Author, Promo, Q&A

Blind Side @Jennie_Ensor @unbounders @Unbound_Digital #QA #WeekendOffer

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Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

My Q&A with Jennie Ensor 

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Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She worked overseas for some years as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. These days Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog through local woodland or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindle full of books, she writes novels, flash fiction and occasionally poetry (published under another name). She is working on her second novel, a dark and unsettling psychological drama.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.

It took me a long time to get going as a writer. I wondered about writing a novel one day after my English teacher said my writing reminded her of Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica. But it seemed a wildly unlikely thing to do, and that stayed a fantasy. After university I travelled widely and worked in all sorts of jobs overseas, not finding anything that really grabbed me till I into journalism as a freelance journalist. My passion was social justice issues, such as forced marriages.

I started writing a novel in my late thirties after returning to live in the UK. (I’d really wanted to find work in journalism here but got only one interview in nearly a year.) Getting published was a long slog. By 2015 I’d written three novels without finding an agent, which had been my goal, so I changed tack and submitted direct to publishers. Within a month or so I had an offer from the independent publisher Unbound, conditional on me crowdfunding the book production costs. Thankfully I managed to do this, though it was one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. Since then both an e-book and a paperback have been released, and I can at last say I’ve achieved my dream.

Describe yourself using three words?

Stubborn, rebellious, idealistic

What inspired you to write your first novel?

So hard to say, my brain is a murky place at the best of times. With hindsight…

Among other things, Blind Side is about the obsessive side of love and ‘the enemy within’ – whether oneself, another person or a community. It asks to what extent one can every really know anyone else, such as lovers and friends, even if one has known them for a long time. I’ve long been fascinated by people who appear normal on the surface but who have another completely different, secretive and possibly dangerous side to them. In 2005 after I read that the perpetrators of the London suicide attacks were all brought up in Yorkshire, I felt I had to put those events into my novel somehow.

I’ve also been in a few unnerving situations over the years, which have no doubt influenced me. Some involved hurt ex-boyfriends and infatuated friends – also strangers appearing unexpectedly. I was driving up a remote, very twisty road in Australia in my 20s when I noticed a car following mine after I stopped to fill up, which was scary.

What time of day do you like to write?

Ideally, straight after breakfast (anytime from 7-10am as a recovering insomniac) and for as long as it takes with short breaks for a walk/food/cups of tea. I’m a bit obsessive admittedly and love being right ‘in the zone’, unwilling to leave the computer for the loo or a ring at the front door (my office is 3 floors up so I have an excuse) With my first book out I’ve had to pay attention to other stuff lately but I’m looking forward to getting back in the groove again.

What is your favourite book and why?

Currently, it’s All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’ve been reading more historical fiction lately alongside a fair few psychological thrillers. I love his storytelling and imagination, the poetry of the language – and in places it made me want to weep.

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How did you pick the title of your book?

My first was ‘Nikolai’, the second Ghosts Of Chechnya, which my editor wasn’t keen on because it didn’t properly reflect my narrator’s experiences. Finding a third title was hell – it came after putting out various options for votes on Facebook and my blogs, anguished calls to fellow writers and much middle of the night mulling. But ‘Blind Side’ is apt in so many ways… and is conveniently short to type 😊

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

My scarred-by-love narrator Georgie isn’t based on any one person, but some aspects and situations have come from the lives of certain friends who have been heartbroken or burned by love. The traumatised soldier Nikolai came to me fully formed, right down to how he speaks. Julian, who’s secretly in love with Georgie, is a hotchpotch of several people I’ve known.

What’s your favourite word?

I use ‘splendid’ a fair bit – I like it’s old-fashioned, uplifting feel.

If you were a colour what would it be?

Deep turquoise, the colour of the sea on a cloudless day.

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

Novels – I mull over and make endless outlines of events, but a large chunk has to remain unknown, discovered through the writing process. Short stories – I like to start something with no idea what I’m writing about, just see where it goes.

Who is your favourite Author?

Some favourites: Kazuo Ishiguro, Helen Dunmore and Margaret Atwood

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

To be honest I’d prefer to have dinner with some of my favourite authors, such as Margaret Atwood, Stephen King and Haruki Murakami.

What book are you reading at the moment?

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. We share the same publisher and have shared some of our publication experiences too. So it’s interesting to finally read this book (and a pleasure, I hasten to add).

 

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©Natalie Fergie By Kelly Lacey

 

Where in the world is your happy place?

The garden of my husband’s house in France. It’s bliss to relax with a book under a shady tree, listening to the gurgling stream and gazing at the mountains. I finished an early draft of Blind Side there years ago and last summer I made the final edits – also it’s inspired lots of poems.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Flight (the solar powered/green option) would be cool. Alternatively, I’d instantly render all nuclear weapons useless.

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

Maybe I’m hard-hearted, I can’t think of any villains who didn’t deserve what they got. It implies no redeeming qualities? But out of those initially nasty characters who become more rounded, I might save Will in Me Before You – this book has way too much of a weepy ending!

Are you working on a new project?

My second novel is nearly done and dusted (I can hear a distant chuckle). It’s a dark, disturbing psychological novel, which won’t be for everyone. But it’s something I needed to write.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

I’m doing a panel event (Real Life: Real Books) in July with two other Unbound authors, Kerensa Jennings and Jesscia Duchen. Katherine Sunderland (aka Bibliomaniacuk) will be asking us questions on the real-life aspects of our books. There will be all sorts of stuff happening on the night including a raffle. Info: https://bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/real-life-real-books-authorevent-july5th.html

Thank you, Jennie, for being on my blog today, please come back soon.

Kelly x

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Blind Side will be on special offer this weekend. Get your copy for only 99p ebook on Amazon UK.

 

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Q&A

Nobody’s Girl @TaniaCrosse @Aria_Fiction #QA

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A compelling story that tingles with drama, tension and an overwhelming sense of love. Perfect for the fans of Jo Cox and Rosie Goodwin. The boom years immediately after the Great War bring nothing but happiness for wealthy industrialist Wigmore Stratfield-Whyte and his wife Clarissa – until tragedy robs them of their greatest treasure. Many years later, a horrific fatal accident brings young Meg Chandler, a spirited farmer’s daughter, into their lives. Meg wants nothing to do with them, but Clarissa is drawn irresistibly towards the bereaved girl and will move heaven and earth to help her. Will Meg allow Clarissa into her own shattered life, and can the two share a future happiness together? And will Meg’s new acquaintances bring her the contentment she craves – or seek to destroy her? Set in the Kent countryside in the years leading up to the Second World War, this compelling saga tingles with drama, tension and an overwhelming sense of love.

My Q&A with Tania Crosse

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Hello Kelly,

A Little About Me

I have been a published historical novelist for well over a decade, starting out in mass-market paperback long before e-books existed. In 2014, I completed a series of ten linked historical novels spanning the Victorian era through to the 1950s, all based on the rich and fascinating history of west Dartmoor and the surrounding area and set among its wild, rugged and unforgiving landscape. Family circumstances then demanded a break from writing, but I am now firmly back in the saddle with a new series based in London and the south-east. But my passion remains the same, to place engaging, fictitious characters into a real-life historical situation or background and watch them struggle against adversity. For this new venture, I am delighted to have moved with the times and to have signed a four-book deal with young, dynamic digital publishers, Aria Fiction, part of Head of Zeus, and I am really enjoying working with their lovely team.

On a personal note, I have been blissfully married for well over forty years, and have three grown-up children and currently two grandchildren. I love gardening, dancing, cross-over classical music, and rambling – especially over Dartmoor!

Many thanks,

Tania

Describe yourself using three words?

Compassionate, creative, dedicated

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I wrote my first novel (about thirty pages as I remember) when I was nine, all about my then passions, horses and ballet. From that time onward, I wanted to be an author, but didn’t have time to take up writing seriously until my youngest child began school. But what became my first published novel, Morwellham’s Child, was inspired by a series of flash visions I had of historical figures at Morwellham Quay in Devon, said in Victorian times to be the greatest copper port in Queen Victoria’s empire and which has been a living history museum since 1970. (If it sounds familiar, it was there that the BBC filmed the TV series, The Edwardian Farm.) Quite what I saw, I shall never know, ghosts (which I do believe exist) or just my vivid imagination working overtime, who knows? But those three figures became central characters in my story which illustrated the port’s history at its most turbulent period. And that was how I was inspired to write Nobody’s Girl as well. My husband and I were visiting Chartwell and Winston Churchill appeared to me in a flash vision in the library. I was a young servant bringing the great man some refreshment, and there somehow seemed to be a connection between them. I later learnt about the tragic loss of Winston and Clementine’s little daughter, and my creative mind got to work. I read up all about family life at Chartwell which gave me further inspiration, but I invented a parallel universe and all my characters are entirely fictitious.

What time of day do you like to write?

Not at the crack of dawn because I’m not an early riser, but preferably in the morning when I’m feeling fresh.

What is your favourite book and why?

The Juniper Bush by Audrey Howard. It was the first book of hers that I read (I subsequently read every one). I really engaged with the characters, the storyline and the style, and I thought, do you know what? I reckon I could write like that. I learned so much by reading her books.

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How did you pick the title of your book?

My own title was A Sprinkling of Moondust, but Aria didn’t think it was right for the market and I respected that. We spent ages tossing about ideas before deciding on Nobody’s Girl, but we all liked it and it has relevance to the story.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No. As explained above, the basic idea for Nobody’s Girl was inspired by the Churchills, but the characters in all my books are entirely fictitious, although in one or two of my previous novels, real-life people have made cameo appearances, but I always explain this in the Author’s Notes.

What’s your favourite word?  

Love, because it can cover all types of human relationships. If we all loved each other a bit more, the world would be a far better place.

If you were a colour what would it be?

Peach, because it’s gentle and happy, but can really shine in certain circumstances such as at sunrise.  

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

I always know exactly where the story is going and what will happen, but I don’t like to plan it scene by scene as some authors do. I like to write intuitively and let events and characters lead the way.

Who is your favourite Author?  

I read a wide range of authors, but I like serious stories with some sort of historical content. I enjoy writers like Judith Allnatt, Helen Dunmore and Kate Morton, and have recently discovered Kate Furnival. But I think my favourite of all remains Audrey Howard. However, she was born in 1929 and sadly there have been no new novels from her for some years, but I have every one of her books in my attic and I’m sure I will re-read them all at some point.

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Jane Eyre, because I remember seeing the 1956 TV dramatisation when I was very young. It made a deep impression on me, and I think that’s why I wanted to be a historical rather than a contemporary novelist.

Mrs de Winter from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca so that I could ask her what her Christian name was.

Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. He experiences every human emotion at such a profound level. I studied French Literature at university and read all 1700 pages in its original language.

Mr Polly from HG Wells’ The History of Mr Polly. I loved the book when I was at school. It was gently amusing, and I loved the idea that in his search for peace and tranquillity, fate guided this nondescript soul into questionably heroic acts. Now that I’m of a certain age, I think I appreciate his search for true happiness even more. Really must re-read it sometime!

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What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished The White Pearl by Kate Furnival. It’s set in Malaya in 1941 and is about a colonial family escaping the advancing Japanese Army. It’s really gripping and brilliantly written.

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Where in the world is your happy place?

Dartmoor. Its savage beauty has inspired so many of my previous novels. I still like to go there to clear my mind, and when I’m way out on the moor with just myself and my husband, my soul flies free. But you need to know and respect the moor to keep safe.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

To cure all cancers.

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

That’s a tough one. I’d rather you’d asked me to save a hero or heroine, in which case it would have to be Tess in Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Rufus Dawes in Marcus Clarke’s classic For the Term of his Natural Life. (In the book, the ending is the most tragically beautiful of anything I’ve ever read, but he was given a happy ending in the 1980s TV dramatisation.) But for a villain, I think I’d choose Javert, again from Les Misérables. Valjean and Javert both recognise that they were each dedicated to their own principles and so had something in common.

Are you working on a new project?  

Yes, the sequel to Nobody’s Girl entitled A Place to Call Home. It takes the characters through the Second World War, but the main theme is still the same, the relationship between the older woman and the younger girl, and the tragedies that brought them together.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

Meet the Author/Book signing Event at The BookStop in Tavistock,Devon, Friday 14th July 10.30am-1pm (pre-ordered books only)

Purchase your copy of Nobody’s Girl here: Amazon UK

Thank you to Tania and Aria Fiction for being on my blog today!

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Author, Q&A

Games People Play @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook #QA

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An utterly gripping crime thriller from ‘a major new force in British crime fiction.’

Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment, Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.

My Q&A with Owen Mullen

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Hi Kelly thanks for asking me here today, I’ll try to give you some insight into The Real Me.
I’ve been many things in my life – my CV looks a bit like Alan Whicker’s passport.  But, one morning ten years ago when I  decided I was going to write a book, was when I finally found what I should have been doing from the beginning. That started me on a journey I couldn’t have imagined and introduced me to many helpful people, some of whom are now friends. 
Writing the book turned out to be the easy bit. I didn’t realise how much energy and commitment it would take to get my work published.  I’d once thought getting a break in the music business was difficult – the book world is the music business on acid! Long story short: I signed a 3 book deal with the very forward-looking Bloodhound Books in September 2016. Games People Play, the first in the Charlie Cameron Glasgow PI series, launched in January and almost immediately achieved both bestseller badge and entry to the Amazon top 100.   
 
Describe yourself using three words?
Creative  Positive  Focussed

 

What inspired you to write your first novel?  
 
The global financial meltdown, and a most unwelcome electricity bill!

 

What time of day do you like to write?      
I pPrefer to start around 8 am although I am not really a morning person. I find if I don’t get to writing straight away then life takes over and the day is lost.

 

What is your favourite book and why?    
 
I have good memories of really enjoying early Stephen King books like Salem’s Lot and The Dead Zone. For me, he captured the essence of story telling 
How did you pick the title of your book?   
The title for Games People Play came from the old Joe South Song, which stuck in my mind and gave me the idea for the multi layered tale that followed. Old Friends And New Enemies really captures what is going on in the book. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead came from an old Irish toast. So I guess for me it varies, sometimes an idea from a song or a film etc and sometimes the story decides. 

 

Are the characters in your book based on real people?
Some of my characters come from memories I didn’t even know I had stashed away. Others, I create as the need arises in the unfolding story.  

 

What’s your favourite word?     
Obstreperous – a word my grandfather used…not too many opportunities to squeeze it in! 

 

If you were a colour what would it be?      
Midnight blue 

 

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?      
Always have both beginning and end, then the flow can commence! 

 

Who is your favourite Author?      
Don’t have one but I really like Conan Doyle 

 

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?    
James  Moriarty from the televised Sherlock – I loved his humour.

 

Are you working on a new project?      
Several – 3 days ago I completed the first novel in an American PI series, today I started Charlie Cameron 4. I have begun a London trilogy, and am putting finishing touches to a Pakistan thriller., which I loved writing. 
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You can order you copy today ~ Amazon UK
Thank you, Owen Mullen, for stopping by my blog today.

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Giveaway Prizes, Launch Day, Q&A

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong – @ginageejay @urbanebooks #Giveaway

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Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong? Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America. Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

My Q&A with Gina Kirkham

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Describe yourself using three words?

Fun, quirky, caring

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I retired from Merseyside Police in 2012 after having a wonderful career as a front-line Police Officer. Over the years, I found that humour was one of the best coping mechanisms you could have to help you deal with the not so pleasant side of the job. “You couldn’t make it up” or “You could write a book’’ were two very familiar phrases you would hear after dealing with certain situations, so on my retirement I took the opportunity to do just that.

What time of day do you like to write? I tend to produce more words between 10 am and 2pm but I have my most exciting ideas for my characters at 3 am. When my mind is working overtime, sleep is impossible and my hubby’s snoring becomes too much to bear, I creep downstairs for a hot chocolate, a couple of biscuits and a stint in front of the keyboard. Two hours and 1,200 words later with another 2lb added to my already burgeoning derrière from the sneaky biscuits, I crawl back into bed, only to wonder what planet I must have been on when I re-read my nocturnal offerings at 10 am!

What is your favourite book and why?

To Kill A Mocking Bird, Harper Lee. I first read this as part of my English Class curriculum in the early 70’s. I remember being so strongly touched by the subject matter, I felt every emotion there is as I progressed from chapter to chapter. It dealt with such serious and intense issues, but still carried humour and warmth.

How did you pick the title of your book? Originally it was titled Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong. The first part, Handcuffs, Truncheon, is a reflection of the police theme of the story and the Primark Thong is a reference to my main character, Mavis Upton’s love of cheap frillies from Primark. Once signed by Urbane Publications and after discussions, it was decided to replace Primark with Polyester to alleviate any potential snags with the trademark. So, my book is now titled Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong. I did wonder how it would all fit on the front of a book, but Matthew my Publisher, has done an amazing job.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

Yes, absolutely, it made the development of the characters so much easier too, as I could actually hear their voices and see their features, gestures, and mannerisms. I know there will be quite a few people desperately trying to find little traits to identify themselves. I hope I can keep them guessing!

If you were a colour what would it be? Gosh, now that’s a difficult one. I do tend to wear a lot of black or grey, as I feel it helps me to sort of ‘blend in’, but those colours actually belie my personality. I think I would have to say I’m yellow, as I’m very fortunate to be a happy person. I know I must smile a lot because I’ve got the most horrendous crows feet and ‘prinkles’ (as my granddaughters call them) around my eyes!

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow? I draft up an outline with bullet points and ideas on a whiteboard. It’s not set in stone, I have a basic idea of where I am going, but I take each day as it comes. Often I will have a fixed idea of what I want to write that day, and then suddenly one of the characters will become very awkward, like a naughty child, and I have to re-think their progress. I frequently tell them to behave or I might have to kill them off!

Who is your favourite Author?

Peter James. Although I write lighthearted humour, I’m actually a huge crime and supernatural/ghost story reader.

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

Bill Sikes in Olivier Twist. Even though he was Dickens most savage and violent book character, I’d like to think he was really a big softy at heart and just a bit misunderstood. I’d have him marrying Nancy and opening a home for wayward boys and girls after realising the error of his ways. I’m probably slightly biased in my view of Sikes, as I had a juvenile crush on Oliver Reed who played him in the musical Oliver!, so my observations are more likely based on my adoration for him rather than the character itself, if I’m honest.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I’m currently 45,000 words into the second book following Mavis’s adventures. I’m having a lot of fun with this one as the storyline I have chosen plays on my own experiences, whilst at the same time allowing me the opportunity to research an unusual aspect of his life for one of the characters.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

Publication date for Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong is the 18th May with a launch at Waterstones Liverpool One at 6.30pm that evening. It will be a fun event with Liverpool Actor Lynne Fitzgerald reading from the book as the main character Mavis Upton and an appearance by Luca Veste (Murphy & Rossi crime series) for a ‘Conversation with’. Complimentary Prosecco and cupcakes will be available and a gift of one of Mavis’s Humongously Large Thongs with each book purchased on the night. There are other events planned but as yet, dates have not been confirmed.

Twitter – @ginageejay (personal) @MavisUpton (book character)

Author Website – http://www.ginakirkham.wordpress.com

Amazon UK

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Giveaway 

Win a copy of Handcuffs, Truncheon, and a Polyester Thong & A THONG!!!

     CLICK TO ENTER ~ BEST OF LUCK

 

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Author, Excerpt, Q&A

Lord Of The Sea Castle @ruadhbutler @AccentPress #Extract #QA

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It is 1170  a tumultuous time for the people of Wales, England and Ireland. Raymond de Carew is in love, but the woman he desires is an earl’s daughter and so far above his station that he has no hope of ever winning her.

However, Raymond s lord has a mission for him: one that if it succeeds will put an Irish king back on his throne and prove Raymond worthy for in Norman society, a man can rise as high as his skill with a sword can take him.

With only a hundred men at his side, Raymond must cross the ocean to Ireland ahead of his mercenary lord’s invasion. There he will face the full might of the Viking city of Waterford… and either his deeds will become a legend or he will be trampled into dust.

Ruadh Butler 

A Butler

Ruadh Butler was born in Northern Ireland. He worked in newsrooms, bars and laboratories, and as a security guard, musician and lifeguard before his acclaimed debut novel, Swordland, was published by Accent Press in 2016. Charting the years of the Norman invasion of Ireland Swordland, and its follow-up, Lord of the Sea Castle, published in 2017, are a tribute to his ancestors who carved lands for themselves as part of the conquest in the 12th century.

Q&A with Ruadh Butler

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey before the questions that would be super.  Plus anything else you wish to tell the members.

I grew up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It seems strange, given that there were daily bombings and shootings, and soldiers on every street, but it really didn’t have a direct effect on me or my family. I put this down to my dad being a bit of a posh ‘blow-in’ from south of the border. No one knew how to deal with our ‘English’ sounding accents and frequent holidays to the Republic! It is probably because of this background that all my work so far has circled the subject of identity and a questioning of nationalism (in all its guises).

It was never an ambition of mine to write a novel. I love reading. I have done for as long as I can remember and as a kid nearly everything I read had the grand backdrop of history; Herge, Goscinny and Uderzo were first, then Morgan Llywelyn, Mary Stewart, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, before Bernard Cornwell came along and I became more than a little obsessive, reading and re-reading his books a number of times. It simply never occurred to me to write since all I really wanted was the next book of Sharpe, Starbuck and Derfel’s escapades!

My first attempt at writing was a book called Spearpoint. Told from the perspective of Dermot MacMurrough, an Irish king exiled from his throne by his enemies in 1166, it simply didn’t work, principally, I suppose, because Dermot was a little too unsympathetic as a lead character. So I began again, this time from the angle of one of the real-life Norman mercenaries who Dermot had employed to help him reclaim his kingdom. With a bit of patience – and a number of re-writes – the book once called Spearpoint became The Outpost with the Welsh-Norman knight Robert FitzStephen as the protagonist for the first time. Further work and fine-tuning (mostly during my lunch break at work) saw The Outpost become Vanguard. It was only when I was certain that the book was ready for public view that I sent it to my father’s sailing pal, the late Wallace Clark, a respected (and much missed) travel writer, for his assessment. He loved it but suggested a name change. Thus, Swordland was sent out for the consideration of literary agents. I soon found a good one in London and a little while later it found a home with Accent Press. Swordland was published in paperback in April 2016.

 

Describe yourself using three words?

Talkative, redheaded, upbeat

 

What inspired you to write your first novel?

It was only when I began studying journalism in London in 2007 that the kernel of an idea to write a novel took seed. I was staying with a cousin and came across a whole raft of journals about the Butler family, and, having only the vaguest knowledge of what that meant, I started investigating. They had come to Ireland in the wake of the Norman invasion of 1169 and had won a large estate at the point of a sword. The more I read, the more I wished to find out, and not just about the Butlers, but about all the people who had become embroiled in the invasion. I had found an untapped treasure trove of stories, of intrigue and adventure, of men and women, in a land so alien to modern eyes. They were stories of remarkable deeds and fascinating characters. I had to write about it. I didn’t know how, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

 

What time of day do you like to write?

Mornings are for editing and re-reading, evenings are for writing. Although coming up to a deadline that schedule goes out the window! I used to be a journalist and spent a lot of time sitting down at a computer screen. At lunchtime I would work on the novel, my feet up on the desk, sandwich in my hand and laptop on my knees. It wasn’t long before I developed a very sore back. Because of this trouble I began standing up to write when I got home. It’s the best change I have made! It forced me to improve my posture and you would be shocked to learn how many more calories you burn up just by staying upright. Another benefit of standing is that you are forced into taking regular breaks rather than just continuing on working when you really should stop for a bit. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I thoroughly encourage all to stand while writing.

 

 

What is your favourite book and why?

Cripes! That’s a tough question. How does one get it down to just a single book? Under duress – and discounting several novels for the most minor reasons – I think that I can get this impossible task down to two: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers.

The former is one of the best adventures in literature and has one of its greatest heroes – Alan Breck Stewart. Kidnapped is packed full of intrigue and really serious themes including nationalism, loyalty, murder, slavery, love, and, above all else, hope in spite of all the odds. Stevenson also gives the reader a wonderfully evocative journey around the Highlands and Islands of western Scotland, its flora and fauna, its people and their beliefs.

Childers’ book is simply the best spy novel ever produced (although there are a few others that I really love). Two more unlikely heroes you could not hope to find, and I don’t think anyone else would’ve made their setting amidst the mud and shifting sands of the Frisian Islands. Childers’ love and knowledge of sailing in that region is obvious and infectious. If I can do even half the job portraying the Irish coastline as he does the continental, I think I’ll be really happy with the final outcome in my books.

 

How did you pick the title of your book?

My first book, Swordland, went through a number of titles until my father’s great friend, Wallace Clark, a writer himself, suggested the final word of the novel as a better name than the one I was using. I trusted to his judgement and thankfully it worked out very well!

When it came to writing my second, I already had the title before I committed a single word to the page. I wanted something that continued the theme of war as well as signifying my lead character, Raymond’s ambition to rise through Norman society. When I visited Baginbun Point in County Wexford as part of my research, the name came to me. Baginbun is remote and not well known, its importance to the history of Ireland marked only by a small plaque. I found it incredible. I fancied that I could feel the presence of my ancestors on that windswept headland. Better than that, I could stand upon the Norman earthworks and could see why they had elected to make Baginbun their landing site. It was a castle designed by nature and augmented by Raymond’s warcraft. It would be the scene of my climactic battle and Raymond’s glory. The book would be called Lord of the Sea Castle.

 

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

All the characters are lifted from history, but their activities are given a fictionalised twist. The story is based on the writings of a Welsh priest, Gerald de Barri, as well as the 13th century epic chronicle, The Song of Dermot and the Earl. There are a number of inconsistencies between the two accounts and that, to me, gives me licence to embellish and enhance some of the story, but I do admit all my changes at the end of the novel. One instance of this is the back story for my protagonist, Raymond de Carew. Nothing is known about him before he landed in Ireland in the summer of 1170 and so I have attempted to discern what might have been in order to flesh out the character. The same is to be said of Alice of Abergavenny, a woman who comes into Raymond’s life during the book and really drives the entire story. Some writers in my field aim for historical accuracy. My objective is period authenticity.

 

What’s your favourite word?

Converse

 

If you were a colour what would it be?

Burgundy – lovely colour, smashing region, delicious wines

 

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

A bit of both actually. As a story set in history there are elements that have to remain the same. However, I tend towards the ‘fiction’ side of the argument and have often found gaps in the historic record which I feel need to be filled (without moving the story too far in the direction of alternative history). This may be as simple as placing a point of view character at a historic event which I know they did not attend, or even combining two people whose stories are similar to streamline the account. In Lord of the Sea Castle I saw an opportunity to give Alice of Abergavenny a much bigger role than the one afforded by history and I leapt at the chance to do so.

 

Who is your favourite author?

Oh no! Another impossible question to answer! My favourite writers include Robert Louis Stevenson, Bernard Cornwell, Joseph Conrad, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Arthur Conan Doyle, David Gilman, H. Rider Haggard, Conn Iggulden, John Buchan, Giles Kristian and Henning Mankell. To choose one over the others is next to impossible.

 

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

That is a stressful undertaking at the best of times! But inviting our literary heroes? My mind immediately goes to what to serve – Argentinian-style steak and Malbec perhaps. The big question, however, is if you choose guests you think might get on, or people with different personalities and backgrounds, hoping that they will find something to talk about? I’ve decided that two ladies and two gents would make for the best night’s craic.

Portia from The Merchant of Venice would be the first to arrive, almost definitely on time and bearing a well-thought out gift. She comes across as intelligent and level-headed, good company with an ability to talk to anyone. If we are playing after-dinner games I definitely want to be on her team.

Alan Breck Stewart from Kidnapped might still believe the Hanoverian fuzz are after him so I’ll leave the back door off the latch so he can slip in as he pleases rather than use the front door. I am certain he will like the food and drink, but might put the pressure on everyone to make a donation towards the cause of the King-over-the-Water. Note to self: do not mention “The Red Fox” around Alan. It will only set him off.

Say what you like about Cersei Lannister, but she will add a bit of class to proceedings. I think she might be difficult at the start. Liberal glasses of wine will loosen her up. A night away from her cadre of court officials and all that intrigue and back-stabbing in King’s Landing will be good for her too. I’m betting she is a hoot if you can keep her off the subject of politics (and her family).

Why do I think that Cersei and Jay Gatsby would get on like a house on fire (if we can prise him away from the Long Island shoreline that is)? I’m not usually a matchmaker, but I think they would make a healthy couple. He could worship her as she wishes to be worshipped. And he could get access to her world of high grandeur and ancient prestige (albeit in Westeros rather than West Egg) that he so desires. If not, well I presume we can still all get a taxi over to Gatsby’s house and see in the wee hours there!

 

What book are you reading at the moment?

Trespass by Anthony J. Quinn, a noir literary crime story set in post-Troubles Northern Ireland. I’ve read the first three in the series and this one is the best yet. They are all beautifully written. I’m very much looking forward to the next which is out in November.

 

Where in the world is your happy place?

I’ve travelled a bit and have been some wonderful places, but few have the impact of Kilkenny. When my family first came to Ireland in 1185 they settled at Nenagh in County Tipperary and it wasn’t until 1391 that they moved into Kilkenny Castle. My branch of the family split off from the senior in the early sixteenth century, and the castle has since been given to the people of the city, but it still evokes strong feelings in me. My last visit was a few years ago. I did a summer research trip all around the south-east with the last stop in Kilkenny before heading back north. Sitting on the parkland in front of the castle in the summer sun, seeing people from the city enjoy the open space was just wonderful. It isn’t home but I do take a great deal of pride in the place. Completely silly!

 

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Consistent good luck, I think. I’ve had a bit of good fortune, of course, but it is not something you can rely upon. Having it on tap would be most welcome! Invisibility is one that a lot of people might choose, but you can’t stay invisible all the time. You might lose control with super-strength and hurt someone. The world would become a bit of a blur if you were constantly moving at Flash-like speeds. Good luck could only improve the experience of life. And some of it has got to rub off on those around you!

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

I like the thought that somehow Professor James Moriarty managed to survive his tumble over the Reichenbach Falls, just as did Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps he had always wanted the opportunity to retreat into obscurity, leaving his criminal past behind. I actually have a cousin who is called Professor Moriarty, in his case Chris Moriarty, and this no doubt affects my choice. No more pleasant a chap could you hope to meet than my Professor Moriarty. It makes me grin to think of him, a mild-mannered world-renowned expert in eels as an undercover Napoleon of Crime!

 

Are you working on a new project?

My next novel is called The Earl Strongbow and will follow on from the events of Lord of the Sea Castle and the tumultuous events of 1170. It is scheduled to be released in April 2018. I also have an idea for a film script which I would like to try and write. I’ll not say too much about it, but I will require a trip to Sligo for research purposes.

 

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

I will be appearing at the Kildare Town Medieval Festival in August and hope to get a few more events organised too.

Sneak Peak ~ Extract 

Extract from Lord of the Sea Castle by Ruadh Butler

Danger lay upriver. That, Raymond could feel in his bones as Waverider glided up the brown waterway where vegetation circled slowly and sank beneath her plunging wooden oars. On each side of the ship, trees hung limply, the longest branches dipping into the river from the bank and blanketing the land beyond from the Norman’s view. The sails had been robbed of wind by the tangle of trees and the summery conditions, and so the men rowed, their dipping oars the loudest sound on the slowly swirling river. It was stifling, this country and the sensation was not helped by the heavy armour which clad each warrior who journeyed north.

‘See anything?’ Fionntán asked. William de Vale hissed at him to quiet down. Everyone aboard, except the smirking Gael, conversed in hushed tones as they floated towards Cluainmín. Those who had been on ship during Amaury de Lyvet’s foraging trips told tales of darts, arrows and stones arcing suddenly from the shore from assailants unknown and striking down men as they toiled. Oddly Raymond had yet to meet anyone who had been wounded whilst sailing on the River Banneew despite the oft-told tales.

‘I can see nothing out there,’ Raymond squawked back at the Gael. His turn rowing was over and so he had taken up a position in the bows of Waverider, keeping watch on the shoreline for dangers unseen in the shallow riverway. Bright sunshine turned still pools of water on deck into vapour and more steam hung from dripping green leaves on shore. Beads of sweat ran down Raymond’s brow and he could feel more beneath his mail. The strong summer sunshine danced off shimmering surfaces and dazzled his eyes. As they rounded another bend in the Banneew, he espied a small homestead and farm carved from the forest. Two shirtless fishermen with long beards paddled coracles in the river, sweeping sculls in small circles to propel the ungainly craft forward. Both men gawped as Waverider swept past and began paddling with all their might for the riverbank. Raymond laughed at the men’s effort, their unwieldy vessels providing no speed for their getaway. The little coracles rocked as the wake from Waverider struck them and the fishermen clung onto the animal hide sheer-strakes as they span towards the reedy shallows.

‘How are we for depth?’ Amaury de Lyvet called from the starboard quarter. The steersman’s question was echoed up the boat by several men at the oars to the warlord’s earshot.

Raymond looked over the side into the brown, sandy river and began swinging the sounding line around his head. The hollowed out lead weight spun as it flew, dragging the thin knotted rope from his hand and forward over the bows of Waverider. As the lead hit the water, Raymond began doubling the line between his outstretched arms. He felt the weight impact with the riverbed and, as the line ran alongside the boat, he began counting the fathoms. He did not get far.

‘Less than three fathoms,’ he shouted back at Amaury, earning another appeal from William de Vale to keep his voice down.

‘Slow oars,’ the steersman shouted to the crew of Waverider. Happy to stop the work, the men complied immediately and sat back on their benches, swiping sweat from their faces.

‘What is her draught?’ Raymond asked Amaury as he walked down the length of the ship.

‘Two yards and a bit,’ the sailor replied. ‘Enough, I hope.’

‘But you have been further up river than here,’ Raymond said. ‘Haven’t you?’

Amaury raised his eyebrows, but did not answer.

‘No time like the present for a bit of exploring,’ Fionntán interjected. ‘The Ostmen can get up the river, so we can too. What is the bottom like?’ he asked.

Raymond swung the wet sounding line and caught the lead weight so that he could study a thick wad of tallow which he had pushed into the space where the rope was tied. As it had been dragged along the bottom the sticky material had picked up debris.

‘Nothing but sand,’ Raymond said as Amaury and Fionntán swapped concerned glances. Raymond had learned that the Gael was also a sailor and knew the waters of Ireland’s south coast as well as any man. The two launched into a conversation about whether or not they should continue upriver on foot or by ship. After a few minutes of discussion between the two, Fionntán sat down at his bench and Lyvet gave the order to continue rowing.

‘And you,’ Amaury added with a finger pointed at Raymond. ‘Keep your bloody eyes open. I don’t want to ground her on this damned sand.’ The journey continued as slowly as before with the noise from the sounding line falling in the water the only thing interrupting the squeak of wooden oars on the rails of the ship. The men continued to toil as the sun shone above them.

‘Two fathoms,’ Raymond shouted as the river began to narrow and sweep westwards. Amaury pulled the tiller into his stomach sending Waverider into deeper water closer to the eastern bank.

‘Keep bloody casting,’ he shouted at Raymond, but the warlord was no longer listening for, over a vast expanse of rushes and mud flats, were the masts of many ships. And beyond that, the Ostman longfort of Cluainmín came into view.

Raymond inhaled sharply as Waverider slid into enemy territory.

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You can pre-order your copy ~ Amazon UK

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Author, Q&A

Block 46 @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks #QA

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Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

Q&A with Johana Gustawsson

Describe yourself using three words?

Certified totally crazy!

What inspired you to write your first novel?

My paternal grandfather’s life story inspired Block 46: he was a French resistant who was deported to Buchenwald in 1943. He was neither a loving father nor a caring grandfather, and I was always intrigued by the fact that everyone in my city used to praise him and talk about the hero he was. I knew of course about his involvement in the war, but I didn’t really understand what it implicated physically, morally and mentally, until I dived myself into the Nuremberg trials and the testimonies of the survivors, surrounded by the barbarity, the violence, the hunger and the desperation. I then understood that the trauma was so deep, that he could not be a man anymore, he could just be a hero.

What time of day do you like to write?

I write whilst my little one is at pre-school, but my favourite part of the day is early mornings when the city and the house are still quiet… which I won’t have for long as I am expecting twin boys!

What is your favourite book and why?

Ooooh! So hard to choose! But I would say Les Fleurs du Mal, a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. The writing is sublime and reading it feels like listening to a divine music.

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How did you pick the title of your book?

I originally named Block 46 “Y”, as this novel talks about paternity and transmission, but my French publisher didn’t like it, so I thought that Block 46 was very adequate, as the block 46 in Buchenwald concentration camp is where the story begins.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

A few years back, I read a book about a South African profiler: Micki Pistorius. I admired her passion, devotion and focus, which inspired me for Emily Roy. About my other female protagonist, Alexis Castells, I have to admit that we share the same European background, between France, London, Spain and Sweden!

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

Oh, I definitely am the planner type! As I need to carefully plant clues here and there in order to make it difficult for the readers to find who did it, I set up the skeleton of the book before writing.

Who is your favourite Author?

If I really have to choose one, it would be Agatha Christie. Since my youngest age, her talent has mesmerised me; she shaped crime writing and left us unforgettable plots and characters.

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You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Hercule Poirot, my dear Belgian detective, who I met at 7 reading The Mysterious affair at Styles; I have been utterly devoted to him ever since; Miss Marple, another of the unforgettable characters created by the Queen of crime; Sherlock Holmes and his brilliant deductive mind; and finally, Tom Ripley who would be killed during the pre-dinner drinks. The perfect occasion to witness Hercule, Sherlock and Jane Marple at work, don’t you think?

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What book are you reading at the moment?

A Darker domain by Val McDermid, but in French… as I need not lose touch with the language I write with! A gripping read.

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Where in the world is your happy place?

Anywhere, as long as I am with my family.

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

I am hesitating between Mr Hyde and Dr Hannibal Lecter…

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Are you working on a new project?

I am currently working on Roy & Castells 3, as number 2 was published in March in France and will arrive in the UK in May 2018. This time, I am diving in the Franco dictatorship years, in Spain: terrifying times…

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

Oh yes! I will be at Waterstones Piccadilly in London on the 17th of May with fourteen wonderful Orenda authors who are travelling from all over the world for the occasion; I will also attend Crimefest, in Bristol, from the 18th until the 20th of May, and I have been invited to The Felixstowe book Festival the Sunday 2nd of July. Hope to see you at one of those events!

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Thank you, Johana Gustawsson and Orenda Books for allowing me on this fabulous tour!

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FINAL block 46 blog tour poster

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Author, Q&A

The Teachers Secret @suzanne_leal @Legend_Press #QA

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Things aren’t always as they seem…

A small town can be a refuge, but while its secrets are held, it’s hard to know who to trust and what to believe.

The Teacher’s Secret is a tender and compelling story of scandal, rumour and dislocation, and the search for grace and dignity in the midst of dishonour and humiliation.

Perfect for fans of The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray.

Suzanne Leal

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SUZANNE LEAL is a lawyer experienced in child protection, criminal law and refugee law.  A former legal commentator on ABC Radio, Suzanne is a regular interviewer at Sydney Writers’ Festival and other literary functions.  She is the senior judge for the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.  The Teacher’s Secret is her first novel published in the UK.

Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband, David, and her four children, Alex, Dominic, Xavier and Miranda.

Visit Suzanne at suzanneleal.com or on Twitter @suzanne_leal or on her Facebook page @suzannelealauthor.

Q&A with Suzanne Leal 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey before the questions that would be super. Plus anything else you wish to tell the members. 

I’m a lawyer and a writer and I have four children who range between five and twenty.  I often don’t manage the juggle as well as I’d like.

My first novel, BORDER STREET, was inspired by the wartime experiences of my Czech-Jewish neighbour, Fred Perger.  It’s a story both about a young couple living in Australia and life in Prague during the Nazi occupation.

My second novel, THE TEACHER’S SECRET, was inspired by the small coastal village where I live in Sydney.  Over the years, I have watched with interest and affection the daily intrigues of this community which, bordered as it is by its row of shops, the golf course, the ocean and a jail, is almost a cul-de-sac in itself.

THE TEACHER’S SECRET centres on Terry Pritchard, assistant principal at Brindle primary school, who is accused of inappropriate behaviour towards his students.  In writing the novel, I drew upon my legal experience to consider how issues of trust and suspicion can arise when considering the behaviour of a male teacher working in a small school.

THE TEACHER’S SECRET is also the story of Nina Foreman, who struggles with managing a career as a single parent, and that of Rebecca Chuma, who finds herself in Brindle having fled her homeland.

Although I wanted to consider these serious issues – what happens when a marriage ends when a career ends, when a family is forced to relocate –  I also wanted to keep humour, kindness and lightness in the book.  In the end, the book is about the strength of the community.

THE TEACHER’S SECRET was first published in Australia last year.  I am so excited that it is now being published in the UK, too, and I can’t wait to be in London for the launch.  I’ve loved working with Legend Press and I’m delighted with the jacket cover for the book’s hardcover edition.

Describe yourself using three words?

Curious, hopeful, compelled

What inspired you to write your first novel?

THE TEACHER’S SECRET is my second novel.  My first novel BORDER STREET was inspired by the wartime story of my Czech-Jewish neighbour, Fred Perger.

What time of day do you like to write?

I like to write whenever I can get the time to do it.  First thing in the morning is my preference.

What is your favourite book and why?download

I have different favourite books for different times of my life.   I love THE DARK ROOM by Rachel Seiffert.  I was blown away by the originality of THE LESSER BOHEMIANS by Eimear McBride.  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE continually remind me of the importance of wit and humour and observation in writing.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I didn’t pick the title of THE TEACHER’S SECRET.  My Australian publisher, Jane Palfreyman, came up with it.  The working title for the book was BRINDLE, which is the name of the fictional village where the book is set.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

The coastal village where I live in Sydney is geographically very similar to the fictional town of Brindle in my book.  The characters in THE TEACHER’S SECRET are, however, fictional.

Having said that, I have known men with the characteristics of Terry Pritchard, who is the assistant principal at Brindle primary school and who hates management speak and just wants to get on with the job of teaching.  In writing about Terry, I drew upon my legal experience to consider how issues of trust and suspicion can arise when considering the behaviour of a male teacher working in a small school.

There is something of me in the character of the teacher Nina Foreman and also something of the many other women I know who have juggled single parenthood with the demands of a career.

Rebecca Chuma, who has fled her homeland, is inspired by the many women who appeared before me when I presided over legal hearings for people claiming refugee status.  Many of them were strong, articulate and impressive women who had experienced great hardship.  I often wondered how women like this – women who were well known in their country, who might even have been activists – would manage their relocation to a country that was foreign to them and where their experience and qualifications might count for nothing.

The character of Rebecca Chuma emerged from my experience of these women and my imaginings of their subsequent lives.

What’s your favourite word?

Serendipity

If you were a colour what would it be?

Burnished orange

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

I like to at least roughly plan my story beforehand.  When I write, I write to answer a question that has consumed me so much I need to explore it in my writing.  In my first novel BORDER STREET, I wanted to consider whether it is fair to demand extraordinary things of people simply because they have suffered through extraordinary times.

In THE TEACHER’S SECRET I wanted to consider the position of male teachers in a time of increased suspicion.  I also wanted to look at the nature of community through the eyes of the residents of a small coastal village.

I develop my scenes and my characters as a way of exploring the questions that fascinate me.  To help me organise my thoughts and the structure of my work, I use a software package called Scrivener.

Who is your favourite author?

That’s a very big question!  I don’t think I can pick just one.  I love Jane Austen’s wit and Charlotte Bronte’s passion.  I love the wisdom of Viktor Frankl and the humour of Roald Dahl.  I love the dry, loving writing of E.B White.   I thank J.K. Rowling for imbuing my children with a love of reading.

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You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why? 

Elizabeth Bennett from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen because she’s fun and clever and witty and impulsive and doesn’t hold back.

Anne Shirley from ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery because she kept me company throughout my childhood and I’d love to catch up with her.

Willy Wonka from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl because he is forthright and funny.

Aslan from THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis because he is wise and good and caring.

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What book are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I’m reading SONGS OF A WAR BOY by Deng Thiak Adut with Ben McKelvey.  Deng is a former child soldier in South Sudan who is now an Australian lawyer.  I’ll be interviewing him at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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Where in the world is your happy place?

When I’m running, when I’m reading, when I’m writing, when I’m at the movies.

If you had one superpower what would it be? 

The power to be super-organised and to banish household chaos instantaneously.

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

Mrs Agatha Trunchbull in MATILDA by Roald Dahl.

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Are you working on a new project?

I’ve just completed a time travel book for older children.  I’m now working on a novel for adults about family secrets that emerge in the lead up to a wedding.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend? 

I’ll be part of an author panel with Winnie Li at 7pm on 1 June 2017 at the Big Green Bookshop, Unit 1, Brampton Park Rd, Wood Green, London N22 6BG

I’ll be giving an author talk at 12.30pm on 7 June 2017 at Barbican Library at Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS (2nd Floor)

I’ll be giving an author talk at 6.30pm on 8 June 2017 at Fulham Library at 6 Friern Barnet Ln, London N11 3LX

If you would like to purchase your own copy today, head over to Amazon UK

Published on the 14th May 2017, By Legend Press

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Thank you Suzanne Leal and Legend Press for having me on your tour.

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Q&A

The First Times Mum’s Club @lucie_wheeler @HarperImpulse #QA

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After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally, a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby…and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums, the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

My Q&A with Lucie Wheeler 

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If you can tell us a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.

Thank you SO much for having me here, I feel so honoured to be part of your new author feature. So, a little about me? Well, I live in Essex with my husband and daughter – who is known on social media as LO – and my English Bull Terrier, Dame, who loves to sit under my desk as I write and keep my feet warm. Never one to sit still, I always have lots going on in my life at any one time. Currently, I am writing my novels alongside studying for a degree and working in various placements to broaden my experience with working in education. I spend far too much time on social media – predominantly on Instagram and Facebook – and I try to do a monthly vlog over on my YouTube channel to update everyone with my writing journey alongside all the other things I like to do. I am also very proud to be one of The Romaniacs.

I love reading, spending time with friends and eating chocolate – when I get to do all three, I’m a very happy lady!

Describe yourself using three words?

Driven, messy & helpful

What inspired you to write your first novel?

Quite simply – J K Rowling. I was reading her Harry Potter books and fell in love with the way she made me, the reader, feel. I was at home with my LO and I would spend hours reading and her words made me feel amazing. And I thought, if I could make just one person feel this way by reading something that I wrote, I would be complete. So I started writing.

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What time of day do you like to write?

Either in the middle of the night or at around 5am. Once I have gone past 8am I’m pretty useless at staying focused on one single task.

What is your favourite book and why?

Earth Abides by George R Stewart. I read this book when I was about 12 and it drew me in like nothing I had ever read before. It was the first adult book I remember reading and becoming absolutely immersed within the story. It had been sitting on my mother’s bookshelf for years when I picked it up and I remember devouring it fairly quickly. It holds a special place in my heart.

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How did you pick the title of your book? With the help of my lovely editor, Charlotte. We spoke about the concept of the book over coffee and cake one afternoon and as we were throwing around words and ideas, the title manifested itself.

With the help of my lovely editor, Charlotte. We spoke about the concept of the book over coffee and cake one afternoon and as we were throwing around words and ideas, the title manifested itself.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

I wouldn’t say they were exactly, however, there are aspects of every character that I have come across in people I have met – and sometimes characteristics that I have! I think for any imagination to function, we draw on aspects of our real life to form the fantasy. So in that sense, certain parts of each character are people that I know and have seen. But no single character is a replica of anyone in particular.

What’s your favourite word? Love

If you were a colour what would it be? Green

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

I have to plan a certain amount otherwise I struggle to get the words onto the page. I have actually tried a new technique for the new book I am working on and I have done a mind map type plan for the plot of the story. My stories will always deviate and develop from my initial plan but I like to have a starting point and something to refer to should I get stuck in a rut with a scene or plot line.

Who is your favourite Author?

Wow, that is like asking who my favourite child is! (And I only have one child so that question is always easy!) Erm… can I say a top 5? What do you mean, no? Ok, well my absolute favourite author would have to be JK Rowling because she is my idol. Not for her fame, not for her success but for her determination, hard work, kind heart and amazing talent. Other favourites would be Paige Toon, Giovanna Fletcher, Sue Moorcroft, Dean Koontz, Giselle Green, all the Romaniac ladies… ok, I’ll stop now *whispers – but there are lots more*!

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Are you working on a new project? Yes, I am working on my second book with Harper Impulse which I believe is due out towards the second half of this year. It is another story involving a group of mums but this time they embark on a little adventure abroad…

Do you have any events lined up that my readers can attend? 

I am actually hoping to have a launch event in September in Chelmsford to meet people and sign copies of The First Time Mums Club. My agent is arranging it as we speak so if anyone thinks it would be something they are interested in, keep your eyes peeled for the date when it has been confirmed!

You can purchase you copy here: Amazon UK

Thank you, Lucie and Harper Impulse for taking part in my blog today. Come back soon with book 2. ~ K ~

First Time Mums Club

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Author, Interveiw, Q&A, Sneak Peak

My Husbands Wives @gerhogan @Aria_Fiction #Q&A #SneakPeak

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Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

My Q&A with Faith Hogan

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Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, children and a very fat cat called Norris.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It will be published by Head of Zeus on 4th of May 2017 in Ireland and is available in all good book shops. She is currently working on her next novel.  

Faith Hogan Contact:

Follow Faith on Twitter at @gerhogan or like her on Facebook.comFaithhoganauthor/ or, if you’re really interested, you can catch up with her on www.faithhogan.com

Describe yourself using three words?

Just three?  Mammy, Wife, Writer-Reader!

What inspired you to write your first novel?  

I’ve always written, but getting around to writing a novel took time – in the end a forced stay in bed when I was pregnant with my twins meant I no longer had an excuse not to! And once I started, there was no stopping me!

What time of day do you like to write?

I tend to write in the mornings – but any time is good, so long as the WiFi is switched off!

What is your favorite book and why?

It’s probably Ivanhoe – because it has everything and I think no matter how many times you read it – there’s always something new in there!

How did you pick the title of your book?

Full credit goes to my publisher on that one – she had the title before I even signed the contract!

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

No – I think books are much too tame! Seriously, most characters develop on the page, they grow as I write, they can start off as one thing, but evolve into very different people as their journey continues – a bit like us, really.

What’s your favourite word?  

‘Friday’ is pretty nice!

If you were a colour what would it be?  

It would probably be something earthy, creative and positive – I do like green – so maybe India Green?

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

I tend to have an outline before I start – that involves sitting for a while staring in to space – oh yes, and making cups of coffee and eating biscuits!

Who is your favourite Author?  

Gosh – again, just one???  At the moment I’m reading the Chilbury Ladies Choir and enjoying that so this week, it’s Jennifer Ryan! But honestly, there are too many to narrow down.

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Lizzy Bennet (Pride & Prejudice) Gloria Hatter (One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson) Bridget Jones and Miss Marple – I’d imagine that you’d either laugh with them or at them!

What book are you reading at the moment?

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan.

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Where in the world is your happy place?

It has to be my own comfy chair, with a cuppa at my elbow and a book in my hand – bliss.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I wouldn’t mind borrowing Hermione Grangers Time Turner now and again, just to fit a bit more into the week!

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

Do you know, I think most of them get their just deserts – in real life, I’d be looking for the good, but don’t we read to escape? To live for a while in situations where everything is tied up neatly at the end?  

Are you working on a new project?  

Always….

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?  

I’m looking forward to launching my debut paperback in Ireland in May this year – down in dear old county Mayo – details should be all over Facebook as they’re more concrete and everyone is welcome!

My Husbands Wives ~ Sneak Peak ~ Extract 

Grace Kennedy was not what Evie had imagined. Of course, she’d seen pictures of her in the Sunday papers; she always struck her as a bon vivant, glass in hand, glamourous type. She was smaller, more delicate in the flesh. Evie had imagined her taller, stronger, more garrulous, but this woman was not much over five foot, with long dark hair that gave her the appearance of a student. Her eyes were emerald sensitive orbs that seemed to reflect more than most eyes capture. They sat in dark hollows, the legacy of losing Paul; Evie knew what it was to cry over that. Her voice, low and even, was cool and compassionate at a time when others would be crazy with a mixture of grief and rage. Evie couldn’t help taking in the house. The smell of heavy dark coffee, perforated by the sea breeze and fat exotic candles lingered in the air. The hall with warm honey walls was an eclectic mix of old and new, antiques and modern pieces, sitting harmoniously together. She couldn’t stop noticing things, like Paul’s umbrella still standing to attention in a large ceramic crock in the hall or the picture above the fireplace, the Kennedy–Starrs. They seemed the perfect family, smiling for the camera in what was obviously a posed sitting, taken less than six months earlier. Evie peered up at the portrait, tried to hide her obvious interest. She stifled a pang of something she would not acknowledge as jealousy; Paul was wearing the tie she’d bought him just last Christmas. It was wrong, it was all wrong. Perhaps Grace Kennedy was confused? The way she spoke, she called him her husband, but what about that picture? They all looked so… happy. Evie would be glad to leave the place. She knew that if she had to wait another minute she might lose the tenuous grip she had on her composure. That would be the next worst thing that could happen today. The very worst had already happened.

‘What about Delilah?’ she asked Grace. Evie caught her breath when she saw Delilah. She was a striking mix of Paul and her mother; she had his height and his way of bending forward when she spoke and listened, but her hair was dark and her eyes held you far longer than you could account for. She had wanted to meet her for so long, and now today, well… anything but this. ‘You can’t just leave her.’ Evie dropped her voice, sensing that her familiarity with the child had thrown Grace somewhat. She lowered her eyes. There was no point having a fight. It was too late to make a lot of difference at this stage. ‘It could be on the news. You don’t want her to hear it when you’re not here.’ Evie shook her head. No child should have to lose a father like this, especially not a man like Paul. She was sure he would have been such a good father; if only they’d had that chance.

Grace stared at her as though there was something more to say. Evie had a feeling she wasn’t keen on her even referring to the child by name. For a moment, Evie wondered what exactly Grace believed her relationship with Paul to be. She quickly put the thought out of her head. Of course, Paul would have explained to Grace. He would have told her exactly how things were – why not, they were soulmates after all, Paul and Evie. Grace pulled a phone from her oversized soft leather bag. Evie listened as she spoke to a woman she called Una; a neighbour, she presumed. She quickly filled the woman in, nodding thoughtfully over the expressed sympathies as though they were her due and asked the woman to keep an eye on Delilah until she returned.

‘Okay, we may as well get this over with,’ Grace said after she left Delilah in the kitchen with Una, a tall blonde woman who had appeared, it seemed to Evie, before she had time to hang up the phone, giving Grace a swift hug, and then nodding silently to her.

Grace marched down the tiled path to the waiting car opposite. The officer who had already broken the news to Evie was charged with bringing them to identify Paul. The car was unmarked, the detective in plain clothes; that at least was something to be thankful for.

The drive from Howth to Dublin seemed to go too fast and, still, it felt to Evie as if this day would never end. The journey was silent. Evie’s mind was a muddled warren; she remembered glimpsing great hulking bridges turned to bulky stone dragons, forever crossing black water, never getting to the other side. She couldn’t remember if she had breakfast, dinner or tea. She couldn’t remember if she heard the radio news, or sat and considered life while the bells rang out above the village from the Church of the Assumption. All she was aware of was the sound of the gulls, jeering her from across the bay. She’d changed into her tweed suit. It was light grey, probably too warm for today. But it deepened the colour of her eyes, straightened her stride and made her feel there was purpose to her movements.

‘Well, we’re here,’ the officer said with a forced geniality neither of the women could feel. It felt as though they were in the hospital’s belly, though they hadn’t descended any stairs that Evie could remember. There were no views here, none worth hacking out a window for, it seemed. They made their way to what passed for a chapel of prayer, but Evie suspected that it was a place kept only for the dead. The youngster who showed them through had been respectful. She asked them to wait. They needed someone else, someone more official for this business. In a small room, an antechamber more than a waiting room, Evie sat with Grace while a clock ticked noisily overhead.

‘This is going to be hard,’ Grace said needlessly and Evie thought, for just a fleeting moment, that she was glad she was not alone. They walked together, stood composed above the long and narrow form that lay beneath the heavy starched sheet.

‘He looks…’ Evie sought the word, but it eluded her.

‘Peaceful?’ Grace twirled a strand of her long dark hair between nervous fingers. There were no prayers, no sign of the cross from either woman. Evie did not believe in that mumbo jumbo. ‘Maybe, he’s gone to somewhere better?’

‘Maybe.’ Evie stopped herself from adding that, in her opinion, it could not have got much better for him than what they had all those years ago, and he knew it too. They stood for a while, taking in his face. He had transformed into a younger version of himself, the lines and cares and stresses waxed away from his brow. Hard to imagine, one sharp blow and it was all over. She almost envied him. The life he chose, the life she pushed him into, had led to this, where at least he seemed to get some peace. She turned on her soft kitten heels, nodded to the official summoned to take her signature. ‘Yes. It’s him; it’s my husband. Paul Starr.’

My Husband's Wives - PB blog tour (4)

 

Huge thanks to Faith Hogan and Yasmin T ~ @Aria_Fiction

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Q&A

Always & Forever ~ @msogorman @aria_fiction #QA #Giveaway

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How can you find yourself again, when you can’t face what you’ve lost? Joanna Woulfe is looking to get her life back on track after her husband John leaves their family home. Once a high-flying Pr Director, Jo now looks after her son Harry and seeks support only from her mother Marietta and her best friend Nicole. But Nicole’s own marriage is facing its greatest ever crisis, and Marietta, too, is distracted by the reappearance of an old flame, ex-Showband-singer, and lothario Patrick Realta. Soon Jo enrolls with a colourful local amateur dramatics group and begins a flirtation with the handsome young Ronan Forest. But is she really ready to move on from her old life – and from her years of marriage to John? And what was it that happened three years ago that sent the couple into free-fall? Before long Jo will realise that is only by looking back that she will ever truly be able to move forward. . .

My Q&A with Sian O’Gorman

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Hello Kelly, Thanks so much for including me in your blog. I am really honoured to be a part of it! And I love the questions… they made me have to really think. Thank you!

Sian

 

Hello everyone… I am delighted to be here to answer Kelly’s fiendish questions and to tell you about Always and Forever, my new novel. It’s my second book after Friends Like Us and somehow I seem to have stumbled into my niche of stories examining the emotional lives of women with a dash of comedy and a generous slosh of romance.

Publishing my first book has been a brilliant experience and Friends Like Us has been far more successful than I could ever have dared to imagine with people all over the world, in Australia, America, the UK and Ireland, all reading my book. I ran the gamut of excruciated to exhilarated and enjoyed every second. A little biographical information about me is that I was born in Ireland, grew up in Wales and am back in Ireland, living in a small village along the coast from Dublin and it’s where I set my first two books and also the third which I am currently whipping into shape.

So… to the questions!

Describe yourself using three words?

Indecisive, impulsive, curious.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

Being in a real-life situation that I found I could write myself out of, if that makes sense. I had nowhere else to go and had reached a point in my life where I found writing was better than any therapy and highly enjoyable to boot. I couldn’t wait to get back to the page every day and find out what was going to happen to my characters.   

What time of day do you like to write?

I get up at 6am and try and get an hour done then. When I manage this I feel brilliantly virtuous. When I don’t, I am better slept!

What is your favourite book and why?

I have two. Persuasion and Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Persuasion because it is Jane Austen at her witty and perfect best with the most satisfying love story in any book, ever. And Moon Tiger because it is a power-house of a novel in deceptively slim form. Endlessly fascinating and thought-provoking and life enhancing.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I want my titles to be warm and inviting and reflective not just of the story but the tone of the book. Always and Forever can refer to many of the different relationships in the novel and is a phrase which can change its meaning over time. But in life sometimes it takes time to realise who is going to be around always and forever. It’s often not who you first imagine.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

No, no one I know, unfortunately. However, I wouldn’t mind meeting some of them in real life and staying well clear of some of the others. I would like to meet Fergal Forest and his brother Ronan who feature in Always and Forever as well as Coco Crawley, a performance artist who doesn’t quite know where her art ends and real life begins.

What’s your favourite word?

Onomatopoeia.  

If you were a colour what would it be?  

I would like to be a nice, bright tomato-red. Passionate and fiery. But in actuality I think I might be something a little less exciting, maybe Farrow and Ball Downpipe?

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

I definitely go with the flow. Even if I think I know where I am going, the story-telling always takes over and I just hold on and enjoy the ride. For me, it’s the most exciting and satisfying part of writing.

Who is your favourite author?  

Jane Austen, obvs, but also writers such as Marian Keyes, Laurie Graham, Anne Enright and Anne Tyler. Authors who tell interesting and important stories about women and know how to entertain along the way.

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Ooooh… good question. Ummmm. Right, Owen Meaney because I would love to meet him, Anne Shirley because she would keep the conversation going, Mr Darcy so I can gaze on his lovely face and think of lovely Pemberley, and Madame Bovary so maybe I could stop her of going mad with boredom. She also might bring a nice bottle of champagne to accompany my crab tart.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. Brilliant writing, fascinating story, warm and rich and full of detail and love.

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Where in the world is your happy place?

Hanging out with my daughter, my bed, and any Marks and Spencer food hall. In that order. But not necessarily all at the same time.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Topping up world empathy levels.

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

I would like Bertha Rochester (I realise she is not technically a villain but she is nonetheless a dark and mysterious figure) to get well and leave Rochester and Jane to their happy Thornfield ending (it doesn’t burn down). Bertha could live in a little cottage on the estate and become an artist and make jam and perhaps channel her inner Monty Don and create a lovely garden. Reader, she made it.

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Are you working on a new project?  

Yes, just finished draft one of my new book. Working title: The Cherry Blossom Tree. It’s the story of four generations of women and how sometimes it’s easier to connect with your grandmother rather than your own mother. Working on the romantic core of the story as well and a few side shoots and loving every moment.

Thank you so much for asking me to take part, Kelly!

 

Buy your copy here:
Always and Forever book jacketAmazon: http://amzn.to/2kqix7M

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2l1hG0f

iBooks: http://apple.co/2kWLQlI

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2kPPMCd

 

GIVEAWAY ~ ALWAYS & FOREVER ~ 3 EBOOKS UP FOR GRABS

CLICK TO ENTER ~ GOOD LUCK

 

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Huge thanks to Sian O’Gorman and Aria Books for letting me on this fabulous tour!

 

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