Event Review

#ForAllMySins @AlexNyeWriter @BlackwellEdin @FledglingPress Event Review

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I ventured up and into the wonderful city of Edinburgh last night. It was a very wet and cold dreich night, I arrived far too early which allowed me the treat of walking around the treasure trove that is the Blackwells bookstore.  I was there to hear Alex Nye talk about her book For All My Sins.  There was an array of Authors at the event to hear Alex Nye speak. Amongst them were Mark Leggatt, Kirkland Ciccone, Roy Gill, Annemarie Allan with the upcoming star Esme and many more. I spotted my fellow blogger The Bookwitch but I was too shy to say hello.

We all took our seats and the magic of evening began.  We were introduced to Alex Nye by Clare Cain from Fledgling Press, along with Annabel who was in full costume as Mary herself.

Alex Nye is an engaging speaker and very compelling to listen too. The windows were rattling and it felt like Mary Queen Of Scots spirit was in the room with us. If she was, I would like to think she would be incredibly proud of Alex Nye and the voice that she has given her. With a wee dog barking out loud in the Edinburgh, Alex was quick to tell us it was Gideon, Mary’s little dog. All these things, the windows and barking made very atmospheric, to say the least.

The story behind the novel is just as fascinating. With Alex having the inspiration for the book back in 1989 as she sat in her tiny Edinburgh bedsit with turret windows. The hours of research she did back then, walking in Mary’s footsteps and learning about her in great depth.  The book wasn’t meant to be back then and Alex put it under the bed. Life took over and with kids and going back to London. Mary’s tale was put on pause. After venturing back up to Scotland to a cottage in Sherriffmuir during a very snowy period, Alex had the inspiration for her children’s book “Chill”.  Having found great success with her children’s book, you could imagine her publishers delight when Alex brought up the idea of the Mary Queen of Scot’s book she had written back in the 80’s.  A copy was found, dusted off and tweaked and at last we have For All My Sins. Thank goodness it has found the light. It sounds thrilling and emotional.

HUGE thanks to Ann Landmann for organising the event at Blackwells. To Alex Nye, Claire Cain and Mary (Annabell) for allowing me to be part of the occasion.

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The Book ~ For All My Sins 

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The year is 1586, and Mary Stuart is sitting in an English prison cell at the end of her life, stitching her tapestries, haunted by the ghosts of her past – including John Knox, Bothwell, her half-brother Moray, and Darnley, the husband she was accused of conspiring to murder.Darnley’s murder became a mystery crime which remains unsolved to this day. Only Mary can tell the true version of events, whilst quietly stitching her braid and entertaining the ghosts of her past.She has been Elizabeth’s reluctant ‘guest’ for eighteen years, but she still has her supporters, most notably a young nobleman called Anthony Babington. As her needle weaves in and out of the fine linen, she plots for Elizabeth’s downfall. Her life before this was marked by murder, conspiracy and intrigue in the dark Scottish courts of Renaissance Europe and for Mary it is not over yet. She confides in her servants, secrets which remain untold.

 

You can buy your copy here ~Amazon UK

 

Here are some photos from The Mary Queen Of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh that I took last summer.

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Mary’s Death Mask
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A lock of Mary’s hair.
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Mary’s Execution Order
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Mary’s Shoe

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Mary’s Death Mask
Launch Day

Happy Launch Day! A Summer Of Surprises @janellis_writer @WaverleyBooks #RT

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An Unexpected Affair After her divorce, Eleanor Mace decides to begin a new life running a quirky bookshop in a quiet corner of Devon. She adores her seaside home in Combemouth and her bookshop is a hit and yet … Eleanor is still unsettled. So when she rediscovers an old flame online, she sets off for the South of France in search of a man she last saw in her twenties. But will she find happiness on the Continent or does it lie in rural England? A Summer of Surprises In this engaging sequel to An Unexpected Affair, Eleanor is finding life sweet and rosy in her Devon bookshop, but unexpected clouds on the horizon in the form of an ex-wife and a town planning monstrosity are about to bring our charismatic bookseller a summer of surprises.

Buy your copy  ~ AMAZON UK

I would like to wish Jan Ellis a happy launch day!  Book looks marvellous.

Kelly x

Book Reviews

#Perfect Remains By @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK #Review

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On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing person case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

My Review 

Where do I start with this masterpiece? I started this book for my facebook group monthly pick (more about that later). Now crime and thriller books are not my normal genre. However, with this new blogging path I am on I decided to venture outside my comfort zone. By gosh am I glad that I did.   My toes were actually curling as read the first few chapters.  I don’t do spoilers so don’t worry you can read on.  The book is set in Edinburgh which is my home City. It was appealing to me to be able to see in mind exactly the street or place that’s mentioned in the book. I was transported there and it made it just that wee bit more creepy if that is even possible.

In the past with some crime books, I have had to skim read the descriptive parts of a killing or attack. Because it would read like a textbook and I would zone out. NOT with this book, Helen Fields has a unique quality of keeping things real and exciting. No skimming required, in fact, you want more and more of the book.

My favourite character was Callanach, who we meet right from the start. His own personal demons, haunt him throughout the book and this adds even more depth and storytelling.

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The cover is beautiful and there are three variations out and about I think.  I was very lucky to meet Helen at an event in Edinburgh, at the famous Blackwell’s Book Store. I then asked to review Perfect Remains and Avon Books sent me my own proof.  So huge thanks to both Helen and Avon Books.

You can buy your copy of Perfect Remains here ~ AMAZON UK

You can also pre-order Perfect Pray ~ Out in July 2017 ~ AMAZON UK PREORDER LINK

Facebook Group ~ I Love Books 

Perfect Remains is my FB Groups monthly pick. You still have time to join in. Review night is the 30th of March at 8 pm. We have a review night online on the group board. Lot’s of prizes to be won and this month we have Helen Fields with a live Q&A.

If you would like to be part of something wonderful click here  I Love Books 

Ready forSummer!

 

Book Reviews

#TheJungle ~ @PoojaPuriWrites @inkroadbooks/@bwpublishing #YA

The Jungle

There was a story Jahir used to tell me. About how the first humans were born with wings. Can you imagine what that would be like? To fly anywhere in the world without worrying about having the right papers?

Mico has left his family, his home, his future. Setting out in search of a better life, he instead finds himself navigating one of the world’s most inhospitable environments the Jungle. For Mico, just one of many ‘unaccompanied children’, the Calais refugee camp has a wildness, a brutality all of its own.

A melting pot of characters, cultures, and stories, the Jungle often seems like its own strange world. But despite his ambitions to escape, Mico is unable to buy his way out from the ‘Ghost Men’ the dangerous men with magic who can cross borders unnoticed. Alone, desperate, and running out of options, the idea of jumping onto a speeding train to the UK begins to feel worryingly appealing.

But when Leila arrives at the camp one day, everything starts to change. Outspoken, gutsy, and fearless, she shows Mico that hope and friendship can grow in the most unusual places, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll show you the way out as well.

My Review 

A refreshing read of a how you can find friendship in the strangest of places. The book is from a young persons view point. Which gives the reader a different perspective. With the core of the story being told from the Calais refugee camp. I found this interesting, I like most people saw the camps on television. But I never imagined the stories behind the 1000’s of people. The Jungle made me reflect on that fact. That each person was not just a face it had his or her own story to tell.

Ink Road is the YA section of Black & White Publishing and they did well to spot the talented writing of Pooja Puri.  Puri writing flows, is it almost poetic. Her characters spring to life and we are instantly immersed into Mico’s world.

It’s a quick read, nicely paced. I always like the lessons I learn from the books I read. This book taught me to remember everyone had their own story.  The cover with it’s swarms of dark navy and sky blue is stunning and memorable.

There was a story Jahir used to tell me. About how the first humans were born with wings. Can you imagine what that would be like? To fly anywhere in the world without worrying about having the right papers?

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Pooja Puri 

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Ink Road  ~ Black & White Publishing 

You can purchase your copy of The Jungle  here ~ Black & White Store

Other titles available or coming soon from @inkroadbooks/@bwpublishing

Favourite Five

#FavFive ~ Jane Cable #AnotherYou @JaneCable ~ @EndeavourPress

About Another You By Jane Cable

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Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself…

Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord.

Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist.

But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change.

First, there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’.

Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation.

And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons.

As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life.

Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy?

Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain?

Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever?

But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck and that it is down to her to get her life moving again.

Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first-century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart.

My #FavFive ~ Jane Cable

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What’s your favourite book cover by another author and why?

Great question – it really made me think – and more about what I’m not keen on; I have an irrational dislike of colour photographs and I can’t stand any representation of the characters’ faces because they never look like I imagine them. Indeed in the past I often found myself wondering if the designer had even read the book. Now I’ve been involved in the process I know that chances are that they haven’t and are working from a brief.

One cover which has stayed with me from childhood is Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I found the book dark and chilling and the snowy white cover with the black wolves and trees seemed to fit the story perfectly.

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What is your favourite time to read?

My absolutely favourite time to read is first thing in the morning at weekends. Even though I don’t have to I still wake up early so I creep downstairs and make myself a latte before settling on the sofa with my Kindle. We live in the country so it’s really quiet, with just the birds singing outside. Wonderful.

Do you have a favourite snack to nibble whilst reading?

I’m not really a great snacker but if I’m hungry first thing in the morning the perfect partner for my latte is a gluten free maple syrup and pecan cereal bar. Especially one that’s a little bit gooey. If I want a real treat then M&S do wonderful gluten free millionaire shortbread mini bites.

Who is your favourite book character that has stayed with you long after the book ended?

Penelope Keeling in Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. In every possible way she is a fully rounded character with the wit and wisdom that only comes with advanced years. Thinking about it, she’s probably the reason there’s an older woman or man in each of my books – the generation before are always interesting and have so much to share.

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What is your favourite book quote?   

“Because what matters is that I believe it, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it… I trust I make myself obscure?”

Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons.

I know it’s a play but it is so rich in wonderful quotes I could have plucked something off almost every page. And because I studied it for O-level and loved it so very much I can still recite chunks of it off by heart. As a teenager, you can’t fail to be grabbed by a play that begins with the phrase “It is perverse!”

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Jane Cable  Books 

Available on Amazon.co.uk  ~ Click To Buy

Giveaway Prizes, Q&A

#TheGiftMaker ~ #Q&A @Mark_J_Mayes @urbanepub #Retweet #WIN

Welcome to my blog Mark, it is a pleasure to have you popping by. You wonderful novel The Gift Maker is a corker. Please check out Mark’s Q&A below.

About The Book 

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Gifts ought to be free, but they never are. They tie you to the wishes of others. To your own sad expectations. To the penitentiary of your dreams.’ Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is. The Gift Maker is a story about identity, about fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you always were … at whatever cost.

Purchase your copy here ~ AMAZON UK

Mark Mayes 

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Before becoming a writer, Mark trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He subsequently worked in theatre and television for several years, both in the UK and abroad. He has worked variously as a cleaner, care-worker and carer, salesman, barman, medical transcriptionist, warehouse worker, and administrator.

Mark has published numerous stories and poems in magazines and anthologies in the UK, Eire, and Italy, and in particular, has had several stories published in (or accepted for) the celebrated Unthology series (Unthank Books). His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. He has been shortlisted for literary prizes, including the prestigious Bridport Prize.

In 2009, Mark graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in English (Creative Writing and Critical Practice) from Ruskin College, Oxford.  Currently living in South Wales, Mark is also a musician and songwriter, and some of his songs may be found here: https://soundcloud.com/pumpstreetsongs

Among his favourite writers are Jean Rhys, Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov, and Christopher Priest.

My Q&A with Mark

Describe yourself using three words? 

Reader ~  Writer ~ Cogitator.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I didn’t know it was going to be a novel until it grew too long for a short story, then too long for a novella. I followed where the story led me, where the characters led me. 

What time of day do you like to write?

Different times over the years, but latterly, late at night, as I’m having trouble sleeping. 

What is your favourite book and why?

‘Good Morning Midnight’ by Jean Rhys. Why? It’s my favourite writer. The toughest, most honest, most astonishing writer I’ve come across. The final scene of this novel is astounding.  

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How did you pick the title of your book?

It was a good fit in a literal sense, but also echoes other themes of the story. A question that might be posed by the reader, I hope, is: ‘Who is the gift maker?’ and perhaps, ‘What is the gift?’

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No, none of them are. It is solely a work of the imagination.

What’s your favourite word?

Serendipity 

If you were a colour what would it be?

Blue – like the butterfly on the cover of The Gift Maker. 

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

With this novel, I went totally with the flow up to a point where certain decisions had to be made, or it might have gone on forever, or else lost all tension. The decision concerned itself with where the characters were headed, physically and spiritually – the need to establish a focal point for their various journeys to come together. My dearest friend gave me some good advice at that point of decision – and I followed it.

Who is your favourite Author?

Jean Rhys

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Great question. Frankenstein’s “creature” – while he is not a villain, per se, he ends up abandoning his original innocence, and becomes highly destructive, having been rejected and spurned by all, especially his maker.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Are you working on a new project?

I am working on some short stories, some poems, and songs. I have a longer project on the simmer, but it’s early days for it.  

 

Win A Copy Of The Gift Maker 

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Enter here to win ~ CLICK ME

 

Giveaway Prizes, Q&A

The Rise Of Terror @Farset_I #Q&A #RT #WIN 2 Signed Copies Up For Grabs

About The Book 

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Following the brutal murder of his Uncle outside a semi-derelict school building on West Belfast’s Falls Road, Mark Shaw inherits sole proprietorship of Farset Investigations. In the wake of a failed police investigation, Shaw vows to find his Uncle’s killer himself, unaware that in doing so, he will find himself on the trail of not one, but two cult movements and their respective leaders, putting the lives of himself, his family and his newly assembled investigation team on the line. 
The self-proclaimed, Terror, alter-ego of  Belfast Chronicle reporter, Caleb Doyle, has vowed to rid the world of people who he has deemed are #famousforallthewrongreasons and in doing so, has created a worldwide following, keen to do his will.
The Prophet, global leader of The Enlightenment Movement has total and absolute control of those who are members of his Church. He will stop at nothing to retain his power, the great wealth he has amassed and to cover up the many crimes and misdemeanours of those who act in his name, including bribery, corruption and murder.
Farset Investigations- Based on the site of the former St. Comgall’s Primary School in West Belfast, this building holds many secrets, some of which it has given up with the help of Psychic  Medium, Patrick Rodgers, an unlikely ally, but soon to be an associate of the Farset Team.
This first novel in the series, an inverted detective story, although primarily based in the West Belfast area, takes us from, Liverpool to Strauss Park, New York and from London to Perth and beyond, as Shaw and his team try to bring to an end a string of murders and find justice for his Uncle.

Q&A with James Murphy 

Describe yourself using three words

Writer, Teacher, Familyman

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I had a long held ambition and a chance visit to a Psychic Medium gave me the confidence I lacked.

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What time of day do you like to write?

Mostly in the Evenings after my young daughter has gone to bed and Weekends in the afternoon.

 What is your favourite book and why?

To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve taught it for over 10 years and it never fails to inspire me or my students.

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How did you pick the title of your book?

I wanted it largely to be in line with the theme of a developing killer and his motivation.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No, at least I hope not, though I do find elements of me in each of my characters, good or bad.

What’s your favourite word?

Resilience

 If you were a colour what would it be?

I think, Grey. A think all good crime fiction writers should have an appreciation of where light and dark meet.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I tend to only plan a little. I like to listen to my characters and take the story where they lead it.

Who is your favourite Author?

I’m a huge fan of James Patterson, though from writing my book I have developed friendships with other local authors so now have lots of favourites.

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 If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Lady Macbeth. Now that would be a sequel!

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Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I’ve just started to write the second book in what will be, the Terror trilogy, I Am Terror #Thepastispain. Hopefully for an October 2017 launch

All About James Murphy 

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Born on October 10th 1976, I was raised in West Belfast, attending St. Comgall’s Primary School, which has become a central building to my novel. Beyond my Post-Primary Education, I attended Queens University where I obtained an English Degree. In 1999 I qualified as an English Teacher and have worked within the field of education ever since. For the last 10 years, I have been the Head Teacher of a school which provides education for the children of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, I married my wife in 2006 after 10 years together and we had a daughter in 2012. We have lived in Antrim since 2010, though still maintain relationships with family in West and South Belfast.
This is my first foray into novel writing or indeed any writing beyond that of the world of academia, discounting an article I had written for the Andersonstown News as a teen when I had aspirations to be a journalist.
I’ve always harboured an ambition to write a novel but lacked the confidence to do so, that is until a visit to a  Medium a few years ago ( who also finds his way into the story), wherein, I received the message that I was to bite the bullet and get the book written. I know how that may sound but believe me when I say that everything that I was told on this and subsequent visits have become fact. So here it is, I’m sure you will agree that a life led in association with West Belfast, Northern Ireland Education at a high level, Cult and  Medium associations, I do indeed have a story to tell and one which I hope you will be interested in.

Contact James 

Twitter ~@farset_i

Website

Buy your copy here ~Amazon UK

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WIN A SIGNED COPY 

James Murphy has kindly donated two signed copies for me to giveaway!

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER ~ GOOD LUCK

 

 

Book Reviews

Disenchanted ~ By @HeideGoody & @IainMGrant. @PigeonParkPress #Review

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Ella Hannaford has a small business to run, an overworked father to look after and a future stepmother who wants a perfect wedding. Can she avoid a girly night out with her clueless stepsister? Can she side-step lovesick suitors at every turn? Not if it’s up to that team of foul-mouthed dwarfs who want to forcibly drag her into her happily ever after. Gingerbread cottages, dodgy European gangsters, gun-toting grannies, wisecracking wolves, stubborn fairy godmothers, ogres, beanstalks and flying carpets abound in a tale about what happens when you refuse to accept your Happy Ending.

My Review

This was a refreshing diversion from my usual reading genre. Definitely, an adults spin on the classic fairytales. I was thrilled with its refreshingly funny humour, which, at times had me laughing out loud to an empty room.

I am sure the book took numerous hours of meticulous planning and thought. It has a lovely pace and I was eager to read more and more.

With favourite characters coming to us in a new twisted form it was a humorous rollercoaster that I thoroughly enjoyed

The cover is eye-catching and fun, I was immediately drawn to it.

I highly recommend this book, abe prepared for an alternative version of “The Happy Ending”.

Goody and Grant make a cracking team and I look forward to seeing what is next.

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Buy your copy here ~ AMAZON LINK

Many Thanks to Heide Goody, Iain Grant and @PigeonParkPress for my advanced copy.

Favourite Five

Truestory By @cath_simpson13 @sandstonepress #FavFiv #RT

About The Book 

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Alice’s life is dictated by her autistic son, Sam, who refuses to leave their remote Lancashire farm. Her only time ‘off’ is two hours in Lancaster on a Tuesday afternoon – and even that doesn’t always pan out to be the break she needs. Husband Duncan brings Larry, a rootless wanderer, to the farm to embark on a money making scheme they’ve dreamed up. Alice is hostile but Larry beguiles Sam with tales of travel in the outside world and, soon, Alice begins to fall for him, too. By turns blackly comic, heart-breaking and heart-warming, Truestory looks at what happens when sacrifice slithers towards martyrdom. By turns happy and sad, ultimately it is a tale of hope.

#FavFive with Catherine Simpson

Fav Book Cover

I do judge a book by its cover. In the 1970s I read the entire works of Agatha Christie because of the fabulous Fontana covers. On my tbr pile at the moment is Wait for Me, Jack, by Addison Jones – it’s there because it sounds intriguing but also because it’s got a beautiful black and white cover with a sexy ‘Mad Men’ vibe.

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Fav time to read

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere. In the supermarket queue, in a traffic jam, before a meeting, during a meeting (well, perhaps not), on the bus. Whenever I’ve got two minutes. I’m never without a book.

Fav snack to go with a book

Coffee, chocolate and a book; a match made in heaven. I discovered Jane Austen when I was 17 at the same time that my mother bought a catering box of Cadbury’s Caramel. I slowly worked my way through the lot.

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A book character that stayed with you long after the book ended

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Bad tempered, jealous, passionate, handsome, in love with Cathy and eventually deranged. I first read Wuthering Heights when I was ten and I blame Emily Bronte for giving me the wrong end of the stick as to what to look for in a man.

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Fav book quote

‘I have never seen a dead body or a female nipple. This is what comes of living in a cul de sac.’

From The Secret Diary of Adrian Mile, Aged 13 ¾

Sue Townsend was a comic genius and Adrian Mole is one of my best friends.

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My own novel Truestory was inspired by raising my daughter who has autism – nevertheless, it contains lots of humour and I hope it makes people laugh.

Truestory By Catherine Simpson is out now.

Buy your copy here ~ AMAZON UK

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Q&A

Meeting Lydia @LindaMac1 ~ Enter to #WIN AudioBook

Today I have Linda Macdonald, author of Meeting Lydia. Available in eBook, hardcopy and audio book.

About the Book 

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When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession, jealousy and the ever-growing trend of Internet relationships. It will appeal to fans of adult fiction and those interested in the dynamics and psychology of relationships. Author Linda is inspired by Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon and David Lodge.

Buy the eBook, Paperback and Audio Book ~ AMAZON UK

My Q&A with Linda 

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Can you tell me a little about yourself and your writing journey?

I am a retired psychology teacher, originally from Cumbria and now living in Beckenham in south-east London. I’ve always loved to write as a sideline and completed two full-length novels over a period of twenty years during my early working life. I call these my practice novels. In the back of my mind, I’d always wanted to write a book about the long-term effects of childhood bullying. But I didn’t have a plot until 2001 (see below for the inspiration!)  I was still teaching at the time and Meeting Lydia took 5 years to complete during snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. When I finished it, I believed it was publishable, but it wasn’t until a fateful event in 2009 that I decided to launch an independent publishing career.

One lunchtime, while teaching, I tripped over the leg of a classroom chair, dislocated my elbow and smashed my wrist so badly I had to have a metal plate put in it. My operation was delayed for a week because of a spate of traffic accidents and falls due to the onset of icy weather. I was struck by the fragility of life and decided there was no time to waste. Meeting Lydia was published in 2011 and I have written three further stand-alone novels in the series – two published and one on the way. Adapting Meeting Lydia as an audiobook has been like going full circle. I’m delighted by the result and if it is successful, I would love to do the same with my other novels.

All my novels have underlying themes of relationships psychology. They are multi-layered and thought-provoking. A recent reviewer from USA comments that Meeting Lydia continues to make you think and to reassess your life after you have finished it. I like that.

Describe yourself using three words

Loyal, indecisive, quirky

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I began writing Meeting Lydia in 2001 after an encounter with a former classmate via the internet. He was in the same class as me when we were 10. I was the only girl in the class and I was bullied. He was the only boy who was never horrible to me. Reconnecting with him somehow laid the ghosts of the past to rest: ghosts that had haunted most of my adult life. Soon after, I was struck with the idea for Meeting Lydia. I thought, if I spice up the reality, I may have a novel here; a novel about childhood bullying, midlife crises and internet relationships.

What time of day do you like to write?

Late evenings and mornings. I am more inspired in the evenings but prefer to do the graft of writing and editing in the mornings. Useless in the afternoons. Snoozetime!

What is your favourite book and why?

Paradise News by David Lodge is one of several I could choose. It has a delightful balance between humour and pathos. It’s thought-provoking too. I aspire to write like this.

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How did you pick the title of your book?

Meeting Lydia came to me as soon as I had the idea for the book before I started to write it. People say to me: ‘I’ve read your blurb and there’s no mention of Lydia. Who is she?’ Lydia is one of the surprises. You have to read or listen to find out why!

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

The childhood story is inspired by real children but out of respect for individuals, the bullies are an amalgamation of characters. Some of the bullying that happened to Marianne, happened to me. And there was a real Edward Harvey. The adults and their stories are fictional apart from Marianne finding Edward on the internet.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

Both. But I like to know what the end will be before I start to write. And also a few key happenings along the way that will make it an interesting plot. However, my characters have so far been very willful and sometimes take the lead in the direction they wish to go

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Eustacia Vye in Hardy’s Return of the Native. She is a villain of a sort who comes to a very unhappy end. But she is an interesting character who, I feel, is misunderstood.

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Are you working on a new project?

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is the fourth novel of the Lydia series. It also stands alone and is about psychological abuse, emotional infidelity and the difficulty of leaving a long-term destructive relationship. It is due out in May although the ebook will probably be released before that.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

I will be at Petts Wood Library on the afternoon of 28th April, talking about The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. If your members are able to listen to Radio Scilly on 22nd June, I shall be appearing on their Book Show to talk about my writing.

Contact Linda ~

Twitter – @LindaMac1

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