A Lover of Books

Cover Reveal – ‘If Ever I Fall’ by S.D. Robertson

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This is the cover of S.D. Robertson’s new book, ‘If Ever I Fall’ which is being published in both eBook and paperback by Avon on the 9th February 2017.

 

Book Blurb

Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

 

‘If Ever I Fall’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Ever-Fall-S-D-Robertson-ebook/dp/B01KEPJJPM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474804797&sr=1-1&keywords=if+ever+i+fall

 

Guest Post by Gillian Mawson

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I am delighted to have the lovely Gillian Mawson on my blog today.  Gillian has written a truly fascinating guest post which I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.

 

“I WON’T HAVE ANY EVACUEES!” – THE  BRITISH FAMILIES WHO REFUSED TO TAKE IN EVACUEES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Since 2008 I have interviewed over 500 people, who were evacuated as children or as adults, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. Families have also given me access to the testimony and documents of those who have passed away. During the Second World War it was viewed as an important part of the British war effort for householders to take evacuees into their homes. Letters from local councils and wartime posters appeared everywhere, entreating housewives with the words, “When you take in an evacuee you will be doing a splendid service for the nation” and “Caring for Evacuees is a National Service.”

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However, a study of wartime newspapers shows that, for various reasons, some householders emphatically refused to provide accommodation to evacuees. A Staffordshire newspaper revealed that housewives had slammed the door in the faces of the Women’s Voluntary Service when they called to ask how many evacuees could be accommodated at that house,  ‘There were occasions when householders slammed the door in the faces of  the WVS ladies! That, to say the very least, was adding insult to injury.’  James Roffey still recalls the day in early September 1939 when he and his sister were taken to a cottage in Pulborough, West Sussex:

The young man who had brought us there knocked loudly on the door. No one appeared and the door remained tightly closed, so he knocked again, much louder this time. Suddenly the door opened and a very cross-looking woman appeared and shouted, ‘Who are you and what do you want?’ The young man, who was obviously taken aback, replied, ‘I have been sent by the Billeting Officer to bring these two evacuees.’ She immediately answered, ‘Well you can take them away again. I won’t have any bloody evacuees!’ and slammed the door shut. He knocked on the door again and the woman immediately opened it and again started shouting at him, but this time he put his foot in the doorway to stop her shutting it. Then he pushed us inside, saying, ‘You’ve got to take them by law; if you don’t I’ll call the police.’

Few households were willing to provide a home to evacuated mothers with a child and the Rochdale Observer stated, ‘The accommodating of mothers and children presented great difficulties and in the final stages, compulsory powers had to be exercised. ‘ Alfred Goble will never forget his arrival in Somerset, with his mother and sister, ‘They gave us a bun and a cup of tea and put us into this hall for the night. No one wanted to offer us a home. The next day we had to go to Wells and the same again there – no one wanted the three of us. I remember standing by the Cathedral and Town Hall, weeping with Mum as we were kept waiting.’

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Some families initially took evacuees into their homes, then quickly tried to get rid of them.  One Cheshire housewife asked her local Billeting officer, ‘Can you find another home for the girl? I simply don’t have the time to look after another child as I already have two of my own.’   Newspapers described court cases involving families, who, for various reasons, refused to keep evacuees. The Stockport Advertiser stated, ‘Mr and Mrs Jones of Offerton were charged with refusing to accept an evacuee. The clerk pointed out to the couple that it was unpatriotic of them and they were fined.’ The Leek Post stated, ‘For failing to accept two evacuees Mr. William Wardles Sales of Leek was fined two pounds and ten shillings costs at Leek police court on Wednesday. This was the first case of its kind to be heard in a local court.’[i]  Later on in the war, more cases appeared in the Leek press when hundreds of London evacuees arrived in the town, fleeing the flying bombs:

Three people were each charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice and total fees and costs amounted to over £40 were imposed. The defence in each case constituted a plea of poor health and in 2 of the cases lack of domestic help also. Mr Horace Bowcock was charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice on the 25th of July, and with a similar offence on the 27th of July. The Clerk read a letter from Mr Bowcock stating he was unable to comply with the notices during the past 5 years. His wife has been in poor health and has constantly been receiving medical attention. At the time of the billeting notice they were expecting his wife’s unmarried sister who was ill to come from Macclesfield on a visit. They had only 2 bedrooms and a small room which was used as a study.[ii]

A Gloucestershire newspaper shared the tragic case of a couple who had become depressed because evacuees were billeted with them. As a result, Sir William Reid had gone into Burford Woods, killed his wife then shot himself:

Sir William’s brother stated in court, ‘Soon after the evacuees arrived, Sir William asked me to go over with him on his wife’s behalf to try and get the evacuees taken from the house. Afterwards he got very dissatisfied because I know he got rather short shrift.’ The coroner replied, ‘Did having to take in evacuees depress him?’ The brother replied, ‘Yes, it was owing to his intense fondness for his wife that he attempted to get rid of the evacuee children billeted with them. He told me that he was quite sure that his wife could not carry on.’ The jury returned a verdict that Sir William murdered his wife and then himself whilst not of sound mind.

My third book, ‘Evacuation in the Second World War told through Newspaper reports, Official documents and the Accounts of those who were there’ will be published on 30 November 2016 by Frontline Books. It contains testimony, wartime photographs and documents from hundreds of evacuees – children and adults – who spent the war years in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It also includes testimony from Channel Island and Gibraltar evacuees. For more information, see:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gillian-Mawson/e/B008MWQ0IE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_

My British evacuation blog can be found at:

https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

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[i]      Leek Post and Times, 18 January 1941, p.1. The Argument was his wife’s bad health – they would like children but could not manage them.

[ii]     Leek Post and Times, 11 August 1944, p.1.

 

Blog Blitz – ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ by Tilly Tennant

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Congratulations to Tilly Tennant whose book, ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ is out today.  With it’s lovely cover you are bound to start feeling that little bit Christmassy.  To celebrate, Bookouture thought it would be great if there was a blog blitz and I’m really happy to be a part of it.  I asked Tilly some questions.  I hope you enjoy my interview with her.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ please?

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery takes us back to the village of Honeybourne to catch up with the characters of The Little Village Bakery. It’s Christmas, so Honeybourne is sparkling with newly fallen snow and buzzing with anticipation for the festivities. But as usual, the holiday season is not plain sailing for everyone. This book centres around Dylan’s friend, Spencer, and a new arrival at the bakery, Darcie, who is Millie’s cousin. Everyone is keeping secrets and everyone seems to be having some battle or another – whether it is against forbidden love or warring parents, and peace and goodwill to all men seems a long way off!

 

When did you start working on this book?

I started it in February of this year, suffering from post-Christmas blues and wishing we could have it back!

 

Where did you get the idea for this novel from?

Really it was just a natural progression of where we had left the story at the end of The Little Village Bakery. People wanted to know what had happened to certain characters and I was only too happy to find out along with them!

 

What’s it like writing a Christmas book at a different time of the year?

Because this one was written only just after Christmas it didn’t seem too weird. But last year I was writing a Christmas book in July and that was very weird. It’s hard to get in the zone when it’s thirty degrees outside your window and everyone is eating ice-cream!

 

What do you hope readers get from your book?

If they get a few hours of a new world to escape to and a nice feeling at the end, I will be happy I’ve done my job well.

 

Do you have a village bakery near you?

One or two fantastic ones, although they’re more city bakeries as I don’t live in a village. They do make good cakes, though.

 

Have you ever wanted to start your own bakery business?

God no, I’d be hopeless! Much easier to write about a business than run one!

 

What’s your favourite cake?

Cake. Basically I love nearly all cake!

 

When will your next book be out?

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery is out today. I’m currently working on a new series set in Rome and the first one of that is due out in the spring of next year.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Stop worrying about whether it will be good or bad and just write it! So many people tell me they would love to write a book but the fear of it being rubbish stops them.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love getting out and about with my teenage daughters. I do like baking but I’m not very good at it. I like going for walks and seeing new places. If I could afford to be on holiday every week I would!

 

Finally, what will you be doing this Christmas?

Collapsing after the mental year 2016 has been! In all seriousness, it will probably just be a quiet family Christmas, but sometimes they are the nicest ones, aren’t they? I’ll be enjoying the break and getting fired up for 2017.

 

About Tilly Tennant

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From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage.  Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, like The Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel, Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

 

Links

‘Christmas at the Little Village Bakery’ is available to buy from:-

UK: http://amzn.to/29glVkf

US: http://amzn.to/295yTw0

Tilly Tennant’s Website – www.tillytennant.com

 

‘The Constant Soldier’ by William Ryan

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‘The Constant Soldier’ was published on the 25th August 2016 by Mantle, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.  I was interested in reading this book and got my proof copy from NetGalley.

It is 1944 and Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army returns home badly wounded from the Eastern front.  The village has changed a lot and certainly not for the better either.  A SS rest hut has been set up as a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps.  It is run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who against all odds have so far survived the war.

Just by chance Brandt catches sight of one of the prisoners and he knows instantly that he must somehow gain access to the rest hut whatever it takes.  Inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years ago and he feels he must do what he can to protect her.

As the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of the SS rest hut and its inhabitants are numbered.  While there is hope there is also impending danger.  Will Brandt and the female prisoners survive?

Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk about ‘The Constant Soldier’.  Having now read this book for myself I can see exactly why.  The writing is absolutely superb and of the highest quality.  From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story.  So clear were the descriptions that I could actually picture some of the scenes in my head.

There were a lot of characters in this book, Paul Brandt being my favourite.  I thought he was really brave.  I felt sorry for the female prisoners.  The way they were treated at times was abominable.  And those poor refugees!

It’s easy to forget sometimes just how much work goes into writing a book.  An author can spend years slaving over their next title.  With ‘The Constant Soldier’ it was obvious that a lot of research had been done.  This is confirmed by the lovely author’s note at the end.

‘The Constant Solider’ is a must read.  It is a powerful, emotional and thought provoking story about war, guilt, loss and survival.  This book will stay with me for a long time and it is definitely going on my list of favourites for 2016.  Thank you for a wonderful read.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ by James Calum Campbell

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I’m back at last from my blogging break and I have lots of exciting things to come.  Today though I am pleased to be revealing the cover of James Calum Campbell’s new book, ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron Strange’, due to be published by Impress Books on the 1st November.  There will be a blog tour for which I will be writing a review.  For now though here’s what this book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Fox stepped swiftly through the door.  There was an audible click.  And there came the sound of a bolt sliding into place.

What follows is the stuff of nightmares…

Just when the bereaved and troubled Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange rediscovers his life on the other side of the world, the British authorities track him down. They recruit him on a mission which takes him to the farthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu with all its grotesque gargoyles, chief among them Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon whose baleful eye is on the White House.  There’s something not quite right about Mr Fox, and Cameron-Strange, with the help of the beautiful Nikki, is determined to find out what it is.  He survives six ordeals, but will he survive a seventh?

 

About James Calum Campbell

James Calum Campbell is a doctor-turned-author who divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand. He won the Impress Prize for New Writers 2014 with his debut novel Click, Double-Click. He was born in Glasgow, read Medicine at Edinburgh, and practised in Papua New Guinea, Queensland, and Auckland, where he was Clinical Head of the busiest emergency department in Australasia.

 

Taking a blog break

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I have some very exciting news to tell you all.  We are finally moving into our first home and it’s all happening from tomorrow.  This means that I am going to be taking a blog break for a while.  I plan to be back sometime in September.  I will still be on social media and I’m sure I’ll get some reading done so I may even return with some reviews.

Love from Sonya xx

 

Guest Post by Simon Michael

Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s new book, ‘An Honest Man’ is out on the 7th July 2016.  I recently read and reviewed ‘The Brief’ which I absolutely loved.  To coincide with his new book being published, Simon has written a guest post for my blog.

 

TRIAL BY JURY

Photo A (wig)

The life of a criminal barrister is one of high stress, sweat-inducing responsibility, poor pay, unbeatable camaraderie and extremely funny stories.  I have often thought that the “life-and-death” issues in which barristers deal – like police officers, surgeons and firemen – make humour an essential coping tool.

I was a pupil barrister in the Chambers of Robert Flach QC, in the Middle Temple, of whom hilarious stories are legion – but this guest blog is not about him.  It is about two very green barristers, your writer and a man who was to become a close friend, whom I shall call Derek.  We were both about 23 years of age and pupils to an up-and-coming criminal barrister, hereinafter referred to as “Mr Smith”, who was at that time being led by an eminent QC in a high-profile criminal trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Smith had left us to do some paperwork while he was in court that day and we were, as always, floundering around a mountainous pile of papers involving arcane and unfamiliar concepts, nattering away and finding every available excuse not to deepen our knowledge of the Law.

Then the telephone rang.  It was our senior clerk.  Mr Smith had left behind some important documents, and one of us needed to run the papers down to Court 2 at the Old Bailey immediately.  Enormous excitement – this would be the first time that we had actually been in the legendary Central Criminal Court.  Did we need to be robed?  Mr Smith didn’t say, replied the clerk, but better safe than sorry.

So we changed our Windsor collars for brand-new wing collars, pushing the brass and mother-of-pearl collar studs through the buttonholes closed with dried starch, tied our bands (those white things worn also by vicars) pulled on our gowns, and grabbed our wigs.  Then we looked for the papers on Mr Smith’s desk and found what amounted only to two short Statements, no more than ten pages.  So, only one of us was needed to make the delivery.

‘Toss for it,’ I offered.

‘Fair enough,’ agreed Derek.  I won.

‘Best-of-three?’ suggested Derek.  Like an idiot, I agreed.  He won the next two.

‘Best-of-five?’ I suggested.

‘No time,’ he said, looking at his watch, and off he scuttled, wig in one hand, statements in the other and black gown billowing behind him.  I followed; having changed into my fancy dress, there was no way I was going to miss the adventure.

It took us little more than five minutes to jog down Fleet Street, over Ludgate Circus and left into Old Bailey.  We paused outside the heavy swing doors of Court No 2 and Derek placed his wig on his red Irish hair.  Inside we could see the tall wooden dock in which sat our pupil master’s clients, the raked banks of jurors, the massed ranks of reporters and the packed gallery.  The back of the prosecution QC could be seen as he addressed the Recorder of London, who sat robed in black and purple, higher than everyone else in the court, under an enormous pediment bearing the crest and the words “Dieu et mon droit”.

‘How do I look?’ whispered Derek.

‘Fine,’ I replied.

‘Okay.  Here we go.’  He took a deep breath and reached for the door.

‘Don’t forget to bow,’ I reminded him.

He turned back to me, his face slightly pale.  ‘Right, thanks,’ and he pushed open the door.

The door made a loud squeak just as, unfortunately, there was complete silence in court.  The jurors turned at the noise, followed by the members of the press.  Derek’s progress down the centre aisle towards the barristers’ benches at the front of the court was followed by forty pairs of eyes.  The prosecution barrister began speaking again but realised that the attention of everyone in the court was on something going on behind him.  He turned, and every other barrister on the benches followed suit.  Within a few seconds Derek was the centre of attention of everyone in the court.

Blushing as red as the hair emerging from under his wig, Derek located Mr Smith in the second row amongst all the other identically-dressed barristers.  He walked along the front of the row and handed our pupil master the Additional Statements.  He then turned and, apparently remembering my last comment, bowed to the judge.  He bowed to the ranks of barristers.  He bowed towards the dock, causing the jurors to giggle.  Hearing the noise he then made a quarter turn, and bowed to the jury, causing the giggle to become a ripple of laughter.

He then backed back up the aisle – bowing once more to a surprised court usher holding a water jug – felt behind him for a door, opened it, and stepped backwards – into the exhibit cupboard, closing the door behind him.

Everyone in the court knew that poor Derek was now standing in complete darkness surrounded by boxes of exhibits, and they waited to see if he would emerge again.  Like the rumbling of distant thunder, the laughter grew until it became a crescendo of hilarity ringing around the court.  After about thirty seconds of what must have been complete torture to Derek, but during which he was utterly immobilised by embarrassment, the Recorder of London took pity on him.

‘For heaven’s sake, usher, let the poor fellow out,’ he directed.

The usher put the jug on a bench and walked up the aisle.  She opened the door to be greeted by a mortified pupil barrister standing in the dark.  Derek stepped into the court to an eruption of wild applause.  He cast about himself, saw me furiously beckoning from outside, and ran to the safety of the corridor.

I’m delighted to tell you that despite this setback, Derek enjoyed an extremely successful career at the Bar, but perhaps unsurprisingly he forsook practice at the Old Bailey, opting instead for the quieter life of a civil practitioner, toiling through mountains of papers, but safe from the ridicule of any jury.

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[Simon Michael’s The Brief was reviewed by me here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/the-brief-by-simon-michael/ and the sequel, An Honest Man, is to be published by Urbane Publications on 7 July 2016 but available for pre-order now.]

 

Honest Man cover

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/29ko0Iz

Criminal barrister Charles Holborne may have just escaped the hangman by proving he was framed for murder, but his life is now in ruins.  His wife is dead, his high-flying career has morphed into criminal notoriety, and bankruptcy threatens.  When the biggest brief of Charles’s career land unexpectedly on his desk, it looks as if he’s been thrown a lifeline.  But far from keeping him afloat, it drags him ever deeper into the shadowy underworld of 1960s London.  Now, not only is his practice at stake, but his very life.  Caught in the crossfire between corrupt police officers and warring gangs, can Charles protect himself without once again turning to crime?

Based on real Old Bailey cases and genuine court documents, An Honest Man is the second in the Charles Holborne series, set on the sleazy London streets of the 1960s.

 

About Simon Michael

Simon practised as a barrister for over 35 years, many of them spent prosecuting and defending murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy. He had several books published in the UK and the USA in the 1990s and his short story Split was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan/Perrier Short Story Award.

In 2016 he retired from legal practice to devote himself to full- time writing. The Brief (September 2015) and An Honest Man (July 2016) are the first two books in the Charles Holborne series, set on the gangland streets of 1960s London, based upon his experiences. Simon is a founder member and co-chair of the Ampthill Literary Festival. He lives with his wife, youngest daughter and many unfulfilled ambitions in Bedfordshire.

 

Links

Website and blogs: www.simonmichael.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonmichael.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

Email: author@simonmichael.uk

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/28ZFrwQ

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ by Cathy Bramley

Blog Tour Poster

‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ was published as a paperback original by Corgi on the 30th June 2016.  I absolutely love Cathy’s books and was delighted to be asked if I wanted to take part in this blog tour.   For each day of the tour a question taken from an interview by Zarina (@zarinatweets) is being asked.

 

Here is today’s question…..

What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?

I have a lot of author friends and we all have periods of doubts about our ability to write, so don’t worry about failure, just go for it and do the best you can.

 

About Cathy Bramley

Author Picture

Cathy Bramley is the author of the bestselling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm and Wickham Hall (all four-part serialised novels) and Conditional Love. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her website http://www.CathyBramley.co.uk, Facebook page Facebook.com/CathyBramleyAuthor or on Twitter: twitter.com/CathyBramley

 

‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://amzn.to/29mo7pm

 

Interview with Tara Moore

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Tara Moore’s new book, ‘Fade to Dead’ was recently published by Urbane Publications and is the first of a series.  I asked Tara some questions about it.

 

I have been hearing good things about your new book.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

Book Cover

My books generally originate with a character that pops into my head in the dead of night, setting up such a clamour that sleep becomes impossible. It’s annoying, but exciting too, and when that character is pretty much fully formed – for which read loud and insistent – I know there is a book to be written. Indeed, Jessica Wideacre, the lead character in Fade To Dead, arrived a full ten years ago. Back then, she just wasn’t the right fit for the contemporary novels I was working on, but I knew, beyond shadow of a doubt that, someday, she would emerge kicking and screaming into the light. Actually, kicking and screaming is something Jessica does rather well.

In Fade To Dead, she’s tasked with apprehending a vicious serial killer. Self-styled, The Director, he’s snatching young girls off the street to star in his movies. Armed with the perfect script, he’s got a role to die for. Literally. With a rising body count and clues scarcer than hens’ teeth, Jessica’s back is right up against the wall.  Time is not on her side. Neither is her boss, who doesn’t hesitate to turn the thumb screws. In the perfect storm, Jessica’s home life is also disintegrating around her ears. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something or somebody subjected to sustained pressure will eventually crack. However, going to pieces is a luxury Jessica can’t afford. Whatever it takes, whatever the personal cost, she will not rest until The Director is behind bars.

 

How many books in the series are there going to be?

I’m leaning towards seven books, the second of which, Babyshoes, is currently underway. That may change, of course. I’m not the one calling the shots. Jessica is!

 

What made you decide to write a series?

As I was writing Fade To Dead, it became clear that both Jessica Wideacre and her team had a lot more to give. An expression you will hear time and time again amongst authors is that the characters became like family. I want to know ALL about them and ALL their secrets. I’m nosey like that.  Jessica, in particular, piques my interest. She’s prickly, wears her pride like armour, is sometimes misguided, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She’s definitely no angel and will bend the rules if circumstances warrant it. That said, her heart is in the right place and her sense of justice unshakeable.  I would want a Jessica in my corner (especially in a boxing ring!).

 

Was any research involved?

South London where Fade To Dead is set was my old stomping ground for twenty years and so I have a good knowledge of the area and its surrounds. It is also the place where my two sons were born. That alone, means it will always have a special place in my heart, Tooting Broadway in particular.

Regarding the police procedural aspects – (although Jessica is not a by-the-book copper) – I called on the knowledge of an ex policeman friend. As is the norm these days, I also consulted with the great and all powerful Wizard of Google, read lots of books and watched lots of films.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

Yes, to certain aspects, otherwise I could not write them convincingly. Sometimes there is the urge to make one or other the mouth-piece for one’s own favourite hobby horses. Luckily, they tend to arrive with their own set of characteristics, baggage and prejudices and I have to lead the horse back into the stable.

 

Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

I like to work on two projects at a time on the basis that if I get stuck on one, I can then move on to the other.  It works – sometimes!  When I get stuck on both, I simply go away and drink wine.  After the second bottle, I don’t much care.  As touched on above, I am currently working on Babyshoes, the second book in the Jessica Wideacre series, as well as a standalone thriller, Get Set, Kill! (working title).

 

When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I could hold a pen and join letters together. The whole of my teenage years were documented in cringe-making, angst-filled poetry, short stories and half-written novels. I yearned to become a writer and follow in my own ‘umble way those writers who so enriched my own life with their wonderful books. I learnt the power of the written word early and am still firmly under its spell.  Sometimes, I want to jump up and down like a lunatic shouting, “I am not a number, I am a writer.”  Then, I take my pills and go and lie down in a dark room until the feeling passes.

 

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Give up and become a nun!  Clearly, I didn’t listen. The next bit of good advice was very simple – apply butt to chair, switch on computer and write! You may have the best idea in the world and the greatest plot, but if it remains trapped in your head it’s just another idea among millions.

A more useful piece of advice was to get the skeleton down first rather than edit and re-edit the same piece over and over. Seeing the book progress is a great psychological spur. You can go back, flesh it out and polish it to perfection after that. You cannot, however, work on something that has yet to be written.  Get it writ. Then, get it right!

 

Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to get published?

I’m tempted to say, give up and become a nun. You get four square meals, don’t have to bother about bills, have a roof over your head and are supplied with a nice smart habit. What’s not to like? Barring the shoes! So, drawing a veil over that (see what I did there) here’s a list  – in no particular order – of what I think are non-negotiables for anyone wishing to get published.

  • A thick skin – rejection is not for the faint hearted and with a very few exceptions, you are bound to get knocked back and often with great regularity. A friend of mine has wallpapered her downstairs loo with rejection letters, which is really putting a positive spin on things. Last seen entering a convent.
  • Just because one hundred agents/publishers may reject your manuscript, it doesn’t mean that the 101st won’t leap on it with the fervour of one who has just found the Holy Grail.  Walk into any bookshop, look around, and remind yourself that thousands of books by new authors are published every year – you can bet your life most of those will have suffered their own share of knockbacks on the path to publication.
  • This probably should have been number one and it’s so obvious you would think there would be no need to say it – DO NOT DREAM of submitting your MS until it is as polished as it possibly can be. Have it proofread; have it edited, have it correctly formatted. That is part of your job. Yes, it costs money, but ask yourself how much you want this. Do without the new shoes, the weekend in Cornwall, the bottle of wine each night (okay, not that one!). Sacrifice whatever you need to give yourself the best possible chance of getting your manuscript picked up. Do not imagine that an agent/publisher will merrily discount the shortcomings on the basis that it is an earth-shattering story and it can all be sorted out later.  Your book is a product, just like any other product. If at first sight it presents as careless and unprofessional, the agent/publisher will never get around to discovering your amazing opus and it will be consigned unread to the reject pile. Think of it as the supermarket principle. No one wants the torn package, the rotten tomato, or the mouldy bread.
  • Speaking of submitting, do your research first. Arm yourself with the Writers And Artists Yearbook for a comprehensive list of agents and publishers in the UK or abroad. Another useful site is agenthunter.co.uk . For a modest sum, this gives you year-long access to an up-to-date list of literary agents. It lists the genres they represent, the kinds of books they particularly enjoy, and whether they are actively looking for submissions. There is also a wealth of free information available on the internet. Draw up a list of those agents/publishers who are most likely to be receptive to your book and get submitting. Always follow the submission guidelines.
  • Write the story you want to write and not what you think the market is looking for. There really is no guessing what is going to be popular in eighteen months/two years from now. Twilight spawned a rash of vampire novels and 50 Shades a rash (probably not the best use of the word here) of erotica novels. By the time you have produced your own Twilight or Fifty Shades, the vampires will have flown off into the twilight and the handcuffs will be gathering dust in the nation’s bedroom drawers.
  • Before you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, before you write the first word, be crystal clear as to genre and target audience. This is a cardinal rule. It serves not only to keep you, yourself, focused, but also allows you to pitch clearly to an agent/publisher.” It’s a kind of Western/meets sci-fi/meets Alice Through The Looking Glass/with overtones of Pride And Prejudice, mixed with a splash of War And Peace, which will appeal to all ages,” simply won’t do. I have seen too many people fall at this hurdle and end up with an unpublishable manuscript. The agent/publisher needs to know exactly how to categorise and market a book. And, yes, some books do successfully straddle more than one genre, but the book should be able to fall comfortably into one or other.
  • Now here’s something that has become increasingly important in recent years; I’m talking marketing and social media. Every author nowadays is expected to have a significant online presence with a view to marketing and publicity. Websites, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest et al, as well as participation in reading/writing forums is essential. Some agents/publishers are now asking for these details in their submission requirements. Regardless of whether you are published by one of the Big Five publishers with a large marketing budget or a smaller independent publisher of lesser means, you will be expected to take an active role in marketing your book. Gone are the days when an author could squirrel themselves away in their lonely garret, popping out only to cash their royalty cheques. Techno/social media phobes, be warned, there is no place to run, no place to hide. See you on Facebook!
  • Finally, the old refrain, do not give up. There is a school of thought that there are only so many story lines. Perhaps, but you have a unique slant and a unique voice and only you can tell your story your way. That makes you an original.

 

Describe a day in your life.

I have recently discovered that I am a ‘pantser’, not to be confused with a ‘prancer’, which is some daft form of exercise where one gallops Shergar-like through a local park losing both calories and credibility (more of the latter, I suspect). Look it up on Youtube – it’s good for a laugh. Pantser. I’m guessing, derives from seat-of-the-pants. In other words, I do a lot of winging, writing mainly when inspiration hits and when deadlines loom. I wish I could say I get up at 6.00 a.m. every day and work tirelessly till the moon comes up, but that would be to paint a false picture. A nice picture, but utter rubbish. My muse is a slacker. She’s off shopping and surfing the internet when she should be at home whipping me into shape. So, really, there is no writing routine to my days, no magic formula. I write when the mood and inspiration is upon me. I am a fully paid up member of the Society of Pantsers (SAP). Simple as that.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

Too many to list, but here’s a few and an eclectic lot they are:

The Brontes (to whom I am always true)
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Maeve Binchy
Edna O’Brien
Stephen King
Harlen Coben
Philippa Gregory
Marian Keyes
Linwood Barclay
Catherine Cookson
Thomas Hardy
James Patterson
Patricia Cornwell
Walter Macken
John Steinbeck
William Golding
Robert Louis Stephenson
Mark Twain
George Elliott
Dean Koontz
Val McDermid
Sheila Flanagan
Sheila Quigley
Gaye Shortland

. . . and on to infinity

 

What do you prefer; long or short chapters?

I don’t have a preference. I find the type of book generally dictates the length of the chapters and I sometimes forget to stop. Just like now!

 

Thank you Sonya for allowing me the opportunity to bore on.

 

 

About Tara Moore

Tara Moore is a Dublin-born writer, now living in Ramsgate, Kent. She is the author of several books, including RSVP and Blue-Eyed Girl (Orion Publishing). Her first crime novel, Fade To Dead (Urbane Publications) was published in March 2016.

 

Links

Website – http://www.taramoore.com

Twitter – @TaraMoore2

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tara.moore.7731

 

‘Fade to Dead’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/fade-to-dead/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fade-Dead-Tara-Moore/dp/1910692778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467025330&sr=1-1&keywords=fade+to+dead+tara+moore

Please note that ‘Fade to Dead’ can be downloaded for free today on Kindle via Amazon UK.

 

Blog Tour – ‘Exposure’ by Ava Marsh

Blog Poster

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today for which Ava Marsh has written a guest post.  Ava’s new book, ‘Exposure’ was published by Corgi on the 16th June 2016.

 

Writing Sex

Every year the Literary Review holds an award for the worst sex in fiction – last year’s winner was none other than Morrissey, after turning his talents from song lyrics to a novel. While Morrissey probably took the distinction in his stride – after all, it’s just one award among many – the rest of us fictioneers dread ending up on the Review’s shit list.

So was I nervous about all the sexual content in my novels, Untouchable and the recently released Exposure? Yes, and no. Yes, because there’s a thousand ways to get it wrong, including using phrases like Morrissey’s unforgettable ‘bulbous salutation’.

And no, because there’s one hell of a difference between writing sex, and writing about it. In both my books, the bulk of the X-rated scenes are more about describing a job rather than an act of love – Kitty, the porn star heroine of Exposure, and Grace, the escort protagonist of Untouchable, both work in the sex trade, so sex for them is a somewhat prosaic, day-to-day activity – at least once they’ve got past their initial nerves. So in the main, their first-person accounts of their experiences ‘between the sheets’ tends to be more matter-of-fact than erotic.

In many ways this distance from the act – or rather, in Kitty’s case, the performance – makes these scenes easier to write. Simply a case of describing what’s going on. On the other hand, I had more difficulty with the scenes where Grace and Kitty have sex with someone they actually care about – making love rather than money.  Mainly because it’s hard to get across the emotional content of sex without resorting to clichés – or indeed going completely off-piste à la Morrissey.

I think one of the keys to writing good sex – or bad – lies within the writers themselves. Are you comfortable with your body and what it can do? Are you comfortable with other people’s bodies? Do you feel embarrassed even saying certain words? (I once met a woman who never uttered the word ‘vagina’ in her life, before training as an antenatal teacher).

Sex isn’t difficult to write about, any more than eating is difficult to write about. It’s the self-conscious element that creeps in that makes the whole thing fumbly and awkward. Or overblown, in the case of Morrissey. If you’re squirmy about sex in real life, then this is going to bleed into your fiction, I believe –  best then to simply draw a curtain over what goes on in your character’s bedrooms.

Here’s my advice for writing sex scenes that don’t make readers roll their eyes or squirm in their seats – unless, of course, you want them to squirm in sympathy with your heroine and what she’s having to do (there are several scenes in both Untouchable and Exposure that are meant to make your eyes water). Write as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. If you’re not relaxed about describing things in detail, then close the bedroom door behind you; readers have active imaginations – they can fill in the blanks.

And don’t for heaven’s sake start thinking up novel and strenuous metaphors – just call a spade a spade. Or, in the case of ‘bulbous salutation’, simply refer to your character’s massive erection.

 

‘Exposure’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exposure-Ava-Marsh/dp/0552171212/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466584863&sr=1-3&keywords=exposure

 

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