A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “contemporary fiction”

Guest Post by Dianne Noble

Dianne Noble’s new book, ‘Oppression’ was published as an eBook on the 14th June 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing.  The lovely Dianne is back on my blog with another wonderful guest post which I hope you all enjoy reading.

 

Oppression

The first time I saw Egypt I was seven years old and sitting on the deck of the troopship Dunera with my head buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring-o-Bells Mystery. I looked up as we docked in Port Said to see the gully gully man coming aboard. He was an Egyptian magician who fascinated everyone, young and old alike, and he accentuated the other world atmosphere of this exotic country. As we sailed down the Suez Canal – much narrower than I expected – Lawrence of Arabia figures seated on camels appeared on the desert banks. I can truly say Egypt was the first place interesting enough to get my head out of a book.

Three years later, in December 1957, the Canal had been closed and we flew back from Singapore in an RAF Hermes plane. The journey took almost three days, stopping in several countries to re-fuel and de-ice the wings. This time there were no hot and vibrant sights and I didn’t see Egypt again until I reached my early forties, when I travelled by train from Cairo to Aswan, glued to the windows as we passed by villages which looked like they’d come straight from the pages of the Bible. The Pyramids fascinated me, the River Nile, the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, the people, everything. My lifelong love affair with Egypt had begun and I’ve been back many times. The last time, I visited the City of the Dead in Cairo, a vast necropolis which features in Oppression and houses many poor people who would otherwise be on the streets.

This novel is the story of Beth who prevents the abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town, but is powerless to stop her subsequent forced marriage. In time to come Beth travels to Egypt to search for the girl, Layla, and finds her living in the City of the Dead. Oppression is the tale of two very different women, both of whom are oppressed in their lives, and how they triumph despite the odds.

 

About Dianne Noble

I was born into a service family and brought up in Singapore in the 1950s, before it gained its independence, then Cyprus when the Turkish Navy sailed to the island for the first time to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and we had to travel everywhere in a military convoy. I went on to marry a Civil Engineer and moved to the Arabian Gulf in the 1970s at the time of the construction boom. A hedonistic lifestyle with too much alcohol and partying which saw the demise of my, and many others’, marriages.

Since then, with sons grown and flown, I have continued to wander all over the world, keeping extensive journals of my experiences. Fifteen different schools and an employment history which includes The British Embassy Bahrain, radio presenter, café proprietor on Penzance seafront, and a goods picker in an Argos warehouse (complete with steel toe-capped boots) have resulted in rich seams to mine for inspiration.

I’ve always written, from editing the school magazine to short stories and letters to magazines, but it was only on retirement that I had the time for a novel. My writing is atmospheric, steeped in the smells, sights and sounds of exotic locations. I live – when not travelling – in a small, Leicestershire village. My favourite destinations – so far – have been India, Egypt and Russia, with Guatemala a close third.

 

Links

You can purchase ‘Oppression’ from:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071KY8BJ8

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KY8BJ8

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/721501

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/oppression/id1231926575?mt=1

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/oppression-4

 

Website: www.dianneanoble.com

Twitter: @dianneanoble1

Facebook: facebook.com/dianneanoble

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ by Helena Fairfax

I am delighted to be revealing the cover for ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ which is being published as an eBook on the 7th July 2017.  Isn’t it just gorgeous?  It’s so bright and summery.  Read on to find out what this book is about.  There is also an exclusive extract.

 

Book Blurb

A quaint hotel in a romantic landscape. The Lake District is the perfect getaway. Or is it?

Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …

Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he’s forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.

With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?

 

Extract

Chapter One

Fliss

At last it had stopped raining. Fliss lowered the window of her old car, letting in the smell of damp asphalt and sodden leaves. A faint whiff of burning mingled with the earthier odours, and she cast an anxious glance at the bonnet.

‘Don’t give up on me here, Agnetha,’ she pleaded. ‘This is no place to break down.’

For the past three miles as she’d climbed the steep incline out of the valley, Fliss hadn’t seen a soul. The village of Emmside, whose high street had provided her with the last latte of civilisation, now lay far below her. Here, high up on the fell, there was nothing but shadows and the dark, brooding branches of trees hanging over her head. It was enough to make a girl feel dismal.

Fliss, never one to remain downcast for long, switched on the radio to banish the silence, and soon the merry sound of her singing streamed down the hillside through her open window. She put the car into its lowest gear to round a sharp curve and slammed on the brakes.

‘Wow. Look at that. This was worth the climb.’

Agnetha, Fliss’s faithful car of many years’ travel, rumbled and spluttered in agreement. The road had surfaced above the trees and far below was Lake Emmswater, shimmering green and silver, like a scene from a fairy tale.

On an impulse, Fliss turned her car into a lay-by on the other side of the road, pulling up beside a dark four-by-four. There was a man standing by the dry stone wall that bounded the steep slope. He was gazing down at the lake, shoulders hunched, hands thrust deep in his jacket pockets. Apart from the light breeze ruffling his hair he could have been carved into the wall himself.

Fliss climbed out of her car and moved to stand beside him. The jagged mountains of the Lake District rose and fell in great dark peaks on the skyline, their sides flecked with splashes of bright, mossy green. Soft fields crept down into the valley, dotted with the fluffy white forms of sheep, and lying at the centre of it all was the gleaming lake.

Fliss took in a deep breath, letting the fresh air fill her lungs.  ‘What a magical place,’ she said to the man standing next to her. ‘All those gloomy trees – and now this.’

Her neighbour turned at the sound of her voice, moving slowly, as though surfacing from a dream. Fliss, who’d been too enthralled by the scene to pay him much attention, was taken aback to confront eyes as sombre as the trees behind them, and as cheerless. His complexion was browned by the sun, and his strong hands, which he’d removed from his pockets to rest on the wall, were weathered. Wherever he’d spent the past few years, it wasn’t under these leaden skies. Something about his bearing made Fliss think of the sea. It was as though here, on dry land, he was lost and out of his element.

Fliss wasn’t often given to fanciful thoughts. If you see someone without a smile, give them one of your own. It worked for Dolly Parton, and so Fliss smiled. The stranger blinked at the full wattage of her beam.

 

About Helena Fairfax


Helena Fairfax is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now which is just as well, since these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. Helena walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Subscribers to Helena’s newsletter receive news of free stuff, competitions with prizes, gossip, and links to cool websites she’s been looking at when she should have been writing.

 

Links

You can pre-order ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ here – http://mybook.to/FelicityCH

Social Media Links:-

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT

Website: www.helenafairfax.com

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/helenafairfax/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/helenafairfax/

 

The gorgeous cover was designed by Rachel Lawston of Lawston Design http://www.lawstondesign.com/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Pot Love: Books 1 and 2’ by Sylvia Ashby

I’m thrilled to be taking part in this cover reveal.  Today I have not just one but two covers to share, both of which are absolutely gorgeous.  Here’s more information about ‘Pot Love’.

 

Book Blurb

Ashley Burkе is your average next-door girl. She lives with her boyfriend, loves her work and secretly fancies her boss.

When Ashley loses it all through no fault of her own, well, apart from snogging her boss and getting caught by his fiancée, she needs to act fast to find a new job. A lucrative vacancy comes her way – a spot on a popular day-time TV – but there is a catch. It’s a cookery spot and Ashley can’t cook to save her life.

 

PRAISES FOR POT LOVE

“I feel like exploding with how much I love this book. I almost didn’t want to read the last few chapters because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I feel like I made a new best friend and visited England, without ever leaving my house.

If this book were a movie, it would be the biggest romantic comedy of the next five years, and I’d be first in line to pay my $10 for a ticket and $20 worth of popcorn and soda.”

BestChickLit.com
“Like a late night, post-pub cheeseboard or the final few drops of Rosé, it will prove mighty hard to resist.”

“Great characters, interesting plot line and wonderful writing bringing it all together! Well worth the read. Kind of hoping for a sequel.”

 

‘Pot Love’ is available to buy from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Pot-Love-Sylvia-Ashby-ebook/dp/B00DJB79EW

 

Feast your eyes on the second cover.  Those cupcakes look delicious don’t they!

 

Book Blurb

Ashley has a YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much. When James calls with an offer to take her to lunch – the same James that got her fired from her dream job three years ago – she accepts. Against her better judgement, of course.

Now Ashley has all kinds of secrets and things are only going to get worse.

The Sinking Chef (Pot Love 2) is a light, enjoyable and easy to read romantic comedy. With Sylvia Ashby’s gift of humour there is plenty to laugh and smile about, but the book does have its serious moments.

 

PRAISES FOR POT LOVE

“Oh wow – what a fabulous ending!  I actually had tears pricking my eyes.  I’m so happy for Ashley.  After all she’s been through in the course of the book, all the problems and insecurities… the ending was just perfect.”

Heather Belleguelle

Captivating read!! I found myself charmed by Ashley- all her flaws and insecurities kept me reading page after page.”

Celeste Rogers

 

‘Pot Love 2: The Sinking Chef’ is available from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Sinking-Chef-Pot-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZYGMPLB

 

About Sylvia Ashby

Three random facts about me

I graduated university with a Graphic Design degree and spent my twenties working in advertising. Never did it occur to me that my degree would come in handy when I start publishing books.

In my early thirties, I was a shop owner. I owned four shops, one of which was in St. Christopher’s Place London W1. I was doing everything from buying the collections to submitting monthly PAYS. It was madness. I’m so glad the economy crashed in 2008 and I had to give up retail.

Then I started writing. It felt like the first conscious decision I’ve ever made in my life. I felt a sense of belonging. The thought “I could be doing this for the rest of my life” didn’t scare me half to death. Four years and four books later I still feel the same way. This is love, home and vocation wrapped in one.

My first book, Pot Love, was about food and love. My second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places. The third book I wrote is actually Pot Love‘s second instalment. It’s called The Sinking Chef (Pot Love Book 2) and in it my eponymous heroine Ashley is in even bigger trouble then she was in Pot Love. The two books are standalone and you don’t have to read them in order. My fourth is The Official Pot Love Series Cookbook and you can get it completely FREE.

Currently, I live in Leuven, Belgium with my family.

 

Links

Twitter @bysylvia_a

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

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM

 

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

Guest Post by Rose McGinty

Rose McGinty’s debut novel, ‘Electric Souk’ is out on the 23rd March.  I am absolutely thrilled to have Rose on my blog today with a guest post.

 

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

This is my first piece about Electric Souk for a blog review and I am delighted it is for Sonya’s site as her love of reading shines from the screen and she is such a supporter of new writers. Sonya asked me what inspired my story and to say something of my travels. I really enjoyed thinking back to my time in the desert and I hope you enjoy a glimpse into that world too.

Electric Souk started out as a letter home – from the desert. I had taken a job in the health service in the Middle East.  The day started early and finished by 1pm.  Now, I had always craved living in a culture where you could while away the afternoon in dreams. But I was somewhere that so saturated the senses that sleep was impossible. So while the desert afternoon was still I wrote a diary and long letters home, based on  my entries.

My letters at first documented nights in the shisha-smoky souk, or the bizarre scraps I found myself in as a lone, white, western woman. Such as the time when I had a meeting with the Director of the ambulance service and was given the typically hazy desert directions of ‘Go to the hospital and her office is next to the line-up of ambulances.’ I found a line-up of ambulances at the A and E.  I had my doubts and the receptionist quickly put me right.  The ambulance station was on the other side of the hospital complex.

‘Shukran,’ I called to her as I turned to walk back out. The receptionist and three porters bore down on me, ‘Lady! Lady! Where are you going?’ I was heading to the ambulance station.  ‘Are you crazee?’ It was at most a ten minute walk, admittedly in forty degree heat and humidity like a wet velvet towel.

There wasn’t a hope I was going to be allowed to walk there. I was going to be late. I didn’t have time to call and wait for a taxi. Taxis were almost as mythical as magic carpets. If you did manage to persuade a taxi to come and pick you up, you were in for a minimum hour wait in a city where the roads were permanently grid locked with Land Cruisers, and mostly the taxis never turned up.

I could walk I insisted, trying again to exit, managing to get half a foot over the threshold. I should have known better. Within seconds everyone in the A and E was shrieking at me. Step forward my hero in a green boiler suit.  Sami was a paramedic and he was heading over to the ambulance station. He would give me a lift. I was so grateful it didn’t click immediately that within the next minutes I would find myself hurtling downtown, the opposite direction to the station, in an ambulance.

Sami explained that the hospital enforced a strict one way system, which meant that whenever the ambulances needed to return to base they had to detour downtown. I gulped, fished out my mobile and rang my office to ask them to let the ambulance Director know I was going to be late.  A trip downtown meant a good hour in the snarling traffic, at least. As I explained my predicament on the phone, that I had got a lift but was stuck in traffic, carefully neglecting to mention I was in the back of an ambulance, I felt a sharp lurch.  Sami had stamped on the accelerator. The undeniable wail of the siren somewhat gave away my mode of transportation. I got to my meeting pretty much on time, Arabic time, but I never heard the end of it back at the office.

As the weeks turned to months my initial thrill of being somewhere so completely unfamiliar and disorienting wore off, and my diaries and letters became my life line.  The ripples of recession in Europe and America lapped at the edge of the desert. Gas and oil prices plunged deep. Threats of purging ex pats from government jobs intensified.  Suspicion about foreigners spread. The champagne brunches at seven star hotels lost a touch of their wild abandon. Was it time to cut and run? Would there be a coup? What was the truth about the rumours of a power struggle at the palace? The locals were whispering about it and after all power never transferred without bloodshed out here. You just can’t sweep away the desert, however many times a day you take a broom to the piles of sticky, red sand that insinuated through every tiny crevice.

Why did our mobile phones click, when they never did that at home? Who was the man now sitting on a stool outside my office every day? Who had been in my apartment, gone through my things yet not taken anything, just moved everything by an inch, and left the door open and a stubbed out cigarette – to let me know? And that night, that pitch, blistering night out in the desert – what really happened then?

Back home, free from the sand djinn, they still scorched my dreams. The only way I knew how to deal with them was to write. I took up my letters and diaries and pulled out morsels, popped them in the mouths of the characters that haunted my night terrors and Souk spoke as I put my pen to the page.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can read more about the moments that formed a backdrop to Electric Souk at my blog http://rosemcginty.wordpress.com

 

Links

‘Electric Souk’ is available from Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/electric-souk/

It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Electric-Souk-Rose-McGinty/dp/1911129821/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489520881&sr=1-1

Twitter – @rosemcginty

 

Extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’ by Adrian Harvey

I hope you all enjoyed Adrian Harvey’s guest post.  I now have an extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’ for you to read.

 

Book Blurb

From the Small Isles to the big city, The Cursing Stone charts the perils of finding what you’re looking for.

‘Oh come now, Mr Buchanan. When one goes out into the world, one always ends up smelling of something or other.’

Fergus Buchanan has led a charmed life: a doting family, a loving sweetheart and the respect of his neighbours. All is as it should be and nothing stands between him and the limitless happiness that is his destiny. But then he is sent from his remote island to retrieve the cursing stone, and his adventures in the wild world beyond cause him to question everything he thought he knew. Succeed or fail, nothing will be the same again.

This modern quest is a story of courage, duty and revenge, of family ties and loves lost and found, of dragons and postcodes.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’

 

Guest Post by Adrian Harvey

I am thrilled to welcome Adrian Harvey back to my blog.  I loved his first book, ‘Being Someone’ and am really looking forward to reading ‘The Cursing Stone’ which was published last year.  Adrian has written a guest post for this event.

 

Writing myself

It was my own fault. I had decided to write my first novel in the first person, so I should not have been surprised when family and friends started to ask pointed questions. You see, the protagonist of Being Someone was not written sympathetically: he is not someone men should aspire to be. And yet, when my brother described the book as ‘brave’, I didn’t quite get his point.

Things started to dawn on me when a friend’s friend apparently told her that she wasn’t sure that she would like me as a person if she were to meet me. When my mother said that she was disappointed in me, I began a short but intense period of denial. James is not me, I would tell anyone who paused long enough to hear it.

Fiction is not autobiography, of course, and even when authors write about what they know, their novels are not transcriptions of their lives. And yet some readers wanted only to uncover the ‘me’ that they assumed was woven into the text.

There is plenty of ‘me’ in Being Someone, of course, but that ‘me’ is not contained in a single character, but spread across everyone that appears within the book, not just the narrator/protagonist. My second novel, The Cursing Stone, is written in the third person, but there is still plenty of ‘me’ in that too, again contained within a set of diverse characters who are nothing like me, except in the very important regard that they are human. How could it be otherwise? The only perspective I have is my own; the only loves, fears, and doubts I have ever felt are mine. Other people can only ever be seen through that lens.

Because making characters means drawing on yourself but also on what you observe in others: the raw material, especially for the fine grain, the patina, is everyone you’ve ever met. When you’re writing a novel about human relationships (aren’t they all?) and you’re perpetually hungry for ever more granularity, every conversation – those you participate in, those you overhear – is legitimate source material. Every haircut, every nose, every pair of shoes or nervous laugh is fair game. A writer observes, for sure; but more than that, a writer listens. If you can’t hear it authentically as you write it – the words and the cadence – then nor will the reader when they read it.

This I knew. Then I started to notice that I was actively mining conversations, exchanges, and interactions for material. Not just observing, noting, what was going on, but mentally writing it into my novel as the exchange was happening. And if the conversation didn’t fully meet the needs of the character or plot, I found myself steering it in ways that would. I stopped doing that, of course, for my own sake as much as my friends: it felt like stealing, but moreover I was disturbed by the idea of fictionalising my life, of turning my relationships into the components of a novel.

Sometimes even observing feels like stealing. But mostly I know it is simply the only way to draw a believable character who will carry the attention of a reader, and behave with sufficient authenticity to make solid the make-believe of my narrative. So while I was not brought up on a remote Scottish island, I was once 20 years old (although not for a very long time) and there is enough of me – and of you – in Fergus Buchanan to make his quest for the cursing stone worth following.

 

Links

‘The Cursing Stone’ is available to buy from:-

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

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursing-Stone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/191112918X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489317079&sr=1-1

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy from:-

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

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

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/

Guest Post by Jared A. Carnie

The lovely Jared A. Carnie has written a guest post especially for this event.  His debut novel, ‘Waves’ was published in September last year and has been getting some really good reviews.

 

Island Inspiration

Waves, my recent novel, is set on the Isle of Lewis, where I used to live. Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone could live in the Outer Hebrides and not write a book set there. It’s hard to get across what a wonderful and unique place it is.

Here’s an example:

I was working for Western Isles Council doing admin work (the council is one of the only places up there for unskilled office workers to get a job). It was a Friday afternoon and I was nearly done for the day. I got a text from my friend Callum. It said do you fancy going out to Horgabost tonight? We can camp out. I’ll pick you up after work.

Horgabost is a beautiful, isolated campsite down on the Isle of Harris, which is actually the same bit of land as the Isle of Lewis. I know that’s confusing. I got told it’s like that because hundreds of years ago, when these places got named, the mountains in the middle of the two isles made it impossible to get from one to the other through any route except by boat, so they were in effect two separate isles, despite being connected by land. Today, they still have their separate names despite the fact that you can drive straight from Lewis to Harris. And if you’re ever up there, I recommend you do, as it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch.

Anyway, I told Callum I’d love to go camping and would see him in a bit. So, at half past four (because it’s an island and nobody has to work late) Callum picked me up outside work. We drove down to Horgabost, passing the sheep in the road, passing the glassy lochs reflecting the sky.

When we got there, unsurprisingly, we were the only people at this giant, white, impossibly clean, beach. Callum and I set up the tent ready for the evening. By the time we were done, a few of Callum’s other friends had started to arrive. One of them had brought some fireworks for later. He said he’d called the coastguard, and warned them that we would be setting off fireworks around 10pm, so that was when we would have to use them.

Callum had brought some burgers and after an hour or two of sitting around drinking we got a fire going to cook some of the meat. At that point, as it was starting to get dark, Mike arrived. I’d not met Mike before. Mike was just back from being out on his boat, and he’d brought some lobster he’d just caught with him. Now, I’d never had lobster before. So, this ended up being the way I had lobster for the first time: with six people, alone, on a vast, mediterranean-looking beach, by a roaring fire, with our own, private fireworks display.

And it was all pretty much free. And just down the road from my house. And at 3pm that day I’d expected to just be spending the evening at home watching TV. That’s the magic of the island. Things like that would happen all the time. My girlfriend and I would text each other at lunch sometimes and suggest a bit of the island we wanted to head to after work. We’d head out and find ourselves alone on other beautiful beaches or seeing whales off the top of the island or stumbling across deer on walks or eagles in the sky. Things people would pay thousands of pounds to do were just down the road for us. And that’s why, when people ask why I decided to write a novel set on the Isle of Lewis, I can’t help but think how could I not?

 

Links

‘Waves’ is available to purchase from:-

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

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waves-little-book-beauty-escapism-ebook/dp/B01KP84V5G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488655553&sr=1-1&keywords=waves+by+jared+carnie

Jared A. Carnie’s website – http://www.jaredacarnie.com/

Twitter – @jacarnie

 

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