A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “December, 2015”

‘Being Someone’ by Adrian Harvey

Being Someone

‘Being Someone’ is Adrian Harvey’s debut novel.  It was published by Urbane Publications in 2014.  I was sent a copy to review a while back.

James has gone through life, taking each and every day as it comes, whilst all the time waiting for that special something to turn up.  Amongst other things he loves travelling to India.  His ongoing journey seems to be lacking one vital element though, a fellow traveller.

Then he meets the lovely Lainey.  She is everything James wants and more and he is determined to win her heart.  Lainey gives James a reason to grow and he sees a bright future with her.  She promises him the happy ending he has been looking for.  But will things work out the way he imagines them to?

I really enjoyed reading ‘Being Someone’ and I felt I got a lot out of it.  I’m not sure if this is a book I would have bought had I seen it in a bookshop, but I’m so glad now that I gave it a go and I do truly recommend it.  The story itself starts off in Mysore and it took me a while to figure out what the relevance was, but all soon became clear.

‘Being Someone’ is a beautifully told story about life, love and loss.  I personally find it hard to believe that this is actually a debut novel, so advanced is the writing.  The descriptions of India were wonderful and so very vivid that at one point I felt as I was actually there with James.  I also like how the author has written about Jagganath who James met in India.  James was going through a hard time and Jagganath showed him hospitality, something that Indians are very well known for.

I don’t necessarily condone what James did, but I think it shows that things had changed and couldn’t be rescued.  Life is an ongoing journey that we are all travelling.  Good and bad, happy and sad, we all have to carry on.

I am looking forward to reading Adrian Harvey’s new novel which is out next year.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/being-someone/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Someone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/1909273090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451575323&sr=1-1&keywords=being+someone

 

‘The Winter Wedding’ by Abby Clements

The Winter Wedding

‘The Winter Wedding’ was published by Simon & Schuster on the 5th November 2015. I was very kindly sent a copy to review.

When Lila and Ollie’s wedding planner lets them down, Hazel steps in and helps her stressed out sister. The wedding is a total success and word soon spreads about Hazel’s expertise.

Soon Hazel finds herself with two more weddings to plan, something she never expected to be doing. Her clients want the very best for their big day; Gemma and Ollie’s dream is to get married in a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, whereas Josh and Sarah want a beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. As Hazel soon finds though things aren’t that easy. Will Hazel be able to deliver what her clients want and will she find some magic in her own life?

The first thing I want to comment about is the cover of this book. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous and very inviting indeed. It shouted out “Read Me”! Well done to the designer.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Winter Wedding’ and I really liked the writing style. This really is the ideal book to snuggle down with on the sofa or in bed on long winter nights. It’s a fast paced, magical and light-hearted read which is bound to keep you up for ages.

They say everything happens for a reason and I think in Hazel’s case that was definitely true. Okay, so she didn’t get the promotion at work which she wanted and truly deserved, but this led to other opportunities for her and she was finally given the chance to use her talents elsewhere and to also find herself. I thought Hazel was really gutsy to go it alone.

I’d say that the majority of characters were really likeable, but my favourites were Hazel, Lila, Amber and Josh. Hazel and Lila, being twins, had that special bond which was so nice.

I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to read ‘The Winter Wedding’ and am so pleased that I have discovered yet another author. I am looking forward to seeing what Abby Clements comes up with next, though I personally think it would be great if there was a sequel to ‘The Winter Wedding’. I would love to see what happens next with Hazel and Lila. I am also definitely planning to read Abby’s previous novels too. Thanks for a great read.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘The Winter Wedding’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Wedding-Abby-Clements/dp/1471137015/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451414633&sr=1-1&keywords=the+winter+wedding

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by S.D. Robertson

Book Cover

It’s time for a very special cover reveal.  ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ is S.D. Robertson’s debut novel and it is being published by Avon Books in eBook and paperback on the 11th February 2016.  Read on to find out more.

 

Book Blurb

A heart-rending story about the unique bond between a father and his daughter, for fans of JOJO MOYES and JOHN GREEN.

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .

 

‘Time to Say Goodbye’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon UK:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Say-Goodbye-S-D-Robertson/dp/0008100675/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451410562&sr=1-1&keywords=s.+d.+Robertson

 

Guest Post by Wendy Janes

Book Cover

‘What Jennifer Knows’ is Wendy Janes’ first solo novel which she recently self-published.  Wendy has written a guest post for my blog.

 

From Enid Blyton to Anne Tyler by Wendy Janes

I was one of those children who would always be found reading a book. I loved Enid Blyton, and then progressed to Helen Dore Boylston’s series about a nurse named Sue Barton. An obsessive devouring of Agatha Christie followed. My reading tastes may not have been adventurous, but you couldn’t fault my enthusiasm for the written word.

Each weekend I’d spend my pocket money on paperbacks in WH Smith, return piles of books to our local library and gather another armful to take home. I must have stood for hours in front of bookshelves, head tilted to one side, reading titles on spines, plucking a book from the shelf to admire a cover and read a blurb. Making the right choice was very important because these books would be my companions for the next few weeks, some staying with me for much longer. Adventures and mysteries entertained me into my early teens, although Alice in Wonderland gave me nightmares.

During my late teens, with school exams in English literature looming, my reading choices were influenced by the curriculum. Luckily I loved classic English authors such as Graham Greene, George Orwell, E.M. Forster and Jane Austen. Perfectly crafting their words down to the last syllable, these people could write!

In addition to those books from school, I found others at the library. I discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald. He took me to the 1920s, where I would dance and drink champagne while falling in and out of love.

My regular trips to bookshops and libraries continued through teacher training, numerous office jobs, marriage and children. Searching for stories that reflected my own experience, and tales that took me abroad and to other times, I was attracted by contemporary women’s fiction, literary fiction, and what came to be known as chick lit.

I spent many satisfying hours in the company of Maeve Binchy, Helen Fielding, Kazuo Ishiguro, Maggie O’Farrell, Vikram Seth, Carole Ann Shields, Anne Tyler and many other gifted writers. I didn’t realise it at the time, but they were teaching me how to write, how to craft a story, develop a character, hone a sentence that touches someone’s heart.

I’ve always sought education, solace and enjoyment from the books I’ve read, although since becoming a proofreader, I admit I’ve become more critical of the books I read for pleasure. Often I have to remind myself to stop actively looking for typos and inconsistencies. Now that I review books and write stories myself, I’ve become more analytical, which unfortunately has diminished some of the natural joy of reading. However, when I find a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter or a book that transports me, it’s still a wonderful treat and possibly even more precious.

I do not have any pretensions that I will ever write as beautifully as the very best authors who have kept me company over the last decades, but I look upon all my years of reading as a vital element of my apprenticeship in writing.

Now I’ve published a novel and some of my short stories, my apprenticeship continues. I hope it never ends.

 

About Wendy Janes

Author Picture

Wendy Janes spends her time running her freelance proofreading business, writing novels and short stories, and volunteering for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. She has recently published her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her writing via Twitter, her Facebook author page, Goodreads Author page and Amazon author pages (UK/US).

Blog Tour – ‘Follow Me’ by Angela Clarke

Blog Tour Banner

‘Follow Me’ is Angela Clarke’s debut novel. It was published by Avon as an eBook on the 3rd December 2015 and will be out in paperback on the 31st December 2015. Today it is my turn on this exciting blog tour. Read on for my review and an extract from the book.

Do you use social media on a regular basis? Well, you never know who could be watching you, following you, planning their next move. You might thing you are internet savvy but it doesn’t mean you are totally safe.

Freddie Venton wants to be a full-time journalist but for now she is working in a coffee shop. One night whilst on shift she spots someone from her past outside. Nasreen, now a police officer, was her childhood friend until eight years ago when something unforgiveable happened. Little does Freddie know that they are about to be thrown together again.

The Hashtag Murderer having already killed someone is posting chilling cryptic clues on Twitter, all of which are pointing to their next target. He or she is enjoying taunting the police, enthralling the press and capturing the public’s imagination. Hundreds and thousands of people are following the murderer’s account. Can Freddie, Nasreen and the police catch the Hashtag Murderer before he or she kills anyone else? It’s a race against time, something which is seriously lacking.

I started reading ‘Follow Me’ a few days ago. It took me a little while to get into the story properly, but a few chapters in and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. Most of us use social media regularly so I think the idea for this story was brilliant. The author who has herself experienced the extremes of trolling is a self-confessed social media addict and pretty much knew what she was talking about.

Freddie really grew on me. It was obvious that something had happened between her and Nasreen years ago which spoilt their friendship and it was interesting to see if they would be able to resolve their differences.

I did find myself questioning a couple of things in the story but all became clear later on. I didn’t have a clue who the murderer was. Will ‘Follow Me’ stop me using social media though? Never!

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

It’s time now for an extract from ‘Follow Me’.  This is taken from the beginning of Chapter 8.

 

23:13

Saturday 31 October

For a blissful second Freddie thought she was in bed. Then the
concerned face of Nasreen came into focus, haloed by a yellow
ceiling stain.

‘Take your time, don’t rush up,’ she said.

‘Is she okay? Jesus this is all I need: the paperwork!’ Moast’s
square head came between her and the overhead strip lighting.
His cropped blonde hair glowing.

‘I’m okay.’ Freddie pushed against the floor. Sticky.

‘Someone should take a look at you,’ Nas said.

‘No.’ The shock of the accusation sharpened everything. Freddie
took in the dirty white box of a room. The pitted table. The grey
plastic chairs. ‘You can’t really think I’m a murderer?’

‘Where were you between 1am and 5am this morning, Miss
Venton?’ Moast was leaning on the table, his knuckles white from
the pressure.

‘Sir, I really think we should give her a minute.’

She looked up at Moast. ‘I’m fine. Let’s get this sorted,’ Freddie
adopted her customer service voice: the one she used when she
was at a job interview or trying to get a doctor’s appointment.
How Changing Your Tone Can Change Your Life.

‘Miss Venton says she’s fine. And I for one am really looking
forward to how she’s going to explain all this!’ Moast said.

‘Explain what? There’s nothing to explain.’ Freddie stood, a little
shakily, opposite him. She wouldn’t sit first, Lego man.

‘Answer the question: where were you between 1am and 5am
today?’ he said.

‘I was working the night shift at Espress-oh’s.’ She had to keep
calm. ‘Except for when I was talking to Nasreen in St Pancras station.
You were there.’

‘Sit down!’ he barked.

She sat. Her cheeks burning. ‘This is harassment!’

‘Freddie, look, I don’t know who you’ve got yourself involved
with, life has clearly not gone the way you planned it,’ Nasreen
nodded at her Espress-oh’s shirt.

‘I’m a journalist!’ She had to make them understand.

Moast scoffed, ‘You just told us you work at Espress-oh’s? Now
you’re claiming you’re a journalist?’

‘I am a bloody journalist,’ Freddie said.

‘Don’t take that tone with me, Missy,’ he snarled. ‘You’re giving
it all that about calling you Ms. What kind of a name is Freddie for
a girl, anyway? Do you have a problem with men? Did you want
to silence Alun Mardling?’

Freddie looked from Moast to Nas. ‘I didn’t even know who he
was till this morning.’ Freddie tried to remember what she’d said
in her voicemail.

‘Freddie, you’re entitled to legal advice. Are you sure you don’t
want a lawyer present?’ Nas said. Moast glared at her.

‘I don’t need a lawyer, I’ve done nothing wrong!’ said Freddie.

‘We spoke to your manager.’ Moast pulled a notepad from his
back pocket and flicked through it. ‘A Mr Daniel Peterson. He says
you have some anger issues?’

Freddie’s mum always warned her daughter: one day that temper
of yours will get you into real trouble. Pleading with her to think
before she spoke. Unfortunately, the mention of her gossiping boss
and the stone-cold reality of being arrested for murder meant

Freddie returned to type. ‘The lying cunt!’

‘He said that you seemed very – and I quote – “agitated”.

‘A word with four syllables! I’m surprised he managed it.’ Freddie
could just imagine how much Dan relished dishing the dirt on her.

‘Mr Peterson said you left early.’

This was getting ridiculous. ‘I did: to follow you guys. Tell him
why I was there, Nas! Tell him about the paper!’

‘You didn’t say anything about any paper, Freddie.’ Nasreen
looked at her hands. How My Best Friend Became My Best Frenemy.

‘The suspected murder weapon is visible in the photo you sent
Sergeant Cudmore.’ Moast slapped an enlarged version of the
screenshot onto the table.

Winded from the blood, Freddie turned away.

‘The knife is no longer at the scene, because you took it with
you after taking this photo,’ he said.

‘No. You’ve got it all wrong.’ She had to make them listen. This
was insane.

‘Did it make you feel good cutting him?’

Her stomach turned. ‘Stop it! Listen! I know about the murder
weapon. I mean, about it being in the photo. That’s why when I
saw it on Twitter I sent it to Nas.’

‘On Twitter? The photo was on Twitter?’

Book Launch – ‘The Lavender of Larch Hall’ by Ruby Loren

Book Cover

Today sees the publication of Ruby Loren’s book, ‘The Lavender of Larch Hall’, the first in a new series.  Read on to find out more about it.

 

Book Blurb

Historical researcher Emily Haversson and Mr Bumble (the cat) are at heritage site, Larch Hall, to go through some old records. They’ve only been there a day, when Emily discovers an old love letter which contains cryptic clues to a ‘legacy of love’ buried in the garden at Larch Hall. However, when she approaches the head gardener, Rob, to see what he makes of the clues, he expressly forbids her from digging up the garden. So when Rob discovers soil and lavender bushes strewn everywhere the next morning, he immediately accuses Emily. Only she knows the truth…

Someone else is hunting for the secret hidden beneath the lavender of Larch Hall!

 

About Ruby Loren

Author Picture

Ruby Loren is an English writer whose work ranges from romantic comedies to mysteries. Often drawing from her real life experience of playing lead guitar and bass in rock bands, music is never far from her stories, and neither is the Sussex countryside where she grew up. A true slice of English romance is always served up in every novel she writes. They’re best read with a lovely cup of tea!

You can get updates on new releases by visiting my website (rubyloren.com), signing up for my newsletter, or liking my author page on Facebook: (facebook.com/rubylorenauthor)

 

‘The Lavender of Larch Hall’ is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0193Z85RW

 

Interview with David John Griffin

David John Griffin

David John Griffin recently submitted a short story for my Halloween event.  Since then his novel, ‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ has been published.  I asked David some questions.

 

I have really been enjoying ‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about your book please.

The first draft of The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb was written over 40 years ago when I was a student at Medway College of Art & Design (as it was called then). It took two years to write the first draft. As it was written on a mechanical typewriter, the second draft meant typing the whole lot out again! No computers, cut & paste, etc., in those days, of course. Over the years, it has undergone another 2 or 3 major revisions, and many minor ones. I’m not sure now where the ideas came from though I was highly influenced in style at the time by Mervyn Peake’s books The Gormenghast Trilogy. The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb has been described by one reviewer as “Dickens with a dose of the psychedelic”. It’s published by Urbane Publications, a dynamic and up-and-coming indie publishing house.

Here is a description:

The turn of the last century and Theodore Stubb’s manor house resides in the quirky village of Muchmarsh. A renowned entomologist, he is often within the attic adding another exotic specimen to his extensive collection of insects. But Theodore is also a master hypnotist, holding the household in thrall to his every whim. Theodore’s daughter-in-law Eleanor – returned from the sanatorium two months before – is a haunted figure, believing that her stillborn child Alastair lives and hides in the shadows. Then she falls pregnant again, but this time by the hypnotic coercion and wicked ravishment of Theodore. A dreadful act begets terrible secrets, and thirteen years later the boy Alastair Stubb begins to lose his identity – it is not long before mystery, intrigue and murder follow gleefully in his wake. The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb is a gothic terror of the highest order, delivering a dream-like and hallucinatory reading experience that promises to reveal secrets both disturbing and astonishing.

 

Is this a genre you are particularly interested in?

It’s strange that with The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb I had no thoughts of its genre while writing it. It was only ten years ago or less when a reader described it as gothic. I realized then, oh yes, so it is! Also the aspects of magical realism weren’t consciously added with any thought of “I’ll add magical realism” – I wrote it with the sheer love of creative writing. I’m not sure if I’d ever write another gothic novel. I’ve visited that genre and that’s satisfying enough, I think.

Though I’ve realised that magical realism is important to me and has found its way (and will) into future novels.

 

I see that you’ve also got a novella out which I’ll be reading soon.  Are you planning to write any more?

I enjoyed the novella form very much. The original idea for Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn was for a short story but once I started writing it, I realised it needed more pages than that. Although I learned a lot, in as much as pushing my imagination to the limit then pushing some more, I don’t think I’ll visit the novella form again – though we wait to see. I prefer the novel form (with all its complications and headaches) even over short stories.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m half way through the first draft of a fantasy novel. It’s turning out very strange indeed. Again I’m pushing my imagination – I only hope its not too strange even for my readers! The title of the novel is secret at the moment! I hope to have it finished, final draft, by mid-2016.

Here’s a work in progress description:

Stave Swirler is lost in a nightmarish dream. Or is he? His given mission is to save his Realm before it’s too late. A fantastical journey of strange discovery, in conflict with the malevolent agents of Tremelon Zandar. A surreal and imaginative tale of fantasy and love that will captivate you from beginning to end.

 

Do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

I write mainly in an upstairs bedroom which I call the studio. I used to compose electronic music and had my own recording studio in a spare room so any creative space now with a computer is called the studio.

I also have a writing desk in the corner of my garden shed where I write, during the summer months, on an iPad. If it gets dark, I light candles so it’s very atmospheric.

 

Did you always want to be a writer?

From the age of five! I remember way back then, in class at primary school, when the teacher gave us a piece of paper and a pencil each and asked us to write a short story. After I had filled the first page, I went up to the teacher and asked for another sheet of paper. She replied, in a delighted tone, “Another piece of paper?” I must have asked for at least another three sheets and the encouraging remark with a smile was always the same.

I knew I wanted to write. Though towards the end of this first story, my writing became half inch high letters – despite the thirst to write instilled in me then, I was too young to know what I wanted to write about.

At the age of fourteen, I wrote a 100 pages in longhand at my parents’ dinner table, an unusual science fiction story. Reading it recently, I was struck as to how surreal and naive it is! But that’s to be expected, I guess.

Which leads me up to the ‘70’s when I wrote Alastair Stubb at art college, the urge to write strong within me.

Despite that, my second novel wasn’t started until another ten years after, in the mid 80’s. (Called Infinite Rooms, due to be published May next year by Urbane Publications).

 

How has social media helped you?

Twitter has been the main help – I found my publisher via Twitter and many nice people, all to do with writing mainly. Goodreads and Facebook are fine too and have offered some good contacts and friendships as well.

 

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

When writing a novel first draft, or even a short story first draft for that matter, keep going from beginning to end without looking back. Don’t read what you’ve typed, don’t correct or revise, just plough on to the end. Revision and correction happen in the 2nd and subsequent drafts.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Walk our two dogs, Bullseye and Jimbo, spending time with my wife Susan, occasionally the cinema or out for a meal. The usual really! I also create apps for the iPad as a hobby.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors, new and old, but I’ll only mention the ones who have had the greatest influence on me and who I have admired and tried to emulate in certain aspects of creative writing: Charles Dickens, Mervyn Peake, Leanora Carrington, Angel Carter, Jorge Louis Borges, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham. I could carry on, but leave it there!

 

 

Links

Website – http://davidjohngriffin.com

Amazon: Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-John-Griffin/e/B00NQ1GUPY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1449688005&sr=1-2-ent

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

Interview with Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

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Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn has just had her latest book, ‘The Broken Road’ published.  I asked Lindsay a few questions.

 

Congratulations on the publication of your new book.  Can you tell me a little bit about it please?

Book Cover

The novel is about the clash between personal ambition and family demands; between loyalty and betrayal; between the past and the present.

Ollie’s life is in crisis. Estranged from his father when he refuses to take over the family hotel, his artistic career is floundering, and his marriage is under strain. His wife, Jess, blames him, but is she as innocent as she appears?

Louise, Ollie’s sister, takes on the hotel in his absence, testing her emotional fragility to the limit. She knows her father considers her to be second best, and her husband is hostile to her new role.

As the action moves between London, Plymouth and Venice, the family implodes under the weight of past betrayals. Can Ollie heal the fault-lines before it’s too late? Above all, can he salvage his relationship with his young daughter, Flo, before tragedy strikes?

 

How long did it take you to write?

This novel took me nearly four years in total. After about eighteen months and 50,000 words, I realised I was stuck. The novel was too big and unwieldy. I went on a course called ‘Stuck in the Middle’, where someone said to me ‘You sound as if you’ve got two novels there.’ And she was right! It was like trying to fit two feet into one sock. I had to unpick the two stories and decide which one to go with first. It then took me another year to write the first draft, and a further nine months of rewriting before I got there.

 

Was any research involved?

The main character is an artist who is passionate about watercolours. Although I enjoy looking at art, I can’t paint at all. I read a lot about watercolours, studied some online videos about watercolour techniques, and went on a course called ‘Watercolours for Beginners’. I wasn’t totally ashamed of my efforts, although there were others in the class who produced much better work than I ever could.

The novel centres round a family-run hotel in Plymouth. I enjoy staying in hotels, but I certainly don’t know how one works, However, there is a lovely family-run hotel where I live, and the owners were very generous with their time and the information they gave me was extremely useful. I hope I’ve managed to create a realistic sense of the pressures involved in running a hotel.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

I’m fascinated by people and how they react to things. Characters are usually the starting point for me. Then I put them in a difficult situation and see how they get on. I like to challenge characters, to strew their paths with problems. Conflict is an essential part of fiction, so there’s always plenty of that!

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

Yes, I always feel a lot of empathy for my main characters, even if they do something I don’t agree with that. It’s a bit like a friend who you think is about to make a disastrous mistake. You don’t like what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t like them.

 

Are more books planned?

I’m hoping to start the other half of my two-in-one-novel in 2016. But it’s an ambitious topic, and I need a rest first. I will probably spend some time on short stories and flash fiction, and build up my stamina in order to start the next novel.

 

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

I’m lucky enough to have a study at the top of my house. It’s a lovely room with big skylights. If the writing won’t work, I certainly can’t blame the lack of somewhere to write!

 

What advice have you got for someone wanting to write their first novel?

  • Have a strong sense of who your characters are. Find out what frightens them; what excites them; what keeps them awake at night.
  • Study other writers and learn the craft of writing.
  • Turn up at the desk every day. As Picasso said ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’

 

How long have you been teaching creative writing for?

For about fifteen years. I used to teach English full-time in a further education college. Because I was interested in writing, I was given some creative writing classes to teach. In 2005, I left full-time teaching to do an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University, and since then I’ve combined writing with teaching creative writing part-time.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m writing a novel it feels as if I don’t have any spare time! But when I manage it, I enjoy walking, theatre (especially Shakespeare), visiting interesting places – one of my favourites is Venice – and, of course, reading.

 

Author Bio

‘The Broken Road’ is Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s third novel. ‘Unravelling’ was published on 2010, and came second on The Rubery Book Award in 2011. ‘The Piano Player’s Son’ was published by Cinnamon Press in 2013, after winning their novel writing award. Lindsay also writes short stories and flash fiction. She has an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University, and combines writing with her work as a creative writing tutor.

 

Links

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s Website – www.lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk

‘The Broken Road’ is available to buy in paperback and eBook from Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Road-Lindsay-Stanberry-Flynn/dp/0993418201/

Guest Post by Karen Sullivan

orenda letterhead red

Last year Karen Sullivan decided to start her own publishing company, a very brave thing to do.  You can read the guest post which Karen wrote for my blog at the beginning of her new venture:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/orenda-books/

This lady is truly amazing and in the past year has come such a long way.  I thought it would be nice if Karen could write another post about what she has achieved and what is in store for the next year.  Prepare to be amazed.

~~~~~

Orenda Books … one year on

Karen Sullivan, Publisher

Just about a year ago, I wrote my first blog post for Sonya Alford, explaining the reasons why I’d decided to start my own independent publishing company, and outlining my expectations (dreams, really) for the future. It has been an exceptional year, full of drama and excitement, and every one of my authors has provided magical moments and experienced wonderful successes!

From Paul Hardisty appearing on the shortlist for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and amassing over 150 five-star reviews online for The Abrupt Physics of Dying to Louise Beech bringing readers to tears and already appearing on countless ‘Books of the Year’ lists, just a couple of months after publication, my wonderful debut authors have created waves in a market that is flooded with books and great writing.

Another marvellous debut, David F. Ross achieved critical heaven with The Last Days of Disco, being hailed as the finest new Scottish voice, and compared to Irvine Welsh and John Niven (his heroes, and mine). And then there was the phenomenon that is Snowblind. Ragnar Jonasson’s debut crime thriller, set in the northernmost town of Iceland and lovingly translated by Quentin Bates, has been an international bestseller, prompting three reprints and an ongoing and welcome stream of excellent reviews! With the sequel, Nightblind, just out, it looks like the Dark Iceland series will continue to top the charts and wow readers with its wonderful amalgamation of the classic British mystery and some stunning Iceland noir!

It has been an honour to publish Gunnar Staalesen’s We Shall Inherit the Wind, translated by the inimitable Don Bartlett, and to see the wealth of serious and glowing review coverage it has received. Staalesen’s fame outside of the English language looks set to be repeated here, and at the beginning of at least three Varg Veum thrillers published by Orenda, and with a TV series in the making, this is astoundingly good news!

The incredible Kati Hiekkapelto has established herself as one of the foremost proponents of Nordic Noir, and The Defenceless, translated by David Hackston not only won Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2014, but it’s up for the Glass Key (previous winners include Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo, among others) next year, with the third of the Anna Fekete series to follow in Autumn 2016.

Each of these authors has books to look forward to next year. Claymore Straker returns in The Evolution of Fear, which finds Hardisty at his most thrilling best. The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas carries on David Ross’s heartwarming, hilarious Disco Days series, and Where Roses Never Die is, by all accounts, Staalesen’s finest EVER book. We’ve got more Ragnar Jonasson and Kati Hiekkapelto, and Louise Beech’s beautiful The Mountain in My Shoe will undoubtedly secure her place in the bestseller lists.

And there is more! Amanda Jennings’ exquisite In Her Wake has been tipped as Book of the Year already (!), and we’ve got two wonderful Detective Kubu thrillers by the South African crime-writing duo Michael Stanley: Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family, both of which have received critical acclaim in the USA and South Africa. Ex-Met Police officer Matt Johnson brings us the nail-biting Wicked Game, and debut novelist Michael Grothaus’s Epiphany Jones will raise eyebrows, shock, entertain and move in one of the most staggering books I’ve read in some time. An important book, a timely, intelligent thriller, Jihadi: A Love Story is published in February, and Yusuf Toropov’s debut has already been called ‘Searing’ by Publishers Weekly. Watch that space! We’ve got Norwegian bestselling author Agnes Ravatn with her melancholic, dizzyingly wonderful The Bird Tribunal, translated by Rosie Hedger, and Michael J. Malone’s timely and page-turning thriller A Suitable Lie. It’s lucky 13 for Orenda next year, with even more great authors lined up for 2017, including Norwegian supremo Thomas Enger, a beautiful retelling of the Selkie legend by Su Bristow and a few more stunners that have yet to be announced.

So what has this year been like? It’s been full of joy! We are building authors at Orenda, and every little success en route has been the most satisfying and rewarding experience ever! Seeing the pure pleasure on an author’s face when he/she holds a first or a new book in their hands is just magical. Talk about mystical energy …

It’s also been nailbiting! I’ve had to learn how to promote books with zero experience, present to sales teams around the world, pitch to festival directors and the press, run a busy website, juggle cash flow, work closely with authors to make sure their books are absolutely perfect, and arrange author tours and events!

There is at present only one member of staff at Orenda, but none of this could have been possible without the help of West Camel – my second reader and editorial support team in one! – Liz Wilkins, who has worked tirelessly to create some of the most amazing blog tours ever, my husband Max, who is usually to be found buried under a pile of invoices and contracts, Mark Swan and James Nunn, who have created simply brilliant jackets, and the most exceptional group of supportive bloggers and reviewers in the entire world! We’ve also had so much help and support from non-Orenda authors, without which most of this would have been impossible. Most importantly, though, I have to thank my absolutely amazing authors. Not once has anyone ever complained about working round the clock to meet crazy deadlines, or write another guest blog, answer a Q&A, attend another event or festival, or make yet another series of changes to their books. This year of highlights has been constructed by pure enthusiasm and determination on the part of everyone associated with Orenda Books, and we take off our hats to you all!

Many, many people warned me that starting an independent publishing company would be a mistake, and a risk not worth taking. While we are only at the initial stages of what I hope will be a long and successful journey, and despite the fact that there are many hurdles ahead, with more to emerge, I wouldn’t change my decision for anything. It’s been magic! Indescribably elating. Blooming exhausting. But, more than anything, one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. To remind you, the word Orenda can be loosely translated as ‘The mystical power that drives human accomplishment’. There’s just got to be something in that …

Cover Reveal – ‘No Longer Safe’ by A.J. Waines

Book Cover

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this cover reveal and what a gorgeous one it is.  ‘No Longer Safe’ is out on the 4th February 2016.  I for one can’t wait to read it.

 

Book Blurb

She was your best friend. Now she’s your deadliest enemy – and there’s nowhere to run…

When Alice receives an invitation from Karen, her charismatic University friend, to stay in a remote cottage in Scotland, she can’t wait to rekindle their lost friendship. But two more former students arrive – never friends of Alice’s – and as the atmosphere chills, Karen isn’t the warm-hearted soulmate Alice remembers. Barely is the reunion underway before someone is dead and the fragile gathering is pushed to breaking point.

As the snow cuts them off from civilisation and accusations fly, Alice finds herself a pawn, sinking deeper into a deadly game she can’t escape.

NO LONGER SAFE is a chilling Psychological Thriller that delivers a delicious sting in the tail.

 

‘No Longer Safe’ can be pre-ordered now from:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-No-Longer-Safe-J-Waines-ebook/dp/B018UAAAW4

 

Interview with Robert Enright

Author Photo

Robert Enright self-published his debut novel, ‘One by One’ earlier this year.  He has recently signed up with Urbane Publications and has a book coming out next autumn.  I asked Robert some questions.

 

Tell me a bit about your debut novel, ‘One by One’.

One by One is a gritty, violent revenge tale about one man’s quest to avenge his wife, who falls victim to a notorious crime gang. I wanted to write a revenge story where the protagonist could not only match the bad guys, but maybe even exceed them with regards to his methods.

Some of it was a little tricky to write as it is graphic in its depiction of violence and how it only leads to more, however I feel confident that I wove a real love story that drives Lucas, the hero, onwards on his quest for vengeance. Also, as a big fan of action and revenge movies, it was great fun writing some of the fight scenes!

Book Cover

How long did it take you to write?

It took me just under a year from start to finish. I did however, write it as a movie script the year before which I guess is a little cheating as I already had the storyline and large parts of dialogue already written. However, weaving a 97 page script into a novel of 129,000 words was quite the task.

 

What does self-publishing involve?

A lot of hard work and knowledge of Microsoft Word! The slightest mistake format wise and the book looks like someone has shaken it. So definitely getting clued up on formatting. I downloaded a couple of free books on my Kindle that were step by step guides and they really helped.

Also be prepared to slog it out. There are millions of books out there and a large number of them are independent authors with the same dream. So making sure you find the right interest groups, the right Facebook groups – it can make a huge difference.

 

Congratulations on signing with Urbane Publications.  Can you tell me a bit about ‘Doorways’?

Thank you very much. I still cannot believe that this time next year, I will be holding a hard copy of my book. It still hasn’t sunk in and I know how lucky I am.

‘Doorways’ is hopefully the first novel in the ‘Bermuda’ Jones series. It is about an agency which deals with a world that runs parallel to ours. The inhabitants of that world are granted asylum in ours, however they are monitored by the organisation Bermuda works for. The catch is, only a select few humans, who have a gift/curse known as ‘the knack’ can see them. Bermuda is the anomoly, as he is the only recorded human who can physically interact with them.

A pattern emerges of people going missing from places they physically cannot and Bermuda is assigned the case. He and his partner, a warrior that has defected from this parallel world begin to uncover a greater threat to our world and face a race against time to stop it.

 

Where did you get the idea for this book from?

I honestly do not know. I am a big sci-fi, comic book geek. I enjoy a good story and this one has developed from a private investigator with a medical condition to a whole organisation and different world. I just let my mind wander and eventually, big pieces of the puzzle emerge and they go down on paper and the idea truly took off. I think once I decided to introduce another world, the idea took over and just grew.

 

You have said ‘Doorways’ is hopefully going to be the first book of a series.  How many more are you planning to write?

I currently have, beyond ‘Doorways’, another four Bermuda books planned, and potentially have the idea for another one. I do have definitive ending to the whole story, yet how many cases we go through to get there depends on how many people enjoy them and how many ways I can keep the stories fresh.

 

Do you see any of your books being made into a TV series in the future?

I would never rule it out. The idea has a lot of things going for it, however, just having it out as a book is beyond anything I ever thought I would achieve.

If they do make it as a TV show, I know my cast! Haha!

 

Have you got any other writing projects planned?

I have a ‘to write list’ which has in total, 33 books on it not including One by One and Doorways. Five of those ideas have come in the last 4 months so it just keeps getting bigger. My brother, who is an independent games designer (Windy Beard Games) has approached me to write a story for an upcoming game and I have designs for 2 more revenge books to compliment One by One as a revenge trilogy.

It never stops!

 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Literally, just do it. I don’t mean to sound like Nike, however it will not write itself. About four years ago, my brother and I saw an advert for a run of the mill, terrible Adam Sandler film. I started whinging about how rubbish like that gets made and my brother made the good point: because someone wrote it

There is no point talking about it unless you are going to get on with it. It will not happen overnight and sometimes it can be a bit of a slog. But if you can put the hard work in, you will get so much out of it.

 

Describe a day in your life.

I usually wake up tired because I really should go to bed earlier. I go to my job (such fun times) and then when I get back, I regularly exercise, ensure I get an hour of writing in and then usually chill out with some TV, a film or Xbox. The lovely lady has gotten me into The Apprentice this season, so I watch that on Wednesdays.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I have a number of authors that I avidly read. Justin Cronin has written my favourite book, The Passage and its sequel, The Twelve. City of Mirrors, although 2 years delayed, has been confirmed for next year so I cannot wait. Big, heavy books but never has a vampire/wasteland/end of the world story been so compelling.

Others such as Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly are a given. I have been reading Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel books and am looking forward to her spin off series. I have met Leigh a couple of times and she is a real inspiration and is always so lovely and encouraging. I highly recommend her.

I have become acquainted with a number of authors this year. We are a crazy bunch but they are all so talented and great to chat to. I cannot recommend Karen Long, Tim Adler and Paddy Magrane enough if you want a good crime thriller. If you want to be creeped out, then I suggest picking up Hellbound by David McCaffrey. All of them are must read authors for me from now on!

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Usually wish for more spare time!

I do keep very busy. I work a full time job so a lot of spare time is taken up with writing and other book related things. I like to keep healthy and exercise regularly. Beyond that, I like reading, films, TV, gaming and winding up my lovely lady. The usual stuff really.

 

Author Bio

Born and raised in North West London and now residing in Hertfordshire, Robert Enright has been writing for over 10 years. His debut novel –ONE BY ONE – was self published on Amazon in March 2015, receiving critical acclaim and was nominated for Books Go Social Book of the Year 2015. The violent, revenge thriller gave Rob a path into crime fiction, but the constantly embraced geek within him went a different way.

2016 will see the release of DOORWAYS – published by Urbane Publications – the first in the Bermuda Jones series, a dark sci-fi about an agency dealing with the threat of a parallel world. He can’t wait to write the whole series – if he can put down his Xbox controller or his Nerf Guns!

 

Links

‘One by One’ Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Robert-Enright-ebook/dp/B00UUBNRHW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/REnright_Author

Urbane Publications Author Page: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/robert-enright/

 

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