Interview with author @KayLangdale about The Comfort of Others #BlogTour @HodderBooks

 

Today I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Kay Landale’s The Comfort of Others and am very excited to be sharing an interview I’ve done with Kay.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your novel

The Comfort Of Others is my sixth novel. It tells the story of the friendship between an elderly woman, Minnie, and an eleven year old boy, Max. Both have issues that they need to come to terms with, and the novel is about how they approach that.

I live in Oxfordshire, am married and have four fledged children between the ages of nineteen and twenty four. When I’m not writing or reading I’m mostly walking or running, and my labradoodle Rocco is with me for all of the above – his favourite spot is beneath my writing desk.

I’m reading The Comfort of Others at the moment and am finding it very moving – in particular the way you show the loneliness of Max and Minnie, and the way it’s possible to find friends in the places you’d least expect. What inspired you to write it?

I’m so pleased that you are finding it moving – thank you.

Minnie was the character I started with. I was interested in portraying someone who has not lived the life she wanted to life, and who has been stigmatised by shame and secrecy. I wanted to explore how someone who was basically vulnerable and sinned against can manoeuvre themselves into a position where they see themselves as wholly at fault. I also wanted to think about how time can change the perspective by which something is viewed, and Rosemount was a means of ‘fastening’ Minnie into the period in which it all happened.

I was very conscious that Minnie wouldn’t open up to an adult and so I wanted to explore how a child – with a child’s unerring accuracy for truth – might be able to win her trust. Max is watchful; he is frequently just on the outside of things, and it was this shared quality which became the premise for their friendship.

I’m finding myself getting quite emotional at some of the things Max says but clearly doesn’t understand yet, but as an adult I see the bigger picture. I’m getting similar emotions coming up whilst reading Minnie’s story – from the way she’s looking back on her life and seeing things anew. Both characters feel like real people to me and I know I’m going to miss them when I finish reading. How did you find writing from the perspective of a young boy, and of an older lady?

I loved writing Max and Minnie.

Minnie came to me almost fully formed. I had such a strong sense of her girlhood – her exuberance, her zest for life – and of how her mother found that so very difficult. The emotional truth of her adult life also felt very immediate to me; her total withdrawal, her bruised reflections and her sadness that she has been so effectively snuffed out by her experiences.

I really enjoy writing from a child’s perspective. Most of my books contain this as a feature. What I loved about Max from the start was his desire to please; whether it’s his mother with her startling hair colours, the old man who gives him the dahlias, or Mrs Philips with her budgie and her buttered brazils. He is constantly trying to piece together the implications of his mother’s actions – which is the same as Minnie when she was a girl – and that kind of watchfulness was a very immersive writing experience.

How did you first come to be a writer?

When I was a child I always wanted to be a writer, and upon leaving university, I refined that into working with words, which I thought made a bit more (necessary) financial sense. I worked as a copywriter for a brand development consultancy, and then began having my children (four of them in five years).

I was totally rubbish at anything resembling controlled crying, and so when my children woke in the night, I would go and sit with them and just pat their backs or stroke their hair but not talk, as we all know how quickly that becomes a game of  i-spy. Sitting beside them in the darkness I began to think about the central character of my first novel – Martha – and basically began telling myself a story. I was working part-time at this point and realised that Martha was developing a hold on me when I would drive to work and be thinking about the plot rather than the meeting I was headed to. When my youngest child started nursery school, we realised we could just about make the numbers work as I could write without the cost of childcare, and so I resigned and began writing the book that became Redemption. For years I fitted my writing around school hours and term times, with lapses for example when they all got chicken pox in perfect sequence. Now that they have all fledged, my timetable is much more flexible. It was very disciplined in the early years!

It depends what stage of a book I’m at. If I’m mulling on the beginnings of an idea I don’t spend much time at my desk. I walk miles and I think, and have my notepad with me, and I tidy cupboards and wardrobes. I’m a big believer that if the mechanical, logical part of your brain is engaged, your creative thinking somehow is liberated.

When I’m writing a first draft, I’m very disciplined. I work most days and aim to have about three to four thousand useful words. That’s not always the case, especially if the plot takes a different turn and I need to pause to recalibrate. I’m very fond of a French phrase – Reculer per mieux sauter – which basically means to pause in order to jump better. I think it’s important to know when to do that.

When I reach the end of a book – the last 20,000 words – I get really obsessive and work much longer days and find it hard to think about anything else.

When I have a complete draft, I put it aside for a couple of weeks and catch up on everything I’ve neglected, and then return to it with fresh eyes and start editing and refining.

It never feels finished – I mostly get to a point where I can’t bear to look at it anymore!

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What has your journey to publication been like?

I’ve been hugely lucky. My first book was published by a small indie publisher, Transita. My second book – which was very dark – did not get an English publisher but went to a three way auction in Germany and then Poland, which was pleasing. I learned some lessons from why that hadn’t worked for a UK audience, and then my third book was signed by Hodder and Stoughton, and they have remained my publishers ever since. I’m working on my eight book now and am hugely proud and thrilled to be part of Hodder’s team of writers. They have a wonderful mural at Carmelite House called the River of Authors which streams around the lifts at each floor. My name is next to John Lennon’s, which is when a school register alphabetised strategy really pays off!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Polly Clark’s Larchfield, and George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. I re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and now I’m reading Sarah Dunnant’s In the Name of the Family. I’ve got the new Elizabeth Strout on pre-order on Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive!

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

Virginia Woolf, no question. To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway are two of my favourite books ever. Every sentence she is writes it so beautifully balanced, so loaded with psychological insight and with such an awareness of what it is to be alive; she would be sustaining company on a desert island.

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

That’s a very clever, very tricky question! I think it would probably need some analysis to answer correctly! I write obsessively about mothers, about mothering, about the ties that bind us. To be totally truthful I don’t know why this is such a preoccupation. I have the objective, lit-crit ability to see how much it features in my work – I found Minnie’s account of her mother’s death very moving to write and I hope it holds a truth about what we need to feel and hear as adult children – but I can’t subjectively tell you why that is the case.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter @kaylangdale. I’m constantly vowing to be become better at it although am also mindful how it can suck up time. I always answer back, and really enjoy hearing from readers.

 


 

The Comfort of Others is out now and available from all good bookshops or online at BookDepository.

The blog tour continues all this week and you can find the other stops here:

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#Interview with Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction! @JenLGilmour #IsolationJunction

I’m thrilled to welcome author Jennifer Gilmour to my blog today and to share a fascinating interview that I got to do with her.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children.  I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.

From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. As a passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel Isolation Junction detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my book, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

 

What is your book about?

I wrote my debut novel based on true events from my own and others experiences.  My book follows the story of Rose who is stuck in an abusive and coercive relationship referred to as Isolation Junction. After years of emotional abuse, the self doubt about her future and the erosion of her confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself alone, penniless and frightened Rose wonders how she will ever escape from the situation to provide a better life for herself and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1000 reasons why she perceives she can’t – will she have the courage to do it? And will she find the support to regain control and confidence?

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of the things that other women were saying were exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on, there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone ie that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they need to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious.  On the other hand, I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

I absolutely knew that I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book. It had to be a message – a way for others to be able to pass on the story to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

My passion for being an advocate drives my inspiration to write. Ultimately my own experiences and the want to change develop knowledge in those who don’t know what it is like to be subjected to emotional abuse and coercive control; as well as reassure other survivors that they are not alone because surviving is hard http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jennifer-gilmour/surviving-is-hard_1_b_13011174.html.

 

What is your writing routine?

I didn’t have a specific writing routine but to write my first book I had lots and lots of notes and even diary entries to aid my writing. I felt so passionately about why I was writing it came naturally and I only needed to sit down and make time to write. Towards the end of the journey my editor was part of this process. Writing book number two, I am more careful when I write and it will take naturally longer as I find that going back and writing about domestic abuse sometimes affects my emotional state. It is very important to me that I remain positive throughout my writing process and this is why I have brought out a series of stories you can read for free on my blog ‘The Fox Stories’; these have been more lighthearted and enjoyable for me to write. www.jennifergilmour.com/blog

 

What has your journey to publication been like?

As a self published author the road to publication was interesting and challenging and not perhaps as stressful as I had imagined it would be. There was a lot of flexibility with my debut novel and the choices I made like the cover for example, I was very excited seeing my work and vision come to life because of this. I was pleased to be a part of Team Author UK who help self published authors publish their manuscripts, and provide support through understanding how Amazon works and getting the book printed.

I am yet to approach publishers as I am self published. I decided to self publish because I wanted to start to get the message out there immediately. I have had interest but it is finding the right publishers for the novel and more specifically to find a publisher where my work fits into their portfolio as it is a work of fiction. The novel does include sensitive material which could be emotional for some people but I have, however, woven through the story romance and some comedic moments in the book to try and make it a more entertaining read despite its serious message.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just finished Emotional Aid by Hayley Wheeler. Hayley is someone I have connected with due to the nature of both of our books. I am now reading ‘The Happy Woman: What can you learn from Kids, Dogs and Men’ by Jealeith Leigh-Brown who I have recently connected with as authors from the North-East. It is clearly emotionally beneficial for authors to support one another.

 

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

It would be J.K.Rowling’s books simply because she provided me with escapism in my childhood, teens and early adult years . Every time I read over the Harry Potter series I pick up some ‘newisms’ I like to call them. Basically these are things I hadn’t noticed before. The detail J.K.Rowling has gone to that makes this happen in her books makes this possible, I never get bored of the plot line.

 

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

How do you cope with ‘trolls’ or people that question your work?

I have had a couple of cases when I have had negative feedback about my writing on domestic abuse. Often this stems from individual self guilt. I don’t reply to those negative, personal trolling posts and I focus on those who have read the message behind my work. Usually a perpetrator is blind to what they are doing to the victim and so they feel frustrated in reading social media posts because it is normal behaviour for them and they like to defend their way of life. I have had messages of concern regarding my feelings where comments have been of a personal nature and have felt appreciative of the positive support offered which I feel is very endearing.  At the end of the day, positive debate regarding these issues is important and  I am thankful that it doesn’t hinder my career as I am able now to discuss the issues and to draw strength from this. Ultimately, I am lucky to have a supportive network around me.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook

Follow me on Twitter at @JenLGilmour

Check out my website and subscribe to my blog and newsletter at www.jennifergilmour.com

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Isolation Junction is out now and available from Amazon

 

 

Interview with author Clare Morrall & #BookReview of #WhenTheFloodsCame

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for When The Floods Came and was lucky enough to interview Clare Morrall! I also have my review of this wonderful book to share with you so please keep reading to the end of this post.

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself, and also briefly what When The Floods Came is about.

I was born in Devon, but I’ve been living in Birmingham since I was 18, when I came up to study music at the University.  I teach violin, piano and music theory at a school for children between 5 and 11, and I also have a few older private pupils.  I have two grown up daughters.

When the Floods Came is my seventh published novel.  It is set about 50 years in the future, in an almost empty Britain, but rooted in the world as we know it now.  The majority of the population has died in a virus, and most survivors are infertile.  City centres have been sealed off and the country has been quarantined. The novel is about the Polanski family, who live in a deserted tower block on the edge of Birmingham.  There are Popi and Moth, Roza and Boris in their early twenties, Delphine in her teens and Lucia, who is eight.  They manage well, even though they’re so isolated, scavenging in the empty flats around them for spare parts.  They’re also supplied with essentials by drone drops from the Brighton-based government, the contents of which have become increasingly unpredictable. Then one day a stranger, Aashay, appears, who charms and alarms them in equal measure.  No one can decide whether to trust him or not, but they are all mesmerised by him.  He interrupts their organised life and leads them to a fair, cycling along motorways, through Spaghetti Junction, to an overgrown football stadium.  The book is about the strength of family relationships, their ability to survive once they discover that the most precious commodity in the country is children, and the precariousness of the life that we have created around us.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I have always preferred the world of fiction to the world of reality, so as soon as I was able to read, I was writing.  I was forever embarking on Enid Blyton adventures, Biggles stories, novels about boarding schools, all of them entirely unoriginal and none of them ever finished.  I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my thirties.  It was hard to find enough time, but once a week, for a couple of hours, I would go to a friend’s house and write.   It took another twenty years before I was published.  I still have four unpublished novels in a cupboard, and several folders full of encouraging letters from publishers and agents, none of which brought me any closer to publication.   My first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was actually my fifth completed one and it took five years to complete.  It was published in 2003 by a tiny Birmingham publisher and then unexpectedly went on to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  It took me by surprise.  I didn’t even know the book had been entered.

 

What is your writing routine?

After the good fortune of the Booker Prize, I was able to cut down on some of my teaching hours and allow myself the luxury of time to write.  So now I don’t go into school until midday.  When I was squeezing small amounts of time out of an impossibly busy schedule, I had to be disciplined.  I couldn’t afford to waste the time – although I did occasionally go to sleep. So I’ve learnt how to get going without resorting to delaying tactics.  I now start work early and rarely struggle with lack of motivation.

 

I love how When The Floods Came is a dystopian novel but it feels so close to the world we’re living in now and is scarily believable. Was there a specific trigger that sparked your inspiration to write this novel? 

I’ve long had the desire to place people on bicycles, cycling along a motorway.  The idea has been at the back of my mind for ages, but I couldn’t decide on a way to make it happen.  Setting a novel in the future seemed to be the only reasonable way to achieve this.  Sadly, if the cars do eventually go, I’ll be far too old to attempt the actual cycling myself.

 

I think the thing I’m enjoying most about the book is that, whilst the dystopian landscape is terrifying and fascinating, it seems, at heart to be a novel about how people cope with what life throws at them. Do the characters come to you first or is it the general idea of a storyline?

I like unusual settings – I’ve written novels about a man in a lighthouse, a man who lives on a roundabout, a family who grow up in a crumbling country house.  So it’s often the atmosphere that inspires me and I then create characters to inhabit this world.  They grow and develop during the novel, as I never know where they’re going to go, so I usually have to go back to the beginning to check they are the same people I end up with.  I’m interested in strange people, the kind of people who are very isolated, on the outside looking in.  It was inevitable that I would eventually write a novel set in the future – in an empty landscape, a crumbling, decaying world.

 

I’ve been a fan of your writing ever since reading Astonishing Splashes of Colour when it was first released. What has your journey to publication been like and has it altered as each book has been published? 

It took a long, long time to get published in the first place.  Each time I completed a novel, I would send it off and forget it while I got on with the next one.  There were always so many interesting new ideas.  When the novels were returned, I would just send them out again, working my way down the lists in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.  Life has become much easier since then, as all my other novels have been published by Sceptre, who have always been very supportive.  I send the completed novel to them, my editor goes through it, we discuss any plot uncertainties or character inconsistencies, then I rework it, which usually takes a few months.  Then it gets read by a copy editor, who picks out more details.  It’s a long and satisfying process, and in between the rewriting, I start my next novel.  The entire process takes about two years in total.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

His Bloody Project  by Graeme Macrae Burnet, shortlisted for this year’s Booker. It’s very skilful, although a bit – er – bloody, I fear.

 

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

John le Carre, I think.  His books are so much more than spy stories – although I do like the shadowy world of spying.  He is a wonderful writer – very clever, literary, and perceptive about human nature.  He penetrates so deeply, understands the complexity of character and the nature of love,  and still manages to produce plots that take your breath away.

 

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

I’ve struggled with this one.  I’m afraid nothing springs to mind.  I usually tell people what I want to tell them anyway.  Nobody notices if you don’t answer the question correctly.  Or if they do, they never mention it.

 

 How can people connect with you on social media?

Another failure.  I don’t use social media.  I don’t have enough spare time – I struggle to keep up with my friends – and when I do have spare time I prefer to read or write rather than communicate.  I like space and silence  – I live on my own now and I love it.  I would be perfectly comfortable in an isolated tower block in an empty world.

 


 

My Review

I was thrilled when I received a surprise copy of When the Floods Came in the post as I’m a big fan of Clare Morrall’s novels. Her first novel Astonishing Splashes of Colour is one I still remember reading now and I read that when it was first published. This latest novel is just as brilliant.

When I first started reading this I was immediately drawn by what had happened to Britain. The descriptions of this dystopian future were quite chilling at times because the virus that wiped out the majority of the population in Britain, and the floods that followed seem absolutely believable given all that is happening in the world. I don’t know Birmingham very well but I could easily picture all that Morrall described.

Soon though I was drawn in to the Polanski family that have survived all that has happened and who are living in a high rise apartment block. They are obviously a very close family but they’re very insular and have never explored the possibility of meeting others who have also survived. Then one day an interloper appears and they are immediately fearful but also very drawn to him. Aashay is an enigmatic character, he’s exciting to the children of the family but the parents are wary. It’s impossible to put the genie back in the bottle though and once Aashay tells of the fairs where other survivors gather together it’s something the children simply cannot resist. What happens at the fair and afterwards makes this novel one that was very hard for me to put down!

I felt there was a bit of mystery in the novel too. The Polinski’s eldest daughter Roza’s fiance, Hector, who she met online through work, is a bit of an enigma. He appears to be quite perfect and is planning to visit soon so that they can get married. I was unsure whether he was real for a while, and I was also suspicious of whether he had any connection to Aastay – it added another dimension to the novel that kept me hooked as I wanted to know if there was a link.

This novel is a brilliant mix of a dystopian future and a study of the dynamics within a close-knit family.  I was utterly enthralled throughout and would highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 


About the Book

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A taut, gripping novel set in the future, when the lives of a family existing on the margins of a dramatically changed society are upset by a mysterious stranger.

In a world prone to violent flooding, Britain, ravaged 20 years earlier by a deadly virus, has been largely cut off from the rest of the world. Survivors are few and far between, most of them infertile. Children, the only hope for the future, are a rare commodity.

For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?

Clare Morrall, author of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Astonishing Splashes of Colour, creates a startling vision of the future in a world not so very far from our own, and a thrilling story of suspense.

 


About the Author

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c. Howard Walker

Clare Morrall was born in 1952 and grew up in Exeter.

She moved to Birmingham to study music and still lives there, working in the Blue Coat school as a piano and violin teacher. Her first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour (2003), tells the story of a childless woman who kidnaps a baby.  It reflects her interest in synaesthesia – a condition in which emotions are seen as colours.  The Daily Mail describe it as “An extremely good first novel: deceptively simple, subtly observed, with a plot that drags you forward like a strong current.” It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

(Bio taken from https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/clare-morrall)

 


 

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

 

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Author Interview with Cat Hogan #TheyAllFallDown

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

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself

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

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

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

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

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

 

What is your book about?

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

 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

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

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

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

 

What is your writing routine?

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

 

What has your journey to publication been like?

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

 

What are you reading at the moment?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

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

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

 


About the Author

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

 

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

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

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

How did you first come to be a writer?

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

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

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

What is your writing routine?

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

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

What has your journey to publication been like?

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

What are you reading at the moment?

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

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

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

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

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

How can people connect with you on social media?

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

Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker

Facebook is: Facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor

Instagram is: Instagram.com/wendygwalker

 


 

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

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

 

Blog tour banner-2

 

Q&A with Sheryl Browne (author of The Rest of My Life)

 

 

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an interview I recently did with Sheryl Browne, author of The Rest of My Life. 

Thank you so much for featuring me on your lovely blog, Hayley. 

Please tell my readers a bit about yourself.

I’d love to! I live in Droitwich, England with my family. I’m a mum, a foster mum to disabled dogs and I’m super-pleased to have completed my Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Crime Writers’ Association and I was shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction by the Festival of Romance in 2012 and also the Lovestories Awards in 2015.
I have several novels previously published with a small Independent. The Rest of My Life, recommended by WH Smith Travel, is published with award winning Choc Lit.

How did you first come to be a writer?

I think I first started writing about the time I took leave of my senses. Seriously, writing has always been my passion, but I started writing actual books as a catharsis, in truth. As a single parent and nursing my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in my twenties, I needed an outlet. I’m the arty sort by nature but painting not being an option due to time constraints, I started scribbling my thoughts down. It turned out to be a real antidote, because I found I was reflecting on the humour and love in what would otherwise have been a sad situation. My bestselling debut, however… Um, well, it didn’t sell. I think the agent who’d hailed it as such went off in search of Prozac.

What is your book about?

The Rest of My Life is fundamentally a story about letting go, realising that the past can destroy the present and the future, if you let it. At the core is a deeply flawed man, a womaniser, who simply doesn’t like himself and challenges anyone else to. He needs to make peace with his past in order to move on with his life.

The question both Adam and the heroine, Sienna, have to ask themselves is: When is it time to stop running? The video I think sums it up nicely: https://youtu.be/7p319itbVKg

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

People inspire me. We all have a story to tell, conflicts to deal with, ghosts past that might haunt us. Adam simply appeared one day. I’m a keen boater and often pass neglected boats. I can’t help but wonder at their story. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, there was Adam, fully formed, his mannerisms, his clothes – or lack of. A man living an apparently carefree, bachelor existence on a dilapidated boat. A shallow man at first glance. There was something more though, it was there in his eyes, the challenge to like him: a self-confessed womaniser seemingly hell bent on a road to destruction. I knew he didn’t like himself and wanted to know why. Having experience of caring for someone suffering a depressive illness, I couldn’t help thinking that that might be part of his story.

What is your writing routine?

My rituals are, coffee, emails, social media, tea & energy food, write, write, write, social media, energy food … Repeat. I do fit walking my odd dogs in there somewhere (to work off the energy food!). I write at a Georgian bureau tucked away in the dining room. It’s in serious need of renovation, but I simply can’t bear to. Every ink stain and chip has a story behind it. Annoyingly, those lightbulb ideas always come at awkward shower moments or in the wee hours though. Thus the many Post-it notes adorning its surface.

Energy food:Cupcake

What has your journey to publication been like?

Not one to give up easily, even having reduced an agent to despair, I took inspiration from having got that far and just kept at it, making sure to use every snippet of constructive criticism positively. I read voraciously – in the words of Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write” – and made sure to get my work edited. I find a text to speech reader is really useful (you can enable this in later versions of MS Office. There’s an excellent ‘how to’ video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyP89pQWaBU ). Hearing your work read back really does help you spot superfluous narrative, clunky dialogue and those pesky typos.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just read ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ by Laura E James, the first book to be published under Choc Lit’s ‘Dark Choc Lit’ imprint. As the imprint suggests, the book does deal with some darker issues, but it’s written with huge sensitivity. The romance aspect is strong and you really want it to work out for the hero and heroine, though with a huge moral dilemma forcing them apart you wonder whether it can. I loved it.

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

John Donoghue, without a doubt. My first book by this author was Police, Crime & 999 – The True Story of a Front Line Officer. At the time, I badly needed something uplifting after my partner’s cancer diagnosis and his undergoing various surgeries (he’s doing really well, by the way). You can probably guess then that the author had his work cut out. He succeeded! I laughed until I cried. His other books are equally hilarious.

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

Q: Happiness is?

A: Being true to yourself.

How can people connect with you on social media?

You can find me on any of the links below. I’d love to hear from you so do feel free to contact me. Thanks so much again for featuring me, Hayley. I really could not do this without fabulous readers and bookbloggers, who have cheered me all the way.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Buy | Buy US | Pinterest

Loveahappyending Lifestyle

Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association


About the Author

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit and is available in WHSmith Travel in April (on Amazon print pre-order now).

Sheryl’s latest thriller SINS OF THE FATHERS is coming soon!


About the Book

Cover - GOLD

“You can’t run away from commitment forever …”

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?


Exciting news!

The Rest of My Life has this week been nominated for the illustrious ‪#‎RONEAwards‬ in the Contemporary Steamy category! Voting is open now so if you’d like to show your support for Sheryl, please go to the Rone Awards page and vote for The Rest of My Life. Voting is open until 8 May so don’t wait too long to vote!

Q&A with Cara Sue Achterberg (author of Girls’ Weekend)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Cara Sue Achterberg to my blog. I’d like to take the time to wish Cara Sue a very happy publication day as her novel Girls’ Weekend is published today!

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a mom with two teens at home itching to get out and one in college who is always happy to come home. I’m also a foster mom for rescue dogs. Last year we helped save over 25 dogs! My husband says I’m using dogs to fill my almost empty nest. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things – veggies, fruit trees, chickens, and even a few flowers. Running, blogging, cooking, and trying not to fall off my horse, True, are a few of my other hobbies.

How did you first come to be a writer?

I morphed into being a full-time writer quietly, while no one was looking. I didn’t study writing in school because I was pretty certain I could never be a “writer” even though I filled journal after journal, wrote angsty poetry, and worked on the school paper. I finally embraced writing when I was forced to stay home to take care of three kids and run our little farm. But even then, I freelanced, and didn’t tell anybody about the novels I was writing during naptime.

What is your book about?

Girls’ Weekend is about three moms who go away for a girls’ weekend and decide they can’t return to their lives that don’t seem to fit any more.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Ha. My life. I wrote this book while my kids were napping because I wanted to run away from my underfunded, overcrowded life, but could only do that on paper.

What is your writing routine?

I spend my mornings doing research, blogging, promoting, and writing articles – I think of this as my nonfiction time. The afternoons are for fiction. I usually have 3 solid hours for this. I never thought I’d be able to write in the afternoons, but as it was my only uninterrupted time for so many years while kids’ napped, it’s become my preferred writing time, so I save it for fiction.

What has your journey to publication been like?

Long and winding. Because I didn’t study writing in college, I had to learn how to do everything (storytelling, editing, querying, promoting) the hard way. I now teach creative writing and I do think having had to figure it all out myself has made me a better teacher. I got my agent the hard way – hundreds of rejection letters later. But I got my fiction deal through a writing contest. I didn’t win, but one of the judges was a publisher who signed me to a three book deal.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen. I just loved this book. The characters were so well drawn and it was such a different story. Plus Sarah Gruen is crazy talented. It also didn’t hurt that I read it on a beach while on holiday on Grand Cayman Island.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

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

Question: What’s it like to be a New York Times’ Bestseller?

Answer: I’ll get back to you on that.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Okay, assuming I can’t take any people or animals, I’d want a case of red wine, a journal and pen. I know I wouldn’t survive long, so I’d like to spend that time writing my magnum opus and letters to loved ones. While I was doing that, I’d drink the wine and fill the empty bottles with messages to send out to sea.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Ooooooh – I love to connect on twitter (@CaraAchterberg) or Facebook (Facebook.com/carasueachterberg). I have Linked In, Pinterest, and even Tumblr accounts, but I struggle to keep up with those, so I’m a little slower to react through those sites. And I have to mention my “dog blog” (AnotherGoodDog.wordpress.com) because I meet a lot of great people through that blog.


About the Book

Girls' Weekend cover

Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls weekend away, they can’t bring themselves to return to lives that don’t seem to fit anymore.

Harried Dani can’t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.

Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they’d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they’re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.

GIRLS’ WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search for who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy.

 


 

About the Author

Cara Sue Achterberg

Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a Nook and ibooks bestseller. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com.

Q&A with Deborah Rogers (author of The Devil’s Wire)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Deborah Rogers, author of The Devil’s Wire, to my blog.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Hi Hayley, Thanks for having me on RatherTooFondofBooks. I’m a New Zealand based writer of contemporary crime fiction. Over the years, I’ve had a wide variety of jobs including working as a motel cleaner, door-to-door pizza salesperson, carer for the elderly, waitress, and a senior government investigator. But no matter the day job, writing has always been my one constant. I have a strange fascination for the darker side of life, and this tends to make its way into my work in various guises. My big news is that I have just been made redundant, so while I may not know where my next meal is coming from, I’m pretty excited about all the writing time I’m going to get!

How did you first come to be a writer?

I can thank my parents for my love of stories. They read to me when I was small, and the house was always full of books. I especially remember trips to the local bookshop with my Dad where he’d browse the shelves for the latest John le Carre or Wilbur Smith. Best of all, he’d let me pick out one for myself.

I think I began writing because I want to be part of that storytelling world. I believed it would give me the same wonderful sensation I got from reading. To begin with I don’t think writing did that for me – it was more like hard work and my stories never quite measured up. However, over the last few years writing has become more and more like the reading experience. I love this and hope it continues.

What is your book about?

The Devil’s Wire is a psychological suspense thriller about how Jennifer Blake’s life is turned upside down when a mysterious new neighbour, Lenise Jameson, moves in next door. Everything Jennifer ever thought she knew about her husband, Hank, is destroyed when Lenise tells Jennifer she has witnessed a disturbing incident involving Hank. Once the secret is out, the two women form a strange friendship that leads to obsession, betrayal and an untimely death.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

I have a very long list of ideas that just keeps growing. I’m certain I will never be short on a plot idea for a book. I get my inspiration from all around – it could be from a snippet of an overheard phone conversation, a story in the newspaper, or something I observe when I’m out and about. For example, the other day when I was driving to work I saw a school girl sitting at a bus stop, crying. She was holding a skateboard and had a bloody knee. An old man walking his dog stopped and said something to her (I suspect he was asking if she was okay), and I immediately think, Oh, that would make a good story – what if the old man seems like a good guy and offers to take her home to call her Mum but he ends up holding her captive instead? Yes, that is how my mind works.

What is your writing routine?

I am a stickler for structure and routine.  During weekdays I get up at 5am, have a coffee in bed until 5.30am, then get up and go to my writing room and write until 7.00am. After that it’s the dreaded day job. I also write for half a day on Sunday and when I’m on leave from my job. Unlike some writers, I don’t focus on word count, I focus on time spent writing – that critical 1.5 hours each day  when my thinking is clearest and the house is quiet. Over time, it builds up, and before I know it I’ve got a book!

What has your journey to publication been like?

My journey to publication has been a process of constantly up-skilling, writing, reading and developing a critical eye for my own work. I started out writing short stories, then moved on to novel length work. Over the years, I’ve done a couple of creating writing courses and even dabbled in scriptwriting. Also important is that I made the most of opportunities like getting published in small, local journals and taking part in competitions. This helped build my author profile, as well as give me confidence. The Devil’s Wire is actually my third psychological suspense novel, but the first to be published. The other two unpublished manuscripts are in the bottom drawer (literally). I have the best intentions of one day dusting them off to take another look to see what needs fixing. But there are just so many new and interesting ideas to work on!

What’s your favourite book of all-time?

We Need to Talk about Kevin is the best book I’ve ever read. I didn’t know much about it when I picked it up and was totally engrossed from the first page. I ended taking two days off work to read it. I think what captured my imagination was how this woman, the mother, kept on trying to love her son but just couldn’t because he was so completely unlikable (perhaps even evil). I was total sucked in and lost in the world of the story. I just love it when that happens!

What are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. It’s a suspense novel set in Texas. It’s about a lone survivor of a serial killer, an incident that took place when the lead character was a teenager. Now an adult, she’s faced with the prospect of the killer coming back to finish her off. It’s a slow-burn but intriguing and well-written. So far so good.

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

Great question! I have never been asked – what’s the best piece of advice you ever received? My answer would be – We all have an end date so don’t take life too seriously.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

If I was stranded on a desert island, the three things I would take are:

  • My dog – because he loves adventure, and he would give me something to cuddle should I get lonely.
  • A box of notebooks and a box of pens – sorry, pretty obvious. But, hey, I like to write.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Contact me: www.deborahrogersauthor.com

Follow me: www.goodreads.com/DeborahRogers

Connect with me www.facebook.com/deborahrogersauthor

If people sign up to the Deborah Rogers Reader’s Club from my website I will send them my next book as a wee thank you (I’m hoping for a July release date).

About the Author:

D.Rogers author photo

 

Deborah Rogers is a fan of all good suspense, mystery and true crime books. She has a Graduate Diploma in Scriptwriting, and graduated cum laude from the Hagley Writers’ Institute. When she’s not writing American psychological thrillers, she likes to take her chocolate Labrador for walks on the beach and make decadent desserts.

About the Book:

E-cover THE DEVIL'S WIRE

Jennifer’s new neighbour, Lenise Jameson, is a liar. Lenise claims to have witnessed a disturbing incident involving Jennifer’s husband, Hank, but as far as Jennifer is concerned, the forty-something single mother is a vindictive backstabber out to make trouble.

But Jennifer soon discovers this is no sick joke. Hank has a dark side she knew nothing about.

As Jennifer’s life spirals out of control she has no one to turn to, apart from Lenise, who appears only too willing to help. But who is Lenise? What does she want from Jennifer? And just how far is she willing to go to get it?

A tale about secrets and obsession, and what can happen when you forget to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Buy Links

Amazon

 

Q&A with Greg Cope White (author of The Pink Marine)

 


Today I’m delighted to welcome screenwriter and author Greg Cope White to my blog. I’m sharing an interview I recently did with him about his memoir The Pink Marine and his career as a TV sitcom writer.
Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m an old writer with a new book. 

What is The Pink Marine about?

It’s my memoir about the summer I spent in United States Marine Corps boot camp with my best friend, when we were teenagers. I had no idea what the military was like – I just thought we were going to summer camp.  

I see from your bio that you normally write TV sitcoms – what made you decide to branch out and write your book The Pink Marine?

The stories of teenagers being bullied. Some of the tortured chose to end their lives and I want to tell others that it does get better – that we have to stand up and resist mean people. Often peacefully and quietly; but everyone has the right to a happy life. I learned to go get mine. If the military was the place I went to find my definition of masculinity in a world I didn’t feel I fit in, then good on them for providing that. If I can become a US Marine, anyone can do anything.  

As far as sitcoms go, and this is a hard shift here – the book is funny. Look at my photo and imagine me a Marine. I was a fish out of water. No matter what the storytelling format, I want my voice to come through. All the sitcom experience helps me trust that my sense of humor will balance the pathos on paper.   

How did writing your book differ from writing for TV? Was it an easy transition?

To get my point across in a script, I have to paint a clear picture in a few lines. On my blog, or in my books, if I want to describe the subtle blues of the sky at different times of the day – I can fill pages on only that subject. There is so much more time in a book. TV is choppy.  

Blogging helped me make the transition from writing scripts to writing the book. I wrote short stories, some related to the book, and both found my narrative voice and fell in love with the luxury of more words. That also helped me build a marketing platform. 

Are you still working as a TV writer or do you hope to be a full time author?

I do both, as well as write my two blogs (EatGregEat and GoGregGo) and contribute to Huffington Post and Good Men Project Magazine. And I’m always looking for more outlets on which to publish. I also cook and host a show on Food Network’s Cooking Channel (and write that material). TV is seasonal and sporadic. I think of TV as disposable journalism, so I love the permanence of long-form storytelling that writing books offers.

Where do you get your inspiration from for TV writing and for your books?  

Everything really happens. If I pause during a crazy moment, or right after, and commit to memory my emotions that the event caused — the smell, the colors, the way my heart raced when you tossed your hair and made that bird fly away – I’ll pull from that bank later. Add the dialogue of everything I wished I’d said in that moment and… scene. 

I live in gratitude with open eyes. The Marine Corps (and probably my grandmother) gave me boundless energy. I do everything I can, travel as much as possible – and spend time with my friends. If you tell me a story, it may end up in a book. I need material. I believe a colorful life leads to a flavorful plate. 

What is your writing routine like?

I’m writing by 6am. I have a book, three or four stories, couple of scripts and blog posts going all the time. Whichever one glows brightest at me pre-dawn gets my attention. I write till 3PM, take a break and cook, then resume writing at 8PM. Now if I stuck to that schedule 100%, I’d have thirty books written…. 

What has your journey to publication been like?

It was a dark and stormy night. A publisher bought the book last year, but within two months I knew he was the wrong one to bring it to market. I hated his style, his taste, and he wasn’t savvy. My agent and I tried to cancel the contract back in December but it wasn’t until I had a heart attack this January that I successfully canceled it. Done in one email. 

And then the sun rose on a new day. I’m a US Marine – so I stayed on brand and handled the situation. While I recuperated, I formed my own press (AboutFace Books), contracted with Ingram to distribute, and organized the first leg of a book tour. I auditioned for Audible to record the audio book – and got the part playing…. me. I had a blast in the studio, performing the other Marines voices too. That format dropped April 5th, so now The Pink Marine is available in e-book, paperback, hardcover and audio. I’d bake it into a pie and come feed it to each reader if I could. 

Lesson learned: authors have direct access to exciting platforms. (My health has recovered very well, I’m happy to report.) I’m speaking about my book and writing memoir on a panel at the YA festival YALLWEST end of April. 

I have a website with tour info, past links and videos. I live in Los Angeles, so when I run into a celebrity, I ask them to make a supportive video. People are running away from me at parties now. Visit the site and find easy-to-see links to your favorite online retailers to buy the book: www.thepinkmarine.com

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

Is any subject in your life that’s off limits in a story? Yes, since I write in memoir, I’d never expose someone’s secret or kill off the love interest and/or hero. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

I’m @EatGregEat on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and whatever platform gets invented next. 


 

About the Author:

greg cope white (the pink marine)

 

Author of The Pink Marine, blogger, television writer, world traveler, and inveterate bon vivant, Greg Cope White is a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a bi-coastal, polo-playing, sixth-generation Texan with a voracious appetite for life. See him on this season’s Cooking Channel show, Unique Sweets.

 

 


 

About the Book:

The Pink Marine by Greg Cope White

When Greg Cope White’s best friend tells him he is spending his summer in Marine Corps boot camp, all Greg hears is “summer” and “camp.”

 Despite dire warnings from his friend, Greg vows to join him in recruit training. He is eighteen, underweight, he’s never run a mile—and he is gay.

 It’s long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and with no LGBT rights in place in most states, and the Marines having a very definite expulsion policy in place for gay people when it comes to military personnel, will Greg even survive? 

 The Pink Marine is the story—full of hilarity and heartbreak—of how a teenage boy who struggles with self-acceptance and his sexuality and doesn’t fit the traditional definition of manliness finds acceptance and self-worth in Marine Corps boot camp. 

 

Blog Tour: Q&A with Siobhan MacDonald (author of Twisted River)

 

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Siobhan MacDonald’s Twisted River. I’m pleased to be able to share my interview with Siobhan.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m the eldest in my family and was raised in a busy home. Growing up in a large family, there was a premium attached to being able to tell a good story. My mother taught speech and drama and was a proficient story-teller. She spent many childhood nights in air-raid shelters in the north of England during the Second World-War and she could make a mundane trip for groceries sound like a scene from ‘The Bourne Identity’.

As a child, I recall dark winter’s nights driving home through the Knockmealdown mountains from visits to my grandmother. Instead of playing “I Spy,” we kids would sit in the back and would each have to tell a story. My Irish grandmother was a good storyteller too, often telling me tales of the ghosts she had seen.

When I graduated from university I left an Ireland in the throes of recession to write for the technology industry in Scotland. I worked for a variety of companies in Scotland and also France before settling back in Ireland where I now live with my husband and two sons.

In between injuries I enjoy social tennis, am a lapsed Bridge player, and like to have a handle on current affairs.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

The process of becoming a writer happened over time.  I can’t recall when telling stories and committing stories to paper wasn’t part of my life. In my teenage years I wrote poetry and scripted one-act plays that I and a friend performed in competitions. When I graduated I looked for a job that would allow me to write. I used to take annual leave to write short stories. This provided an antidote to the constraints imposed by technical and business writing,

 

What is Twisted River about?

Twisted River is a chilling tale of ‘domestic noir’ that describes what happens when a seemingly ideal house-swap goes horrendously wrong.  In this thriller two families come to an arrangement about swapping homes on either side of the Atlantic, one – a quirky house at Curragower Falls in Limerick, Ireland, and the other – a smart Manhattan apartment at Riverside Drive, New York. They have never met in person, only on the Internet.

On the face of it, both families are alike. The Harveys and the O’Briens are both professional couples with two children. Both families need a break from their problems. Seeing each other as ideal house-swap partners, Hazel Harvey and Kate O’Brien strike up a conversation on a home exchange website. The two families make the fateful decision to exchange homes over the Halloween school holidays, each wife hoping a vacation will help her troubled family.

However, rather than ditching their woes, each family unwittingly walks into the dark spaces their exchange partners have left behind. And when American Oscar Harvey opens the trunk of his hosts’ car to find the body of a woman, beaten and bloody, the secrets holding each family together start to come to light.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

My inspiration comes mainly from the world at large. Real-life everyday unsolved mysteries fascinate me. I tend to extrapolate from the snippets of stories I hear around about me.

 

What is your writing routine?

I like to write in daylight hours, in natural light, so that when I look up from the screen I’m able to see the sky and the trees and birds outside. At the moment I’m writing in the afternoons. But I hit the keyboard first thing in the morning if an idea has occurred during the night. I’m afraid that it may disappear if I don’t commit it to paper straightaway.

 

What has your journey to publication been like? 

The traditional route, which unfortunately still takes rather a long time.  I firstly secured the support of a very well-respected agent in a long established London agency who fell in love with and believed in my work. My agent set to work to secure good homes for my writing and I am now in the fortunate position of having Twisted River placed with a number of publishing houses – some long-established and others innovative and new on the scene.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

Kimberley McCreight’s ‘Reconstructing Amelia’ which is a super read.

 

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

Assuming I’m stranded on a desert island due to nothing more sinister than striking air-traffic controllers, covered in factor 50, sporting a panama hat, and drinking a skinny latté on a sun-lounger, then I’d like to read a range of books also set in the sun. Robert Harris’ ‘Pompeii’ comes to mind. Another choice would be the exploits of Mma Ramotzwe in Alexander McCall’s ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ or Sally Andrew’s ‘Recipes for Love and Murder’ which I haven’t yet read but I’ve marked for the perfect beach read.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? 

Now that we’ve finished chatting, can I get you a Mojito or a Margarita?

What’s your answer to that question?

Both.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: siobhanmmacd

Website: siobhanmacdonald.com


About the Author:

siobhan macdonald

Siobhán studied in Galway and pursued a successful career as a writer in the technology industry, working in Scotland, France & Ireland.

Siobhán has published her first novel TWISTED RIVER in the US & Canada with Viking Penguin, and in the UK with Canelo.

Siobhan lives in Ireland with her husband and two sons.

 


About the Book:

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

“She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car.” Limerick, Ireland: the O’Brien family’s driveway. American Oscar Harvey opens the trunk of his hosts’ car and finds the body of a woman, beaten and bloody. But let’s start at the beginning.

Kate and Mannix O’Brien live by Curragower Falls in Limerick, in a lovely house they can barely afford. Kate decides that her family needs a vacation, and is convinced her luck’s about to change when she spots a gorgeous Manhattan apartment on a home-exchange website. Hazel and Oscar Harvey and their two children live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Though they seem successful and happy, they too need a change of pace, and the house swap offers a perfect chance to soothe two troubled marriages.

But this will be anything but a perfect vacation. And the body in the trunk is just the beginning. … A riveting page-turner for fans of Paula Hawkins.

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald is published on 18th April by Canelo, price £1.99 in eBook.


 

Q&A with Mike Russell (author of Nothing is Strange)

Today I’m very pleased to be able to share with you an interview I did with Mike Russell, author of Nothing is Strange (a mind-bending short story collection).

 

How did you first come to be a writer? 

When I was 12 years old I began writing a novel called ‘Imagine Infinity’. I designed the book cover and wrote about twenty pages before deciding that I needed more life experience and abandoned it. I thought this early attempt was lost until my parents found it in their loft a couple of years ago. I still like the title. Years later, I began writing again. Then one day a friend was putting together a spoken-word event. Knowing that I wrote things, she asked me to contribute. This led to many years of regularly performing my stories in clubs, bars, galleries and various other strange venues. Happily, I just kept being invited to do more. This proved to me that there was an audience for my writing. I then began publishing my stories.

What is your book about? 

‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Inspiration for me is exactly that. I have moments of inspiration that come at odd times. It is always something new to me, giving a certain insight beyond what I already know and it comes with a small euphoria. Where it comes from is a mystery. I love inspiration. I love exploring the places that inspiration reveals to me and I have a huge desire to share what I discover. We are all mysteries surrounded by mystery and filled with mystery! I like to explore that mystery.

What is your writing routine? 

I schedule time when I know I can write for a long stretch without having to do anything else. I write with pen and paper and only move to the computer towards the end of the process. It is good to remain in a sort of limbo so that you are open to a story changing, even if it means having to destroy weeks of work. Cups of tea and occasional kisses help.

author mike

What has your journey to publication been like?

I have always done it independently. Years ago I made hand-bound books of my stories and sold them. I would sew them together, then make cloth covered hardback covers for them. They took ages to make. These days it is so much easier to produce a book. Creative freedom is a wonderful, precious and important thing. To be able to create something that is unique and that has integrity you have to have that freedom. Indie presses are on the increase and to me that is a wonderful thing. www.strangebooks.com is myself and my partner Jay. It is a lot of fun. We have storytelling evenings, book fairs, competitions… ‘Nothing Is Strange’ is our first publication but we have many more in the pipeline. If you follow the website or connect with us through facebook or twitter we will let you know when each new release appears. We are very excited about sharing them. If you believe in what you do then you have the energy to just keep going and going to get your work out there. Again it has to do with inspiration: when you are inspired to create something, you can have total belief in it because its source is as much a mystery to you as it is to everyone else.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year? 

Lyall Watson’s ‘Gift of Unknown Things’

What are you reading at the moment? 

I am currently reading two books: Gary Lachman’s ‘Secret Teachers of the Western World’ and Fernando Arrabal’s ‘The Compass Stone’. I am enjoying both. 

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

Hmmm… I think ‘What are your stories for?’ is a good question. Stories can have many functions I think. My highest aspiration as a writer is to try to release us (me the writer and you the reader) from all limitations. That is a big aim, right? But it is a very reachable aim. I am sure that we could all name books that have had a profound effect upon us. Stories have that power. They can be more than entertainment whilst still being entertaining. At www.strangebooks.com we say:

“We wish our readers the highest possible outcome from their reading experience. We believe that stories have the potential to be life-changing. So let us not limit the power of the story; let us read with an expectation of the highest possible outcome and allow every story to work its magic.”

The magical aspect of stories has been negated in our present culture. www.strangebooks.com is our small contribution to the re-magicalising of the world. (Yes, I made that word up!)

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why? 

Ideally I would like to have my partner Jay there but as she isn’t a thing I guess I can’t choose her. I never go anywhere without a pen and a pad of post-its. When inspiration comes I need to record it. So that’s two things. For the third I am going to choose a joke book. When all else fails, laugh. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

We post competitions, share free stories and all sorts on social media. It’s good fun and we have met some wonderful people. Come and join in!

You can like us on Facebook here: Strange Books

and follow us on Twitter here: @StrangeBooksEye

 

nothing is strange cover

About the Book:

‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories. ‘Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique…’ all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy… Nothing Is Strange.

Available here: Nothing is Strange

 

“For me, creating is discovering and storytelling is bringing into the world dreams that are universal. They come from a deep place; they want to be known and they want to help us. Storytelling is a way of turning the world inside out, which I believe it desperately needs.” Mike Russell

 

Q&A with Kayte Nunn, author of Rose’s Vintage plus book #giveaway!

 

Today I’m very happy to be able to share an interview that I recently did with Kayte Nunn, author of Rose’s Vintage. Today is publication day for Rose’s Vintage so I’d like to wish Kayte a very happy publication day and wish her lots of luck with the book! To celebrate publication day, Kayte’s publisher have very kindly offered three ebook copies of Rose’s Vintage for me to give away so please read to the end of this post and be sure to enter!

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a forty-something Englishwoman who has lived in Australia for the past 20 years. I’m a wife, mother and writer, not necessarily in that order. Love to bake, hate to clean. 

How did you first come to be a writer?

Without really realising it, I’ve written most of my life – my aunt recently told me that when I was quite little and she was visiting, I was writing short stories. I wrote terrible poetry and angst-ridden diaries when I was a teenager, and then did a degree in English and Publishing because I loved books and writing so much. I ended up working in magazines because I wanted to write features, and have done that for the past 15 or so years, as both a writer and editor. Despite a secret dream to be a novelist I never had the confidence in my ability to do so – I thought it was something other people did, not me.

But, about three years ago, a break between freelance projects and a case of the ‘now or nevers’ saw me knuckle down and try to write fiction. I started with a few short stories and sent them off to a couple of competitions and made the shortlists, and I found that I loved the way writing made me feel. 

What is your book about?

It’s the story of Rose, a young English chef, who takes a job as an au pair in an Australian wine region, also agreeing to spy on her boss for her brother. When she arrives there in the middle of winter, she finds that it’s far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d imagined, her new boss is largely absent and leaves her to her own devices. All she wants to do is find out what she needs to for her brother and then get out of there and go somewhere warmer… of course, she doesn’t leave straight away…  

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

The inspiration for Rose’s Vintage came as I was sitting in a café in Bondi on a grey winter’s day. I began to imagine what it would be like to arrive in Australia and find that it was nothing like you’d imagined. Having worked as editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine for quite a few years I had met so many wonderful winemakers, visited some beautiful wine regions and loved the close-knit communities that exist in there. It seemed obvious to set the book in a fictional wine region that reflected those qualities.

What is your writing routine?

I wish I had one! I’ve two terrifyingly sporty girls and so I spend a lot of time ferrying them around, lugging my laptop with me to sports practice, swim sessions… luckily after years in a busy magazine office, I can write no matter what the noise going on around me. On an ideal day, I drop them at school, go for a walk or a run, then sit down at home and write from about 10.30-3pm before shooting off to pick my youngest daughter up from school. Funnily enough, the hour between 2- and 3pm is my most productive!

What has your journey to publication been like?

It took me about a year to write Rose’s Vintage (I was also working as a freelance non-fiction writer and editor). When I finished, I began querying agents and publishers. Several asked for the complete mss. I got my fair share of rejections, but then my current agent rang me and asked for a month to read it exclusively. At the end of the month, she rang and we had a long chat about what needed to change, I took notes and then went away and spent a couple of months on revisions. I sent it back to her and she was happy with what I’d done and began sending it to publishers who she thought likely to be interested. Several replied saying it appealed to them but that it was too similar to other authors already in their stable. One publisher really liked it but asked for quite substantial revisions, which I did, but then Black Inc, which had also seen a copy of this revised mss. loved it and made an offer for it, and also for a second book with the same setting that I was by this time three-quarters of the way through.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

Oh gosh, that’s hard – there are some terrific books out at the moment and I’ve been reading up a storm! Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows is heart-breaking and beautifully lyrical; The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman made me sob; Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers was especially memorable.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Observations by Jane Harris. It’s a historical novel set in 1863. I’m now working on a historical novel of my own, part of which is set in the 1880s, so I’m reading other books set at a similar time, both for research and enjoyment.

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

Do you like to read your own work once it’s in book form?

Absolutely not! When I received my author’s copies of Rose’s Vintage I opened one up and felt quite ill – it was all too real and there is so much of me on those pages that my little introverted soul was terrified!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

A copy of Anne of Green Gables – my favourite book and still a comfort read.

A laptop that never ran out of charge so I could write.

Enough food – you can’t write on an empty stomach!

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: @KayteNunn

Facebook: Kayte Nunn

Goodreads: Rose’s Vintage

Website: www.kaytenunn.com


About the Author:

Kayte portrait 1

Kayte Nunn is a freelance book, magazine and web editor and writer with more than 20 years’ publishing experience and is the former editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine. She is also a mother to two girls and when not writing, reading or ferrying her daughters around she can be found in the kitchen, procrasti-baking.

Rose’s Vintage is her first novel.

 


 

About the book:

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

British blow-in, Rose Bennett, is heartbroken, overweight, irritable and a long way from home. She isn’t sure what exactly she’s doing at Kalkari Wines in the Australian Shingle Valley – it’s the middle of winter and far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d been expecting.

Her brother thinks she’s spying for him, her bad-tempered new boss thinks she’s the au pair and the nanny can’t wait for her to clean the place up.

Discovering pagan bonfire ceremonies, bizarre winemaking practices and a valley full of eccentric locals, Rose just wishes she’d ended up somewhere a bit warmer.

But as the weather improves, the valley reveals its beauty, and Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after, and one of the men there.

When her boss’s estranged wife returns and her brother descends, wanting answers, Rose is torn between staying put or cutting her losses.


 

Giveaway!

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

 

Kayte Nunn’s publisher BlackIncBooks  has very kindly offered me three ebook copies of Rose’s Vintage to give away! So please click on the link below to be taken to the giveaway page for your chance to win one of the three copies:

Rose’s Vintage international giveaway!

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.

Q&A with Sherry Mayes (author of Stop the World)

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Today I’m happy to be able to share an interview I got to do with Sherry Mayes, author of Stop the World. I’ll be reading and reviewing Stop the World soon so look out for that post on my blog.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I live in a lovely village called Caversham in Berkshire a few minutes from the river Thames which is the perfect setting for a writer. I have a sixteen year old daughter and have worked as a journalist on national newspapers for nearly twenty years and have written two self-help books. 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I first worked on newspapers and magazines writing human interest stories when I was in my mid-twenties. I’ve always loved writing and researching anything I’m curious about, and I think the two go hand in hand.  

What is your book about?

 Stop the Word, is a YA, coming of age story about a 17 year old vain pageant queen who ends up crashing her new car and ending up in a wheelchair. You might say she learns about what is really important to her. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

 I interviewed a young teen nine years ago about a car crash and how she ended up in a wheelchair nine years ago, and her story always stuck in my mind. I wanted to explore what someone would go through in that scenario and how it could make you think differently about things. 

What is your writing routine? 

I go where the inspiration takes me, so I have no real routine – it’s more like a compulsion; whether that’s jumping out of bed at 6 am to write or staying up half the night to get my words down.

What has your journey to publication been like?

It’s been tough. I got a literary agent for the book who loved in back in Feb 2015 last year but she couldn’t sell it even though she tried very hard. So I ended up self-publishing in December 2015.  

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

 This year it has to be, ‘I let you go,’ by Clare Mackintosh. A great riveting emotional thriller. 

What are you reading at the moment?

 I am about to start reading ‘The Light Between Oceans,’ by M.L. Stedman

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

What’s your two favourite characters in a novel that you would like to invite for dinner and mine would have to be, Scarlett O’Hara and Alice in Wonderland. Can you imagine what a riveting conversation we’d have. 

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Well I’d have to be self-sufficient, so I’d need a sharp knife for cutting out fish guts etc, a loaded gun in case I met any cannibals or wild animals, and an Ipod with all my music on it.  

How can people connect with you on social media?

 You can connect with me on my facebook page for Stop the World: https://www.facebook.com/SherryMayesauthor/

And twitter: @authormayes which shows me as S.D.Mayes


 

About the Book:

 51yCur6T-AL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

Published on December 9th, 2015, Stop the World is a poignant, ultimately uplifting, coming-of-age story about self-acceptance and making the most of what life has to offer, whichever form it takes. 

Beauty Queen, Jody Angel Taylor believes her life is all mapped out – glamorous, clever and popular, and due to marry her handsome boyfriend, she has it all. Until one night she has a devastating car crash, ending up paralyzed – and her perfect world collapses.  

Committing media suicide and publicly blamed for her own accident, everything around her falls apart. She becomes a lonely recluse, feeling she’s lost everything including her legs – her boyfriend to her best friend, her father to an affair, her mother to depression – but above all she fears losing her mind. 

What she doesn’t know is that someone across the globe is about to throw her a lifeline. Can she find the courage to take it?  

Determined to love again and clear her name, she embarks on a new adventure that will transform her life beyond all expectations.

You can buy Stop The World here: 

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-World-compelling-absolutely-unputdownable-ebook/dp/B019BOXL8S


 

About the Author:

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British journalist and author, Sherry Mayes, took her inspiration for this story from a real life case study she wrote about several years ago for a popular UK magazine (article available) revealing the often comic/tragic events of disability through a young woman’s eyes. As part of her research before interviewing the young woman, Sherry learnt a lot about hospital procedure and rehab as well as researching many other casualties who’d become paralysed through accidents, reading their blogs. 

She chose to set the novel in a small Californian town as she wanted the protagonist – a spoilt, only child of successful parents – to be a typical teenage pageant queen who aspires to live the big American dream, where celebrity and the body beauty myth are paramount, and everything is shared on social media. This is about the transformation of the so called ‘ultimate ideal’ – ‘a teen of our times’, obsessed with fame and looks, who then loses it all to discover what really matters.   

Sherry Mayes has worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years for national newspapers and magazines on human interest and health stories, most predominantly for the Daily Mail. She wrote two successful self-help books, BE YOUR OWN PSYCHIC and SUPERNATURAL LOVER published with Hodder & Stoughton, serialised by The Mail. She is also the proud mother of a 16-year-old daughter who is an avid book reader.

 

‘Get Reading’ a newspaper interview, published on December 17th reveals the back story behind Stop the World, along with an extract from the first chapter. www.getreading.co.uk

 

Q&A with Jannie Lund (author of Vintage Dreams)

 

Today I’m very happy to welcome Jannie Lund, author of Vintage Dreams to my blog.

Hi Jannie, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 32 years old and from Denmark, where I’ve lived most of my life except for a brief stint in Ireland. I’m an introvert with a capital I, which reflects in the things I like to spend my time on—writing, reading, photography, running, various crafts like crochet and scrapbooking. I’m in no way a people person. Well, unless I can write them a letter or e-mail.  

How did you first come to be a writer?

I’ve pretty much always been writing, but it wasn’t until I was studying history at university that I realized that I wanted to make a real go of a writing career. I started out dreaming of writing historical fiction, wanting to communicate history that way. And I may yet, but so far my focus has been on romance. I had my first short story published in 2008. 

What is your book about?

My latest book, Vintage Dreams, is about a lady with a temper who doesn’t like the dashing stranger who’s in town to take away the dream she’s worked hard to have come true. And who can blame her? But the dashing stranger has a job to do—and a tragic past. Sparks fly from the moment they meet. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Everywhere. And I know that sounds vague, but it’s true. I see something, hear something, smell something, feel something—and then I twist it, ask “what if” a lot, and end up with something I can’t quite explain where came from because it’s so far from what originally inspired it. 

What is your writing routine?

I don’t really have much of a routine. When I’m writing a book, I just try to cram in as much writing time as possible. I have a daily word goal of one thousand words, but I often double or triple it. I need music when I write, though. I guess that’s the only set routine I have.  

What is your favourite book?

It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. Or two. I’m not even sure I could narrow it down to five. Can I cheat and make a small list instead? Morgans Run by Colleen McCullough is at the top. It’s epic. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and Jan Guillou’s Crusades trilogy have been on my list of favorites for a long time, too. More recent additions include Tanya Anne Crosby’s Highland Fire and Katherine Lowry Logan’s The Ruby Brooch. And then finally, there are my go-to authors whose work I’ll devour over and over again—M.A. Stacie, Nora Roberts, and Ava Miles. That is probably narrowing it down as much as I can. Oh, and Tennyson. I can’t forget him. His poetry gives me chills in all the good ways.   

What are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading The Picts: A History by Tim Clarkson. I seem to be in a bit of a Scottish phase at the moment and have been reading about lots of highlanders, kilts, and blue war paint. I usually like to mix up fiction and non-fiction and read more than one book at the time, but at the moment I’m mainly researching a future project. 

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

Oh dear. Well, I suppose I wish someone had asked me early on why I’m Danish and mainly writing in English. And that’s because peaceful, little Denmark is murder-mystery country as far as literature (as well as movies and TV-series) is concerned. And obviously that’s not me—I don’t read them and I certainly don’t write them. The few romance imprints that are starting to pop focus on established, foreign authors. So I’m taking the long way around—the scenic and very, very enjoyable route.  

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Tennyson’s collected works, some sort of device that can make freshwater out of saltwater, and a hammock. The first to keep me from losing my mind, the second for survival, and the third for comfort. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: @JannieLund

Facebook: Jannie Lund Writer

Pinterest: Jannie Lund

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109091049517720692953/posts

Blog: JannieLund.com (You can sign up to Jannie’s mailing list via this link if you’d like to)

 

Book Synopsis

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Scott Sullivan has been sent on a not all together pleasant trip down memory lane to secure a location for a client. Sure, it may take some charm and convincing to get the owners to sell, but he’s up for the task. And then he’s getting the hell out of dodge to escape the memories. In and out, quick and painless, that’s the plan. He just hadn’t counted on running into a fiery and stunning obstacle with gold flecks in her eyes. 

Danielle Harris has worked hard to make her dream come true. With her best friend, she owns a boutique where she sells the vintage style dresses she designs. When a city lawyer comes along and tries to ruin everything, her Italian temper flares. 

With Scott trying to conduct a business deal and Danielle fighting for her dream, sparks fly. Not least sparks of attraction and perhaps love. It’s clear that one of them needs to give in, but the feelings of resistance are deep-rooted in them both.

 

Vintage Dreams is out now and available from Amazon as both an ebook and a print book. Click here to be taken to the book’s page.


 

About the author

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Jannie started writing because she couldn’t help herself. She needed to get some of the many stories trapped inside her head out. That was her excuse then, and it’s her excuse now. A mixture of a healthy imagination and difficulties getting the words out of her mouth made writing her outlet, and since 2008 she’s been fortunate enough to publish some of the many words she types.

When she’s not writing–or thinking about writing, which takes up most hours of the day–she manages to squeeze in some running, photography, and various creative pastimes.

 


 

 

Q&A with Andy Owen (Author of East of Coker)

 

 

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I recently got to do a Q&A with Andy Owens, author of East of Coker, and am pleased to able to share it with you today.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am married with two young children and I live in West London. East of Coker is my second novel. 

How did you first come to be a writer? 

Through reading. I have always read – both fiction and non-fiction. More specifically, whilst working for the government in the UK on counter terrorism duties I read Moby Dick and was struck between the similarities between some of the characters and situations in the novel and some of those I was encountering in my day job. When Melville introduces Ismael to us speaking of the need when he feels it is a ‘damp, drizzly November’ in his soul, to get to sea, he highlights something enduring in human nature. He highlighted the same existential ennui that I was seeing in some of those that were going off not to sea, but the mountains to join terrorist organisations and that had formed a part of the motivation to sign up for some of the soldiers I had previously served with. Melville’s characters embark on a journey that explores themes of obsession, belief, belonging and the impact of charismatic leaders on a group – all themes I was interested in and were relevant to some of the issues of today. 

So, I started to write as I thought I had something to say on a subject that was been dealt with in a shallow and often ignorant way. It was something I had experience of and I thought I had found an interesting idea of how to do it – an idea that would mean it was a good story too. Since I started reading I had always been fascinated by how we recycle stories from one generation to the next. Ultimately I wanted to contribute to an important conversation that was been dominated by the loudest voices rather the most thoughtful. I also hoped it could be a way of helping raising funds for a good cause through donating the royalties. 

What is your book East of Coker about?

If my first book Invective was about why people want to go off and fight, East of Coker is about what happens after you have ‘visited a place where the surface layer has been eroded and the bedrock that is beneath us all is exposed’. More than this it is also about how we can help each other move on. It moves through a London and an Iraq that shadows TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, asking what duty do those left behind have to those that would otherwise be forgotten and, how through acceptance of what we have done, who we are, and where we are all inevitably heading to, what happiness can be found. I think in the end it is a love story, but maybe not one in the traditional sense. 

It follows the lives of Arthur, a wounded veteran of an old war, the love he left behind, an injured veteran of a new war and an Iraqi family in Basra, become intertwined as they all try in different ways to cope with the uncertainty the conflicts they have been exposed to has created. As their stories eventually collide in a hospital in London, while riots outside get closer each night, Arthur tries to free himself from the anchors of the past and ensure his new friend does not suffer like he has. As Arthur learns how to accept his fate he realises there is one more fight he must fight. He must reach the woman who has been waiting for him to return, for all these years, before time runs out. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a family try to cope with the consequences of a modern war fought on ancient soil by unwelcome intruders, threatening their way of life and traditions. I hope that despite some of its subject matter it is ultimately uplifting. 

All royalties are donated to the Shoulder to Shoulder Project, a volunteer mentoring programme that supports ex-service men and women who are recovering from mental health issues or having difficulty adjusting to civilian life.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Ultimately it is experience and imagination, in that order. Both books have started with ideas. The ideas themselves are inspired by the desire to tell stories from the perspective of those who may not have a voice. I agree with Susan Sontag when in ‘At the Same Time: Essays & Speeches’ she muses on what literature can do and she says ‘literature can train, and exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us or ours’. She says that writers ‘evoke our common humanity in narratives with which we can identify, even though the lives may be remote from our own’. Our brains are hardwired to learn through stories, from when we first sat round the fire, to the parables of the early religions through the whole body of world literature. We learn what we are like and value as a society by understand our own stories, but maybe more importantly we learn what others are like, learn that we are more alike than different by learning the stories of others and experiencing the world through their eyes even for the brief time it takes to read a few pages. Writing gives you the opportunity to increase the amount of empathy in the world, which should provide enough inspiration to give it a go. 

What is your writing routine?

I start with an idea, then do the research, then do the writing. Writing happens in bursts and mostly at 30,000 feet. I travel a lot with work, mostly to Africa and Latin America, so long flights are great opportunities to get focussed bursts done with no distractions. 

What’s your favourite book?

It’s a really hard question to answer, there are so many and different books have meant different things to me at different times. In the last  12 months I read Sebald for the first time. Reading Austerlitz taught me that you could tell a story through the gaps in what you do write. It stayed with me for a long time after, just as Camus’ The Outsider had many years ago. On a list of my favourite books Joyce’s Ulysses, which made me first realise that you could write language in a way that reading it could be like listening to music, and Homer’s original. Hemmingway, Orwell and Graves writing on war influenced me greatly and I will always happily read anything by William Boyd, Julian Barnes, Marilyn Robinson or John Le Carrie. And Moby Dick obviously…

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

What will you have? A Guinness please

How can people connect with you on social media?

I am on Twitter (@owen_andy)


 

East of Coker is out now and available to buy on Kindle from Amazon. The book will also be available in print later this month via The War Writers’ Campaign. Please check out their website.

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About the book:

The lives of Arthur, a wounded veteran of an old war, the love he left behind, an injured veteran of a new war and an Iraqi family in Basra, become intertwined as they all try in different ways to cope with the uncertainty the conflicts they have been exposed to has created. Each chapter is told through a separate voice seeing conflict from different sides. 

Their stories eventually collide in a hospital in London, while riots outside get closer each night, when Arthur recovering from a stroke meets the injured veteran from Iraq who is struggling more with mental injuries than the physical ones he received in the incident he described to us in previous chapters. Arthur tries to free himself from the anchors of the past and ensure his new friend does not suffer like he has. He helps his friend realise he should talk to his family and learn to move on like he never managed to do. As Arthur learns how to accept his fate he realises there is one more fight he must fight. He must reach the woman who has been waiting for him to return, for all these years, before time runs out. He uses all his strength to make one final journey to find out that she is still there waiting.    
East of Coker moves through a London and an Iraq that shadows TS Eliot’s Waste Land, asking what duty do those left behind have to those that would otherwise be forgotten and, how through acceptance of what we have done, who we are, and where we are all inevitably heading to, what happiness can be found. 

‘This is an ambitious and thoughtful book, valuable both for itself and its charitable links. It weaves stories of loss and war around a structure of T.S. Eliot’s the Waste Land and speaks for, as well as supports, some of those for whom speech is difficult yet necessary in the wake of past trauma.’ Gay Watson, A Philosophy of Emptiness.

Blog Tour | Q&A with Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook

 

 

Today I am thrilled to welcome Janet Ellis to my blog for a chat about her debut novel, The Butcher’s Hook.

How did you come to be a novelist and how long have you been writing for?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My desk drawer (and more besides) is full of jottings, poems, beginnings of stories  and snatches of prose. But The Butcher’s Hook is the first book I finished. So the answer is really :- for ever and quite recently!

What is your writing process?

I try and write daily, but not always at the same time or with the same word count. I often write  scenes that I know I want to include somewhere, then store them – it’s like having  a mood board of episodes and characters waiting to be placed in the narrative.  I read everything aloud, too, as I think it’s a great way of discovering if the tone is consistent- and avoiding repetition. Of course, that includes dialogue (my poor neighbours). 

The Butcher’s Hook is historical fiction but seems modern too, not least due to the way that Anne Jaccob’s sexual awakening is described. It reminded me a little of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White in the sense of it being historical mixed with more modern elements. What inspired you to write this novel, and in this particular way?

Thank you for the comparison, that book’s a favourite. I’m driven  by the idea that, although they wore different clothes, saw different sights and were influenced by different things, people of any past time, however distant,  experienced emotions as we do. We feel everything from love and  hate, or envy,  greed and sorrow just as our forbears did. Reading diaries- which illustrate this perfectly- was a big source of inspiration. Confirmation, too, of the fact that no matter what is happening around us in historical terms, we’re all mostly concerned with ourselves. My teenage diaries certainly bear this out.

I found Anne fascinating – at times I really liked her and wanted her to find love and happiness and then at other times she had quite a selfish, self-absorbed streak which made her harder to like. I really enjoyed this about her though, she was in my head all the time when I wasn’t reading as I tried to weigh her up and I miss her now I’ve finished reading the novel. How did her character and personality come about, and did you enjoy creating her?

How lovely to hear that.  I loved creating her. She really is a character apart, she isn’t me! And I often felt the same ambivalence  about her behaviour.  I toyed with a different , rather happier , ending but realised she’s her own worst enemy, and enjoyably so. There’s a kind of twisted logic in how she behaves, everything happens for a reason as far as she’s concerned. I hope she’s funny, too, as my favourite people have a sideways take on life that I enjoy. I’ve got friends whose behaviour is sometimes exasperating -but I love them. I know that  -apart from her often terrible actions- I feel the same about Anne.

Finally, is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked and how would you answer said question?

Do you mean apart from ‘How did you get to be so fabulous? (Answer: I have NO idea!)? This is a great question… I haven’t ever met a question that I thought was too awful to be answered, and nothing’s off limits, but maybe there’s something about what my parents would have thought  – they’re both dead now- that I’d like to mull over.  But I can’t come up with the question myself , as it makes me weepy to even think about it. 

 


 

Synopsis of The Butcher’s Hook

Do you know what this is?’ 

He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ‘S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.

‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.

He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’

GEORGIAN LONDON, IN THE SUMMER OF 1763.

At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.

But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.


 

About the Author

Janet Ellis trained as an actress at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She is best known for presenting Blue Peter and contributes to numerous radio and TV programmes. 
She recently graduated from the Curtis Brown creative writing school. The Butcher’s Hook is her first novel.

You can find Janet Ellis at:

janetellis.com

twitter.com/missjanetellis

instagram.com/missjanetellis

The Butcher’s Hook is published by Two Roads; it is out now and available from all good book shops.


 

I’ll be sharing my review of The Butcher’s Hook on my blog very soon so please look out for that. In the meantime, you can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

The Butchers Hook Tour Poster

Author Interview with Kathryn Freeman

I recently read and reviewed Kathryn’s latest novel Search for the Truth and really enjoyed it (you can read my review here) so I was thrilled when Kathryn agreed to be interviewed for my blog.

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m wife to a man who asked me to marry him just before Red Dwarf started on the television, then told me to be quiet – we’d talk about it after the programme finished. I’m mum to two teenage boys who found me embarrassing enough before I started writing romantic fiction. I try to keep fit by running (jogging I should say), swimming and tennis. I love fish and chips, champagne and Jenson Button.

How did you first come to be a writer?

My love of reading led to a desire to see if I could write, too. I made it a New Year Resolution to write a book and it was one resolution I actually stuck to. It was a children’s book (and yes, only my own children ever read it) but after that I got the bug and started to write what I enjoyed reading. Contemporary romance.

Describe your journey to publication

After my children’s book bombed I wrote a brilliant romance and sent it proudly off to agents. Sadly the brilliance was vastly overstated and the rejections flooded in. I kept writing though, which is the important part, and joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. It was the critique I received from them that made the difference. I submitted the revised manuscript to Choc Lit and to my utter delight, it was accepted. One day I’m going to dust off that first novel and, when I’ve stopped cringing, I’m going to re-write it.

What is your writing routine?

Exercise, tea and toast, write until the boys come home from school, with a few wanderings into the kitchen for further sustenance. I dive into Twitter whenever I’m stuck on something, enjoying the diversion and the break usually helps to unstick me. Several days a week I work as a medical writer, though the routine is the same.

I know that you used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and your knowledge shines through in Search for the Truth, but what about your other books? Where do you get your inspiration from? 

It is always my hero who inspires me. An actor, a character in a book/film, a sports star … something will usually act as a trigger to make me think yes, that’s what I want in my hero. I also enjoy variety in my men (I should clarify, my fictional men) so I try and make my next hero different from my previous one – it makes the writing more interesting. Then I just need a heroine who will stand up to him, and a plot that will bring them together.

Search for the Truth is your latest novel. For those who haven’t yet read it, please tell us a little about it

Search for the Truth is about corporate corruption, lies and deception and their consequences. But it’s first and foremost a love story. Tess, an undercover journalist, joins Helix pharmaceuticals because she’s convinced their new cancer drug was the cause of her mother’s death. In between trying to dig out the truth on whether the company hid any damning safety data, she has to work for the magnetic, dynamic head of research and development, Jim Knight. And that’s when the real story starts.

Do you have a writing project on the go at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?

I’m about to start editing my next book, due out in the first half of next year. The hero is a racing car driver – I did tell you I loved Jenson Button!

What else do you do connected with your books?

My husband has told me the answer to this question is that I apparently married my very own handsome hero?!

Which novelists do you admire?

I admire any writer who can publish book after book and retain a really high standard. I can tell you, it’s far more difficult than it looks! My absolute favourite writer, the one who inspired me, is Nora Roberts.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read over the last year?

Yes, it has to be Nora’s The Liar.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Facebook: Kathryn Freeman (author)

Twitter: @Kathrynfreeman1

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

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Search for the Truth is out now and available from Amazon, and don’t forget that you can read my review of it here.

Author Interview with Lynda Renham

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview the lovely Lynda Renham recently. Lynda has got a new Christmas novella out, A Christmas Romance, written under the pseudonym Amy Perfect. So, I took the opportunity to ask about her writing routine but also what Christmas is like for her.

 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Lynda Renham and I write romantic comedies. I recently released a Christmas novella titled ‘A Christmas Romance under the name of Amy Perfect. It’s full of romance and festive spirit. I loved writing it so much.

What is your writing routine?

Oh dear! Truthfully? I have my own writing room known as ‘The Beach Hut’ At 9 in the morning Bendy and I wander in. Bendy is my cat and constant companion during the day. It’s really quite disgraceful how we faff about. Bendy will spend a bit of time playing with the rug while I while away the time on Facebook. I may then move onto Twitter and Bendy will move onto the wicker trunk and have a good scratch. By now it is 11 and we are both in need of distraction. So he has treats and I have a mince pie with a mug of coffee. Then we go back and attempt some serious stuff. Bendy usually go to sleep and I attempt to write. Although, this is interspersed with trips to the fridge as I find food really helps with the writing process.  I’m a terrible procrastinator that I am amazed I’ve written nine books in less than five years.

What inspired you to write a Christmas book?

Oh, I have wanted to write a Christmas book for years. Every August I say I’m going to write one but I never seem to find the time. This year, however, I developed writer’s block while trying to write my new comedy romance. I stopped and had a go at a Christmas novella. This became ‘A Christmas Romance’ which I adored writing. It’s full of romance and Christmas spirit.

How do you get in the Christmas spirit early in order to write a festive book

We don’t put our Christmas tree up until Christmas Eve so I think I can safely say I’m not one of those people who gets into the spirit of Christmas early, aside of course, from eating mince pies and I start very early with those and  continue way past Christmas. But as I wanted to write a book full of Christmas spirit and merriment I had to play lots of Christmas songs which very quickly put me in the mood. In fact so much so that now it feels like Christmas has been and gone

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I live in a small village so there are a lot of Christmas parties. I also love the feel of Christmas in the village. The lighting of the tree on the village green and the Christmas fete. My Christmas novel is very much based on my village. Christmas in a village is a very warm, cosy affair. I enjoy buying and giving presents. Although I tend to avoid the shops and do most of my shopping online, which is easier. I also love mince pies, have I told you that already, chestnuts and Christmas cards.

What is a Christmas like at your house? 

Busy, although this year my husband and I are spending Christmas Day together but the weeks before that I have my family coming. On Boxing Day my stepchildren come with their children and a few days after Boxing Day I have my husband’s family visit. There will be nine of us that day. I will cook and I enjoy it. Family gatherings are lovely and of course there will be no shortage of mince pies.

Do you have Christmas traditions?

Aside from eating mince pies? No, Not really. We take each year as it comes. Although the village has traditions like the tree lighting, carol services, and so on.

What are your favourite Christmas films, books and songs?

My favourite Carol is ‘Silent Night’ and I played it a lot while writing the Christmas novella. I love Michael Bublé’s Christmas songs. They really cheer me up and get me in the mood for Christmas.  I love ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Dickins. I don’t really have a favourite film.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading ‘Fools Gold’ By Zana Bell. I haven’t got very far but I’m enjoying it.

How can people connect with you on social media?

I have a Facebook author page and am on Twitter. Also I can be reached through my blog www.renham.co.uk

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1X4Er1p

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lyndarenham

Thank you very much, Lynda for answering my questions.

I will be reading and reviewing A Christmas Romance on my blog in a couple of weeks time so look out for that.

A Christmas Romance is out now and is available from Amazon.

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Lynda Renham is also the author of Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown

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Author Interview with Emily Benet about #PleaseRetweet

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Emily Benet‘s fabulous book #PleaseRetweet is published in paperback today for the first time! I read it a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it, you can read my review here. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Emily recently and couldn’t resist asking her about all things Social Media!

When did you first join twitter? What made you join?

February 2009. I had to check that. I don’t want you thinking I celebrate my Twitter anniversary or anything! I had already been blogging for a year and saw Twitter as another way of reaching potential readers.

How quickly did it feel quite normal for you to share things about your life with your followers, and how long was it before you were checking twitter every chance you got?

I was very open from the start. My blog, which was turned into the book, Shop Girl Diaries, tells my whole journey to publication with all the highs and lows. It’s very personal really with a dollop of romance in there too. No real names, though! The dark, handsome hero is referred to as ‘The Date’!

Whereas blogging felt natural, I didn’t get Twitter at first. I felt like I was in the middle of a busy airport and everyone was just shouting at each other. I got into it about three years ago.

Have you ever tweeted while drunk/half asleep or attempted to send a DM and instead accidentally shared the tweet publicly on your timeline? Is it something you can share?

I’m more likely to drunk text, than drunk tweet. I have tweeted drunkenly but never anything of consequence, just silly comments about Eurovision. I once tweeted that my husband had just lopped his own hair off with a scissors.  His sister texted him about that and he asked me, how does she know about my hair? He doesn’t like me tweeting about him so it was a bit awkward! Sometimes you need to ask yourself, Why am I sharing this with the whole world?

Do you go on twitter whenever you have a spare minute or do you allow yourself regular times throughout the day?

There is no structure to my Twitter life. I check whenever I get a notification and tweet completely randomly, but always daily.

Have you ever felt that you were addicted to twitter, or going on it too often? How did you deal with it?

I know I’m going on it too much when my daily word count suffers. I hate the feeling of wasting time. Tweeting isn’t half as fulfilling as writing a novel, and it can leave me feeling a little empty if my attention has been spent more on social media than writing.

I recently had a social media detox and was offline for a week. I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone. It was really liberating. At the same time it was alarming how my brain kept composing tweets!

What inspired you to start writing PleaseRetweet? 

It was a mixture of wanting to laugh at social media and make sense of it. It’s something that has had such a positive influence in my life with regards to my writing career and can be an amazing tool for creativity and community. But it can also get in the way of you living life and enjoying the moment. I hate it when people meet up and spend more time on their phones than actually talking to each other. I also hate people taking selfies all the time. It’s so boring. It’s basically the same photo over and over and over…. I suppose I wanted to get all that down on paper!

Is life better now we have social media or was it better before?

What social media has done for freedom of speech and enabling the broadcast of important issues is incredible. With social media we can get different perspectives that aren’t offered in mainstream news. It has motivated people to help lots of great causes. On the other hand, being bombarded by so much information and so many opinions, not to mention the trolls and haters, can be difficult to process and can cause anxiety. There are plenty of pros and cons. How long have you got?

Do you believe it’s possible for people to form true friendships and relationships on twitter? Have you made any?

Yes! I have two very good friends on Twitter. We are completely different ages and we all first met at a book launch after months of tweeting. As for romantic relationships, I have heard of bloggers meeting after tweeting and hooking up. The internet has been the catalyst of a lot of romance!

Did you use your own experiences of twitter in PleaseRetweet? Or did anything you read on twitter inspire aspects of the story?

I couldn’t have written the book if I hadn’t been very active on social media myself. The first thing I did when I decided to write #PleaseRetweet was to follow all those people I’d originally unfollowed on Facebook. Some people have no filter at all and post some really wonderfully, cringe worthy status updates! There are lots of observations of myself too; the constant checking and scrolling and the feeling of inadequacy when no one responds to a tweet. I enjoyed taking the mick out of myself!

What do you do to relax away from social media?

Reading- surprise surprise! I’m a huge fan of hilarious John O’Farrell and the brilliant Liane Moriarty. It’s the perfect escapism. I also love watching Downton abbey, even if the plot is a bit rubbish. I’m happiest outside though. I love the sea, mountains… and anything cooked on a barbeque.

Thank you so much for your time, Emily. I wish you all the best with the paperback release of #PleaseRetweet.


Emily is on the following social media sites:

Social Media Links:

www.emilybenet.com
www.twitter.com/EmilyBenet
www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

Optional You Tube video: https://youtu.be/n6TjNUy_iQM

Amazon link:  http://hyperurl.co/v47754


ProfPicWeb
Biog:
Emily Benet is a half Welsh – half Spanish Londoner, currently living on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Wherever she’s lived her passion for writing has followed.

Her debut book Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in her Mum’s eccentric chandelier shop. It won the CompletelyNovel Author Blog Awards at the London Book Fair.

Her second book, a romantic comedy called The Temp, also began its life online, as a serialised novel on Wattpad and racked up two million hits under its original title Spray Painted Bananas. It led to her signing with MBA agency and a two book deal with Harper Collins imprint Harper Impulse. #PleaseRetweet is her latest book.


Christmas Q&A with Holly Martin

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Today on the blog I have a Q&A I did with the lovely Holly Martin about all things Christmas! I couldn’t resist asking her all about the festive season given that she has not one but TWO fabulous Christmas books (Christmas at Lilac Cottage, and Snowflakes on Silver Cove) out this year, both set in the wonderful White Cliff Bay. I love everything about Christmas so it was interesting to see what Holly had to say!

snowflakes at silver cove

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I love everything about Christmas, the decorations, the music, films, the books. I love the smells and the hope of snow. I love buying presents and going to parties or dinner around a friend’s house. I love playing games and wearing Christmas jumpers. It really is my favourite time of year

What is a typical Christmas like at your house? 

Christmas Eve is round my friends, we play silly games and have a secret santa game, where we normally argue good naturedly over the rules, which we promise to write down every year and never do. Its also my goddaughters birthday so we try to keep that separate too. Its just me, Mom and Dad on Christmas Day. Dad normally cooks bacon sandwiches for breakfast then we open presents, have a full turkey lunch with all the trimmings and play games like Cluedo and Cranium and Jenga in the afternoon, whist gorging on after eights.  

Do you have Christmas traditions? 

We always play games on Christmas Day, never at any other time in the year so its nice that we do it then. We always give each other giant toblerones too and get crafty over how to disguise the distinctive triangular shaped box

What were the best and worst Christmas presents you ever got? Why were they the best and worst?

The best present was probably my nexus tablet, I do everything on it, my emails, facebook, twitter, searching the web, reading, listen to music. I take it everywhere with me as its small enough to fit in my handbag too. My worst present was probably a jigsaw puzzle, I’ve never been into them.

What are you asking Father Christmas for this year?

I am the worst person to buy presents for as I never know what i want and if I do want things during the year I just go and buy them myself. I guess that means I am happy with what I already have. New clothes are always great, i love sparkly shoes. 

Lilac Cottage

What is your favourite Christmas film, book and song?

I love The Holiday and Love Actually, My favourite Christmas book is probably 12 Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson, favourite Christmas song is anything by Michael Buble

How do you get in the Christmas spirit early in order to write your Christmas novels?

A huge love of the season helps, listening to music, looking at Christmas pictures

Is White Cliff Bay based on a real place? I ask as I really want to go there this Christmas!

Sadly not because I think I’d like to move there too.

Thanks so much Holly! 


Author Bio copy

Holly_Martin_author

Holly Martin

Holly emerged onto the Chick Lit scene by winning the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition – and has not looked back since.

Her adult fiction debut, The Guestbook, hit number 5 in the Amazon chart and she has now written three books with Bookouture: Fairytale Beginnings, Christmas at Lilac Cottage and Snowflakes at Silver Cove.

www.hollymartinwriter.wordpress.com


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Lilac Cottage

Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore …

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down.

Spend the perfect Christmas in White Cliff Bay this year.


snowflakes at silver cove

Snowflakes on Silver Cove

Come and spend a picture perfect romantic Christmas at White Cliff Bay

Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.

But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?
Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay.


Don’t forget to check out all of my previous posts from Bookouture Christmas week and enter all the giveaways! Here’s a link where you can find them, prizes include an ebook copy of Christmas at Lilac Cottage and of Snowflakes on Silver Cove!

Hope you’ve enjoyed what has been a really fabulous week!

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