancers of her day and moving in social circles which throw her into contact with Samuel Beckett. Convinced she has clairvoyant powers, she believes her destiny is to marry Beckett, but the overbearing shadow of her father threatens this vision. Caught between her own ambitions and desires, and her parents’ demands, Lucia faces both emotional and psychological struggles that attract the attention of pioneer psychoanalyst Dr Jung.


 

The Joyce Girl is due to be published tomorrow in the UK and can be pre-ordered now. I reviewed The Joyce Girl last week and you can read my review here.


 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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Exorcising the Furniture by Virginia King #QuirkyGuestPostTour

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Today I’m delighted to welcome author Virginia King to my blog as part of the Quirky Guest Post Marathon. Virginia has written a brilliant guest post about exorcising the furniture, I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Exorcising the Furniture by Virginia King

A fiction writer can sometimes be pulled into strange territory. A character can say something unexpected or an event can turn up, making the dialogue or the book career off in a new direction. These serendipitous detours can generate bursts of research and create new layers in the story.

The Face in the Mirror

In the first chapter of my psychological mystery The First Lie, the main character Selkie Moon encounters the face of a strange woman in her bathroom mirror. She’s just moved to Hawaii, a place full of paranormal happenings. Seriously spooked, Selkie googles the sighting, after the strange event had sent me there ahead of her. She found accounts of other people’s encounters with the spirit world:

Someone describes levitating off her bed and almost being sucked into a mirror. She was just able to resist, and afterwards a team of ghost-busters rid her apartment of evil spirits hiding in the sculptures and statues.

Research like this is a gift to the mystery writer who enjoys a foray into the psychic and the surreal.  Was the face in the mirror trying to lure Selkie … to the other side? Or was it some kind of vision? But Selkie’s a stranger in town so what’s it got to do with her?

Suspect Ornaments

 

Selkie shares a flat with art student Wanda, and this snippet about sculptures and statues inspired me to fill the place with quirky ornaments. Selkie says …

My eyes scan the walls and dozens of eyes stare back. Wanda’s artworks, fashioned from dead fish. In garish colours with painted lips … A naked shop dummy sits on a chair at the end of Wanda’s bed, her plastic legs akimbo. Doris. For the first few weeks I kept jumping out of my skin every time I caught sight of her …

The room is a tribute to Wanda’s eye for other people’s trash, and my few belongings barely make an impression on the menagerie. A large Buddha head with four faces forever contemplating his split personality. Two fairies shadow-dancing on an art-deco tray. A parrot made from nuts and bolts poised on his own perch.

Soon Selkie is running for her life. After one shocking incident, she and I both remembered the woman with the statues. As Selkie wonders if one of Wanda’s ornaments might be harbouring something, deeper layers appeared in the mystery.

Back to the Bathroom Mirror

Spooky Mirror

After an hour on Google I’m on a feng shui site: Don’t put a mirror opposite the bed in case you get trapped in the in-between state between sleeping and waking.

This little gem gave me further permission to play with the mystical properties of mirrors. Hawaiian folklore has lots of stories: faces appearing in grandma’s mirror, causing doors to slam and cups to rattle; the ritual of turning the mirror to the wall before going to bed …

After Selkie sees the face, Wanda tells her the mirror belonged to her grandmother, Tutu:

“Tutu was a kahuna,” Wanda says. “That’s where I get my Hawaiian blood, from her. She saw things. In her mind. And in the mirror.”

“Things?”

“You know. The future. Predictions. Visions.” She stops. “Now you’ve seen one.”

“I saw a face, that’s all. A face that . . . stared at me.” But the hairs on my neck are standing up.

There’s talk about what to do with the mirror:

“What do you want me to do,” Wanda asks, “call in an exorcist?”

“Hell, no. Just move the bloody thing.” Into a dumpster on the other side of the island.

“You can move it. Turn the mirror to the wall and it loses its power.”

“No way,” I say. “And I’m stuck outside in my bathrobe. How am I going to get to work?”

Jewellery with Attitude

Cowry with Attitude

Google tells me that in Victorian times precious stones were thought to have ‘magical’ properties: for example rubies symbolised passion and seed pearls depicted tears. But Selkie is living in modern Hawaii, where I was once given a necklace made from … a cowry shell.

Hermit crabs live in empty shells, and a shell held to the ear whispers about the sea. A Google search discovers lots of mystical powers attributed to cowry shells around the world. How might a cowry contribute to Selkie’s journey? It’s another opportunity to ‘exorcise the furniture’.


A Free Ghost Story

Laying Ghosts

Get a taste for the Selkie Moon mystery series with Laying Ghosts, a modern 24-page haunted house story inspired by a Russian folktale and tangled up in a murder ballad dating back to the 1700s. It’s a standalone story but also a prequel to the series and explains the chilling reason for Selkie Moon leaving Sydney to start a new life in Hawaii. Download your free copy http://www.selkiemoon.com/#popup


The First Lie by Virginia King

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Someone is trying to kill you.

When Selkie Moon flees Sydney to start over in Hawaii, it’s to live life on her own terms. But Life has other plans.

Though she tries to dismiss the warning as just another nightmare, it soon becomes apparent that someone, or something, is stalking her. Attacked by frightening visions and mysterious compulsions, she must piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out.

Virginia King effortlessly blends funky creativity and deep spirituality – with a dash of Celtic folklore – to craft a story of one woman’s fight for truth, and her discovery that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous of all.

 

Special Sale Price: The First Lie for .99 GBP!

For a very short time you can buy The First Lie – winner of a BRAG Medallion – for the special discounted price of .99 GBP:

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Lie-Selkie-Moon-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01FY8AQYM/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-first-lie/id1114891804

Other retail sites: http://www.selkiemoon.com/buy-the-books/

Links:

Website: http://www.selkiemoon.com/

Blog: http://www.selkiemoon.com/la-bloguette/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/selkiemoonmysteries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/selkiemoonbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8186550.Virginia_King

 

Giveaway of The First Lie

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You could be one of ten lucky winners who will choose either a signed paperback or an audio book of The First Lie plus a $15 Amazon gift code. One grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift code.

Enter here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/win-a-signed-copy/

 

 


 

About the Author

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When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.

Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

 


 

You can follow the rest of the Quirky Guest Post Blog Tour at the following blogs…

 

The Girl Who Lied Blog Tour | Guest Post by Sue Fortin

The Girl Who Lied Blog Tour Copy

Today I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin. The novel is published today so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish Sue a very happy publication day and every success with this book!

Sue has written a lovely guest post for my blog all about making something happen in your novel and I’m happy to share that with you all now.

 


 

Make Something Happen in Your Novel

Probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received concerning my writing was to ‘make something happen’.

I was first given this advice by Margaret James, author and tutor at the London School of Journalism where I was completing an on-line Writing Romance course. The process went that I would submit the opening to my romance novel on a monthly chapter by chapter basis. Margaret would read the assignment/chapter and return it each month with her thoughts and observations. I think all in all, we covered about 30k words over the length of the course.

It was at this point when Margaret was summarizing what I had done so far, she said that it was all very nice and the tension was building but not much had actually happened. Margaret is very polite but I’m sure that really translated to, it’s a bit boring. And she was right. When I looked at it objectively, nothing much had happened. So, my challenge was to make something happen.

Well, it took four years and the writing of two full length novels in between before I could actually work out what to do. I did go back to the manuscript several times, but I was at a bit of a brick wall as to what to do with it. Maybe, leaving it and gaining more experience was the key to solving this ‘make something happen’ issue. Last year, when I had another look at those 30k words, something suddenly clicked. I had a literary epiphany and knew what I needed to do.

The end result was quite a different story to the one I started with, yet the essence remained. There’s romance in The Girl Who Lied but it also looks at the family unit, secrets and how we might not always do the right thing, but what we do is driven by love.

About the Book

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

A must read for fans of CL Taylor and BA Paris.

About the Author

Sue Fortin

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint Harper Impulse, Sue Fortin writes romance, mystery and suspense.

Her originally self-published debut novel was awarded the INDIE Brag Medallion and later when published by HarperImpulse was short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award (2014). Sue was also short-listed for the Festival of Romance, New Talent Award (2013). Her second novel, Closing In, reached number one in the Romantic Suspense Kobo chart at the end of 2014. Sue blogs regularly with the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk).

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.

Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

Sue is represented by Kate Nash Literary Agency.

You can catch up with Sue at

Facebook Sue Fortin Author

Twitter @suefortin1

Website & Blog www.suefortin.com

HarperImpulse Author Page

Amazon Author Page

The Lad Lit Blog Tour | Guest post by Steven Scaffardi

 

Blog Tour Update v5

Today is my turn on Steven Scaffardi’s Lad Lit blog tour and I have a fab guest post by Steven to share with you. I was really happy when Steven suggested writing about how Mike Gayle’s My Legendary Girlfriend changed his life, as I remember reading that book soon after it was published and I loved it. It was something different that I hadn’t read before, so it’s very interesting to read how this book inspired Steven.

 

How My Legendary Girlfriend changed my life (…the book by Mike Gayle, not an actual girlfriend!)

Travelling up and down the country in the #LadLitBlogTour bus has given me plenty of time to research other great articles on lad lit, hidden in and around that big world wide web called the internet.

Earlier this week, I found this great piece on lad lit author Matt Dunn with Novelicious.com titled The Book That Changed My Life. Matt explains that it was Nick Hornby’s masterpiece High Fidelity that inspired him to write his first novel Best Man, which led to securing him a publishing deal.

It got me thinking – what was the book that inspired me to write lad lit? A lot of people have asked me on this blog tour why I write lad lit, and often my response has been because I was inspired by my own experiences and those stories told to me by friends. But the more I think about it, the more I start to realise how important My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike Gayle was to me writing The Drought.

In the summer of 2005 I moved out of my parents’ house and into my own flat in south London with a good friend of mine. After a game of paper, scissors, rock, to determine who got the bigger room, I found myself cramped into the box room wondering where the hell I was going to put all of my stuff.

I wandered into my flatmates bedroom to see if he had any space he could afford to lend me (he didn’t of course, I’d have to make do with shoving stuff under my bed), but I was drawn to his bookcase. I was looking for a new book to read, and after flicking through a couple of books that didn’t really take my interest, I picked up My Legendary Girlfriend.

It was one of four or five Mike Gayle books he had on his shelf. After reading the blurb, my flatmate told me what a great book it was, but being a man who had mainly read crime novels and other macho books like that, I turned my nose up at the thought of reading a book about relationships. “That was for girls,” I told him.

Still, it had secretly piqued my interest, and later on that night I found myself sneaking into my flatmates room to steal the copy off his bookshelf. Granted it was a bit awkward when he woke up at 2am and saw me in my boxer shorts hovering around his bed, but after time we got over the incident. Actually, we just don’t bring it up anymore…

But..! The next morning I found myself engrossed in Mike’s words as he articulated the male mind on the pages of a book like I’d never seen (or read) before. I was hooked – Will Kelly was a real bloke, who viewed the world, women, dating and love like a guy did. Not like one of those perfect specimens who appeared in the chick lit novels my then-girlfriend would read; the type of guy who made it virtually impossible for all other men to stand up against in the real world.

Instead Mike captured all of the quirks and insecurities that the everyday man goes through in matters of the heart. And you know what – it was funny too. Hilarious even! The best comedy is always the type of comedy you can relate to, and before you knew it I was sneaking into a flatmates room on a regular basis to pick up another Mike Gayle book. Looking back, it probably would have been better if I had just asked him if I could borrow the books. The least I could do is wear something other than just my boxer shorts every time I paid him an impromptu late night visit.

And years later, I’m still a fan of Mike Gayle, and like Matt Dunn admits to doing with High Fidelity, I often find myself referring back to one of Mike’s books when I get stuck or I am looking for inspiration. It has served me well, and one of the biggest compliments I got after publishing The Drought was TV presenter Ortis Deley saying: “A pleasantly darker alternative to the offerings of Mike Gayle. All hail the arrival of Steven Scaffardi.”

It was high praise indeed, and if I can be half as good a writer as Mike Gayle, then I’ll be a very happy man!


Characters

Steven Scaffardi is the author of the Sex, Love and Dating Disaster series. His first novel, The Drought, is the laugh-out-loud tale of one man’s quest to overcome the throes of a sexual drought. After the stormy break-up with his girlfriend of three years, Dan Hilles is faced with the daunting task of throwing himself back into the life of a single man. With the help of his three best pals, Dan is desperate and determined to get his leg-over with hilarious consequences!

The Drought and his new novel The Flood – a comedy about one man trying to juggle four women at the same time – are both available for just 99p on the Kindle at Amazon.

Follow all of the fun on his blog tour by following him on Twitter @SteveScaffardi or by using the hashtag #LadLitBlogTour. More information about Steven and his books can be found on his blog.

Blog Tour Update v3

 

Guest post by Sandra Nikolai (author of Fatal Whispers)

So you know whodunit. Now prove it.

When it comes to solving murder mysteries, dedicated fans of the genre have developed an innate sleuthing ability that seems to improve with every additional book they read. True to their passion, they join groups of like-minded readers where they exchange comments about the books they’ve enjoyed—or not. They contribute to the community by posting book reviews, ratings and recommendations on Goodreads and online retailer sites.

In other words, the perception of whodunit readers presents a formidable challenge to mystery writers like me.

As any author of the genre will tell you, writing a mystery novel is not an easy task. It demands the creation of a complex plotline and a logical unfolding of events so that all things come together at the end. It entails choosing a cast of characters, including potential suspects, and ensuring that the real perpetrator isn’t too obvious.

A writer is well aware that readers expect nothing less than a genuine challenge when it comes to solving murder mysteries, but what happens if a reader guesses who the real culprit is before the end of the story? Should a writer feel less competent? Not really. The true test in trying to solve a mystery is not only in guessing who did it but also in proving how and why the crime was committed.

Let’s look at a real-life murder investigation as an example. Crime investigators might interview several suspects and have a gut feeling about one of them, but unless they can prove guilt, their assumptions are useless. Without viable witnesses or valid clues to help bring the perpetrators to justice, these offenders will continue to roam free. The pile of unsolved cases in law enforcement offices supports the fact that the how and why aspects are fundamental criteria in solving murders.

Part of a mystery writer’s task is to present the clues in a way that makes each potential suspect in the story look guilty. Attention to specifics regarding motive, means and opportunity is essential. A writer needs to be fair and open in planting the information, offering it in doses here and there, and in a manner that can’t be construed as hiding the facts from readers. A writer can use red herrings, but these false clues should be details pertinent to the story—details that can be open to misinterpretation and that readers will need to figure out. Connecting the dots to get to the truth is an important part of the reader’s journey and one that a mystery writer needs to test run beforehand to ensure it works.

Yes, readers are a clever bunch. To stay a step ahead, a writer needs to devise a plot that will outwit fans of the genre and leave them wanting more. If a writer has done a good job of it, readers will be scratching their heads, wondering how and why the crime could have been carried out, until the story’s resolution is presented in the last few pages.

And that is a reader’s true challenge in solving a murder mystery.


About the Author:

SandraNikolai_blog2

SANDRA NIKOLAI graduated from McGill University in Montreal and worked in sales, finance and high tech before devoting her days to writing. She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and has published a string of short stories, garnering awards along the way.

False Impressions, Fatal Whispers and Icy Silence are the first three novels in a mystery series featuring ghostwriter Megan Scott and investigative reporter Michael Elliott. When not plotting mysteries, Sandra shares her thoughts and experiences about the writing world on her blog and has been a frequent guest writer on other websites. She lives with her husband near Ottawa and is currently at work on her next mystery novel in the series.

Social Media Links:

Website and blog: www.sandranikolai.com (Sign up for Sandra’s exclusive newsletter!)

Email: Sandra@sandranikolai.com

Twitter: @SandraNikolai

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6282913.Sandra_Nikolai


About the Book:

Fatal Whispers July 15

A millionaire’s beautiful young wife.

A homeless woman.

A parish priest.

Three baffling deaths within days. No sign of foul play. No police leads. Even medical authorities can’t explain the cause of death. An unprecedented occurrence in Portland, Maine.

Ghostwriter Megan Scott and investigative reporter Michael Elliott look for answers when their trip to this alluring New England town coincides with the mysterious deaths. As they probe deeper, they discover ominous secrets buried decades ago and ruthless killers who won’t let anyone get in the way of revenge.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Nikolai/e/B0087RR4XY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0087RR4XY/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Sandra+Nikolai&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Sandra+Nikolai&sort=relevancerank

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/search?query=Sandra%20Nikolai&fcsearchfield=Author

Apple iBooks UK: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/false-impressions/id957443950?mt=11

 

Guest post by Heidi Perks on Marketing her Debut Novel Beneath the Surface

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Heidi Perks to my blog today.

Marketing your book without the big budget

I am a marketeer. In fact I spent fifteen years in marketing before turning my hand to writing four years ago, so the thought of marketing my own book didn’t bother me one bit. In fact I thought I would love it. To an extent I have but I quickly realised that when you’re effectively marketing ‘yourself’ it’s a whole lot harder than marketing a product.

For a start marketing yourself and your own book is a very personal thing to do. You’re basically putting yourself out there and telling everyone you know (and plenty you don’t) to buy your book, the words you have spent years pulling together, everything you have poured your heart into. You battle with all the what if’s (or at least I did): What if no one buys it? What if none of my friends like it? How can I say ‘you absolutely have to read my book – you’ll love it’ when they might not? But somehow I had to get over this because if I wasn’t fully bought into the package I was selling then how I could I expect anyone else to be?

A few months back my stock answer to ‘Are you a stay at home mum or do you work?’ was always ‘I don’t work – well actually I am doing some writing at the moment.’ This would always lead on the next question – ‘What are you writing?’ and I soon realised that many people were incredibly interested in what I was doing. The more I told the story the easier it became to portray the enthusiasm and love for my writing that until that point had been a very private thing.

So my first point is that when you’re marketing yourself you need to be confident. You might not always feel it – I certainly don’t – especially when things don’t go to plan. But what inspires us more than someone who really believes in what they are talking about?

By the time I was ready to put my book out there I was happy with it and knew that I’d made it as good as I hoped and so I had to take a deep breath and tell myself (and other people) that yes, I had actually done something great – I had written a whole book whilst bringing up two small children and I was proud of it.

So, you’re now confident (or at the very least pretending to be.) What next? There are many clever authors out there who are marketing themselves brilliantly and I certainly don’t profess to be one of them. However, there are a few key things I have learnt that I can share with you from my personal experience.

1. Carefully choose which publisher you’d like to work with. I was lucky enough to be taken on by Red Door and love working with them. Personal relationships should never be underestimated and with Red Door they have great people who know a lot about the industry and who have helped me promote my book a lot.

2. Get reviews. There are plenty of ways to do this, some you can pay for, others you don’t. Personally I recommend approaching the wonderful people who are book bloggers. I cannot recommend them enough, and found them all (bar none) to be highly professional, friendly and a pleasure to talk to. Three months prior to my release date I wrote a long list of book bloggers I wanted to approach – those who liked the kind of book I had written, were open to requests and whose reviews I enjoyed. I had a hugely positive experience and when the reviews started coming in I was delighted and also given another surge of needed confidence. Getting reviews in the lead up to or on release day are crucial.

3. Approach local magazines, newspapers and books stores. People love a local interest story and you’d be surprised how many want to help either by writing an article or having you in for a book signing.

4. Hold a book launch. You can do this in many ways – I opted to host an evening in a local restaurant and invited family and friends. You can do it cheaply or throw money at it; invite local press; local authors or keep it personal – but my aim (as well as celebratory) was to spread the word about my book, sell it to friends and ask them to help by giving me an honest review.

5. Be present on social media. I chose Twitter and Facebook as my main routes to communicate but they are all powerful tools to interact with readers, other authors and bloggers. I have also seen authors successfully promote themselves via Instagram but I chose not to use this for fear of spending all my time on social media.

6. Follow other authors who promote themselves well and see what they do. There are always new ideas and ways of doing things or reaching people so learn from them. I’ve taken a lot from the authors who make sure they reply to every single person who messages them or who are gracious enough to ‘like’ even the most awful of reviews and it’s easy to pick up hints about reaching readers from people who have been in the business for a while!

This is the first step of my publishing journey but I’m glad I invested the time to spread the word about my book prior to and around launch, and if anyone wants to share their experiences I’d love to hear from you.


About the Book:

Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks

I donʼt know where you are…
I donʼt know what Iʼve done…
Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone.
Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsistersʼ room is completely empty. But the police think sheʼs trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, thereʼs no choice other than face the future – alone.
Fourteen years on, Abi and Adam are a happy couple on the verge of parenthood. But when the past comes back to haunt Abi, the only way forward is to go back and uncover the truth – and reveal the dreadful secrets a mother has been hiding all these years.


 

About the Author:

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.
Heidi is now writing her second novel.

You can buy Beneath the Surface here.

You can find Heidi’s website here.

 

Guest post by Rosy Stewart (author of Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge)

 

Today I’m pleased to welcome Rosie and Stuart Larner, who wrote Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge under the pseudonym Rosy Stewart, to my blog. They have written a guest post/interview about how they write together and what books they like to read. 

How did we come to be writers?

We have always composed poetry, and written for radio and the stage. During our working hours most of our time was taken up with academic writing, and compiling professional reports and articles.

Lately, we have expanded our artistic and creative writing and we are particularly interested in fiction that mirrors truth.

We incorporate this into our scripts and the latest novella.

What is our latest book about?

For our latest work, the novella “Hope”, we were inspired by our experiences of people who have suffered abuse. Although our book is fictional, we wanted to build in the feeling that survivors did not always want to be viewed as victims. Therefore, it had elements of empowerment and revenge in the stories.

Three women work together as a vigilante team to help victims by investigating and tracking down their abusers. However, they must also face their own inner dilemmas. The book consists of the cases of twelve people and has both elements of a thriller and a crime novella.

We note how widespread abuse is. It is not just about male-female relationships, but it also pervades all facets of society.

In our clinical work, we met people who were labelled as patients, or victims, who came to us with a history of lifelong trauma and hopelessness. We wanted to show, in fictional form, that people who have suffered horrible abuse can be empowered and are able to change.

If we could write inspiring stories about what people could have done before they became labelled as victims, then we might be able to influence some of the negative thinking that comes with their role in society.

Hopefully it could inspire those who are in an abusive relationship to recognise their situation and seek help. Real people might be influenced by seeing how our fictional characters deal with their challenges and how their stories can have favourable outcomes.

Information and advice about abuse and treatment approaches can be found on our website.

How do we write together?

Writing as a duo poses challenges.

Discipline and time management is important; we must respect each other’s time and domestic duties. We write in short bursts so that we can fit our other activities into the day.

How we write is that we generally have a discussion in the first instance about what the book and each chapter will be roughly about.

During these meetings, there is much lively discussion about the general direction and the characters. This takes place in a fluid, recorded format, and changes from session to session.

Initially we try to set up the characters and create files with the back-story of each character.

Only after we have agreed on what the chapter will be about do we each go away and attempt to write our separate versions of the same story from the same angle in the same voice.

One week later, we meet and bring these two versions of the same chapter together. Often they are nothing like each other. However, there are usually some commonalities that we can build on in a first draft session.

We discuss this first document, which contains all parts of the two versions, and then mull it over separately for another week. When we come back together, we can see that we can make the chapter coherent by each of us agreeing to cut great chunks of paragraphs so that the pieces can be dovetailed into a new version.

We have selected a penname that illustrates this fluid transformative process. It contains changed parts of our names to create a third character, Rosy Stewart. It is almost as if she had written it. She is not a ghost writer, but a writing ghost.

What books do we read?

The books that we admire and have just finished reading include ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, because of its richness, characterisation, and because it reflects life and is a social commentary.

In the same way, we admire the realistic writing of Fred D’Aguiar about the Jonestown tragedy in ‘Children of Paradise’.

For light human modern English relief we enjoyed ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, because of its heart-warming tale of a personal epic journey.


 

About the Authors:

Rosy Stewart

Rosie Larner and Stuart Larner are a husband and wife writing partnership who live  in Yorkshire, UK.

Rosie is a retired social worker and lecturer in Health and Social Care. She was co-leader of a Drama Workshop that welcomed participants of all ages and abilities. She has directed and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Rosie writes prose, poetry and plays.

 

You can find Rosie on Facebook

Stuart  is a chartered psychologist, who worked in the UK Health Service for over thirty years, and was mental health expert in XL for Men magazine. He writes plays (“The Dilemma Advice Show,” Beach Hut Theatre 2012, “What Matters is What Floats,” Beach Hut Theatre 2013), poems, and stories. His previous book is the cricket novel “Guile and Spin”.

 

You can find Stuart on his blog


 

Hope- Stories from a women's refuge

 

 

 

 

 Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge by Rosy Stewart is out now and available on Amazon.

Guest Post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry)

 

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from the lovely Elle Turner, author of Tapestry.

Hi Hayley! Thank you so much for having me on Rather too fond of Books!

I guess every writer is a reader too and most are likely to be influenced by the books they’ve read, whether this helps them to develop their own style, helps them decide what they want to write or, as in my case, unwittingly influences most aspects of their life!

The first books I remember being a big influence in my life were the Famous Five books. I talked to the characters, (out loud, not in my head. I remember my mum once calling me back from a stream in which I was paddling and having a right good old conversation to tell me to tone it down!). I wanted to be George and had a stuffed tartan dog that slept at the bottom of my bed. No prizes for guessing his name!

When I was a little older my mum gave me a few books in the Abbey Girls series by Elsie J Oxenham. These books followed the lives of young women and schoolgirls growing up near an Abbey in High Wycombe. Red-haired Joan and Joy were the original Abbey girls and the series followed them into adulthood, with eventually their own children following the original Abbey Girls’ traditions. I came to the stories when Joan and Joy were adults. Joy was already married with twins and the next generation of abbey girls were coming through the school. I was very taken with the notion that Joy had red hair. This was something that followed me into my early adult years during which time I tried several shades! (As well as red hair I also ended up with twins, so perhaps the moral there is be careful how far you let yourself be influenced… 😉 )

By the time I was in my teens I found A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I bought it for 20p at a jumble sale and had to make my own cover because it was falling apart. I loved that book and I’m sure it’s responsible for me wanting my own business. I was at the right age to appreciate, and benefit from, a strong female lead in a book and they don’t come much better than our Emma. I’ve just discovered the Emma Harte series of seven books is on Amazon. I didn’t realise there were seven books, I’ve only read the first three, but I daren’t buy it just now or I’d never get anything else done!

The first book on the school syllabus that I recall resonating with me was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s such a famous book that we probably all know it’s about the burning of books as they are no longer allowed in society. Books are thought to cause unrest and unhappiness as they risk leading people to think. Better to be anesthetised watching screens the size of walls pump information that doesn’t take too much processing…

Eep. A scary, but wonderful, book.

Although I’d always wanted to write myself, it wasn’t something I seriously considered I could do until a few years ago. Around the time I was trying to figure out if I should go for it, I read Addition by Toni Jordan. It was the right book at the right time because I remember thinking, ‘Yes, I really want to do this too,’ while I was reading. I don’t tend to re-read books because the mountainous TBR pile is always calling, but I re-read this one.

In fact, that’s probably the only thing the books here have in common – I’ve read them all more than once!

Thank you so much again Hayley for having me on your blog. Best wishes to you and all your readers. Happy reading!

Tapestry

Tapestry

In hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

Tapestry – Available now from Amazon http://hyperurl.co/ymjfs2

 

Elle dedicated Tapestry to her mum so, to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend in the UK, Tapestry is free from 4-6 March 2016.

 

Elle TurnerAbout the Author

Elle Turner writes contemporary women’s fiction and lives in beautiful Scotland with her husband and two children. She loves scones, Coronation Street, all songs by Sara Bareilles and will happily admit to having little or no sense of direction. If you offer her a 50:50 she will ALWAYS get it wrong and, despite living in Scotland, she rarely manages to wear shoes that don’t leak.

If you would like to find out more about Elle or her writing, she’d love to see you at www.elleturnerwriter.com on Twitter @ElleTWriter, Instagram elletwriter or she’s on Facebook as elleturnerwriter