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Blog Tour – ‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by K A Hitchins

The Gardener’s Daughter was published on the 15th March 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Instant Apostle.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed K A Hitchins.

 

First of all can you tell me a bit about your new book please?

The Gardener’s Daughter is a Young Adult thriller exploring the theme of identity. The main character is a motherless nineteen-year-old girl who accidentally discovers she was adopted and runs away in search of her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang,  her journey of discovery unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with plenty of excitement and a sprinkling of romance along the way.

 

What made you decide to write this book?

When I lost my Dad to cancer and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me, I realised just how many people don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or even have any real contact with them. Most of the positive things in my life are a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents gave me, rather than the result of anything especially good or talented about me. What would happen, I wondered, if I woke up one day and realised that everything in my childhood had been a lie, and that my real father had abandoned me before I was born? That was the premise for the book. Ava’s identity is intrinsically linked to knowing where she’s come from and finding a place she can call home.

 

How long did it take you to write?

It took about five months to write, but then another couple of months working with my copy editor and proof reader to really tighten up the manuscript.

 

Did you have to do any research?

Much of the action takes place in a cheesy caravan holiday park. As I’ve had more than my fair share of family caravan holidays, I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. Surprisingly the most difficult part of the book was the historical era. I’ve set the book in 2003, before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones. I had to keep reminding myself that my main character, Ava, couldn’t check her emails on her phone. It’s amazing how much we depend on technology to know what’s going on and to connect with people. Without it, Ava has to depend on more traditional detecting methods to track down her real father.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

I hope readers have a really great experience. I love it when I get reviews from people who couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished one of my stories. That makes it all worthwhile. However, there is an underlying message in the book about love and forgiveness which I hope readers will find uplifting.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

I have another completed manuscript called Love in the Village of Drought which requires some editing before I submit it to a publisher, and I’m in the very early stages of writing my fifth novel, provisionally entitled, ‘The Shortness of Life’.

 

What has the publishing process been like for you?

I started writing seriously in January 2012. While I was writing my first book, The Girl at the End of the Road, I joined the HarperCollins online writing community called Authonomy. Authors would post up their chapters or completed novels and receive feedback and ratings from other writers and readers. Every month the top five books would receive an editorial report from HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal. The feedback I received from other writers really helped me polish my manuscript about a shallow, materialistic man who falls in love with a woman with Aspergers until it was ready to be sent out to publishers and agents.

By January 2015, my novel reached number four out of more than 6,000 books on the Authonomy site. I waited for the promised critical feedback from a Harper Collins Editor, but heard nothing. I was still sending the manuscript out and in May 2015 I was offered a contract from a small independent publisher called Instant Apostle. After a few agonising hours of wondering whether to hold on for my Harper Collins review or accept the bird in the hand, I agreed to meet the publisher and signed the contract the following week. Four days later, Harper Collins sent me their review and expressed an interest in the book.

I must confess, I had a short internal tussle of, ‘What if’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m with the right publisher for now. They are small, flexible, inclusive and supportive, and want to bring me into all the decision making relating to the cover and the blurb etc. Even with this support, the experience has been overwhelming so I know I wasn’t ready back then for anything more high-powered.

While planning the launch for The Girl at the End of the Road (which took place in March 2016) I mentioned to my publisher that I’d started writing a book about a girl in a coma who was trying to solve her own murder. They immediately asked me to sign a contract, even though I’d only written a few chapters. The Key of All Unknown was launched in October 2016. It’s the story of brilliant scientific researcher, Tilda Moss, who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her.

In between writing The Girl at the End of the Road in 2012 and The Key of All Unknown in 2016, I’d finished two further manuscripts: Love in the Village of Drought in 2013 and The Gardener’s Daughter in 2015.  It’s been great to work with the Instant Apostle editors to bring the latter project to completion. I can’t believe I’m about to publish my third novel in two years. I’ve learned such a lot about the publishing process and how to promote my books on social media, that I now feel confident to call myself a proper writer.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wishing to write a book? 

My advice to everyone is to read widely and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. It’s all too easy to get into a rut with a favourite genre, but mixing it up a little and picking up a book you wouldn’t usually choose, particularly one which stretches your heart, mind and soul, is a great way to broaden your reading experience and improve your writing.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Writing is what I do in my spare time. I’m a busy mum, a Trustee of a children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa, and I also help other authors with their social media promotion. It’s difficult  not to let my writing get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. To get away from the ever present housework, I take myself out to a supermarket café at least once a week for a couple of hours of writing.

 

 

Book Blurb

Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she’s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gardeners-Daughter-K-Hitchins-ebook/dp/B07B3V1PQF/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1521880845&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=kathryn+hitchins

 

 

About K A Hitchins

K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.

 

 

Links

Website:   www.kahitchins.co.uk

Twitter:  @KathrynHitchins

Facebook:-

Kathryn Hitchins

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015464465799

K A Hitchins, Author page

https://www.facebook.com/KathrynHitchins/

Instagram:  kathryn_hitchins

 

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Blog Tour – ‘Just One Time’ by K.S. Hunter

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour along with two other fellow book bloggers.  ‘Just One Time’ is K.S. Hunter’s debut novel and it is being published as an eBook on the 7th December 2017.  I was invited to take part by the author and the blog tour itself was organised by the wonderful Rachel’s Random Resources.

I interviewed K.S. Hunter for this tour.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Just One Time’ please?

Just One Time is about a married man whose marriage is on the rocks because of an affair he had two years before the novel starts. He goes to the theatre alone and there meets a woman called Nina. During their encounter, he unwittingly gives her his phone number and from that moment on she won’t get out of his life. In fact, the only way she will leave, she says, is if he sleeps with her just one time.

 

What made you decide to write a different genre?

I saw the popularity of erotic fiction and thought I could blend it with the psychological thriller aspects of the crime fiction I was already writing. Just One Time is not erotica, but it does borrow elements from the genre and that’s why I’ve termed it a steamy psychological thriller.

 

Where did you get the idea from for this book?

I went to the theatre. In the dark, I dropped my phone and couldn’t find it. While I was on all fours, a stranger asked for my phone number and said she’d call it to help me find it. It was at that moment that the seeds of Just One Time were planted. My imagination took over and I wondered what it would be like if that kind lady was actually an obsessive sociopath who wouldn’t leave me alone.

 

How long did it take you to write?

It took two years altogether, but that includes a year’s break. My son was born and so sleep became the stuff of memories. I didn’t write at all during that period. I came back to the book, which was about half written, last summer. I sat down with alcohol and completed it in about ten days. That’s the quickest I’ve ever written. Of course, I’ve edited it a lot since then, so it has changed quite a lot, but being that productive was genuinely surprising. Thank you, Mr Daniel’s.

 

Did you have to do any research for it at all?

The novel is divided into three main sections. Part two is set in New York. There’s a particularly important scene at the World Trade Center memorial, so I spent time there. It is a haunting place. Broadway also plays an important role.

 

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

No, no, no. They are all horrible! But it was fun to write them because I got to say and do things that I would never say and do. All in all, it was quite a liberating experience.

 

Are there more books in the pipeline?

If Just One Time is successful, I will continue writing as K.S. Hunter side by side with my other fiction. That’s my hope, but we’ll see… it’s an unpredictable business.

 

Can you describe your typical writing day?

I don’t have one. I’m very undisciplined, so I write whenever I can get myself to do it, usually in the evening and into the early hours. I work best late in the day. I also write articles for magazines, so I save all my limited discipline for those because they come with tight deadlines.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you go to do your writing?

I spend quite a bit of time in Poland and I tend to manage to write quite a lot when I’m there. In the UK, I have an office in which I write. I’m surrounded by books – I collect signed first editions – and signed posters – I’m really a big film and theatre buff.

 

What do you hope readers will get from this book?

As K.S. Hunter, the opportunity to write another!

 

Will you be celebrating on publication day?

I don’t normally celebrate. There’s still a long way to go after publication day. I will more than likely obsessively check its sales rank every five minutes.

 

If you could live life all over again would you still write?

Yes, it’s the only thing I’ve ever felt I can do well.

 

Have you found social media helpful?

Social media is what made my bestseller the success it was – it reached the top ten in the UK and it got to number one in Australia. A large number of authors supported it with blurbs and helped to promote it online, and then a huge number of authors and other celebrities who are prolific on Twitter gave it attention. I don’t think that Twitter works as well any more, unfortunately, but that was five years ago.

 

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Going to the theatre (without it, Just One Time wouldn’t exist!), watching films (although I can’t stomach most of what’s made today), playing tennis and reading. That’s me talking, not K.S. Hunter. K.S. Hunter has no hobbies, apart from something kinky.

 

If you were only allowed to keep three books what would they be?

  1. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. That’s the epitome of the literary thriller. A stunning portrayal of obsession.
  2. Stoner by John Williams. Just the most moving and delightful story of a simple life. Read the blurb and you won’t think it could possibly work. But it does, beautifully.
  3. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It contains the most sublimely written stage directions, I think, in all of drama, and the characters are so well drawn out. It’s eternally depressing, but strangely uplifting.

 

Book Blurb

The first novel by K.S. Hunter, the alter ego of an international bestselling author, whose identity will remain a secret.

Desire can have dire consequences

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

Praise for K.S. Hunter

‘An author to watch out for – always interesting and unpredictable’ Sophie Hannah

‘Just One Time’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-One-Time-K-S-Hunter-ebook/dp/B077CXFVK3/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510866031&sr=1-1&keywords=just+one+time

 

About K.S. Hunter

K.S. Hunter is the pseudonym of an international bestselling author. The identity of the author, who lives in the United Kingdom, will remain a mystery.

Website – http://www.AuthorKSHunter.com

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/author.kshunter

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Author_KSHunter

 

Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources organises many blog tours and is very professional.  Follow her on Twitter @rararesources.

 

Blog Tour – ‘Know Me Now’ by CJ Carver

‘Know Me Now’, the third book in the Dan Forrester series, is CJ Carver’s new novel.  It is being published as an eBook on the 14th December 2017 by Zaffre and will be out in paperback on the 11th January 2018.  I am absolutely delighted to be participating in this blog tour which has been organised by the lovely Emily Burns, along with a number of other bloggers.  I have for you all an interview with CJ Carver.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about ‘Know Me Now’ please?

Quintessentially, the book is about friendship.  Dan Forrester is one of a group of four people who’ve known each other since they were toddlers, and when the son of one of these friends – Dan’s godson – is found murdered, Dan teams up with his old friend DS Lucy Davies to find out what happened.

When Dan discovers his father has also been murdered, it suggests things are more dangerous than anyone imagined.  A coded message is left in a newspaper advertisement; spies are engaged; an assassin deployed.  And all because of a terrible secret that has been lying undisturbed for decades.  A secret someone will do anything to keep buried . . .

Can you describe your book in five words?

Friendship, betrayal, greed, loyalty and love.

 

Did you have to do much research for it and if so what did it entail?

I’m lucky enough to have a family of top scientists to hand locally, and they are my first port of call for anything technical.  The book is set mainly in Scotland, which was pretty easy to get to, but even though I only set a handful of chapters in Germany it was incredibly valuable going there to make sure I got things right, like police duties in the Federal Republic of Germany are a matter for the individual Countries (16), which are absolutely sovereign in this area… oh, sorry, I might have sent you to sleep with that bit of research!

 

How long did it take you to write this book?

The idea came to me over two years ago when lunching with a Professor friend of mine.  From there, it germinated as I completed Tell Me A Lie, during which time I continued gathering more ideas and information until it was time to plot it out.  From the plotting stage to sending off the proof, took around a year.  However, if you’re talking about the first draft, this book was a good three months, which gave me time to put the manuscript aside occasionally to let it perculate.

 

I noticed that ‘Know Me Now’ is part of a series.  Can it be read as a standalone?

Absolutely.  I make sure that each book in any series can be read without having to read the others, and I was really pleased when a reviewer remarked that although Tell Me A Lie was her first Dan Forrester book (2nd in the series) she didn’t feel at all left out with any backstories.  Oh, and I make sure there are no spoilers to the other books!

 

Are there more books in the series to come?

Ooooh, yes.  I’m writing the fourth right now, and rather wonderfully had a “Eureka!” moment last week when I came up with a cracking idea for the fifth.

 

Can you relate to any of the characters in this book?

I think a writer has to relate to the characters they create, even the villains.  I like to know what makes each person tick in the book, their dreams and their worst nightmares.  I admit to enjoying writing DC Lucy Davies immensely as she is wonderfully outspoken and I wish I could be a bit like her!

 

What would your reaction be if one of them turned up on your doorstep?

If Dan Forrester turned up I would freak out because danger follows him like a shark follows blood.  I would be looking up and down the street behind him for bad guys.

 

What has the publishing process been like?

I started out before the internet, so things have changed a lot.  I think it’s incredibly exciting today with the self-publishing prospects and some indie authors are doing really well.  Having a traditional publisher, however, does mean that it can be a bit of a rollercoaster from time to time, but that, I’ve learned, is part of an author’s life.

 

Is writing something you have always wanted to do?

Well, when I was ten, on holiday in Scotland, I announced to my parents that I was going upstairs to write a book.  Neither looked up from their Agatha Christies, but I remember my father saying, ‘That sounds like a good idea.’  I started my “book” but after the first page realised I didn’t have much of a story and how difficult it was going to be!  I gave up.  When I toddled downstairs after about an hour, Mum and Dad never mentioned it, which meant I didn’t have to get defensive over it!

I eventually fell into writing, but only because I followed my dream: to drive from London to Saigon.  On my return from the 14,500-mile journey, I was asked to write an article for Car Magazine, so I trotted to my local Waterstones and bought a book How to Write and Sell Travel Articles.  It was probably the worst article I ever wrote, but it got published and, amazingly, I got paid.  I’d enjoyed writing it so much I approached other outlets with my story and ended up becoming a travel writer which eventually led me to writing my first novel.  (Which this answer to your question seems to have been…!)

 

Which authors if any have helped to influence your work?

Do you know, on balance I think Dick Francis had the biggest effect on my writing.  Galloping adventure stuff I thoroughly enjoyed as a teen and an adult but what I found magical was that Francis’s books were written from the viewpoint of an “ordinary” person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, which is exactly what happens to Dan Forrester in my books.

A lot of people think Francis is lightweight, but his fast plots and authentic backgrounds in my view were outstanding, along with his characterisation.  His books weren’t long, and they introduced me to punchy, no holds-barred storytelling.  Now that, I remember thinking, is what I want to write: page turners.

 

What are your thoughts on social media?

It’s the biggest time waster of all time.  However, it is also a fantastic support to writer’s and I couldn’t do without it.  That said, when I’m writing I’m very strict about my time on Twitter or Facebook and set a time limit, maximum forty minutes.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for people wanting to pen their first book?

WRITE.  Just do it.  Sit down and get started.  It doesn’t matter if you think it’s rubbish, just keep going and before you know it, you’ll have a chapter, and then another.  And another…

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a travel addict, so whenever I can I pack up the camper and hit the open road.  My perfect day is walking across country with a stop at a pub for lunch somewhere, then tucking up with a good book and a cuppa at the end of the day.

 

You have been given a choice of three tasks: stay on a desert island for a month, spend a week in a prison or spend the night in a supposedly haunted castle.  Which one would you choose?

Desert island, please!  I’m a bit of an adventurer so I’d love the challenge.  Can I take a copy of How to Survive on a Desert Island with me?!

 

About CJ Carver

C.J. Carver’s first novel Blood Junction won the CWA Debut Dagger and was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best mystery books of the year. Half-English, half New Zealand, C.J. has been a travel writer and long-distance rally driver, driving London to Saigon and London to Cape Town. Her novels have been published in the UK and the USA and translated into several languages.

 

Links

‘Know Me Now’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Me-Now-Dan-Forrester-ebook/dp/B0748J34JF/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Website – http://www.cjcarver.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/C_J_Carver

 

Interview with Richard Rippon

I would like to introduce you all to Richard Rippon whose new book, ‘Lord of the Dead’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Obliterati Press.  I asked Richard all about it.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Lord of the Dead’ please?

It’s a crime thriller set in the North East. Someone is taking women from Newcastle and brutally murdering them in the Northumbrian countryside. A team of cops investigate, assisted by gifted university psychologist, Jon Atherton. They have very little physical evidence to go on, so it’s up to Atherton to build a profile and get under the skin of the killer. There’s an added complication in that a woman on the police team is someone he’s had an affair with.

 

Where did you get the idea for this book from?

I always wanted to write a serial killer novel, but I never had a strong enough idea. Then I remembered a non-fiction book I’d read about twenty years ago and something clicked. I don’t want to give too much away, but that provided a scenario and a motive for my killer. Once I’d decided what my main character was going to be like, I was up and running.

 

How long did it take you to write?

It took a couple of years. I wrote mainly on the bus, to and from work. There’s a lot to be said for writers using public transport. It gave me about an hour and half each workday when I could focus on the book.

 

Did you have to do any research at all?

Yes. Two of my closest friends are a police officer and a nurse, so they helped to make sure procedurally and tonally I was being authentic in their respective fields. I also corresponded with a historian, a forensic scientist and someone who lives with cerebral palsy. I think I take dramatic license occasionally, but I wanted everything to feel grounded in reality.

   

Did the characters in your book speak to you at all whilst you were writing?

I partially based Atherton on a younger version of my uncle, so I always heard his voice when writing his dialogue. He’s a fiercely intelligent bloke, with a big heart and a funny turn of phrase. He also has cerebral palsy and so does Atherton, so this all helped to shape the character.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Not myself, but some family members who’ve read it, think they can recognise themselves or others. It’s led to a few awkward conversations about composite characters and so on. Sometimes I do borrow certain characteristics from people I know. It helps to draw upon real people, locations and situations.

 

What has the experience of getting published been like for you?

It’s been a long road. I won a New Writing North Award in 2009 for my first novel, The Kebab King. It led to me signing with an agent, but the book didn’t get picked up, so I self-published (it’s available for Kindle on Amazon) and got started on Lord of the Dead. There was more interest in it, to the point that we started talking to a publisher about sequel ideas, but then they went cold on me. I felt a bit frustrated and decided to have a break from writing. Nathan O’Hagan got in touch out of the blue, asking if I had anything finished he could read for Obliterati Press. I knew Nathan from my time in Liverpool in the 90s. I loved what he and Wayne were doing with Obliterati and was extremely happy they wanted to publish me.

 

Will you be celebrating when your book is released into the world?

Absolutely. We’re having a book launch event on 3rd November in Newcastle, which is open to all. Having a book published has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, so I really want to celebrate and make the most of it. I hope it’s the first of many.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Principally, I want it to work as a thriller. The main job as a writer is to keep the pages turning, otherwise everything else is pointless. I hope they find it a tense and compelling story, with well-written characters and a terrifying villain. On another level, I hope they’ll enjoy reading a book with a protagonist who has a physical impairment. Of the 24 official James Bond movies, 17 have a villain with some kind of impairment, so they’re broadly presenting this idea that physically different means ‘bad’. I want Lord of the Dead to be the antithesis of this. Atherton has a disability and he’s not the villain, or side-lined as a supporting character. He’s front and centre. He’s the hero.

 

Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

I’ve started on a sequel to Lord of the Dead. The working title is The Life of the Flesh, but that could change. I’ve also been working on some screenplay ideas for movie and TV.

 

What do you think of social media and has it helped you?

I work in social media, so I love it. Twitter in particular has been indispensable to track down the experts I mentioned. There’s a social media element to the book’s plot. I thought it would be interesting to see how a serial killer case could play out in today’s modern world where people publicly document their lives so readily.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wanting to write?

I started with short stories and flash fiction. It’s a good way to get into the habit of writing without throwing yourself straight into a novel. There are lots of websites and magazines with open submissions. Look for competitions. Winning the New Writing North Award gave me the confidence to keep going, helped me make contacts and got me an agent. Join a writers group. Usually, writers only work in isolation, so you never get much feedback on your work. Get people other than your family and friends to read your stuff. Don’t try to emulate the flavour of the month. Write what you want to write about, otherwise you’re really not going to enjoy it.

 

Who are you favourite authors?

My favourite authors aren’t really crime writers and I’m actually quite embarrassed about how little I’ve read in recent years. I like Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palaniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy amongst others.

 

What do you hope to be doing in five years time?

I’d like to think I might have written another novel or two. I see Lord of the Dead as the first in a trilogy, perhaps with a spin-off series featuring a supporting character. I’d love to write or co-write a movie or TV show, but as long as I’m doing something creative, I’ll be happy.

 

 

About Richard Rippon

Richard Rippon has been writing since 2007, when his short story, Full Tilt, was long-listed for a Northern Dagger award. In 2009, he won a New Writing North Award for his first novel, The Kebab King. Since then he’s had a number of short stories published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2012, he was commissioned to write a short story (The Other One), which appears in the Platform anthology. He lives on the North East coast with his wife and two children, and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Richard was also a social media phenomenon in 2016, as one of the men behind the twitter sensation #DrummondPuddleWatch.

 

You can follow Richard on:-

Twitter – @RichRippon

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/richard.rippon.3.

 

‘Lord of the Dead’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Dead-Richard-Rippon/dp/1999752805/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509647090&sr=1-1&keywords=lord+of+the+dead+richard+rippon

eBook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Dead-Richard-Rippon-ebook/dp/B0771Y153J/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509647090&sr=1-2&keywords=lord+of+the+dead+richard+rippon

 

Book Launch – ‘Parallel Lies’ by Georgia Rose

I am absolutely delighted to have Georgia Rose on my blog today.  Her new book, ‘Parallel Lies’ is out tomorrow, the 12th September 2017 and I asked Georgia all about it.

 

Firstly, for the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about ‘Parallel Lies’ please?

Parallel Lies is the story of Madeleine Ross, a young woman who lives in a village and appears to be one thing when in fact she is something very different. I love putting a quote in the front of my books and the one I found for Parallel Lies was perfect.

‘Everyone sees what you appear to be…

…few really know what you are’

Machiavelli

This totally sums up Madeleine, but because we all make assumptions about people around us, it applies equally to them too, as Madeleine finds out. As usual with my stories I’ve been unable to stick to one genre so this one has romance in it plus crime and mystery and the first reviews in have mentioned the thriller element, so there’s that as well.

 

What made you decide to write this book?

This…

‘I hear it, behind me, and to the left. The snap of a twig underfoot and a sharp intake of breath at the indiscretion.’

This has been in my mind for years and years, well before The Grayson Trilogy and I decided if it wasn’t going to let me go, I’d better get on and write it.

 

How long did it take you to write?

A bit less than two years, with the editing and everything else that goes into publishing a book.

 

Did the story come easily to you?

No. It took me ages to ‘find’ Madeleine and get her right. Then every paragraph, some days every line felt like it was having to be dragged from me.

 

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

Not really. I’d like to be Diane, and maybe I’ll grow up to be her 😀 and Madeleine doesn’t like olives, or mixing fruit and chocolate, and neither do I. But that’s about it. People who know me thought I was Emma from the Grayson Trilogy (I wasn’t!) but given Madeleine’s behaviour in this book I’m hoping I’ve put enough distance between us, otherwise my neighbours may be shocked.

 

What would your reaction be if a character from your book turned up on your doorstep?

I would love it. Well, at least I’d love it with most of the characters. I’d invite whoever it was in anyway but I’d definitely be keeping my wits about me with a couple of them.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you go to do your writing?

It’s not really a favourite place but it is the place where I’m to be found most often and that is my office. Not a very romantic answer or anything but it’s just where the work gets done.

 

What do you think about social media and has it helped you a lot?

I have mixed feelings about it. Like many authors I find it difficult to promote my work and would actually rather be writing. But then without it I wouldn’t have discovered the wonderful online community of other authors, readers and bookish people, book bloggers and reviewers and where would we all be without their support?

 

Could you live without Twitter?

Absolutely, without question.

 

Are there more books in the pipeline?

Well now, I had a little fledgling of an idea that I thought I might try once Parallel Lies was launched but the first feedback I’ve had has been that a sequel is wanted so I might see how it goes and do that. Or, I might go back to my original idea. So, yes is the short answer, just don’t ask me what!

 

Did you always want to be a writer?

I don’t think so. I wanted to be a vet! But I have always enjoyed doing a bit of writing and have tried a couple of times over the years to start a book but always gave up. I’m not particularly prolific with the story ideas so when I get one that comes to me that’s when I crack on with it. I can’t just sit in front of a blank screen and write randomly expecting something to come.

 

What good advice have you been given about writing?

Just do it! Is what it really comes down to. I’ve had so many people say to me, oh I’ve always wanted to write a book, and there are always excuses. If you want to, just do it – it’s as simple as that.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I don’t have any. If I’m not working or doing the usual domestic and life stuff I’m writing. I guess that is what I do in my spare time 😀

 

You have a collection of 1,000 books at home and are told you are only allowed to keep 3.  Which ones would you choose?

This would change on a daily basis – but right at this minute it would be A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by Mark Barry. He’s my editor, this is his latest book and it is terrific. I’ve read it once this year already but I would love to do so again. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans – I have a lifelong passion for horses and found this fascinating plus I cried at the end which definitely signifies a good book. And lastly, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – the last two I haven’t read for years and the details are sufficiently hazy that they are ready for me to enjoy all over again. But there are loads of others I’d choose on another day… couldn’t I just cheat and grab my Kindle instead?

 

~~~~~

 

Book Blurb

My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…

Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it.

Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job.

Company… when she wants it.

It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect.

Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers.

But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets.

And they never stay buried for ever.

Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him.

Or her past.

Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have.

Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new?

You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.

~~~~~

You can pre-order ‘Parallel Lies’ here – http://getbook.at/ParallelLies

But wait! There’s also a Giveaway for you to enter, should you wish!  Just click on the link below:-

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/adc035ab1/?

 

About Georgia Rose

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone to be released on 12 September 2017, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination!

Georgia prefers silence to noise, and being socially inept likes to stay in rather than go out. She is thankful that she grew up in an age before online dating became a thing and before everyone carried a camera as at least all the horrifyingly embarrassing moments of her life can only replay in the confines of her own head.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage!

Follow Georgia on Twitter – @GeorgiaRoseBook

*****

Thank you for inviting me on your lovely blog, Sonya, it has been a pleasure to visit you and get to chat to your readers.

 

Interview with Natalie Kleinman

I would like to introduce you all to Natalie Kleinman whose novel, ‘Escape to the Cotswolds’ was published as an eBook on the 21st June 2017 by HQ Digital.  I interviewed Natalie and asked her all about her latest book.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Escape to the Cotswolds’ please?

After her husband cheats on her one time too many, Holly leaves London and starts again in the beautiful village of Cuffingham. A talented artist, she is able, with the help of a legacy from her parents, to open a small gallery in the high street. She’s doing well, is spotted by an American dealer and whisked off to the States for an exhibition. Back in England Holly gets a puppy, the adorable Tubs, but still something is missing from her life. And then there’s Adam, the gorgeous vet with whom she has a less than satisfactory relationship. Will they ever recover from the scrap of their first meeting?

 

How long did it take you to write?

About six months from first draft to first edit. Then another edit. Then ano…

 

Where did you get the idea for your book from?

It began as the germ of an idea. A cheating husband. A girl who has the courage to start again. And an area I lost my heart to years ago in which to set her story. Aside from that I’m a bit of a panster so from that point on it took me where it would. That first draft is as much a journey of discovery for me as I hope the finished article is for my readers.

 

Have you ever visited the Cotswolds and if so, how would you sell it to someone thinking about going on holiday there?

Many times and I wouldn’t have to sell it. It sells itself. Glorious honey coloured stone buildings. Quaint villages and hamlets. English market towns. Rolling countryside. Magnificent country houses. Does it for me.

 

Did you find that your characters spoke to you whilst you were writing?

Always, to the extent that two demanded I change their names because they were definitely not happy with the ones I’d given them, particularly my hero. He was right. The first one didn’t fit. And Holly’s inner thoughts became private conversations between the two of us. I found myself willing her on. Even some of the minor characters are real to me. I can clearly picture Betty and Donald and their farm.

 

What would you do if you met any of the characters from your book for real?

Greet them like the old friends they are.

 

What was the publishing process like for you?

A wonderful experience. My manuscript was submitted on 30th January and accepted on 15th February. My editors at HQ Digital were incredibly helpful and quick to reply to any queries. In no time, it seemed, I was given a publication date, then a cover reveal (I love it) and before I could blink it was up on Amazon and on its way.

 

How did you feel on the day your book was published?

Excited, euphoric and a bit stunned by the promotion side of things.

 

Are there more books coming?

The next one is in the planning stage, sort of. I don’t do a meticulous plan (remember, I said above I’m a panster) but I’ve written an outline and the whole story is in my head, though not the details of course. A couple of chapters done and already I’m finding out about my characters. One is particularly appealing. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

Has social media been useful to you?

Immensely. It’s not my favourite thing but I appreciate its importance. How can readers buy a book they don’t even know exists?

 

What advice have you got for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write it – but remember that writing is a craft, to be learned like any other. Now-famous authors who experienced instant fame had probably been writing for many years before their overnight success. There will be highs and lows but if it’s in you it will find a way out. Above all, engage with other writers. Join a group or a creative writing school. And depending on your favoured genre, look to the romantic, crime historical associations and become a member. The help you will receive will be priceless. On a personal level I can’t recommend The Romantic Novelists Association too highly.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time?

 

Who are your favourite authors?

Georgette Heyer. Lee Child. Georgette Heyer.  Harlan Coben. Georgette Heyer…

 

You are given the task of living on a desert island for one month and are only allowed to have two books with you.  What would they be?

Frederica by Georgette Heyer. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. It’s like a comfort blanket. And Escape to the Cotswolds so my characters, who have become my friends, can hold my hand until I’m rescued.

 

Thanks for answering my questions, Natalie.  Your book sounds wonderful and I wish you every success with it.

 

About Natalie Kleinman

Natalie, a born and bred Londoner, has a not-so-secret wish to live in the area she so enjoys writing about. While this isn’t practical at the moment she stills allows herself to dream of honey-coloured stone cottages, quaint villages and rippling brooks. Maybe one day.

A late-comer to writing, she has two published novels and many short stories to her name. She attributes her success to a determination to improving her craft, attending any and every writing event she can. All that and a weekly attendance at The Write Place Creative School in Dartford where cream cakes are frequently on the agenda.

Natalie lives with her husband in Blackheath, south-east London – except when she’s tripping off to The Cotswolds in the name of research. Somebody has to do it!

 

Links

Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Blog

 

Interview with Anthony Lavisher

Hello everyone!  I am finally back blogging and I have a lot coming up for all you readers over the coming weeks.

Today I would like to welcome the lovely Anthony Lavisher to my blog.  Anthony self-published his latest novel, ‘Vengeance of a Storm’, the last book in the Storm Trilogy on the 1st December last year.  Below is my interview with Anthony which I really hope you enjoy.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Vengeance of a Storm’ please?

Thanks for having me, certainly, Sonya. Vengeance of a Storm is the culmination of seven years of work, the finale of my Storm Trilogy.

 

What made you decide to write a trilogy?

I grew up reading trilogies, starting with The Lord of the Rings and from there, falling in love with, and devouring, as much fantasy as I could afford or borrow. I love the format of a trilogy, be it on the page or on the silver screen, that natural progression through the story of the characters journey, all of the story arcs, so carefully stitched and threaded through the tale, finishing, hopefully, in a rich tapestry of adventure for both myself and the readers.

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

I overheard a conversation one day in my local supermarket; two members of staff were being, ahem, shall we say, less than complimentary about one of their colleagues. I moved on quickly, but as I queued at the checkout, I thought “Hmm! What if I had overheard something important? Something that would put my life in danger if I chose to do something about it?”

It offered up all sorts of possibilities and the first book Whispers of a Storm began to evolve from there.

 

Did you have to do any research at all?

I did a lot of research on the Middle Ages, one of my favourite periods in history. The trilogy is set in the Four Vales, an imagined medieval land, and I wanted to look at the everyday things people would have faced, their customs and their beliefs, the governance and political system, the tools and clothes they would have worn and the lives they would have led.

 

How long has it taken you to write each book?

It took two years for Whispers of a Storm and three for the sequel Shadows of a Storm (I moved to Wales during that time and started working for the Vale of Glamorgan library service). Vengeance of a Storm, the longest of the trilogy, took 17 months to arrive.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I think there is a little of all of them in me somewhere. Everyone I have met in my life and many that I have not have sown the seeds of the characters that evolved through my tale.

If I had to relate to any of them closely, I think it would be Khadazin and, probably, a bit too much of Arillion.

 

Are you planning to write more books?

I have the ideas for at least seven more, so far…. ah, this is question seven 🙂 I have already started my next tale, a stand-alone modern thriller, a complete departure from my fantasy writing. From there, I shall spend several books in historical fiction before coming back to some thrillers and, who knows, perhaps one day a return to the Four Vales…

 

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

In the summer, I write at the rear of the cottage, where the sun is warmest. During the colder months I migrate to the dining room, closest to the largest radiator. Currently a part-time writer, my dream is that one day I can write full-time and have a study to write from.

 

How has social media helped you?

It has been a wonderful tool and for me, conversely, also the hardest part about the writing process. It puts you in touch with people you may never have met, a legion of eager readers and the other authors out there who are also trying to carve their path in the Ether. It helps to get you noticed, make people aware of your work, a platform from where your voice can at least have a fighting chance to be heard from.

I also find it a burden, however, as it takes up so much of my time. I don’t want to be camped over my laptop 24/7, or checking things on my phone all the time, but in this digital world we now live in, it seems that to get noticed, you do have to spend quite a bit of your day doing so.

 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding writing?

“Be true to yourself and to your writing” – don’t be influenced by what people might want from your tales.

My own belief is also that if I am not enjoying it, nobody else will. The day I stop loving what I am doing, is the day I put the pen down (or switch off the laptop).

 

Who are your favourite authors?

First and foremost, David Gemmell – the British Fantasy writer who sadly passed away in 2006. His style, his tales opened up the floodgates for me and I have never looked back since my friend Alan loaned me a copy of his first novel “Legend.”

I also really enjoy Robert Harris and Bernard Cornwell’s work.

 

If you had another chance at life would you still write books?

Without any hesitation. The only exception/change I would make is that I would make sure I joined the E-book revolution a lot sooner that I did.

I am a stickler for the belief in the physical page and I held out far too long to get with the times.

~~~~~

Competition

Hopefully this interview has left you wanting to read Anthony Lavisher’s trilogy.  If that’s the case then you’re in luck as Anthony is very kindly giving away two paperback copies of ‘Whispers of a Storm’, the first book in the trilogy to start you off.

To enter just leave a comment telling me what you are reading at the moment.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is the 15th May 2017.  Any entries after this date will not be accepted.

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Anthony Lavisher who will send out your prizes.

~~~~~

About Anthony Lavisher

Born in Berkshire, England, Anthony has always loved writing stories. After many years of enjoying other authors works, he decided to try and give something back to the literary world. From an early age, since reading The Lord of the Rings, he has been inspired to write his own stories. He states that his favourite author is David Gemmell and that his style of writing has been inspired by the sadly missed author.

Anthony lives in Wales with his wife Amy and Mertle the cat. He is about to start work on his next novel ‘The Last Tiger.’

 

Links

Website: http://alavisher.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alavisher

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Lavisher-Author/118025884963443

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4242577.Anthony_Lavisher

G+: https://plus.google.com/102712490566399197548/posts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anthony-Lavisher/e/B0079N6V68/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1485522874&sr=8-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Revenge of the Malakim’ by Paul Harrison

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed Paul Harrison.  ‘Revenge of the Malakim’ is Paul’s debut crime fiction novel and it is the first book in The Grooming Parlour Trilogy.

 

For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about ‘Revenge of the Malakim’ please?

Its my debut crime fiction novel, based in Bridlington and surrounding area. A fast paced police procedural, with DCI Will Scott and his sidekick DI Daisy Wright, trying to identify and arrest a serial killer with a difference. Its a roller coaster of an investigation, taking the reader across the north of England, down to London and to the US. There’s lots of twists and turns throughout.

 

How long did it take you to write?

The planning of the story line and plot took the longest, since a common thread runs through the trilogy. It took several months planning, and two months to write.

 

What made you decide to write a series?

I cover a difficult subject, and there are so many different strands that I wanted to cover. The Grooming Parlour Trilogy of books, manages to encompass this without compromising the plot or hopefully, reader enjoyment.

 

When can we expect the next book in the series to be out?

The Dark Web will be out June/July 2017 I hope it will really hit the mark with readers, as the action and intrigue is non stop.

 

What would your reaction be if a character out of your book turned up on your doorstep?

Wow. Depends which one really. I would welcome them all, since Its up to me what they do and how they react. Though there are a couple I would avoid. Cannot say much more, if you get my drift.

 

Would you like to see this series made into a TV programme? 

Definitely yes, I think it lends itself to a television series perfectly.

 

How long were you a police officer for? 

My police career spans three decades. I saw huge changes during that time (1970s through to the late 1990s). I was medically pensioned out of the force after sustaining a serious injury on duty.

 

What sort of cases have you been involved in?

Everything, from murder, to child abduction, kidnapping. Its wrong that murder investigations are super interesting. They are difficult and often monotonous. In fiction, it is the thrill of the chase, and the mystery. You do not get that in day to day police investigations.

 

What was it like interviewing serial killers?

Well, at first it was exciting, being face to face with them. My first serial killer was Ron DeFeo, of Amityville horror fame. He was charming, yet deluded, he continually changed his story.  Peter Sutcliffe, (Yorkshire Ripper) was cold and calculating. I felt uncomfortable with him.  Funnily enough, having interviewed over thirty of these killers, there is one thing they have in common, it isn’t that they are evil. They are insipid characters with weak personalities.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I would love to still be writing crime fiction and hopefully with Williams and Whiting publisher and Mike Linane. They are the best publisher I have worked for. Mike is amazingly supportive and knows his stuff. I have total respect for him. I think it is fair to say that I have penned my last true crime book now. I had a decent run at it, over thirty books. Fiction is far more interesting.

 

Will there be more books from you after this series?

Most definitely. I am discussing something very special, for later this year, with my publisher Williams and Whiting as we speak.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I watch football, Leeds United. I do try to go to as many games as I can. In addition, I have three dogs, German Shepherds, so do a lot of walking with them. Which helps me think and plan new plot lines.

 

About Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a retired police officer, with a successful career that spanned three decades.  During that time, he worked on some memorable high profile investigations, and interviewed countless criminals who operated within the darker side of humanity.  Paul began writing and had his first book published during his time in the police.  Since then, he has gone on to write 34 books, mainly in the field of true crime.  Now he has turned all that experience into writing crime fiction.

 

Links

‘Revenge of the Malakim’ is available from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revenge-Malakim-Grooming-Parlour-Trilogy/dp/1911266527/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1490123310&sr=1-1

Paul Harrison’s Website – http://www.paulharrisonbooks.co.uk

DCI Will Scott (character) Website – http://www.dciwillscott.com/

 

Book Trailer

Interview with Daniel Gothard

I can’t believe this is the very last day of my Urbane Blog Event.  Where has the time gone?  Today I have for you an interview with Daniel Gothard and then later on there will be reviews of both of his books.

 

You have so far had two novels published by Urbane Publications. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about them please?

“Simon says” is a book about youth, love and the value of great friends – classic tenets of a lot of romantic comedy. I think what sets the novel apart, or so I’ve been told by various readers, is this type of story being from a male point-of-view – heartbreak, starting over, strong friendship … A few people have referred to the novel as “male chick-lit”.

“Reunited” is set in 1992 and 2012 – the story is told in a first-person narrative by Ben Tallis (aged 16 in ’92, at school, dealing with the death of his dad, and being in secret love with one of his best friends. And then in ’12, at 36, a journalist, going to a 20 year school reunion). The chapters go between the 2 time frames and seem to have worked well – reviews have been very positive (to date!)

 

What led you to write them?

I’ve written in various genres – even a 16,000 word 2nd person Dystopian short story! – and I’ve always loved rom-coms: “When Harry Met Sally”, “Four Weddings And A Funeral”, et al. I had the ideas in quick succession and had a really good time writing the books. Writing can be genuinely hard work, but these were a pleasure and I found myself smiling and laughing at my own references and comedic scenes. It was a bit pathetic!?

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

Ah, the BIG question. Probably watching too much TV, too many films and listening to too much music in the 1970s and 1980s! My head is full of useless cultural markers – but they come in handy sometimes. The actual moment of inception, when the idea happens – for me – is just something I can create. That reads as a bit arrogant, but it’s just a thing I’ve done since childhood.

 

Would you like to see either of your books made into a film or TV programme?

Oh yeah! Money, money, money!! And for a wider audience. Artistically, of course, most books don’t translate that well on to the screen. But I love film and TV, and there are some brilliant actors and directors around these days. It would be fantastic

 

What would you do if a character from one of your books knocked on your door?

Pretend I wasn’t home! I mean that wholeheartedly … They are nice enough people, I’m the misanthrope.

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yep. I’ve got 2 books out with literary agents and publishers, but the difficulty with success in the creative arts is always about ‘shifting product’. Quality naturally counts, but a publisher and/or a literary agent has to be VERY sure of you to take the financial risks. I’ve been hugely fortunate. YouGov found, in 2015, over 60% of the UK had writing as their dream-job. 98% of submissions are rejected – and there are, literally, thousands of submissions each week.

 

How easy was it to get published?

Not easy at all. 2013-present has been very busy and my publication rate looks very good. But I started learning the craft in 2000, got married, had a day job and have 3 kids. It’s been a very long process. You have to REALLY want to write, act, make music, etc. to succeed. And there are absolutely no guarantees.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write a book?

Look at my answer from the last question. Keep writing, read great, ‘difficult’ books, learn from the best, take chances. Don’t give up. As one of my bosses used to say, “You’re a long time dead. So get on with getting on.” Morbid but true!

 

Has social media been of much benefit to you?

Undoubtedly. I wouldn’t have met Matthew Smith – MD of Urbane Publications – without it. I wrote, as an arts correspondent, for After Nyne Magazine and met the editor, Claire Meadows (another Urbane Publications author) through Twitter. It has changed everything for me.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Watch great TV/films. Read those ‘difficult’ novels.

 

Describe your writing journey in three words.

Long. Tough. Fulfilling.

 

If you could do all this again, would you?

Absolutely!

 

Links

Twitter – @bookslifelove and @GOTHARDDANIEL

 

Interview with Guy Fraser-Sampson

It’s a pleasure to have Guy Fraser-Sampson on my blog.  Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Hampstead Murders series, I was really happy when Guy agreed to be interviewed for this event.

 

I’ve really enjoyed the first two books in the Hampstead Murders series. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about your books please?

I’m glad you enjoyed the first two Hampstead Murders. They are intended more as a serial than a series, so it really is a great advantage to read them in the right order. The first, ‘Death in Profile’ describes the hunt for a serial killer. The second, ‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is partly about a cold case enquiry in which, it turns out, Agatha Christie may have been a key witness. The third, ‘A Whiff of Cyanide’, which features suspicious death at a convention of crime writers, is due out in June.

I am a great reader (up to about 200 books a year) but for a long time now I have found it difficult to read modern crime fiction as so much of it feels the same: either noir or cosy. So I deliberately set out to produce something “different”, and above all to write the sort of book I would like to read. Instead of a single central character there are various characters, who ebb and flow in prominence during the course of the series. Instead of a damaged character with drink, drugs or gambling problems these are likeable people about whom the reader will care “what happens next”. Instead of a bleak coastal location there is the sumptuously beautiful townscape of Hampstead.

The books have been described as quirky and intelligent. There are references, both overt and implied, to various Golden Age writers and detectives, most notably Lord Peter Wimsey. Without being in any way surreal, they do ask questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, as well as the role of synchronicity (extreme coincidence) in human affairs.

I have also given my characters real personal lives, with all the problems of love triangles, private tragedy, and police politics. The love triangle in particular is part of the “what happens next” syndrome!

 

Where did you get the idea for this series from?

Once I had decided (after an approach from a publisher I knew) to write a detective series it took me about two years to work out what sort of books they should be and to work out the plot of the first one. Initially I was strongly tempted to write period crime but ended up settling upon this exciting idea of combining a contemporary narrative with a Golden Age writing style, which I don’t think anyone else is doing. Adverbs, for example, seem to have gone entirely out of fashion!

Hampstead was always going to be part of the equation. I’m a strong believer in the importance of a sense of place within a novel. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, for example, that two of my favourite novels are ‘Midnight’s Children’ and ‘The Alexandria Quartet’. So I knew I wanted something that could play the role of Oxford for Morse or Hastings Old Town for Foyle, and Hampstead was the obvious candidate, partly because it’s so beautiful and partly because I knew it so well.

 

Did you have to do any research at all?

I’ve always done a huge amount of research for my books. The Hampstead Murders, along with my Mapp and Lucia novels, feature real life people and events and it’s very important to get these absolutely right: Dorothy L Sayers made the point that if a reader spots a factual mistake then it weakens their suspension of disbelief so far as the plot is concerned. For ‘Miss Christie Regrets’, for example, I did a lot of research into the history of the Lawn Road Flats (the Isokon Building). A lot of real life people feature – Jack Pritchard and Wells Coates for instance – though I did change the name of the Oxbridge don who was recruiting foreign agents there …

 

Would you like to see your books made into a TV series and if so who would you choose to play the main parts?

Yes, I’ve always seen the Hampstead Murders as a TV series, which is partly why I chose the temporal format which I did. People love to watch period drama but it’s very costly to make. This way the production company gets the best of both worlds. It’s contemporary drama, so they don’t have to worry about covering up TV aerials or filming at four in the morning, but with themes like vintage clothing embedded within it, so we can still get to admire people in elegant outfits.

As for casting, I’m afraid the poor old author gets no say whatsoever in this. Look at the recent ‘Mapp and Lucia’ series for a perfect example. When you sign over the screen rights you’re essentially selling your children into slavery. You just have to walk away and not look back.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Year round I write in my study, which overlooks Spike Milligan’s grave in the graveyard of St Thomas’s church in Winchelsea. During the summer I do like to get out into the garden whenever I can. Ambience is very important to me. I have always found it difficult to do work of any description in unsympathetic surroundings.

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

It’s no great secret that the Hampstead Murders were originally going to be published by somebody else, but they pulled out of issuing any new fiction titles just before we were due to go to print. Naturally at the time I was not very amused by this, but in fact things worked out pretty well.

I spent about a year trying to find a new publisher, and had some interesting responses. One described it as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’ but then perversely went on to give this as a reason for turning it down. Ironically, the very unique positioning which I had decided upon worked against it rather than in its favour. Nobody was prepared to take a risk on publishing something “different” despite the fact that my last three novels had all been optioned by BBC television.

Then I met (or rather re-met) Matthew at Urbane and everything fell into place. He had run Kogan Page when they published a book for me, and as soon as he read ‘Death in Profile’ he instantly “got it” about what I was trying to do, and has just been the ideal publisher. He’s very supportive, and encourages his writers to do what feels right for them.

 

You’ve also written a number of non-fiction books. Can you tell me a bit about them please?

I fear many of them would not appeal to the general reader as the early ones tended to be about finance and investment. The ones I would recommend are:

‘Cricket at the Crossroads’: telling the human story of what happened to the English Test side between 1967 and 1977.

‘The Mess We’re In’: a darkly humorous analysis of recent British economic history.

‘No Fear Finance’: de-mystifying finance for the general reader and explaining it in conceptual terms rather than getting bogged down in mathematics.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write a book?

Go into it with your eyes open. Be prepared for a great deal of rejection, criticism and disappointment. If you can’t handle this then please don’t try, because you will end up just making yourself very unhappy and possibly even ill. Honestly, I know personally some writers who have ended up with severe depression and other mental illnesses as a result of what being a writer has put them through.

The perception is that you get your book published (a hugely difficult thing to accomplish in the first place) and then wake up famous. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. The hard work hasn’t ended, it has only just begun. Now you have the task of promoting your book, because generally speaking if you don’t, then nobody else will.

Something else that people don’t appreciate is that you risk losing a lot of friends as well. Writers are obsessed with their book: they have to be. Our friends are not: it’s just a peripheral thing at best. We, understandably, expect them to buy copies of our book for themselves and their friends and family, to praise it fulsomely to complete strangers, to attend our events, and post reviews of it online. They, equally understandably, don’t see things that way; it just doesn’t occur to them how important it is to us. Although, a quick tip for any writers’ friends out there: please don’t ever, under any circumstances, say to a writer “I’d love to read your book – can you give me a copy?”

 

Will you be doing more book signings?

I love doing book signings, particularly as part of book festivals, because it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet real life readers and get feedback about what they liked and (just as important) what they didn’t. In fact, I happen to believe that there is a lot of untapped potential out there for writers, readers, and booksellers to interact much more efficiently than they do at present.

Events I am particularly looking forward to are Deal Noir on 26 March, Southwold on 17/18 June, and a crime fiction evening at Heffer’s bookshop in Cambridge on 6 July. For lovers of my Mapp and Lucia books, I will be part of the Rye Festival in September. I mention these because they are open to the general public. I’m also doing various private functions including speaking to various London clubs as well as the Womens’ Institute.

Readers are welcome to contact me at any time to investigate a mutually convenient event. Ditto anyone who would like to organise something.

 

How have book bloggers helped you

Oh my word, massively. The big publishers have a very cosy arrangement with the traditional national media which means indie authors can’t get reviewed there no matter how good they may be. So social media such as book blogs are our life blood, our only real route to a wider readership.

The really great thing about book bloggers is that they are serious readers so their opinions really matter. Getting a recommendation from a book blogger always gives me a real buzz, particularly when they say something that makes me realise that they have absolutely understood exactly what I was trying to achieve.

 

Facebook or Twitter?

I disagree with various writers about Facebook. I think you have to be really careful not to push your books on it too frequently. For me, one mention every couple of days is plenty, although I don’t think anyone minds you posting about events, whether before, during or after. I think people will find anything more than that intrusive, and you risk them unfollowing you.

Twitter is different and I use it a lot, sending tweets to targeted users who have shown an interest in, say, Golden Age detective fiction (or Hampstead!).

So, Twitter for me, although a lady called Laura Stone (@minxlaura123) has recently got me thinking about video blogs. She recently reviewed ‘Miss Christie Regrets’ on a live video feed and had several thousand hits.

 

Wine or Champagne?

Wine, please, and lots of it – preferably new world reds. I have no intention of dying sober.

 

Links

‘Death in Profile’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/death-in-profile/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Profile-Hampstead-Murders-no1/dp/191069293X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458486555&sr=1-1&keywords=death+in+profile

‘Miss Christie Regrets’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/miss-christie-regrets/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Miss-Christie-Regrets-Guy-Fraser-Sampson/1911331809/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484164698&sr=1-1&keywords=miss+christie+regrets

‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whiff-Cyanide-Book-Hampstead-Murders/dp/1911129767/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489860093&sr=1-1&keywords=a+whiff+of+cyanide

 

Interview with Patrick Garratt

It’s time for another interview now.  Patrick Garratt’s debut novel, ‘Deg’ was published last year and I asked him all about it.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Deg’ please?

Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will alway be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.

 

Is this a book you’ve always wanted to write?

In a way, I suppose. I’d been working on another novel called The Ooning, which I eventually canned after two rewrites, and was spending a lot of time reading twentieth century postmodernism. That these authors could write as they pleased, with little thought for the traditional notion of readability, was revelatory. In that sense I’d always wanted to write Deg. I was just ignorant of the fact.

 

Where did you get your ideas for it from?

Deg is my life story, a psychedelic diary. Thematically it’s a product of my family’s environment at the time of writing. Roughly three years before I wrote Deg we’d emigrated from the UK to Corrèze, a rural department in the Limousin region of southwest France. My wife and I lived in a huge house surrounded by forests with our three small children. Corrèze is so sparsely populated that it’s possible to get back to nature in a way I didn’t realise still existed in western Europe, and I allowed myself to start using cannabis again after a long abstinence from any drugs at all, including alcohol. The result was explosive. I just let it come out.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote the first draft in around three months. It was a little like vomiting.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Absolutely, yeah. As I said, it’s a thinly-veiled diary.

 

What was the publication process like for you?

A little bizarre, but ultimately amazing. I tried to get Deg published via the traditional route of finding an agent, but, unsurprisingly, it got rejected everywhere. I’d moved onto writing the next book, and had given up reasonable hope of seeing Deg published at all. On the advice of a friend I approached video game artist Ste Pickford to draw the cover as a precursor to self-publication, and he liked it so much he decided to illustrate every chapter. I saw Matthew Smith, Urbane’s boss, requesting book pitches on Twitter, and he showed immediate interest.

From then the process was incredibly relaxed. Matthew is eminently professional and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The hardback really is a thing of beauty, from the physical materials to the reproduction of Ste’s drawings, and that’s all I could have hoped for. Being published by Urbane was a great experience.

 

Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to write a novel?

Jeepers. So much of this depends on your goals. Many people approach writing as a career, as a job. There’s a financial element to it, as in they want to make money from novels. They attend seminars and buy places on courses and do degrees in creative writing and whatever else, eventually (hopefully) becoming trained in the creation of commercial fiction. If that’s what you want, then off you go. There’s an entire coaching industry waiting for your cash.

I always wanted to be a literary author, meaning the route to success is far muddier. The truth is that if you “want to be a writer” then you must write. Write anything, everything, in any way you want, but you must be productive. Embrace your fear and write your brain, not someone else’s. Don’t worry about making money or getting published or getting an agent. Just be as good as you can be, and that means a constant striving for personal betterment, for self-tuition and the overcoming of internal struggle. If you want to create art then learn art. Allowing yourself to be the person you want to be, to be you, could well be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’ll only reach your core by remorselessly breaching personal barriers. Stop giving a shit about the opinions of others. You won’t be recognised for replication.

To give an example. While I was working on the book following Deg, I lapsed into quite a serious period of self-doubt (yes, this is normal: few people are more pitiable than unpublished novelists), and signed myself up for a distance learning course in novel-writing. After I’d completed the first lesson, part of which was to outline my goals as a writer, the tutor told me I would never secure an agent or a deal if my work wasn’t “accessible”. Urbane signed Deg the following week. I never got round to lesson two.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

It never stops. I’ve written two full novels since Deg and I’m about to start another.

 

Have any authors influenced your work and if so, who?

The more experimental twentieth century postmodernists, such as Gaddis, Burroughs, Ballard, Acker and Pynchon, have heavily influenced me. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (it’s noteworthy as I read it just before starting writing Deg) showed me how strange fiction could be, that writing could be powerful as a result of being simultaneously formless and structured. It had a strong impact on my work.

I’m starting to read more theatre and poetry. Fiona, my wife, just passed a Masters in translation studies (with distinction, I should add: I’m very proud to be married to a genius), and she focused on Peter Weiss’s Holocaust play The Investigation for her dissertation. This type of experimental form is currently interesting me as I’ve been fixated with novel-length fiction up to now. I’ve also just finished a collection of Daniil Kharms’s poems and plays, something completely different from my usual reading. Some of his pieces are so beautiful, so insightful. It’s hard to not be influenced by him.

 

How long have you been a journalist for?

Forever. I started working as a video gaming journalist in 1998.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We now live in the Vosges, a mountain region in the northeast of France, so I’m able to ski when there’s snow and go mountain biking when there isn’t. I work out a lot. Travelling is becoming a lot more important to me, and, obviously, I love to read.

 

If you were only allowed to own two books what would they be?

Probably Infinite Jest and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s my children’s’ favourite author, so it’d always remind me of when they were young. I’d take Infinite Jest because I still haven’t read the endnotes. I’m such a fraud.

 

Links

‘Deg’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/deg/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deg-Patrick-Garratt/dp/1911129481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489694327&sr=1-1

Patrick Garratt’s Personal Website – https://patrickgarratt.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patlike

Deg Illustrator Ste Pickford’s Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/stepickford/

Interview with PJ Whiteley

I am delighted to have PJ Whiteley back on my blog.  His new book, ‘Marching on Together’ was published last month and I asked him all about it.

 

As you know I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Marching on Together’ when it was a work in progress.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thanks Sonya. Marching on Together is about belonging, family and memory, with a hint of romance. A short description would be: ‘Last Orders meets Fever Pitch’. It follows six Leeds United supporters, two of them brothers, on a sojourn to Bruges and the Flanders battlefields in August 2014, for the centenary of the start of the First World War. Yvonne, a central character, has cause to reflect on how a sporting controversy from 1975 continues to haunt her. She was caught up in some post-match violence after a major final, then a transport strike; the combination knocked her young life off course, for reasons that become clearer as you read the book. At the age of 56 in 2014, she has the opportunity to reflect, but also, finally, to move on.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

I love to combine depth and humour, and to have characters reflect on the most profound matters in quite mundane settings. Other writers can do war, murder and tragedy; I’m more fascinated by how a seemingly small turn of events can alter our life course, and even how we view the world, a bit like in the movie Sliding Doors. Sport and a sense of identity and belonging are also fascinating themes for me.

 

Are you a sports fan?

Yes, and I like to explore the comedy and tension that can lie when one person is devoted to a sport and their significant other is not! In Marching on Together I invert the stereotype because Yvonne is the obsessive football watcher and her husband becomes disenchanted, and feels left out. In Bruges, she has a bit of an argument with a German football fan, but then discovers he loves the band Genesis, and they bond over that. Plus, she fancies him.

 

What do you hope readers will get from ‘Marching on Together’?

I’ve had some very positive feedback, and strong start to sales; I think people engage with the characters. There’s drama in the fine line that can separate good and bad fortune in life – whether it’s on the football field or in your love life.

 

What would you do if one of your characters knocked on your door?

They wouldn’t dare: I know too much about them 😉

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yes. I will write books for as long as I’m breathing. The third novel is called The Rooms We Never Enter, and it’s a spin-off from Marching on Together; it’s a romance, and there’s only a little sport this time!

 

Can you describe Urbane Publications in twenty words?

Urbane Publications is an innovative, independent publisher that dares to publish original voices and empowers authors. It deserves success.

 

How has social media helped you?

Facebook and Twitter are essential for an author, when you don’t have a huge publicity budget. You can build a readership, and engage with existing readers.

 

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

From my first magazine editor Roy (can’t remember his surname), in 1988: ‘Tell such a strong story, in such an elegant style, that the reader doesn’t notice it’s written; they’re just caught up in the narrative.’

 

If you had a second chance at life would you still write books?

Yes, and I would start at a younger age.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I love a lot of the greats: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens. I’d like to give special mention to two very underrated post-war British authors: David Lodge and David Nobbs, whom I’ve sought to emulate in combining humour and depth. Javier Marias is an astounding author, so is Donna Tartt and Louis de Bernieres.

 

If you were only allowed one book on your bookcase what would it be?

La Peste, by Albert Camus, still the finest novel I’ve ever read: poetic, beautiful, bleak in its description of the harshness of fate, yet heart-warming in its portrayal of human friendship, funny and astonishingly profound, philosophically and politically.

 

 

Links

‘Marching on Together’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/marching-on-together/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marching-Together-P-J-Whiteley/dp/1911129333/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489606690&sr=1-1

‘Close of Play’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/close-of-play/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Close-Play-Philip-Whiteley-ebook/dp/B01080YEAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458070338&sr=1-1&keywords=close+of+play

Website – http://www.whiteleywords.com/

Blog – http://felipewh.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @Felipewh

Interview with Richard Whittle

I’m delighted to have Richard Whittle on my blog.  His new book, ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ is being published next month.  I asked Richard some questions.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ please?

The Man Who Played Trains is a crime novel and thriller in which two stories, apparently separate, run side by side. In one, mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. In the other, wartime U-boat captain Theodor Volker, on leave after a gruelling mission, is accosted by a stranger while waiting for a train to take him to the south of Germany to see his young son.

Though the stories appear to be separate, the reader gradually becomes aware of connections between them. John Spargo, desperate to understand who murdered his mother, and why, finds a link between his late mine-manager father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-boat found off the Scottish coast. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety, along with a fortune in stolen art.

A mysterious consortium contacts John to say they have abducted his daughter, Jez. Unless he can meet their unreasonable demands, her life is at risk.

 

When I first saw the cover I was fascinated by it and I still am.  Where do those steps lead to?

The Man Who Played Trains has two main characters. Both are ‘underground men’. John Spargo is a mining engineer. The steps might well represent John Spargo about to come out from darkness in so many different ways. Also, perhaps, Theodor Volker emerging from a basement in Berlin. Or, possibly, from Hermann Göring’s Carinhall bunker…

 

Where did you get the idea for this book from?

This is a difficult one, and quite personal. Before WW2 my mother had a German boyfriend, the son of a ship’s captain. Just before the outbreak of war her father banned her from seeing him. I believe the boyfriend died in the war. I have often wondered what would have happened had my mother married that first boyfriend (apart from me being years older than I am now!). Having said all that, The Man Who Played Trains is not in the least bit autobiographical. Nor is it a war story. You asked me where I got the idea from. You will have to read the book to find out how that little bit of history fits the plot.

 

How long did it take you to write?

Several years ago, before setting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to write The Man Who Played Trains, I did almost a year of background research. Then, after drafting around 50,000 words, I put it aside and started another novel, returning to The Man Who Played Trains some months later. It is difficult to say how long it took to write, as I rewrote it at least twice.

I always have two or three novels in the pipeline, revisiting them every few months to add chapters and to revise and rewrite. Writing this way has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that I seldom get ‘writers’ block’. Almost invariably, in the intervening months, the next part of the set-aside novel has developed in my head. Another advantage is that when I restart, I have to read, and therefore edit, everything that I have written so far – though some would call that a disadvantage. Happily, it seems to work for me.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I am always in my characters’ heads. I have to be, it is the only way I can see what they see, think what they think, and say what they say. I try to make my lead characters ‘victims of circumstance’, who become entangled in situations not of their own making. From a professional point of view I can relate to John Spargo: as a geologist and engineer I spent time working underground, in mines, tunnels and caverns.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Always in coffee shops, seldom at home. I have a favourite café in a small, family-run garden centre south of Edinburgh, where they leave me alone and let me write.

 

Would you say that you are a people watcher?

Not really. I am more of a people rememberer. I have been a policeman, a diesel engine tester, a mature student, an engineering geologist and director. I can recall situations, individuals and conversations, even from way back. It is rather like having my own Aladdin’s Cave.

 

What has your experience of getting published been like?

The Man Who Played Trains will be published by Urbane Publications this April. Matthew Smith and his staff at Urbane have been a godsend because they have taken away the pressure I felt when I self-published my first novel, Playpits Park, with Amazon. For that novel I formatted the whole book, I even designed the cover. My previous attempts to find a publisher had elicited responses such as this does not fit with our current list. Or, more often, it is difficult to place your work in any genre…

 

Will there be any more books?

Undoubtedly. I am writing two others. In no way are they alike. Depending on my mood, I bounce between them. Is that weird? Maybe, but it works for me.

 

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

Just keep writing! – advice given to me by Ian Rankin when he presented me with a prize when I was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

Kate Atkinson, Michael Connelly, Graham Greene, John Grisham, Robert Harris, Shona Maclean, Peter May, Ian Rankin. Note the alphabetical order, not order of preference.

 

Do you actually like trains?

I have always been interested in engines of all kinds. Like many boys of my generation I was a ‘train spotter’, standing on railway station platforms, ticking off engine numbers in a small book. Modern diesel and electric trains do not appeal to me in the same way.

Despite my novel’s title, railways play a very small part in the story, though the small part they play is crucial to the plot. Also, the man who played trains is not John Spargo…

 

Links

Amazon: https://goo.gl/a4lWwY

Waterstones: https://goo.gl/8riR5d

Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/richard-whittle/

Richard Whittle’s blog:  https://playpitspark.wordpress.com/

Richard’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/richard1whittle

 

 

 

Interview with Deirdre Quiery

Let’s have another author interview.  Deirdre Quiery’s debut novel, ‘Eden Burning’ was published by Urbane Publications in August 2015 and her new book, ‘The Secret Wound’ is out in June of this year.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘The Secret Wound’ please?

“The Secret Wound” is inspired by my love of why we keep secrets, the world of myths, the sense that every single person’s life is a mythical journey, taking them through a world of adventure to transformation and metamorphosis and my love of storytelling.

I have always been fascinated by the “secrets” which people keep and take with them to the grave. That made me think that perhaps what makes people really unique and interesting is everything that we don’t know about them and maybe will never know.

It is as if when we look at another person we see a door but it is locked. We don’t have the key to open it. The person looking back at us is holding the key in their heart. They are torn by this dilemma. One part of them wants to hand us the key and allow us to open the door and to walk inside and see who they truly are. They know that this will open to them the depths of intimacy and acceptance which they so desire. The other part of them is afraid that if they hand us the key, we will walk inside and run away screaming in horror at what we have discovered. This second possibility is terrifying – as it has the potential of totally destroying the fragments of identity which the person is so desperately clinging to. They choose to keep the key in their heart and most insist on the door remaining closed.

When I started writing “The Secret Wound” I had a dream of creating “a new myth” – which would allow me to tell a new story about the hero setting out on a journey, facing challenges and returning home transformed. I imagined making it “new” by having the journey take place on two levels – one is a real physical journey and the second a psychological journey into the heart, where the hidden key is discovered. The individual with great difficulty opens the door which allows them to see themselves as they truly are and rather than run away screaming – this revelation of what was hidden and distorting their lives will be the catalyst for transformation.

Gurtha – a key protagonist – goes to Mallorca after his mother Nuala is murdered and his life is in disarray. He does not know who killed Nuala or why she was murdered. He decides to spend 40 days on the beautiful Mediterranean island to take stock of his life and to find a new direction and meaning for life. He meets with a circle of friends within the ex-pat community; dark secrets are revealed which transform each of their lives within 40 days and the secret about who murdered Nuala is unlocked.

 

Where did you get the idea for it from?

By observing in real life people acting in ways which cause great suffering to themselves and others but they are unaware of what is driving their behaviour. It is hidden to them. It is only when they see what is hidden that they are released from their personal “prison”, are healed and liberated.

 

Did you have to do any research for your new book?

Yes. I adored it. I researched the origin of myths, remembering Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero of a Thousand Faces” and “The Power of Myth”.

I then began to read Bernard McGinn’s books on the “foundations, growth and flowering” of mysticism. Bernard McGinn is a Professor of Divinity at Chicago University and is considered to be the world’s expert on mysticism. The path of mysticism is very much like the hero’s journey. It is a journey to experience love, casting off the ego along the way. It has phases of awakening, purgation, illumination and union. Union is the experience of ‘resting’ in a love beyond human understanding.

I so much enjoyed this research that I am off to Houston in August of this year to attend a 3 day workshop run by Bernard McGinn on the subject of mysticism.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Yes. I am in them all in one way or another! When people have read “Eden Burning” they are quite shocked that I can create a murderer. However, I think a writer has to have empathy for every single one of their characters. If you have deep empathy that means that you understand how they feel, the situation that they find themselves in and why they are acting in ways which may not be understood by others.

When your level of empathy for your characters deepens, you find that you have compassion for them. For me, this means suffering with them. At that moment the writer and the character are one and the same. For that to happen, I have to be in them from the start.

When my friends say goodbye to me after a visit, they often say, “Don’t be murdering anyone today – well do it, only if it’s in your novel.”

 

Are you the type of person who wakes up in the middle of the night with ideas that you have to jot down straightaway?

No. However, I do awaken up at times in the middle of the night from a strange and wonderful dream which I always remember in the morning and which inspires my stories.

I love the dream world. I have experienced in my own life, dreams which predict the future, archetypal dreams presenting me with an insight into life and lucid dreams where I am aware in the dream that I am dreaming. In these dreams I can make the dream change according to my wishes. I remember one such dream when I realised within the dream that I could make anything I thought come true. I had great fun doing that!

 

Will you be having a book launch?

Yes. I am thrilled to be having my book launch on the 6th July 2017, at the Meditation Centre, St Mark’s Church Myddelton Square, London, EC1R 1XX – 1830 – 2100. At the book launch I will simultaneously be opening an exhibition of my art which will explore the theme of “The Secret Wound” in oils.

 

What do you want people to get out of your book?

I really want them to enjoy it. I love TV programmes like Agatha Christie – including Poirot, Criminal Minds, Inspector Morse, Lewis … I would like them to have a sense of reading a psychological thriller in which they are captivated. I also would like to give them a sense that life is really wonderful and mysterious. If they already feel this – then we can have a chuckle together about it.

 

Any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write?

If you want to write – you already have the desire planted within you which is your gift. All you have to do now is to honour it and begin to write. Don’t judge your writing but be open to feedback from people you trust and especially from people who know the key to your heart.

 

How long have you been painting for?

Since moving to Mallorca – 15 years ago.

 

What’s it like living in Mallorca?

When people hear that I live in Mallorca, they think I am lying on the beach for a large part of the year. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I actually haven’t been into the sea in 15 years – even though it is only 10 minutes from home in the car.

What I love about Mallorca is its natural beauty – being in nature – living beside the sea, seeing the oranges change colour at sunset, watching the figs appear on the fig trees, the orange blossom in April turning into Christmas oranges.

For the first year and a half, we lived in an isolated olive grove, with no running water, no TV, no fixed line telephone, no internet. It was then that I felt myself a part of nature – at one with sheep, cats, eagles, bees, beetles and the olive trees.

I would say that what I have learnt living there, when I am not travelling with work, is that life can be incredibly simple and we have a tendency to complicate it.

 

Would you ever move to London?

Never say never. I love London. I know this is going to sound weird but I feel really at home in London – more than I do after 15 years in Mallorca. I also adored living in Oxford for 12 years. I am going to keep an open mind and who knows what might happen. What I might struggle with is cutting my umbilical cord to living so intensely now with nature.

 

Describe your life in five words.

I’m a seeker still seeking.

 

Links

‘Eden Burning’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/eden-burning/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eden-Burning-Deirdre-Quiery/dp/1909273902/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458254682&sr=1-1&keywords=eden+burning

‘The Secret Wound’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-secret-wound/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Secret-Wound-Deirdre-Quiery/1911331833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489434292&sr=1-1&keywords=the+secret+wound

Author Page with a weekly blog –  www.deirdrequiery.com

Twitter – @SupernovaQ

Link for the book trailer for Eden Burning – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0v5Su7exVI

Book teasers for The Secret Wound – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4jxyEb0s_A and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftirPMb515Q

Interview with Simon Michael

It’s time now for another interview, this time with Simon Michael.  ‘The Lighterman’, the third book in the Charles Holborne series is being published in June of this year.

 

As you know I loved ‘The Brief’. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about ‘The Brief’ and the series as a whole?

I confess that as I have got further into the series (the third book is about to be published and the fourth is underway) I have understood both Charles Holborne, the conflicted antihero barrister, and what the books are about much better. The seeds were there, but apparently buried in my subconscious. I have realised that the series of thrillers is about a man who tries to stay true to his integrity and honour despite being surrounded by corruption. So, the Kray twins, the Richardson brothers and the Messina brothers are engaged in a war in which they fire-bomb, razor and intimidate for control of their criminal territories; the Metropolitan Police are institutionally corrupt, taking bribes, assisting the criminals, and beating confessions from innocent people; and the judiciary are institutionally biased. Charles Holborne is torn between, on the one hand, his East End, ex-boxer and ex-criminal roots, where he still has friends and family and, on the other, his love for the law, the institutions of justice and his own personal code of honour. In The Brief Charles is framed for the murder of his wife and has to decide: “Will I rely on the dysfunctional machinery of justice to prove my innocence, or will I break the law to avoid the hangman?” I often have in my mind’s eye when writing Michael Corleone from The Godfather: a war hero and an honest man, a man whose Mafia family desperately want to keep “clean”, being dragged back into crime for the love of his father.

 

Where did you get your ideas from for this series?

Several threads combined to produce the series. Firstly I am a Londoner, and only the first generation in 500 years not to live in the East End. Secondly, boxing features in my family history. From the 1920s onwards several of my forebears used the same East End gym as the Kray twins and one became a successful professional boxer. Thirdly, when I became a barrister in 1978, although things had begun to improve, there was still an enormous amount of corruption in the English criminal justice system. There was also huge anti-Semitism and class prejudice. I was the first barrister to join my Chambers who had not been to a public school, and I can guarantee I was the only one who worked as a council labourer every vacation to raise money to continue my education! It was quite a shock to find that the venerable institution of the Bar was so riven by prejudice. So I joined these threads together, and emphasised them by simply moving the events back in time to the 1960s. But the legal cases on which the plots are based, and the court documents included within the text of the books, are based on cases I actually worked on as a barrister.

 

How long did it take you to write ‘The Brief’ and ‘An Honest Man’?

This may surprise you, but the first draft of The Brief took less than three weeks. I had been thinking about the story for so long that it just burst out of me and I just had to get out of the way. An Honest Man took a little longer, but only a few months. Once I have the idea, I write very quickly. On a “bad day” I might write only 1500 words but on an averagely good day I will write 5000 words.

 

Being a barrister would have helped you a lot with these books obviously. Did you have to do any specific research and if so what did it entail?

I had to buy some old legal textbooks to check the legal procedure in the 1960s, but after 37 years at the Bar I had a pretty strong grounding and just had to make sure I wasn’t accidentally including 1970s material in a 1960s book. I have been pulled up by a couple of ex-coppers who pointed out that there were no Crown Courts until 1972 – and they are absolutely right! I am always very grateful to people who point out mistakes. One of the policemen has agreed to act as a beta reader in future, which is extremely kind of him. I’m still learning, and that’s the only way to improve. So far as the 1960s are concerned, I do a lot of research on the Internet but even then mistakes do creep in. Somebody pointed out that the Mary Quant hairstyle I refer to did not exist for another two years, and one fan said that the engine of the Rover P5, used in The Brief as the getaway car, was in fact a 3 L not a 3.5 L at that time!

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

As you can see from my earlier answers, although these books are not autobiographical, Charles Holborne is based on me or, more accurately, on who I would have been had I been born a generation earlier. I think it is very difficult to be true to your ideals when you are surrounded, by friends and family – by your entire culture – at the bottom of the socio-economic pile and prepared to do anything to climb out.

 

Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

Believe it or not I wasn’t going to write this series at all and I didn’t consider myself a crime writer. I had an idea for a much “bigger” book but I thought The Brief and perhaps a sequel would just get me started as an author. Dip my toe in the water, so to speak. I didn’t realise there was an entire series here, and I really hadn’t expected the degree of success I’ve enjoyed. So now I seem to be pigeonholed as a crime writer and my agent says that if I do get round to writing the “big” book I will need to use a pseudonym.

 

Will you be doing any book signings when ‘The Lighterman’ is published?

Yes, as many as I can. It’s very difficult to achieve prominence in such a crowded market, and I am not good at social media. I like face-to-face interactions with people so book signings and talks are perfect.

 

I know there’s going to be a blog tour. What do you hope is achieved from it?

I hope people will start to notice the series. It’s an enormously crowded market, and there are hundreds of authors writing police procedurals and psychological thrillers. What I am writing is different, but so far as the publishers are concerned they fall within the same genre. To some extent that’s true – they are crime thrillers with a legal twist – but they are more than that. I am trying to write about real people with real homes, real lives, and I’m following one man’s personal journey. I don’t know anyone else who is writing 1960s thrillers involving an East End Jewish ex-boxer ex-criminal barrister on a moral journey.

 

How has social media helped you?

I’m not the right person to ask about this. I seem to have a relatively small band of devoted fans, many of whom have been reached initially by social media, but like I said I’m not good at it. I hate the self-promotion involved. It wasn’t the way I was brought up, and to shout about one’s achievements was frowned upon. Your achievements should speak for you. It’s a very English attitude, but in a market dominated by so-called “Amazon Bestsellers!!” if you don’t shout about yourself you won’t get noticed at all.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your career as a barrister please?

I was “called to the Bar” by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1978 and started doing what they call mixed common law cases. That is crime, matrimonial, landlord and tenant, contract, personal injury – everything. That’s not what happens nowadays where young entrants tend to specialise very early, which I think is a mistake. I was best at the crime because I identified with the underdog and loved working with juries. I suspect I should have been an actor like my children. Gradually my practice focused on crime and personal injury. I had to make a decision whether to continue doing the crime in the face of severe legal aid cuts when I had a young family and decided to move gradually into clinical negligence work. I developed a practice where I represented people who had suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of medical negligence and who needed very significant support and care. So, I prosecuted and defended in the Crown Courts, including the Old Bailey, for about 15 years before gradually giving it up for financial reasons. I still miss the buzz of the jury work, the camaraderie of the Bar Messes, prison visits and walking into the Old Bailey.

 

What made you decide to write?

I love telling stories. I always have, since I was a child. My ex-wife says that I “live inside my own head”, and there is some truth in that. When the writing is going well the world I’ve created in my head seems more real than the “real world”.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

In the field that I’m now working, Raymond Chandler, followed by Dashiell Hammett and John Mortimer. All three deal with crime and a hero who does his best to remain true to his principles, i.e. Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Horace Rumpole.

Otherwise, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. Both see into the hearts and souls of their characters and recognise that all of us are a mixture of good and bad.

 

Links

‘The Brief’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-brief/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Brief-gripping-crime-drama-swinging-Charles-Holborne/191069200X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489444677&sr=1-1&keywords=the+brief+by+simon+michael

‘An Honest Man’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/an-honest-man/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Honest-Man-Book-Charles-Holborne/dp/1911129392/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

‘The Lighterman’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-lighterman/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lighterman-Book-Charles-Holborne/dp/191158300X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Website – www.simonmichael.uk

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

 

Interview with David John Griffin

I am pleased to welcome David John Griffin back to my blog.  His new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ was recently published.  I asked David some questions about it.

 

Your new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ sounds intriguing. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It is an imaginative novella with a selection of twelve short stories. The novella is a heady mixture of magical realism, the paranormal and a dose of sci-fi too.

The novella is unusual in as much as it’s laid out as the emails between the two women, interspersed with a science fiction writer’s journal. The story is strange and becomes stranger by the page, keeping the reader “ head-scratching” right to the end. Though eventually all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together to present a satisfactory and surprising solution.

The short stories cover a variety of genres including science fiction, magical realism, even a ghost story! All the stories have a “twist in the tail” to surprise and entertain the reader.

 

Have you been writing short stories for long?

Not for as long as I would like: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 90’s. Up until then I concentrated on writing novels. Interesting to note that the novella Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn started life as a short story: I was aiming for 5 to 6000 words. But before I knew it, it had gained a life of its own and came out to over 31,000 words. All of my short stories have one thing in common in the main – they start life without a genre. It’s only after I’ve written a short story do I know what type of story it is.

 

Is the paranormal a subject you are interested in?

Not in an everyday sense and to be honest, I’m surprised how many of my stories have paranormal themes. It’s crept up on me (which is spooky in its own way!).

 

What would your reaction be if you met any of the characters from your books for real?

If it was a few from my first novel, The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, I’d run a mile! Not quite but some of them are despicable, in particular Theodore Stubb. If I met Donald Clement from Infinite Rooms I’d want to help him. He’s such a fragile personality. I would enjoy meeting Audrey and Stella from Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn, I feel I would get on well with them. Even meeting Gideon Hadley, the science fiction writer from the novella, would be an interesting experience and as he’s a writer, I think we would have a lot to talk about.

It’s strange to think I’d ever meet any of my characters; it’s an interesting question! Which reminds me: The One Dog Inn – the 17th century former coach house – is described in detail in Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn which caused my wife Susan to express a desire to stay there if only it had been real!

 

Do you have a regular writing routine?

No, is the short answer. I have bouts of writing interspersed with months of no writing, which is when I try to catch up on my reading. I tend not to read much when I’m writing – I don’t want to be overtly influenced too much. When I am writing, even that will vary day by day although most of the writing will happen in the evenings. I have just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel which I managed to write in the space of three weeks. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written in my life…

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I’ve written my third novel, a fantasy tale which is currently under consideration. It’s byline is “A fantastical journey of imagination”. Then there’s my science fiction novel mentioned previously which I have to finish. After that, I have plans for yet another novel, a magical realism “Tall” tale. Plenty of work ahead for me!

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

After pursuing literary agents without success, I tried a few publishers, and got a few “near-hits” but always they pulled out at the last hurdle… then I discovered Urbane Publications via Twitter. So I sent both my first and second novels to Matthew – and the rest is history, as they say. I was drawn to Urbane as they offer a refreshing and innovative style of publishing, particularly when it comes to the closer collaboration between publisher and author. Which means in my case, amongst other things, that Matthew of Urbane allows me to use my own cover designs. (I’m a graphic designer by trade). I also like the fact that Urbane realises that some authors aren’t overnight successes and that it take time and patience to reach a wider platform.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write! I mean to say, too much thinking about it can spoil the flow, I think, you have to start typing/writing and keep at it. You don’t have to write every day necessary but even with the odd half an hour here and there, the words soon start building up. I’d also say, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, plough on till the end without going back to amend anything, including word corrections. That can all be done in the 2nd and subsequent drafts. Write that first draft as if no one else on the planet will ever see it (which is often the case anyway). Finally, make sure your plot is watertight – it helps to have someone else read your final draft before sending off to a literary agent or publisher. Their fresh eyes will spot such things, as well as spelling mistakes which you might have become “word-blind” to.

 

If you had the chance to live your life all over again do you think you would still write books?

Definitely: I love writing. It’s a craft that can never be fully learned, I believe. Each novel is as difficult as the last one, I’m finding, each with their own particular quandaries/problems which need to be solved. That is part of the fascination of writing for me. Having said that, there are certain aspects which are easier the more experienced you are, the more “writing miles” you have under your belt. Who was it said that writing is like exercising muscles – the more you write, the stronger you will get.

 

Notebooks or Computers?

I always carry a notebook with me so that if I’ve a line or an idea I can jot it down straight away before it’s forgotten. For actual writing, I by far prefer the computer. I’m not one for longhand when it comes to actual writing, although I know of other authors who swear by this approach before they get anywhere near a typewriter or computer. For interest, I wrote my first two novels on a good old-fashioned typewriter.

 

Links

‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/two-dogs-at-the-one-dog-inn/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Dogs-One-Dog-Inn/dp/1911331159

‘Infinite Rooms’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/infinite-rooms/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinite-Rooms-gripping-psychological-thriller/dp/1910692603/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488574787&sr=1-1

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-unusual-possession-of-alastair-stubb/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb/dp/1910692344/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5K0V3BDFE4JZEVPJ3NZD

Website – http://www.davidjohngriffin.com

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

Interview with Chris Parker

It’s time now for an interview with Chris Parker.  His latest book, ‘debris’ was published in January of this year.

 

You seem to have had a variety of books published by Urbane Publications so far. Can you tell me a bit about them please?

Happy to! I’d like to preface that, however, by explaining why I wanted to be an Urbane author in the first place and why I’m thrilled to still be an Urbane author. And that’s because of Matthew Smith, the founder and owner of Urbane! We first met when he was in his previous role and agreed to publish a book I was writing. I was struck from our first meeting by his unique, creative and much-needed collaborative approach to publishing and working with authors. And I still am. I value our relationship highly. I am a better writer now because of his trust and advice.

So…back to my Urbane books. The first was ‘Influence’. It’s part one in a three-part psychological thriller exploring what happens when Marcus Kline, a man regarded as the world’s leading expert in Communication and Influence, is targeted by a killer who is potentially even more skilled at getting inside people’s minds and making them do whatever he wants. Throughout the trilogy people die, minds are broken and relationships are ruined as the conflict of words and influence rages.

With ‘Influence’ complete, the plan was for me to write the rest of the trilogy – titled ‘Belief’ and ‘Faith’ – in short order. However, I work with and know some exceptional individuals and I’m skilled at modelling excellence. So I let myself be distracted from the world of Marcus Kline and wrote instead about the genius who is Diego Masciaga, the master of customer service and a global legend in the world of hospitality and catering. By the time ‘The Diego Masciaga Way’ was published I had also completed my first poetry collection titled ‘The City Fox and others in our community’. I was genuinely stunned – and scared – when Matthew said he would publish this.

I had been working on ‘Belief’ during this time and it was progressing nicely (I thought), but I then decided that the world needed to know about and learn from the work and teaching of leading American Clinical Sport Psychologist and Sport Scientist, Dr John Sullivan. So that led to me writing the book ‘The Brain Always Wins’. I have to say this will probably always be the most useful book I will ever write. I say that because the better we manage and treat our brain, the better the quality of our life and performance. It is as simple as that. And we know enough now for us all to be able to create and maintain our own personalised daily brain management Process! In the book we teach you how.

With ‘The Brain Always Wins’ complete, it was back to ‘Belief’. I realised then that the first draft was really not that good. So I threw most of it away and started again. The poetry writing hadn’t stopped either, so as I was coming to the end of ‘Belief’ I finished my second poetry collection titled ‘debris’. Wonderfully, Matthew published this in January! And I’m a bit less scared at seeing my name on a poetry book this time.

‘Belief’ is scheduled for publication in June of this year. I have already started work on ‘Faith’ and no other writing project – and Matthew, if you are listening, I really, really mean this – no other writing project will get in the way!

 

I love crime fiction and have got a copy of ‘Influence’ to read. If I was deciding whether to buy it or not, how would you sell it to me?

I would quote a review by Mr Baz who called it “A sizzling detective story that keeps you guessing right up to the end.” Then I would make reference to other reviewers who have called it “original”, “unnerving yet compulsive”, “a well crafted blend of gripping crime and fascinating science” and a “mind numbing book of mystery”.

I would also say that I have been asked many times if there are people who can really influence others using only words and gestures as powerfully as characters do in the book. The answer is a clear and definite “Yes!” Words can be as positive, exciting or frightening as a kiss or as destructive as a bomb. And the ways they are used in ‘Belief’, which are even more shocking and challenging than in ‘Influence’, really drives home this point.

Beyond my writing I have been studying and teaching others about this for four decades. The Marcus Kline trilogy is ultimately based on that old writing principle of ‘write about what you know’. Although, having said that, because of the power of words I always emphasise in my training and teaching the absolute need to influence others positively and respectfully. The killer in the trilogy represents the opposite of that.

 

Does that mean you got the idea for ‘Influence’ from your own study and work?

Essentially, yes. I wanted to highlight the very real power we have to affect others and ourselves through our communication. I wanted to write about words being used as kisses and as bombs, whilst also writing a powerful, engaging and provocative crime thriller.

 

Did you have to do any additional research for it?

Yes. Lots. For example, I knew nothing about police work, or the legal process, or photography, or a very specific act of violence, all of which are integral to the story. Fortunately I love doing the research needed to write both fiction and non-fiction. More fortunately still, I know individuals who are hugely experienced in all the professions and skills I needed to learn about. It’s been very important to me that the Marcus Kline trilogy is realistic throughout. I’m happy if parts of it seem hard to believe – that would be one of the reasons why the second book is called ‘Belief’ – but my experts have all worked with me to ensure that what happens is factual. And, as I said earlier, I know the communication and hypnosis aspects are all grounded in reality.

 

How long have you been writing poetry for?

Since childhood. When my parents died and I spent a day preparing what had been the family home for men in a van to clear, I found a notebook of my childhood poetry in a suitcase underneath the bed in the small bedroom. I’d written it between the ages of nine and eleven. I have absolutely no idea what drew me to write poetry back then. To be honest, I don’t have much more of an idea why I still write it now. I do think, though, that poetry takes people on an inward journey into their own life experiences, beliefs, hopes, questions etc. I love it when someone tells me what I meant by a certain poem and how they ‘got it’, when in fact their interpretation is purely their own! It’s a great example of how easy it is to assume shared perceptions or understandings that don’t exist. It’s also a great indicator of how poetry works on such a personal level for all of us. I think novels and short stories on the other hand draw readers out into an imaginary world. I think they offer more of a degree of escapism – which might be one reason why they are more popular than poems.

 

What do you want readers to get from ‘The City Fox’ and ‘debris’?

For reasons I’ve just intimated that is a really hard question to answer. There are several interconnected themes running throughout both – to do with the relationship between nature, communication, community and learning in all its forms. Having said that, poetry should move, shake or rattle readers. It should get inside them and open them up. It should take them inwards, as I just mentioned, and draw something out.

I wrote a poem that I chose not to put in ‘debris’ called ‘A poem wounds’ and it’s about that very thing. In one sense poetry should wound us; the question is what will we bleed – will it be laughter or recognition or pain or something else altogether? The answer to that question depends on the reader, on who and how and where they are in their life when they engage with the poem.

So, ultimately, readers will get from reading poetry whatever it is they are ready to get. The poet’s job is to make sure it’s never safe. Sometimes a poem will wound you in ways you are not consciously prepared for, in ways you least expect.

 

What are you working on now?

Just yesterday I started work on ‘Faith’, the final book in the Marcus Kline trilogy. Marcus and I have been together for quite a few years now and over that time we have got to know each other very well. He has, quite literally (if you’ll pardon the pun) taken on a life of his own. He has his own website at http://www.marcuskline.co.uk where he blogs and promotes his business. And he is scheduled to appear as a guest on the Unlimited Podcast later this year. That’s assuming, of course, he manages to stay alive and keep his life on track. Which, to be fair, is proving to be an awful lot easier said than done. For obvious reasons, I can’t reveal what condition he is in by the end of ‘Belief’ or, indeed, the condition of anyone he cares about. All I can say is that if things were really bad for Marcus and the other main characters in ‘Influence’, they get far, far worse in ‘Belief’. In fact, they’re so bad I actually struggled to share some of them…

Anyway, moving on from that, ‘Faith’ picks up the story a few months after ‘Belief’ ends. In one sense I’m really looking forward to writing it, and in one sense I’m not. I’m looking forward to it because everything that has gone before has been leading up to what happens in ‘Faith’. Paradoxically, that’s also why I’m not looking forward to it. You see I know what’s going to happen next. It’s not at all good and I’m genuinely fond of many of the characters. Still, there’s no turning back for any of us because Matthew Smith wants the book and I’ve promised he’ll get it. I guess that means Marcus, the other characters and I will just need to push on.

 

Can we look forward to even more books from you?

Absolutely! As I am sure you appreciate, writing is an itch that can never be scratched satisfactorily. In fact, Matthew and I first talked about the trilogy I’m planning to write after Marcus Kline quite a few years ago. It’s called ‘Dark Steps’ and it’s based on a character I included in a novel I had published in the 1990s. Matthew read the novel – it made him smile quite a lot, which was a shame because it wasn’t a comedy – but he did really like one particular character. When I told him I had a storyline planned for this character, he became interested. Thankfully he really liked the plot, which is very, very different from the Marcus Kline story, and I’ve been developing it slowly ever since. So after I’ve developed my ‘Faith’, I’m going to walk some ‘Dark Steps’.

 

Beyond your writing, your career sound fascinating. How did it all start?

Because I met a man who had the ability to understand and influence people in ways I thought were magical. I was a student, training to be a schoolteacher at the time and I realised this type of ability was crucial for educators. Yet it wasn’t a part of the undergraduate degree I was studying. I asked why we weren’t doing at least one module in how to use words to change emotional and physical states, or how to look and listen so we could see below the surface structure of what was being said or done. My lecturers didn’t really have any answers – at least they didn’t have any answers that satisfied me – and as I had already started learning from this particular gentleman I didn’t pursue it any further with them. That was in 1976. The man who became my inspiration and mentor continues to be so. And my fascination with communication and influence, particularly how interpersonal communication affects our brain and how meditative practises can help people prepare for and enhance the entire communication process, is as great now as it has ever been. Currently I divide my working time between lecturing, providing corporate training and, of course, writing.

 

Have you found social media to be useful?

I’m an absolute novice when it comes to using social media well. I need to get an awful lot better and, truthfully, I’d much rather look at and/or listen to another human being in real time. So I have much learning to do in this regard. To put it into context, I’ve only had my websites in place for a year or so! They are http://www.chrisparkerauthor.com and http://www.powerofwords.com. Fortunately I have some very caring and talented people around me who are committed to my social media education and to helping me use it well.

 

Will you be doing any book signings?

Yes. Book signings and talks are great fun! I’m actually talking to members of a local book club later this week. Looking ahead, Matthew has organised a book launch event for ‘Belief’ in June in the wonderful Five Leaves bookshop in Nottingham. The plan is to arrange some talks and signings around that event.

 

What would you do if there were no such thing as words?

Listen to the silence.

 

Links

‘debris’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/debris/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Debris-poetry-collection-Chris-Parker-ebook/dp/B01N326FYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489248596&sr=1-1&keywords=debris+by+chris+parker

‘The City Fox’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-city-fox/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Fox-others-community-ebook/dp/B010Q1RUXM/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1489248824&sr=1-7

‘Influence’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/influence/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Influence-Chris-Parker/dp/1909273066/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489248824&sr=1-4

‘The Brain Always Wins’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-brain-always-wins/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brain-Always-Wins-Improving-management/dp/1909273732/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489248824&sr=1-2

‘The Diego Masciaga Way’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-diego-masciaga-way/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diego-Masciaga-Way-Lessons-Customer/dp/1909273481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489248824&sr=1-5

Interview with John Simmons

I’m delighted to welcome John Simmons back to my blog.  His  new book, ‘Spanish Crossings’ will be out next month.  I asked John some questions.

 

Your new book sounds wonderful. Can you tell me a bit about ‘Spanish Crossings’ please.

It’s my second novel – ‘Leaves’ was my first. Some readers remarked about ‘Leaves’ that it was a historical novel – set in 1970 – and that surprised me. But I think it gave me the courage to attempt something more genuinely historical, so ‘Spanish Crossings’ is set before, during and after the Second World War. Its main background is the Spanish Civil War and the true but little-known story of the 4000 Basque children who were refugees from that conflict in 1937. History always has a contemporary relevance.

But it’s not a history book, it’s a story. And as a story there is a main character, Lorna, who is a young woman in the 1930s engaged in the politics of that time. The novel is her story and it’s about conflict and love against that historical background. I hope – and early readers confirm – that it’s a gripping story with a somewhat chequered but intriguing relationship at its heart.

 

Where did you get the idea for this book?

I had gone to Spain to run a Dark Angels writing course. I dreamt the line “Mother declared herself happy” – the first time such a thing has happened to me. I liked the line and continued writing that day in Seville. Going from café to café, bench to bench, it grew into a story that is now the novel’s Prologue and it created the main character and theme. It showed that I had been thinking about some family history.

My daughter Jessie – named after my mother – is the family researcher. She’s always been interested in family stories, perhaps particularly about my mother and father whom she never met (they died while I was relatively young). We had photographs of my mum with refugee children during the Spanish Civil War, and of a Spanish boy my mum and dad had ‘adopted’ at the time. I only knew his name was Jesús and that he had returned to Bilbao in 1938.

Jessie gave me a book called ‘Only for three months’ (by Adrian Bell) that told the story of the Spanish children who had come over on a boat called the Habana in 1937, soon after the bombing of Guernica by German airplanes. Guernica became famous for its brutality and for Picasso’s response in one of his most famous paintings. So the combination of family and world history developed the idea for the book, and once I started working on it, it took hold of me.

 

Did you have to do research and what did it entail?

It started with the reading of that book ‘Only for three months’, and a number of plotlines came from that. I read a lot around the subject and the period. I also found the art and photographs of the time helped me really enter the period. One photographer – Wolfgang Suschitsky, himself a 1930s refugee from fascism – was particularly inspirational (one of his photographs is on the front cover).

The other vital research was to do with place. There are three main settings: London, Guernica and the French border town of Hendaye. I grew up in central London so the London settings came naturally, but it was still fascinating to walk the streets featured and imagine them in an earlier period. I visited Bilbao and Guernica in northern Spain and that helped me get a proper feel, though obviously they are much changed. Visiting Hendaye was probably the most directly inspirational because it has a particular geography that plays an important part in the story. I could look across the estuary towards Spain, just a couple of miles away, and write on the spot.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote what is now the Prologue on that Dark Angels course in September 2014. And finished writing the novel in April 2016. So two years with further editing time.

 

What is your usual writing routine?

My routine is not to have a routine. I’m not one of these writers who starts at 6, say, and works through to lunchtime every day – then plays tennis in the afternoon. My life is not like that because I work as a writer and consultant in the world of business and brands. My paid work in those areas subsidises my personal, fictional work. So I fit my own writing in when and where I can.

Actually my one really established writing habit is to always spend Friday evenings locked away – nowadays in my converted loft at home – and write as late as the spirit moves me. It used to be till the early hours – nowadays I stop before midnight.

 

I think it would be wonderful if some of the characters from your book came alive. What would be your reaction if that happened?

It has happened. These characters are real for me. I also have the strange experience with this novel of my family history. My mum and dad are definitely not characters in the novel but I found myself writing scenes where they might have been present. It might sound spooky or sentimental – but it was an important aspect of the writing experience with this book.

 

What are you planning to write next?

When I finished ‘Spanish Crossings’ I felt bereft – the story and characters I’d lived with had moved out of my head. So I needed to fill it with another story and new characters. I almost forced that to happen one Friday night, writing a series of short pieces set during the First World War. That gave me a range of characters and the characters suggested stories that could be linked.

What has emerged is a novel in progress called ‘The Good Messenger’. It’s set before and after the First World War; the first part has a nine-year-old boy as its central character, the final part shows him grown up in the 1920s and reconnecting with some of the characters from the pre-war period. I’m probably two-thirds (about 60.000 words) through the first draft.

 

You’ve had an interesting career by the looks of it. Can you tell me a bit about your Dark Angels workshops?

I was a director of Interbrand until 2003 (‘the world’s leading brand agency’). I insisted that language – the way companies communicate through words – needed to be part of branding. So I established a discipline to focus on that, and started writing books about ‘how to write more powerfully for brands’. One of those books was called ‘Dark Angels’, and this also became a training programme in ‘creative writing for business’. Three books make up the Dark Angels Trilogy and these have now been published in new editions by Urbane.

I’ve been running these Dark Angels courses for more than a dozen years now, for most of that time with two Scottish writers (Stuart Delves and Jamie Jauncey) and now with a wider group of associates, including writer/trainers in the USA, Ireland and the Antipodes. We go to remote and beautiful places – the Scottish highlands, Andalucian national park, coast of Cornwall, rural Ireland – and work with writers intensively on creative exercises. It’s great fun. People who ‘graduate’ tell me that it’s a life-transforming experience. www.dark-angels.org.uk

 

What are your thoughts on social media?

It’s the world we live in now. When the most powerful man in the world seems addicted to Twitter, you can’t ignore its influence. So I’m regularly on Twitter @JNSim, less regularly on Facebook, and I enjoy Instagram because I love photography and make no claims for any ability in that area.

More recently I’ve discovered more of the background to my Spanish story and the events of that time via Twitter. I was followed by a number of Spanish/Basque people and they have been enormously helpful in uncovering previously unknown aspects of that history. Including some of what happened to Jesùs Iguaran Aramburu after he returned to Spain.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve always loved theatre and football. I’ve been lucky to combine these passions with my writing work. With my son Matt I wrote a book about our team, the Arsenal, and I’ve worked on the brands of a number of theatrical institutions such as the National Theatre, the Globe and the Old Vic.

 

What do you prefer – hardbacks or paperbacks?

I’ve always loved the book as a physical object, the look, feel and smell of a new book. The hardback has more of that tactile, sensuous appeal but I probably prefer to read paperbacks simply because I read while travelling, and a paperback is so easy to carry around and read on the tube, train etc. But I do believe all books are beautiful, collectible objects – I had to create my loft largely because I’d run out of shelf space for all the books. Books do furnish a room.

 

Describe your life in three words

Observing, listening, writing.

 

Links

26 Fruits Website – www.26fruits.co.uk/blog

Dark Angels Website – www.dark-angels.org.uk

Co-founder of www.26.org.uk

Twitter – @JNSim

Interview with Simon Wan

I’m delighted to welcome Simon Wan to my blog.  His debut novel, ‘Love and a Dozen Potatoes’ was published last year.  Below is my interview with Simon.

 

I absolutely love the title of your book. Can you tell me a bit about ‘Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes’?

It’s about love, addiction and obsession, and how all of these three things can very easily get muddled. I also like to think that it can serve as both a warning and encouragement to people who read it. We do foolish and brave things when we’re falling in love, but we do terrible and hurtful things when we are forced to look in the mirror when it all falls apart, and this is normal. Even in the depths of despair there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s a tiny flicker, often its a firework. A cautionary tale, a fairy tale, maybe a little bit of both.

 

How did you come up with this wonderful title?

In my family, and I guess in many other large families we only get to spend time together at Easter, Birthdays, Christmas and so on, and these times usually come with a roast dinner. We all love to cook as much as we love to eat so every meal there’s usually heated discussion on who makes the perfect roast potato. Which made me think my search for the perfect partner in life was just the same, I was looking for perfection, even though perfection isn’t real. The dozen came from counting how many times I’d fallen in love and it just clicked.

 

Did events in your own life make you decide to write this book?

I had always wanted to write a book and with my 40th birthday crashing towards me I only had about 3 months from making that decision. I did start writing a sci-fi opus but soon realised that time was running out. So, one night in my old flat in south London while eating a homemade pie with my house mate Tony I mentioned that I was going to struggle to finish the sci-fi book in time. His simple reply was, ‘Just write what you know mate’. I thought about it for a few mouthfuls and replied ‘All I know is falling in love with the wrong women…’ And there it was.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of it?

I want people to know it’s okay to completely lose yourself in another person and open themselves to being hurt, because you will. It will hurt and sting and make you feel rotten, but, and but but but but there will always be someone else if you just let go. Someone else will walk into your life when you least expect it. I want readers to know it’s okay to take risks and it’s okay to fall flat on your face. I want people to know it’s okay to be happy with who you’re with and not secretly be searching for that special perfect prince or princess who only exists in your mind.

 

Would you like to see your book made into a film and if so, who would you choose as the cast?

As an actor, I’d be foolish to say I wouldn’t want to play myself in the later years plus my agent Tom would tell me off. For an American remake, Joseph Gordon Levitt would be a good pick for my late 20’s early 30’s. It would be a gold mine for female casting as there are 12 featured female lead roles. Oohh, actually I’m gunna cast a few loves right now…

Lily Rose Depp as the Girl who Looked French
Jenna Louise Coleman as the girl with the perfect smile
Shakira as the Sunshine Stripper
Rose Byrne as the Ballerina

And that will do for now, or people will start recognising themselves!

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the sequel to Love and a Dozen, which is called ‘Life and a Dozen Months till Meltdown’ and it follows on almost right away from the first book. I have a few things in the pipeline, or up in the air, depending on what day it is. I’m developing book one into a TV series with my directing partner Robin Schmidt and we’re also waiting on a pitch for Creative England which, if successful will allow us to start production of our first feature film together. I had a week away from the keyboard when I finished book two, but have spent the past few days cracking on with screen plays which have been nipping at my heels now for the last few months.

 

What has the publication process been like for you?

I’m probably going to piss people off here, but it’s been really good. Matthew Smith (Urbane Publications) has made the whole process really easy and I trust him. He took a punt on me and for that I’ll always be grateful. The only negative things I had to get used to was the pace of the industry and having to faff around with the artwork because of a major retailer, proving that they actually do judge a book by its cover. Other than that it’s all pretty new to me so I’m just taking it how it comes.

 

I just have to ask you this. I saw a quote by Limahl in your book. Oh how I love his songs! Do you know him for real?

Yeah, Limahl and I go way back to the days I was in a pop act. He was part of our team and as we were riding the electro 80’s vibe we thought it was cool to have him on board. The reality of it was that he’d spend most of the days in the studio talking about when he went to dinner with Diana Ross or a million other celebrity encounters rather than helping us come up with hooks and melodies. Bless him. I remember one night we all drove to a studio in Bedfordshire because Kajagoogoo had finally made up after decades of money disputes and bad vibes and I’d convinced Limahl to let me film it. They played ‘Too Shy’ and ‘Never Ending Story’ just for us and as cheesy as it was, it was also amazing.

 

Do you really write just wearing a towel?

Yes of course! Although I have been double dressing gowning lately which is decadent. I don’t like writing fully dressed, it doesn’t feel right somehow. If I do find myself having to write in an office I’ll secretly take my shoes off.

 

Have any authors influenced your work?

I’m going to have to say Douglas Adams for comedy and pace, Antony Burgess for his melody and brutality, Bukowski for his honesty and exploration of the mundane.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time, apart from wearing towels that is?

Since moving up to Leeds, I spend any free time at my little brothers gym doing gymnastic ring work and martial arts tricking, it’s great fun and keeps you fit especially after being hunched over a laptop for so many hours. I do love to cook, mainly because I love to eat so much. When the suns out and it’s dry I skateboard. I’ll be a skater till the day I die. In fact, my dream would be to listen to ‘A hitch hikers guide to the galaxy’ on headphones while I skate down a hill wearing my towel eating a pork bun. I’m going to probably do that. I’ll send you the video when it gets sunnier.

 

Describe your life in three words.

Passionate, Foolish, Lucky.

 

Links

Amazon book link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Dozen-Roast-Potatoes-Simon/dp/1910692905

Urbane Author Link – https://urbanepublications.com/book_author/simon-wan/

Actor show reel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC-xTlmiBig

Music link (Fearnes show)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plPgTyGL6Ms&t=35s

Super Massive Sizzle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jevwuWsRPWQ

BOOK PROMO link 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc1JZwJ6NkU

When I went to WHSmiths and saw my book for the first time on the shelves and signed them for random people so they had to buy it 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/loveandadozenroastpotatoes/videos/145482772539166/

Interview with Anne Coates

anne-coates

I’d like to welcome Anne Coates back to my blog.  Her new book, ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ is out on the 11th May of this year.  As part of the event I have interviewed Anne.

 

As you know I loved ‘Dancers in the Wind’ and I am thoroughly looking forward to your next book which is out in May. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ continues Hannah Weybridge’s story and opens with her discovering the dead body of her close friend Liz Rayman in the crypt of St John the Evangelist at Waterloo where she ran a weekly pro bono dental surgery. Initially the police write off the murder as perpetrated by one of the homeless clients high on drink or drugs. Neither Hannah or Liz’s mother, Lady Celia Rayman, is convinced by this theory and Celia employs the journalist to start investigating. No spoilers here.

 

Did you have to do much research?

I know the area (and the Cardboard City in the Bullring in the 90s) really well. My mother was born in Waterloo and many of my extended family lived there. I also worked for IPC magazines when situated at King’s Reach Tower, Stamford Street which gave me a good backdrop. Having written the first three chapters many years ago, strangely I had never been inside the church. I have subsequently attended many meetings there and it will be the venue for my launch party.

My work as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines gave me a solid background for my protagonist.

There are themes that I have gone back to primary sources for research – I won’t mention these as I hope readers will be surprised and intrigued as to how the novel progresses. I am also blessed with friends who work in diverse careers whom I can tap into for information. Great to do my research over a glass of wine and a chat with a friend!

 

What made you decide to write crime fiction?

The first short story I had published was a “confession” of a crime and many of my tales with a twist which I wrote for magazines like Bella (some published in ‘Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected’) concerned a crime of some description from fraud to murder. I love reading crime novels and believe you should always write what you would like to read!

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I am blessed/cursed with the type of mind which can put me in someone else’s shoes very easily.

Hannah Weybridge has some of my foibles and characteristics (but is not me). In many ways she is my alter ego and does things I wish I had the guts to do. I would never be such a risk-taker. There are other characters I have fallen a bit in love with like Tom Jordan the DI in ‘Dancers in the Wind’ and James, the doctor who also features in both books. I have a real soft spot for Sam who has a small role in DitW and DSJ but may have more to say in book three which I am currently working on. Linda comes to the fore in book three and she is an amalgam of some of my loveliest friends. I can also put myself into the minds of my baddies – which probably reveals a bit too much about me and my darker side!

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

As a journalist I learned to write fast and stick to deadlines so that discipline helps with writing books. So the answer to your question is, it depends on the deadline but I do like a lot of thinking/dreaming time for ideas to percolate and take root. My writing is very character led and they often take me off in directions I would never have contemplated when I first started a particular book.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Not really. I usually write at home although I also scribble down ideas on buses and trains. As my first draft is written on my laptop it means I can be anywhere – even in my garden when it’s warm. If I get stuck with a scene I find changing rooms helps – a move to the kitchen or bedroom encourages a new perspective.

 

Are there going to be more books?

I am currently writing book three in the Hannah Weybridge series (as yet no title) and I have an idea for another book when we meet her many years later.

 

I see that you are also an editor. What does that involve doing?

I have edited magazines for various companies and for many years I have abridged books for Reader’s Digest for the UK, Australian and Canadian markets. Cutting a book – sometimes by as much as 50 per cent – is a major task and by the end I have read the book so often I probably know it better than the author. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown when I had to cut Middlemarch in half for the Orion Compact Editions. With the classics you can’t change a word and as I love that book it was heart-breaking to eliminate themes or storylines.

I also copy edit, which involves checking facts and spellings, making sure of consistency, following house style and basically dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s.

 

What was your experience at getting published by Urbane Publications like?

I have been published by four other companies: Wayland, Bloomsbury, Need to Know, and Endeavour and each experience has been different. Urbane Publications – like many of the newer indie publishers – offers a more collaborative approach, which works well for me. The focus, enthusiasm and sense of purpose is brilliant and I also enjoy the being part of a group of authors who are supportive and happy to meet up in real life. Last year Urbane sent a group of us to CrimeFest, which was a great experience and this year I’ll be on one of the panels and we’ll all meet up for drinks and the Gala Dinner.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wishing to pen a book?

Read widely, keep writing and don’t give up. There are many routes to getting published now and if you persevere you’ll find the right one for you. I was once told to write the first novel, dump it and get on with the second. My first novel is still in a box in the attic.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

Twitter has introduced my to an amazing array of authors whom I might not have come across but whose books have become firm favourites. Some have become friends and if I started naming them I’d be bound to leave someone out in error. However it was with utter joy when I learned that the daughter of a close friend (and my daughter’s godfather) had achieved a brilliant publishing deal. Needless to say I loved reading it: ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by E C Healey. When I have the time I go back to reading old favourites like Wilkie Collins, Dickens, James Joyce, and DH Lawrence among others.

 

If you were only allowed to keep three items what would they be?

Although I am an inveterate hoarder, I try to discipline myself not to be “owned” by possessions. It’s taken me a long time to realise this. My family, friends and three cats (the felines are all sitting with me as I write this, making sure I include them) are the world to me. If I had to choose items it would probably be my mother’s rings and earrings, old family photos currently framed and hanging in the dining room, and my phone which contains all my contacts. Actually this has given me an idea for another book …

 

Links

Dancers in the Wind
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dancers-Wind-gripping-thriller-Weybridge/dp/1911129635/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1486815984&sr=1-1

Death’s Silent Judgement
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-Silent-Judgement-Hannah-Weybridge/dp/1911331353/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487075630&sr=1-1&keywords=death%27s+silent+judgement

Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cheque-Mate-Other-Tales-Unexpected-Coates-ebook/dp/B008G1FI5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487075707&sr=1-1&keywords=Cheque+Mate+and+other+Tales+of+the+unexpected

Author website http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/

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