Launch Day, Q&A, Urbane Publishing

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

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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 Prizes, Q&A, Urbane Publishing

Electric Souk ~ @rosemcginty @urbanebooks Q&A #Giveaway

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Ireland’s gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn’s life. She flees austerity for adventure in the desert. But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams. Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T. Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia. Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps. But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants? Is this Aisling? Or is he using her as bait? Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist. But where do his loyalties lie? Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. She has to ask, whom can she trust? Can she trust her instincts? Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery.

My  Q&A with Rose McGinty 

Rose is an alumna of Faber Academy 2015/16. By night she is a writer, by day a NHS Director in London and has worked internationally. She studied literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury and her M.Phil at Trinity College, Dublin.

Rose’s debut novel, Electric Souk, will be published in March 2017 by Urbane Publications and will be on promotion in WH Smiths in May.

Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’


Rose enjoys writing short stories, poetry and flash fiction and has won a number of competitions, including:

  • Winner of the inaugural Kent Life magazine short story competition with her story, Dreamland, published in the April 2016 issue and aired on Channel Radio, Kent Life
  • Winner of the Scottish Ghost Story competition 2016 for her story A Kentish Longtail, which was read out at the Festival of Dreams at the Scottish National Library in October 2016 and can be viewed on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj58kb5gHe0&sns=em

Rose is now writing her second novel, a psychological thriller, which is taking her to some rather gothic hospital corridors.
Find out more at Rose’s blog:  htpp://rosemcginty.wordpress.com and @rosemcginty

Describe yourself using three words? Imaginative, intuitive, dreamer

What inspired you to write your first novel?  My experience of living in the desert, which was both brutal and magical

What time of day do you like to write? Dusk

What is your favourite book and why?

Wuthering Heights, as Cathy and Heathcliffe must be the two characters that haunt our imaginations as readers forever

How did you pick the title of your book? The major events of the novel are centred on the Electric Souk

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  No

What’s your favourite word?  Holiday

If you were a colour what would it be?  Scarlet

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow? Some planning but characters never do what they are supposed to do, so I end up going with the flow

Who is your favourite Author?  The Irish writer, Jennifer Johnston

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

  • Vicomte de Valmont, Les Liaisons Dangereuses as he would have a wicked glint in his eye
  • Scheherazade for her enchanting tales.
  • Lila from Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels as she would have feisty stories of Italian street life, and is a reader with fierce intelligence and curiosity, and opinions on everything.  
  • Kublai Khan from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities for the mystery and enlightenment.

What book are you reading at the moment? The May Queen by Helen Irene Young, a beautiful debut novel about a young country girl who becomes a WREN in World War Two

Where in the world is your happy place? The sea

If you had one superpower what would it be? The power to heal

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?  I wouldn’t. Unhappy endings for villains are too delicious

Are you working on a new project?  I am about half way through the first draft of my second novel, a psychological thriller and enjoying researching some very gothic hospital corridors

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?  A book signing on 20 May at Waterstones in Ashford, Kent

You can buy your copy here ~ Amazon UK

WIN ~ GIVEAWAY 

We have two lovely copies of the book and handmade pins made by Rose to giveaway.

Enter Here ~ CLICK ME TO ENTER

Thank you to Rose McGinty for taking part on my blog and to Matthew Smith @Urbanebooks

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

 

Book~Reviews, Guest ~ Reviews

Dancers In The Wind By @Anne_Coates1 ~ @urbanepub ~ #Review J A Warnock

About The Book 

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SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.

Guest Review By J A Warnock 

Anne Coates ‘Dancers in the Wind’ is one of those books that is quite difficult to categorise. Yes, there is a cop and yes, there is a murder enquiry but it is not your run of the mill crime thriller. Neither is it your average investigative mystery despite the freelance journalist and tabloid hacks.
It is, in fact, a cleverly written, nicely paced and utterly believable story. Set in London in the recent past, there is a familiarity to the setting; that sense of place almost a character in its own right.  In certain moments, I felt a sense of nostalgia for times past.  In others, I felt a palpable relief that some things have changed. I was reminded how the telling of a story has changed in our more technology driven present. I was also reminded that some things we might like to see changed are still with us in the present day.
As the book progresses, each character asks the fundamental question, who can I trust? With their answer, each character shapes their response to events and their place in the narrative. Motivations and actions are not always explicitly drawn into the main narrative but a line on blackmail here and personal investigation there invites the reader to assemble the building blocks and keeps the novel interesting.
With Coates’ cast, as in life, what is thought does not necessarily resemble what is said or what is done. Her portrayal of human nature is, I think, well observed.  She embraces conflicting and often irrational emotions never making the characters’ decisions overly straight forward or clear cut. As a reader, one must decide whether or not to believe in coincidence just as the characters, in their part, must decide how to act on them. It is easy to get caught in the action and you may find yourself wondering what you would do in a character’s place.
I highly recommend the book.

 

#FavFive with Anne Coates

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

Thinking about this question I realised that I am more likely to be put off a book by a cover I dislike than be led to a book because of its interesting cover. However, that said, I love the Marnie Rome series by Sarah Hilary and adore the covers which depict the outline of the heroine with a scene depicted in the silhouette. All four books are now like this and it brings a unity together with a brilliant and immediate identity.

What is your favourite time to read?

I love reading whenever I have the opportunity but probably my favourite time is when I have a free afternoon ahead of me and can immerse myself in a book for several hours.

Do you have a favourite snack to nibble whilst reading?

Eating while reading goes against the grain with me. If the book is absorbing, I don’t want to let my concentration lapse while reaching out for a chocolate. Plus I like to keep my fingers clean for turning the pages!

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

When I was a child I loved the Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince. The story of the Prince (a statue) giving his gold and jewels to the poor via the Swallow who, in the end when he was blind, would not leave him, has stayed with me. The Swallow’s fidelity and love still bring tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat when I read it to children.

What is your favourite book quote?

“Tomorrow is another day” from Gone With The Wind.

Twitter ~ @Anne_Coates1

Website ~ http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/

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Buy your copy here ~ AMAZON UK

Coming Soon ~

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Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole. Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice. With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime, Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

Pre~ Order your copy ~ Amazon UK