Author Kate Vane shares her thoughts on memory in today’s post! #BrandNewFriend @k8vane

 

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Kate Vane, author of Brand New Friend, to my blog. Kate is sharing a fascinating post about memory and how easily things can become mixed up in our heads.

 

Messing with my memories

One of the genres I love to read, but would hate to write, is historical fiction. I love the way that the best authors make the world of the past come alive, saving me the trouble of doing all the reading and research and weighing up the merits of the various sources.

However, I thought I would have no difficulty in setting the flashbacks in Brand New Friend in eighties Leeds. After all, I was there. But drawing on your memories is not as straightforward as it first seems. 

We mix things up. Each time we retrieve a memory, we potentially corrupt it, throwing in new details, erasing others, while being convinced by the veracity of what we recall. I found this when I came to fact-check my own head. A song that I thought was part of the soundtrack of my student days in Leeds was actually released a couple of years later. Conversely, I had forgotten that pound coins came out a couple of years earlier. 

I had one scene where two of my characters each go to the bar with their own pound note. When I checked, both notes and coins were in circulation at that time so I decided not to change it. I thought it was a nice image – and it showed the characters didn’t want to be stuck with each other after they had bought their drinks! 

Facts can be verified but it’s more tricky to regain the mindset of 30 years ago. What was it like when we didn’t have mobile phones? Most of us didn’t even have landlines in our student houses. You went to a pay phone if you had to call someone. Your friends lived close by so you mostly just went round to see them, and probably stayed for the afternoon or the evening. Money was scarce but time seemed limitless.

If you arranged to meet someone in a pub and they didn’t turn up, you just went home. You didn’t have that exhausting process where people send you texts every five minutes to make minor refinements to the arrangement (or even more absurdly, to tell you that they are progressing towards your agreed rendezvous exactly as planned). 

You only owned a few albums and played them to death, because they were relatively expensive, and you taped them and swapped tapes with people. If you really liked someone you made a compilation. If you knocked out the small squares on the top of the cassette it stopped you recording over it, but if you changed your mind, you could put tape over the holes. 

Although the characters and the story are fictional, I did draw on certain locations. For example the shared house where Paolo lives has the same layout as one of the houses I lived in. Like the characters in the book we spent a lot of time in the living room listening to music, and some of our friends were musicians and used to bring their instruments round and play. 

Now, when I try to picture how we were back then, the room seems really crowded. There are the people who were actually there, whose features have faded over time, and there are figures of characters from the story, who are newer and therefore more vivid. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two. 

Beware of drawing on your memories because, like one of those home tapes, you are in danger of overwriting them!

 

About Brand New Friend

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same. 

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

 

 

About Kate Vane

kate vane author image

Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

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

You can find Kate at the links below:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

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

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June Wrap-Up post!

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June has flown by and I can’t believe it’s already July! The highlight of June for me was going to see Kraftwerk with my husband and it was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t believe that we managed to get tickets to see them!

I’m still going through my medication changes so I’m very up and down depending on where I am in the reduction plan. I was offered a new kind of treatment to potentially help with pain management and the person who is doing the treatment has ended up working with me on my PTSD. It’s been amazing for me to finally be shedding those symptoms, and once we’ve worked through those I’ll be starting on the pain protocol to see if it can help me cope better with my pain levels. It’s very draining, mentally and physically, but it’s worth it to be finally dealing with some very traumatic memories.

I also wanted to say here that I am so grateful to all of you who keep reading and sharing my posts, to those of you who comment and check in to see how I am. I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me. I feel terrible that I’m not managing much time online at the moment and aren’t keeping up with all of your blogs just now. I promise that when I feel stronger I will be back commenting and catching up. In the meantime though – thank you so much.

 

Here are the 15 books I read this month:

 

Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

 

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

 

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett


June Blog Posts & Reviews:

I wrote my regular blog posts this month – my Weekly Wrap-Ups, WWW Wednesday posts and my Stacking the Shelves posts so I’m pleased that I didn’t miss any of those.  I didn’t manage to write as many reviews as I’d hoped but I did get five reviews posted which is better than nothing. I also had two fab guest posts from authors Kate Vane and Emily Benet.

Here are the reviews I shared in June:

I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Here are my blog posts from June:

Kate Vane wrote a guest post for my blog all about choosing the title of her novel The Former Chief Executive

Emily Benet wrote about her perfect hen night in celebration of her brand new novel The Hen Party


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The state of my TBR:

As any of you who read my weekly wrap-ups will already know, my plan to reduce my TBR this year has gone completely awry! Books are my pick-me-up so when I’m having a tough time I end up looking at books online and often end up buying one or two. My TBR is now very out of control, not helped by the fact that I didn’t read as much this month as I normally do!

I began this year with a TBR (this is books that I own) of 1885 books and it now stands at 1981 owned but unread books! My aim now is to just really try not to let it get over 2000. I need to get back to at least not buying anymore books than I can read in a month so that my TBR doesn’t get any bigger. My willpower is weak at the moment though.

So far this year I’ve read 129 books, and my target for the year is 200 so I’m definitely on track to achieve that. My Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge to make 100 of those books ones I owned before 31 Dec 2016 is on track. Of the books I’ve read so far this year 52 count for this challenge, which I’m very pleased about.


Quarterly Stats!

 

At the beginning of this year I started tracking my reading and book buying on a spreadsheet for the first time and I’m finding it fascinating to see the patterns in my reading. This is something I’ll definitely be continuing with. I decided to show my stats every three months so it’s that time again!

 

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As I said above I’ve read 129 books this year so far, which amounts to 43,464 pages! I’m really interested in keeping an eye on my total page count as well as books read as it means I’m reading for enjoyment, regardless of how long a book is, rather than focusing on shorter books to get my books read numbers up.  Most of my books fall into the 300-399 pages bar but you can see I have read a couple of much longer books as well as a few shorter books.  The average length of book comes in at 339 pages, which I’m pleased with.

 

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I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for many years now and I enjoy the stats that I get from there but it doesn’t give a great deal of info. One thing I’m really enjoying about having my own spreadsheet to track other data, and it’s fascinating me to see the breakdown of author genders. This year I’m not consciously picking authors by gender so this is purely how my reading naturally has been. It’s interesting to see that in the first six months of this year 70% of my reading has been books written by female authors.

 

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I read quite a lot of non-fiction last year and wanted to keep that up this year. It was my aim to try and make sure that at least a third of my reading was non-fiction or memoir. Of the 129 books I’ve read so far 35 are non-fiction, so this isn’t quite on target but I have had a month where I’ve needed escapism and fiction so it’s not surprising. I feel sure that my non-fiction mojo will come back and I’ll end up being back on target.  I am reading a wide variety of genres in general though, so I’m pleased overall. The genres I read most of are general fiction, thriller and non-fiction.

 

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I’m also tracking how I acquire my books, which is also interesting to me. I’m happy to say that I buy the majority of my books, or have received them as gifts. I do get quite a lot of books from NetGalley and from publishers, which I am so grateful for but I think it’s good to see that I’m buying more books than I get sent as I do want to always support authors by buying their books, as well as reviewing them.

 


 

How was your June? I hope you all had a good month and that you read good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-Up! (11 Jun)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been a quiet-ish week but a tiring one. I’ve been feeling really unsettled after hearing about the death of my great-aunty last week, and when I feel like this it’s always so much harder to read. It’s frustrating that at the times I most need escape I struggle to read but it’s just the way it is with me.

I had a really difficult but ultimately very positive appointment this week to do with my PTSD. I’ve long considered myself better but there are still triggers that I have to be mindful of and by chance I’m having a treatment that is making a real difference. I don’t want to talk in any detail but it is an amazing experience when the wonderful memories that have been blocked by the trauma suddenly come flooding back. It made for a very emotional day but a really good step forward.

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time so this week when I picked it out of my TBR jar I decided to read it. It was a really moving and inspiring read. Fabrice Muamba has had such an interesting life and it was really enjoyable to read about his childhood. It’s incredible to read about his more recent years and to know just how amazing it is that he survived his cardiac arrest.

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

This is such a brilliant novel. I honestly loved it from the first chapter all the way through and I highly recommend it. I’ve already reviewed it on my blog so you can read that here if you’d like to know more.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I finished reading this last weekend and really enjoyed it. I think I preferred The Girl on the Train but I would definitely still recommend this one.

 

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Author Kate Vane guest posted about the title of her new novel, The Former Chief Executive

Friday: Review of The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

This is such a sad and moving memoir but it’s a book I definitely recommend. It’s about a woman who was in a car accident when 8 months pregnant and her baby died, she then had to deal with the horrendous legal fact that her baby wasn’t considered a person because she wasn’t born at the time of the accident. I haven’t read much of this book this week as I haven’t felt up to reading an emotional book. I will be getting back to is as soon as I can though.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I also haven’t read any more of this book this week as I just haven’t been in the mood to read it. I was very much enthralled in it so will be getting back to it once my reading mojo returns.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This is another book that’s been left to one side this week but again I will get back to it soon.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I’ve read a bit more of this book over the last few days as it’s been easier for me to concentrate on this and has been a good distraction.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

This book has fallen by the wayside a bit too this week but it’s entirely down to my mood and nothing to do with the book. I’ll be picking this up once I feel brighter but I want to leave it until then as I don’t want my current slump to affect my opinion of this brilliant book.

 

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1948

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 13

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1958

 


 

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

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

 

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

 

The Story Behind the Title – The Former Chief Executive

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Book

The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane medium

Without your past, who are you?

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

kate vane author image

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

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

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

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

Twitter: @k8vane