A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “contemporary fiction”

Cover Reveal – ‘A Prosecco Christmas’ by Sylvia Ashby

This is the cover for Sylvia Ashby’s new book.  Isn’t it lovely!  ‘A Prosecco Christmas’ is the third book in the Pot Love series and here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Family is where life begins.

And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and step-dad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.

She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned on New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

~~~~~

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1495186857&sr=8-1

 

About Sylvia Ashby

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

 

Links

Blog – http://www.sylvia-ashby.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bysylvia_a

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

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1495186857&sr=8-1

 

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Cover Reveal – ‘The Big Event’ by Anne John-Ligali

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for ‘The Big Event’.  The first book in the Friendship Online Short Story series, it is being published as an eBook on the 30th November 2017.  I totally love the design of this cover and the colours are just gorgeous.

Anyway, I’m sure you all want to know what the book is about so read on.

 

Book Blurb

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too.

Or so she hopes.

A short story about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

~~~~~

Like the sound of this book?  Well, you’re in luck then because you can pre-order it from Amazon UK.  Here is the link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Event-Gorgeous-Possibly-Friendships-ebook/dp/B076NMB2G6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508756132&sr=8-1&keywords=anne+john-ligali

 

About Anne John-Ligali

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007. Since then, Anne has been writing on and off and enjoys participating in writing groups. Twice in 2014, she won the monthly Novelicious Pintrest Prompt Fiction Competition.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number of IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

 

Book/Author Links

Website – http://annejohnligali.com

Twitter – @AnneJohnLigali

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

Instagram – booksandauthorsuk

 

Book Blog Website – http://www.booksandauthors.co.uk

Twitter (Blog) – @BooksNAuthorsUK

Blog Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/booksandauthors

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Way Back’ by Kelly Florentia

‘No Way Back’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st September 2017 by Urbane Publications.  I am currently reading this book and am enjoying it immensely.  For those of you who are planning to read ‘No Way Back’ I can tell you now that you are in for a real treat.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this wonderful blog tour for which Kelly Florentia has written a really interesting guest post.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma…

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she’s not sure she’s ready for. Audrey’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that’s left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision – follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it’s the people that we love who can hurt us the most…

 

Guest Post

Creating Characters

On the bus the other day, a pregnant lady sat opposite me with her little girl – about four-years-old, blonde hair tumbling over her narrow shoulders, blues eyes, incredibly cute. Her legs dangled over the seat, feet almost touching my legs.

“We used to go to that park,” she announced suddenly, pointing out of the window. “The one with the brown gate.”

“Yes,” Mum replied, smiling, “Highgate Woods, and we’ll go there again when the weather warms up.”

“Yes,” said the girl, “Highgate Woods.”

She gazed out of the window for a few moments, swinging her little legs over the seat, then took a sip of water, ate a few gummy bears that her mum handed. It wasn’t long before her pink canvas shoes collided with my knees. She looked at me, eyes wide, clinging to her mother. “I kicked that lady with my feet,” she said warily. Mum looked at me, apologised, and I smiled warmly, said it was okay.

“The lady knows. It’s okay,” she told her.

The little girl studied me for a while, chewing on a gummy bear, then said, “Mummy, I think you’ve got bigger feet than the lady.”

Of course, I glanced down at mum’s feet, I think we all did, and yes, mum’s feet were considerably larger than mine. But I’m not sure she wanted to share this information with the entire bus.

“Yes,” Mum said dryly, “I think I have.”

And I smiled again because in that instant I recognised that little girl. She’s Lily from my second novel No Way Back. I took snapshots of her with my eyes and brought her to the forefront of my mind whenever I wrote a scene about her. And that’s how I create some of my secondary characters.

 

About Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. No Way Back, released 21st September, is her second novel.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales.

Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on this subject. Smooth Operator (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, yoga, drinking coffee, and scoffing cakes. She is currently working on the sequel to NO WAY BACK.

 

Links

‘No Way Back’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2xGjZMe

Website – http://www.kellyflorentia.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KellyFlorentiaAuthor

Twitter – @kellyflorentia

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kellyflorentia/

‘No Way Back’ Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/user/11135145039/playlist/0IbxzB3L6ZPdbrFiUY5fAI

 

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’

 

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