A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Interview with E.L. Lindley

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E.L. Lindley is the author of several books.  She kindly agreed to an interview for my blog.

What sort of books do you write?

I would categorise my writing as escapist fiction, which is the type of book I like to read. My favourite genre is light hearted crime with a bit of romance thrown in – I think they are described as cosy mysteries but I actually only heard that term relatively recently. I have a series of books called the Georgie Connelly stories which are very much in that style. I also have a standalone called Dare To Lose which is a crime/thriller and two standalones that are contemporary romances called Don’t Look Back and Family Ties. See – there’s something for everyone.

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Can you tell me a bit about your latest novel?

The last novel I published was the fourth in the Georgie Connelly stories and is called False Allegiance. Georgie is a Brit living in LA and as such is often at odds with the culture around her. She is a documentary film maker and her work usually results in her getting drawn into wrong doing. There is a cast of recurring characters, including her boyfriend James, best friend Callie and interfering mother. In False Allegiance, Georgie and her assistant, Danny, find themselves embroiled in the world of sororities and fraternities. It was the perfect revenge for me because I spent a couple of years at university in the States and, let’s just say I didn’t find the sorority sisters particularly welcoming. Hopefully, it will also be interesting to UK readers as sororities and fraternities aren’t part of our culture.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Strangely, considering how far-fetched my books are, I get my ideas from real life. Every single book I’ve written is based on an incident that has either happened to me or been related to me by a friend. I then exaggerate it to make it more interesting or funny or whatever but there’s a core of truth in all of them.

Do you have a favourite place where you like to write?

I do all my writing in cafes. I can’t work at home; it just doesn’t happen for me. I need busy distractions going on around me to be able to concentrate, perverse as that may sound. I do all my writing in notebooks and then type it up at home. I have to admit it’s not a particularly productive way of doing things because I often end up with a massive backlog waiting to be typed up, primarily because I hate doing and put it off far more than I should.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on the fifth Georgie Connelly novel which is as yet untitled but is set in the UK. I don’t want to give too much away but Georgie and her friends come to the UK on the trail of someone and become immersed in a mystery. Lots of readers in the UK kept commenting how much they’d like for Georgie to return to her roots so I thought – why not?

What advice do you have for anyone wishing to pen their first novel?

I would say just do it. I think lots of people nurse ideas for stories or scribble away in secret but don’t have the confidence to pursue it. However, eBooks have really opened up the opportunity for everybody to give writing a go if they want to. It’s really hard to put your writing out into the public domain, opening yourself up to scrutiny but I think the thrill of having someone read your work by far outweighs the odd criticism. So far, I’ve been quite lucky, I haven’t been completely decimated in any review but everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the key is not to let it knock your confidence. Constructive criticism can be worth its weight in gold because it allows you to hone your writing skills and even better are the occasions when you get really lovely comments from readers who’ve enjoyed your book. In a nutshell then, I’d say – just go for it!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In addition to writing, I love to read. I don’t think it’s possible to love one without the other as the two are so intrinsically connected. The more you read the better your writing becomes, partly you are soaking up new ideas and techniques and partly because there’s nothing more inspiring than a good book. I also love the cinema and have to see at least one film a week or I start developing withdrawal symptoms. I’m not precious about my choice of films, I’m equally as happy watching a European art house film as I am the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I just like a good story!

If you were only allowed to keep one book which would it be?

This is a tricky one because I’m not someone who tends to re-read books. To be honest, my policy is once I’ve read it I pass it on. To only have one book would mean I’d have to want to read it over and over again. This is probably going to sound really pretentious but I think I’d opt for The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. I love that play and the beauty of Shakespeare is, every time you read one of his plays, you see something different in it. I know a lot of people don’t approve of The Taming of the Shrew and think it’s sexist but I really can’t see why. I love Kate, she is such a fantastic character, ahead of her time and, in my opinion, she gives Petruchio as good as she gets. I like to imagine their life after the play’s finished and I think they’d have a wild old time together because they are both such headstrong characters. I just don’t get the interpretation which shows Kate as a broken, shell of a woman by the end, she’s simply playing Petruchio at his own game. Shakespeare writes brilliant women characters and I think a lot of the feisty women that we enjoy reading about today may well be the literary descendents of characters like Kate.

 

If anybody wants to know more about me or my writing, they can find me at the following places

My website is –  ellindley.weebly.com

My Facebook page is – https://www.facebook.com/pages/EL-Lindley/205011402903349

My Goodreads site is – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5753702.E_L_Lindley

My Twitter handle is – @LindleyE

 

‘Before the Fall’ by Juliet West

Before the Fall‘Before the Fall’ was published by Macmillan on the 22nd May 2014.  I was very kindly sent a copy to review.  Inspired by a true story, this is Juliet West’s debut novel.

It is September 1916 and the Great War is raging across the channel.  Hannah Loxwood lives in the East End of London in Canning Town.  Her husband is away fighting and as the war drags on, like many other people Hannah starts to wonder if he will ever come home.  Left with her two young children to look after, she is finding life very hard.

Opportunity presents itself when Hannah manages to get herself a job in a cafe.  It gives her a sense of much needed freedom.  When she meets Daniel, a man who comes across as thoughtful, intelligent and quietly captivating, Hannah finds herself falling in love.  But what will she decide to do?

I read a wide variety of books and I have found that I really enjoy stories about the war, so I was really looking forward to reading ‘Before the Fall’.  This is such a beautifully written novel and there are some wonderful descriptions throughout.  Split into four parts, this story keeps you guessing from the beginning what is going to happen in the future.

‘Before the Fall’ is a powerful, moving and tragic story about one woman’s personal struggle.  It left me feeling totally stunned.

I am so looking forward to what Juliet West comes up with next.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Interview with Janet O’Kane

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Janet O’Kane was interested in taking part in an interview for my blog.  She published her debut novel, ‘No Stranger to Death’ earlier this year and I wanted to know more about it.

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Tell me a bit about ‘No Stranger to Death’.

No Stranger to Death is a crime novel set in a beautiful part of the UK hardly anyone knows about: the Scottish Borders. My main character, Zoe Moreland, is a GP who has recently relocated to the Borders from an English city. For reasons which are eventually revealed, she is hoping to keep a low profile and just get on with her new life. Those hopes are dashed when she discovers a body in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire and gets caught up in a murder investigation.

How long did it take you to write this novel?

I worked on it over several years, while doing various jobs and studying for an Open University degree. Once I got my degree I was able to turn to writing fulltime and finish my book. A downside of taking so long is that real life moved on in the meantime. For example, the Scottish police force has been reorganised and is now called Police Scotland.

Where did you get your ideas from?

It all started when we attended a local Guy Fawkes party and as we stood looking at the surprisingly large bonfire I said to my husband, ‘That would be a good place to put a dead body.’ ‘You’ve always said you want to write a book,’ he replied. ‘So write that.’ Of course, thinking up the opening was the easy part. Writing a book requires a succession of ideas: characters, events, settings. I can’t say where a lot of them come from, but if I get stuck I find going for a long walk with Bella, my Border collie, usually helps.

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Would you like ‘No Stranger to Death’ to be made into a film or drama one day?

That’s every writer’s dream, isn’t it? People who have read No Stranger to Death have said it would make a good TV drama like Broadchurch, as it deals with how a small community can seem idyllic from the outside but actually hold some very dark secrets.

Can we expect more books from you?

I’m currently writing the sequel to No Stranger to Death, which takes place during the following summer. It opens with Zoe being called out to the body of a teenaged boy who has been thrown into the River Tweed, and will be published mid-2015. I’ve got lots of ideas for subsequent books, including a serial killer standalone and a series based around a female scuba diver.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Like many only children, I made up stories and imaginary friends from an early age, but being a writer was never on the horizon as a possible career. That said, in all the jobs I’ve done, I was the one who ended up writing letters, reports, etc. A few years ago I became a self-employed copywriter and although it paid well, I struggled to be imaginative with very dry subjects. I recognise how lucky I am to be writing fiction now.

Describe a day in your life.

Thanks to an insomniac dog, I’m usually up around 5. I wish I could claim to gainfully use the time until my husband gets up, but mainly I drink tea and watch TV crime series like The Good Wife. I try to be at my desk by 9, and the rest of the day is a continual struggle to stay focused on my writing, off the internet and out of my garden.

Not every day is the same: on Tuesday mornings I get to mix with real people when I volunteer at a local charity shop, and on Fridays I humiliate myself at a tap-dancing class. I also meet up regularly with my fellow Scribblers, a group of Borders writers. During the summer you’ll sometimes find me up a scaffold, helping my stonemason husband restore the outside of old buildings. I’ve got pretty good at repointing walls, although climbing that scaffold is challenging these days.

What types of books do you enjoy reading?

I do attempt to read genres other than crime fiction, but crime is what I always come back to. I read widely within the genre, preferring to try new writers rather than stick with a favourite few. I’m currently reading the first Game of Thrones book. Not sure if I’d enjoy it as much if I wasn’t such a big fan of the TV version, but being able to put actors’ faces to names helps me keep track of who’s who.

 

Readers can contact Janet O’Kane in the following ways:-

Email via Janet’s blog: www.janetokane.blogspot.co.uk

On Twitter: @JanetOkane

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/JanetOkaneAuthor

The link to Janet O’Kane’s book on Amazon.co.uk is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Stranger-Death-Janet-OKane-ebook/dp/B00GS1GF0E/

‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ by Laura Wilkinson

Public Battles, Private Wars

I read and reviewed Laura Wilkinson’s first book, ‘BloodMining’ a while back and so was delighted when she asked me if I would like to review her second novel ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ which was published by Accent Press on the 9th March 2014.  Set in Yorkshire, Fenley Down in the 1980’s, ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ tells the story of the miners’ strike.

Mandy is 23 years old, married to Rob who works in the mines, and has children.  Mandy feels as if she is stuck in a rut and wants to do more.  However, a life as a housewife and bringing up the children seems inevitable.  Mandy’s childhood friend, Ruth, who left Fenley years ago, returns with her Falkland’s war hero husband, Dan.  But something just doesn’t add up and Ruth isn’t the person she appears to be.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns to war and the men go out on strike.  The community and its whole way of life is badly threatened and Mandy finds herself joining the Fenley Action Group (FAG) which gives her a whole lot of confidence.  As the strike goes on relationships are tested and Mandy discovers just who her true friends are.

The first thing I want to say is that this book is so different from Laura Wilkinson’s first novel.  I really enjoyed it and I liked her writing style.  I could actually hear the Yorkshire accent.  Whilst this story was about the miners’ strike it also took a good look at the people affected by it and their families, bringing with it a couple of interesting plots.

Mandy was one of my favourite characters.  She was of strong character no matter what life threw at her and a woman to be admired.  The cakes she baked and the descriptions throughout the book are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

 

Interview with Sue Hayman

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Sue Hayman’s debut book ‘Star: The Story of One Duck’s Rise to Fame’ has just been released today.

Synopsis

This true story follows the life of an Indian Runner duck called Star, who decided from the beginning that he preferred humans to ducks.

Although happily married to someone half his age, Barrie was struggling to enjoy life. He was now officially retired and was sinking into a depression, missing his adventures as an actor and scuba instructor, along with suffering from poor health. An immediate and unusual bond of kindred spirits developed when Star came into his life. Recognising Star was different, the two of them embarked on an incredible journey. They became inseparable and went everywhere together, becoming celebrities with an international following. Wanting to make the best use of the celebrity status, Barrie and Star dedicated themselves to the Children’s Hospice South West. Not only did they go and visit the poorly children, they also went out busking on the street, raising thousands of pounds for the charity. We see how they honed their double act, entertaining and warming the hearts of all those who met them.

Told by Star’s mum, this is a funny and heart-warming tale of one man and his duck, but with the darker side of every day life threatening to stop them both in their tracks.

 

Sue Hayman was interested in being interviewed for my blog.   You can read all about Star below:-

Tell me the story behind this book.

This is a true story about my husband and his relationship with a duck called Star. We had raised and bred a menagerie of animals including ducks, geese and chickens and with this purchased some incubators. When Star hatched it was obvious to Barrie that this duckling was very different to the other ducklings that hatched. As a performer and actor himself, Barrie recognised this in Star, especially when he took photos of Star only a few hours old seemingly dancing and performing in front of the camera.  From then on an unusual friendship of kindred spirits formed and they became inseparable going everywhere together.  The events that then followed over the space of a couple of years were incredible and full of extreme highs and lows. Barrie and Star put their head above the parapet and with that came several blows from the most unexpected corners of society.

I have never aspired to be an author and in truth, never thought I ever would be. However, when Barrie and Star were approached in the street last year by a children’s author and illustrator who asked if they could produce an illustrated children’s book based on Star, we both jumped at the chance. Following several conversations with her, I then started putting bullet points together of things that had taken place. However, those bullet points became longer and longer and I realised that something was happening and the story then started forming. I realised that actually there was a real story to be told, and in actual fact needed to be told.

How long did it take you to write it?

I work full time so I found I was writing long hand in my lunch breaks (sitting in the car) and then transferring the written word to my laptop at weekends.  In all, it took about 2 months to write.

Are there plans for any more books about Star?

I finished writing this story last summer. As the story is true and although the book stops then, life has continued, and there has been plenty that has happened since then so I am sure there is a whole lot more to come.  Therefore I would suggest that there is at least one more book to be written.  What will be in it? I am really not sure as the book is still playing out as I am writing to you today!

How old is Star?

Star will be 3 next month.

How is Star coping with all this fame?

Our duck is Star by name and a Star by nature! He is actually a real diva duck and therefore absolutely loves all the attention. He is a true performer and loves being with people and has proved to be a natural in front of the camera.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Once upon a time I would have said that I loved spending time with my animals, walking the dog, reading… A relatively quiet life really. However, the last few months my life has pretty much been working full time and then fully immersed in the book. I had no idea how many times I would need and want to tweak the book through editing, all the background stuff that goes into publishing. The book has taken over my life at the moment. I guess it has also been a real emotional roller coaster. As the book is true and, as I said, it goes through some real highs and lows, each and every time I have re-read the book to proof read it through this change or that, I have re-lived almost every moment of it.  I have also learned something about myself – I am actually quite a perfectionist and have been my own toughest critic on the contents of the book!

Describe a day in your life.

Well, as I say, these last few months to the outside world would seem to be have been relatively boring but for me very exciting. My day job takes a lot of time and energy and then I come home and I am then in front of my laptop for several hours. This would invariably be doing something involving the book. I also am the main organiser for Barrie and Star – Barrie is a brilliant performer, but he is hopeless at organising himself so I ensure that he is where he should be at the right time! And that goes for Star too – they are two peas in a pod!  So my time is work, book, Barrie and Star, along with looking after our 2 lovely dogs – Drake and Meggie.

 

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About The Author 

Born and raised in Chatham, Kent, Sue then went to university in London where she completed a degree in Leisure Management, including a gap year spent working in the Canadian Rockies. After working in London for a few years, she went backpacking in New Zealand and Australia. It was during her time working in Melbourne she met her husband Barrie and they returned to the UK together. After a few years living in Kent, they eventually moved and settled in Devon where they have lived for 10 years. Sue and Barrie don’t have children together, choosing animals instead. They currently have 2 dogs, Drake and Meggie, and their famous duck, Star.

The writing of Star: The Story of One Duck’s Rise to Fame was a real surprise to Sue, who up until that point, had never thought of becoming an author. However, the incredible events taking place with Barrie and Star gave plenty of content where a story was just asking to be told.

 

Links

The book is available now to download as an E-Book with the paperback coming out early to mid June:

Amazon US http://amzn.com/B00KFQ1B1G

Amazon UK  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KFQ1B1G

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22236327-star-the-story-of-one-duck-s-rise-to-fame

Twitter: @suehayman3

Facebook Pages:-

Save Barrie & Star page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveStarBarrieHayman?ref=hl

Star Hayman page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Star-Hayman/329121783779427?ref=hl

Sue Hayman page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sue-Hayman/262014137313313?ref=hl

Sue Hayman profile: https://www.facebook.com/sue.hayman.73

Star the Duck page: https://www.facebook.com/startheduck

Star Hayman profile: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002792047162&fref=ts

 

To celebrate the publication of ‘Star’, there will be a launch party on Facebook tomorrow, Friday 23rd May from 6 p.m. (GMT) for an hour where there will be lots of fun and competitions.  Click on the link below to go there:-

https://www.facebook.com/events/293313560843714/

‘The Italian Chapel’ by Philip Paris + Competition

The Italian Chapel

I was kindly given ‘The Italian Chapel’ to read by Black and White Publishing.  Originally published in 2009, it was recently republished on the 6th March 2014.  Although fictional, this book is based on a true story.  Philip Paris has also written ‘Orkney’s Italian Chapel’, which is non-fiction.

In January 1942 over 500 Italian prisoners of war arrived on the Orkney island of Lamb Holm.  They were given the enormous task of building several causeways in order to protect the British Navy.  To the men it felt like a life without much hope.  They just wanted the war to end quickly so that they could go back to their families.

Then one day things started to change.  Padre Giacomo arrived bringing with him some much needed hope for the future of the men, but especially for Domenico Chiocchetti who was a talented artist.  Domenico had come up with the wonderful idea of building a chapel.  In order to fulfil his dream he needed to convince the British to allow him to build it and this is where Padre Giacomo was a great help to him.  No one knew the full extent of Domenico’s vision and they were left in awe at his creation.  The building of the chapel brought many of the men together as they all wanted to help.

I thought this book was absolutely amazing, a truly fascinating story which has been well researched by the author.  It is a part of history which everyone should know about.  I really felt for the prisoners of war.  Yes, they were treated very well in comparison to others but they were stuck there away from their loved ones, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again.

‘The Italian Chapel’ is a beautiful but heart-breaking love story and I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone.  It will stay with me for a long time to come and I really hope to visit the Italian Chapel one day.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Two very lucky people have the chance to win a copy of ‘The Italian Chapel’.   To enter just tell me why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 8th June 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Black and White Publishing who will send out the prizes.

 

Good Luck! 🙂

Interview with Madeline Dyer

2014-03-22_20.11.15-1Madeline Dyer has had her work published by various publishers.  She kindly agreed to be interviewed for my blog.

Can you tell me a bit about your latest book?

The latest book I wrote is The Imposter, which I have just begun querying–and have already received a request for the full manuscript from an agent. It’s a science fiction thriller aimed at the YA market, though it is suitable for the mature end of the YA readership too.

However, I’d also like to talk a bit about my previous book, Untamed. It hasn’t yet been released, but the full manuscript is under review with several editors at publishing houses and I have already been offered a contract, so hopefully I’ll be able to say a lot more about that very soon! Untamed is a YA dystopian manuscript with strong fantasy elements.

Which types of books do you write?

I write fantasy and science fiction books, predominantly. Recently, although I’ve still been writing science fiction, I’m moving more into the thriller and mystery territory as well, which I’m enjoying a lot. I also have had seventeen short stories published, appearing online, in ebooks and paperback anthologies in aid of charity.

All my fiction is traditionally published. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Definitely! For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. I just love the freedom that writing offers and how I can be transported into a new world so quickly.

Can we expect another book from you soon?

Hopefully, Untamed will be published very soon (as I’ve already received one offer of publication from a publisher). I’ve also just started querying my latest book, The Imposter, and the first book I wrote, Spirit Of Fire, is also being reviewed. 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to try their hand at writing?

Just to write. Honestly, if you want to be a writer, then you have to write. It’s (the main) part of the job. And write because you want to, not because you think it’s what you should be doing, or because someone else thinks you should be a writer. It needs to be your choice. And you must love what you’re writing–readers will be able to tell if you don’t.

It’s the night before your new book is due to be published.  How do you feel?

Ooh, nervous, excited… Even on the nights before I have a new short story being published I can’t sit still!

Describe a day in your life.

At the moment, I’m studying at Exeter University for an English degree, so my weekdays consist of lectures, seminars, and coursework, with any spare time dedicated to writing (if there is any spare time!). Weekends are a bit nicer, writing-wise, as I can usually get 3,000 words written in a day. I prefer to write first thing in the morning, or last thing before I go to bed.

The type of writing I get done each day, (and, yes, I do try to write every day), varies a lot depending on which stage in the writing process I’m at. If I’m writing the first draft, I can be really free and imaginative–pretty much everything goes. The second and third drafts are more about developing the plot, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and tightening up on characterisation. Also, at this point, a lot of restructuring takes place, so I have some days that I’ll spend ages ‘writing’, but my word count won’t change a lot. After this stage, what I call the fine-toothed-comb editing takes place. This is the small stuff, word choice, etc., yet I often find myself writing new scenes and deleting others that don’t work/don’t add anything to the plot at this stage too. The final editing/read through is one of my favourite things to do in a ‘writing day’. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live on a farm where we breed Shetland ponies, so I love spending time with them! I also own a number of other animals–guinea pigs, a rabbit, a cat and a goldfish–so I’m looking after them a lot.

I also enjoy reading and blogging a lot. Oh, and catching up on iPlayer!

 

Below are some useful links:-

Madeline Dyer’s website – http://www.MadelineDyer.co.uk

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MadelineDyerAuthor

Twitter – @MadelineDyerUK

 

Book Launch – ‘Addicted’ by Nigel May

Addicted

Nigel May, author of the fantastic ‘Trinity’ which I reviewed last year has just published his brand new book, ‘Addicted’.

Synopsis

Getting clean is a dirty business

The wine heiress, the faded entertainer, the operatic diva, the politician’s wife – four women who can’t say no….

Four women who should be happy with what life has given them. Success, beauty, money and fame. But never judge a book by its cover, because on the outside they may all seem to be completely in control of their lives, but under their fashionable facades, deep within their souls, they are all battling with a common demon…they are all addicted. Addicted to things that could ruin their very existence. In fact for one, it will snuff it out for good.

Four women…one death, one killer…

 

‘Addicted’ is available to buy on Amazon at the special price of 99p.  Just click on the link below to be taken there:-

http://t.co/d54S8imuF5

 

Interview with Neal Doran

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Tell me a bit about your new book.

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Not What They Were Expecting is just out, and it’s the story of Rebecca and James, a young couple who have just found out they’re having a baby. The excitement of that gets derailed, though, when Rebecca’s dad Howard gets himself involved in a gay sex scandal, and asks her to lie for him, then James’s parents get involved in a media campaign supporting Howard. And then James loses his job, and things get really difficult… So life throws a lot at this couple all at once, and they have to battle through everything life is throwing them with a sense of humour intact.

Where do you like to write?

At our kitchen table. I get up an hour or two before the rest of the house does so I can write in peace and before there are many things happening on social networks to distract me. Also, at that time of day nobody else can see if I’m stealing all the biscuits.

What book project are you working on next?

Details are still a bit vague, but I’m hoping to write something funny with a big cast of characters all at different stages of life trying to work out if life is working out quite how they planned it. That’s not much to go on is it? I have a working title, but can’t even mention that yet for fear of jinxing it…

Describe a day in your life.

Crumbs. OK, here’s an average day, even though I was tempted to make out that I was actually an international jet setter.

First there’s the early start for my writing, then I wake up my wife with a cup of tea (this certainly helps increase the support for my writing in the house…), then we get the kids ready for school. I work from home in the morning, writing about the telecoms industry as a day job, then I head out to get the boys from school, help with homework, sort out dinner, clear up while Jo gets the kids get ready for bed, then collapse with a glass of wine or a beer. Or a martini if it’s been a particularly tough day…Bed, repeat.

I can only apologise if that’s sent all your readers to sleep.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I wouldn’t say always, but probably from when I was a teenager. Getting up the nerve to say it was what I wanted to do, and to actually take the steps needed to do it, took a couple of decades more though. Those procrastination skills have stood me in good stead for the writing life.

It does seem crazy to me now that I couldn’t really admit to wanting to be a writer because I was scared I wouldn’t be good enough. I’m glad I finally realised the only way to find out was to really give it a go and try and do it, and also that I decided it didn’t matter if I wasn’t any good. So what if I wasn’t? Bad writing is not, as far as I know, a criminal offence…

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Aside from writing that’d involve sleeping, reading, and catching up on the ever-growing pile of box sets. If I get a lot of time, a game of poker doesn’t go amiss…

What are you currently reading?

The Shining by Stephen King. It’s fantastic, but freaking me out on a page by page basis and I can only read it in little bursts or I get too traumatised.

If you were only allowed to keep one book which would it be?

I don’t suppose I could get around this by keeping a Kindle with everything I love sneakily stored on it could I? Failing that an impossibly large collection of PG Wodehouse, that should keep me happy and busy for a long time….

 

Links

Not What They Were Expecting is available at Amazon and other e-book retailers. Buy it here: http://amzn.to/PsHM8H

My first novel, Dan Taylor Is Giving Up On Women is also available here: http://amzn.to/1pbcbpl

I’m also on Twitter: @nealdoran, and sometimes on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/nealdoranwriter

 

I would like to thank Neal Doran for taking the time to answer my questions.

Sonya

Competition – ‘Kings and Queens’ by Terry Tyler

K&Q9-master-reduced Terry Tyler published her new book ‘Kings and Queens’ last month.  You can read all about it here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/kingsandqueens-booklaunch/

 

5 very lucky people now have a chance to win an eBook copy of ‘Kings and Queens’.  To enter this competition please answer the following question by leaving a comment.  What would you do if you were Queen for a day?

Please note: You need to have a Kindle or a Kindle reading app.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 25th May 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their email addresses will be passed on to Terry Tyler.

 

Good luck! 🙂

Interview with Mariam Kobras

Mariam_at_Beeechwood_Cafe

Mariam Kobras is a three-time Independent Publisher Award winning author living in Hamburg, Germany.  Mariam kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.

 

What sort of books do you write?

I write contemporary fiction / modern romance / literary fiction. My novels are a mix of these, I’m afraid. They are love stories, but they aren’t what you’d expect from a “romance”: there’s rarely a happily-ever-after, no sex, no stereotypes. My stories are about people and their lives; how they manage to survive in a confusing world; how they chase their dreams and get them–or not–and what they learn from all that.

So…basically you could say that I write about ordinary people and pretty universal problems: love, loss, careers, dreams, nightmares, happiness, and death.

 

What are you currently working on?

Currently I’m working on Book Two in the Sunset Bay Series, which is a new project that I started after waving goodbye to the characters in my Stone Series (The Distant Shore, Under the Same Sun, Song of the Storm, Waiting for a Song, The Rosewood Guitar, The Sound of Falling Snow.)

The Sunset Bay books are set in a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The heroine of these stories is a young woman called Liese Winter, who inherits a piece of land just outside of town. Unwittingly, she gets caught up in a feud between the townspeople and the owners of a nearby resort. Problems escalate when Liese finds out that the resort owners are a bit more than just her next-door neighbours.

The Sunset Bay series will lean a bit toward mystery. Those dark forests and the wild coast make such a great setting for that!

 

Have your always wanted to be a writer?

Difficult question! Yes–no–yes–no. But ultimately, yes. Obviously.

I wanted to be a writer when I was a teenager, but that’s not unusual. Don’t all girls want to write at that age? I think so. So–yes. I wanted to be a writer.

When I got older, went to university, got married, had my children, I didn’t even think about writing, or wanting to be a writer. There were too many other things going on in my life. You know what I’m talking about, right? The day-to-day life is too exhausting and all-consuming to even consider anything as involved and draining as writing.

But then, when my younger son turned fifteen, something miraculous happened.

The urge to write returned! It hadn’t gone away, it had only been dormant. and now, with time on my hands, with free time to spend any way I wanted, I began to write.

My first novel, The Distant Shore, spilled out of me as if someone had punctured a water-filled balloon. Writing was all I did. I got up at 5 AM—long before anyone else in the house—and wrote. After slapping together lunch for my guys, I wrote, often without eating myself. It was incredible. All those words, and they just poured out of me.

I think if my publisher, Buddhapuss Ink, hadn’t found me just after I’d crossed the 400,000 word line I’d still be writing that same novel.

But find me they did, and they made me whittle that monster of a novel down into something that could be published.

I love the validation and security of having a publisher. I love this particular publisher, because they’re just right for me. And I love writing for them.

 

Do you have any good advice for anyone wishing to pen their first novel?

Start, write, and finish. That’s all. Have the guts to begin, develop a writing routine that you can live with, and finish your project.

I think that’s actually the most important part: have the discipline to finish. Don’t start a new project before you’re done with the one you’re working on. I know this can be tough. But it’s really the only way to success. One finished novel will get you farther than ten half written manuscripts.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Write.

No seriously, what’s spare time? Authors don’t have spare time. Either we’re busy writing, or we’re busy promoting, marketing, chatting with our publishers or writer friends, hanging out on twitter, Facebook, Goodreads…and if we’re not being an author doing all the things that come with the job, we’re playing around with new ideas, having lengthy discussions with our characters, taking in new settings, watching people…the world is our office!

 

Have any authors been an influence in your writing?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

My reading is pretty eclectic. I love SciFi and fantasy for reading, but it’s not something I’d ever attempt to write. There are so many fantastic SciFi writers out there, with such wonderfully imaginative minds, I don’t think I’d ever be able to reach their level, let alone be better.

I really love China Mieville, Peter F. Hamilton, Lois McMaster Bujold…but I also love the works of Nagib Mahfuz, Marcel Proust, Sigrid Undset, John Galsworthy. And I’m a great fan of Vikram Seth and Margaret Atwood!

 

If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?

Oh…difficult!

I’ve just spent a good fifteen minutes debating this with my husband and sons but the things they came up with—18yo: sneak into the girls’locker room at school, hubby: be present at a confidential political meeting—don’t appeal to me. Honestly.

So to be quite candid, I can’t think of anything that I’d like to do, being invisible.

I’m quite happy with the way things are right now. I don’t need invisibility at all.

 

You have been told you are only allowed to keep three possessions. Which would you choose?

Possessions, as in material things, right? We’re not talking family or cat? Because I’d always want to keep those first.

Okay, so material possessions. Hmm…nearly everything material is replaceable. I love my MacBook Pro a lot, but this is my second one, which means I replaced the first, and so this one can be replaced, too.

Let’s imagine I have to fly to the US (I live in Germany) on really short notice. What would I take? What would I need to take?

My passport (obviously!)

My MacBook (because it has everything I need on it: my projects, my favorite movies, my music collection, and all seven seasons of Doctor Who.)

My noise-canceling Bose headphones.

Some money wouldn’t be bad, either. Can I have four things?

 

Below are some useful links:-

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mariam-Kobras/e/B006ZNYT3A

Twitter: @Mariam_Kobras

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MariamKobrasAuthor

Blog: http://mariamkobras.blogspot.com

Publisher: http://www.buddhapussink.com

 

Interview with Kelly Florentia

KellyAuthorPic

Kelly Florentia was very interested in an interview for my blog.  Her anthology ‘To Tell a Tale or Two’ is on a 99p promotion from tomorrow.

 

eBookTattoo_Cover

Tell me a bit about your collection of short stories which were published in February this year.

Hi Sonya, thank you so much for having me on your blog today. My anthology, To Tell a Tale or Two, is a collection of ten of my short stories. Themes cover relationships, family dramas and a couple of ghostly tales. They’re quick reads, all with subtle twists or surprise endings. It would suit anyone who hasn’t got time for a full length novel, as such, as they can dip in and out of this one at their leisure without losing the essence of a story. Having said this, some people have told me that they’ve read the entire eBook in one sitting. The age of the characters range from seventeen to eighty, so I hope it will appeal to all age groups, but it is essentially a contemporary women’s fiction read.

It’s been well received with five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ve also had several emails from Readers telling me how much they’ve enjoyed the different plots and twists, and how they’ve found the protagonists engaging. Some have even asked if I’ll be introducing any of the characters in other stories. Greek Connection seems to be the most popular. I think this is because it’s set in a sunny location, which is quite encouraging because the opening chapters of my first novel, Betrayal (not yet published) are set in Cyprus. I don’t think Readers realise how much an author relishes receiving emails and good reviews about their work. It always makes my day and makes writing all the more worthwhile.

Do you think they would appeal to men as well as women?

Before the reviews and feedback, I’d have probably said no. But yes, men seem to be enjoying the book too, which I’m absolutely thrilled about.

Roughly how many short stories do you think you’ve written over the years?

At a guess I’d say close to a hundred, and I’m still going strong! I love reading and writing short stories. I always have and I think I always will. There’s something quite gratifying about a sharp, quick read with a satisfying or clever ending. Short stories are a lot more popular than some people may think. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a film adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella (1958). And Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic, The Birds, was inspired by Daphne Du Maurier’s story of the same name taken from her anthology, The Apple Tree (1952).  And let’s not forget the incredibly talented, award winning short story writer Alice Munro, who scooped The Nobel Prize in Literature 2013.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the final edits of my second novel. It’s a romantic, contemporary drama with a subtle supernatural wave running through it. The plot revolves around a forty-something couple who’ve let their relationship slip into complacency, and how they try to get it back on track. Or do they? It has lots of twist and turns including a ‘will she, won’t she affair’. Again, it’s aimed at fans of women’s fiction but I do hope it’ll appeal to some men too.

When did you first start writing?

I started writing professionally several years ago. I had my first story published in Best magazine, which gave me an instant boost. I haven’t looked back since. My stories have appeared in women’s magazines worldwide and have been featured in several charity anthologies. But before this, I took a creative writing course with The Writers’ News. I was fortunate enough to have the exceptionally talented journalist and novelist Margaret James as my tutor. I’ve a lot to thank her for.

Describe a day in your life.

My day usually kicks off with household chores, very boring, I know, but I use the time to think up plots and ideas for my WIP. What can I say, I’m a multitasker. I then turn into a writer for a few hours (with a few Tweets and Facebook updates in-between.) Come lunchtime, I’m an athlete pounding the streets of North London (okay, trotting around the local park). I’ll return to my writing and online work in the afternoon, that’s if I’m not meeting up with my mum or friends for coffee. And finally, between six and seven I turn into a Masterchef! I love cooking my own food from scratch. My mum has given me lots of her delicious family recipes, which my husband adores!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Apart from reading, I enjoy going for long walks and catching up with family and friends over a glass of wine or two. I’m also a yoga fan, and jogging has become a bit of a passion for me.

Which type of books do you enjoy reading?

I mostly enjoy women’s fiction, but I also love psychological thrillers and some of the classics.  I’m currently rereading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Oh, and I love reading anthologies, of course.

 

Links

You can download To Tell a Tale or Two: http://9nl.eu/dnmq  for UK

http://9nl.be/xq6k   for US

Facebook: – http://facebook.com/kelly.florentia

Twitter: – @kellyflorentia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7915633.Kelly_Florentia?from_search=true

Website: – http://www.kellyflorentia.co.uk

YouTube Trailer: – http://youtu.be/jfLU6lguRjE

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