A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “debut novel”

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – August 2018 ~ @LMMilford

It’s always a pleasure welcoming Lynne Milford back to my blog.  She has been writing a series of guest posts, having won my Twitter competition to feature on here for a whole year.  Last month Lynne took a well earned break and is now back nice and refreshed with a lovely post about why she loves writing.

 

Why I love writing

If you’ve been reading my monthly posts, you know that I love writing. I love reading too but I love writing more. It’s not easy and at times has me pulling my hair out, but I couldn’t live without it.

Imagination and creativity have always played a big part of my life. When I was a child I was always making up stories and wishing for Famous Five style adventures, although they were more likely to be played out in my head. Even now I can turn the slightest hint of a story into a game of ‘what if?’ and who knows where that may take me. (This is one of the best ways to generate ideas!)

It’s a small step from coming up with ideas to actually writing them down. The much bigger step is developing those ideas into a plot that works. It takes patience and a lot of determination to keep your bottom on the chair. It’s a bit like training for a marathon really, in that you have to put in the work, learn from your mistakes and be prepared to keep going even when the going starts to feel very tough.

But there is no feeling like looking up from your computer or notebook and realising that you’ve finished something. Of course, the act of writing itself is great, but finishing something – particularly something the length of a novel – gives a real sense of satisfaction.

Recently I suffered from a bout of exhaustion. It sounds silly and self-indulgent, but bear with me. I was so desperate to finish the latest round of edits on my second book that I’d bookmarked six or seven hours each weekend day for about six weeks to work on it. Add in my full time job and you can see why I was exhausted. Sadly I hadn’t listened to the warnings and niggles my body was giving me until it started to shout. Three days of aching head-to-toe was not a good sign. I was fortunate that I was going to Harrogate Crime Festival and so I had to step away from writing for three whole days*. I was completely away from home so I couldn’t take editing with me. I had the Monday off work and had planned to edit all day. Instead I took the morning off, pottered around, went to the library and sat in the garden to read. That meant when I went back to editing later that day I was refreshed.

But (the reason for this story) it gave me a chance to look at my life and see how I was using my time. It also gave me a look at what I would do without writing in my life.  I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give up writing – I missed it too much even just after three days. It’s so much part of my life and something I enjoy too much to give it up.

So writing will always be a part of my life and there are so many things I want to accomplish through it. But, and this is a biggie, I’ll make sure it doesn’t completely take over – or at least, I promise to try!

*(I should add that I was a bit naughty while away at Harrogate and I did start on a new piece of writing with a new character – and not in Allensbury where my novels are set. But don’t tell anyone because I told them I was resting!)

~~~~~

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-april-2018/

Fifth guest post (May 2018) – What I do when I’m not writing

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-may-2018/

Sixth guest post (June 2018) – Extract + Competition

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-june-2018/

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Guest Post by Fiona Perrin ~ @fionaperrin @Aria_Fiction

I am delighted to have Fiona Perrin on my blog today.  Her book, ‘The Story After Us’ was published as an eBook on the 14th July 2018 by Aria Fiction and is also available in paperback.

Fiona has written a guest post in the form of Questions and Answers.

 

Tell us about The Story After Us…

It’s a story for everyone who found out that happy ever after had a sequel and for everyone who’s faced irreconcilable differences and survived. Here is the blurb:

If she tries very hard, Ami can remember when she used to have a dynamic and exciting career and a husband who she loved more than life itself, and who was equally smitten with her… 

Now she has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she has become – or why she and her husband can’t even be in the same room anymore. 

With life as she knew it in tatters around her, Ami is heartbroken, and in no way pulling off ‘consciously uncoupling’ like a celeb. But she’s starting to wonder if she just might come out the other side and be… happier? 

 As funny as Helen Fielding, as poignantly touching as Marian Keyes, Fiona Perrin’s dazzling debut is a story that is as much about finding out who you really are again, as it is about the exhausting balancing act of motherhood. Unmissable for women everywhere.

 

What was your inspiration for The Story After Us?

I wanted to write about messy, modern love. I know lots of women whose families don’t look like they belong in a magazine spread, but are filled with happiness, humour and hope. I am divorced myself – a long while ago – and good mates and parents with my ex-husband while happily married to my second. I’m a mother and stepmother to four kids and have had a fairly full-on job while they’ve been growing up. Ami’s story isn’t mine, but I hope it’s one thats relatable to lots of women – and makes them laugh.

 

How did you write it?

I’ve always written but, in 2012 I signed up for the Curtis Brown Creative writing course with a very rough draft of a novel. I learned loads about great storytelling during the short course and threw away most of my word count. Then, with the help of a spin-off writing group that met every Monday fortnight for years, I wrote it again.

Eventually I was lucky enough to get the editorial input of my agent, Diana Beaumont, who helped me write it again a few more times. Then Aria wanted to publish it, and everything got really exciting.

 

Are you writing another book?

I am. Again, it has a mad, modern family with a difficult dilemma at its heart. It’s different the second time – I have a lot more certainty about what I’m doing.

 

So, what’s writing life like?

I’m working as a freelance now so that makes everything a lot easier. And the kids are older and lovely (not that they weren’t but you know…) and I’ve got a study by the sea at the end of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. We call it life on the edge because it is (of England) and so far, it’s pretty great.

 

Links

‘The Story After Us’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Story-After-Us-Fiona-Perrin-ebook/dp/B07BM58ZNN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521988626&sr=8-1&keywords=the+story+after+us

Website – http://www.fionaperrin.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/fionaperrin

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

 

Blog Tour – ‘Puzzle Girl’ by Rachael Featherstone ~ @DomePress @WRITERachael

‘Puzzle Girl’ was published as an eBook on the 2nd August 2018 by The Dome Press and will be out in paperback next January.  This is Rachael Featherstone’s debut novel.  I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and I would like to thank Emily Glenister for inviting me to participate and for my review copy.

You will find out what I thought of ‘Puzzle Girl’ in a moment, plus there’s a competition to enter towards the end of my post.  First though here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

Love is a riddle, waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it.

Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

 

My Review

‘Puzzle Girl’ really appealed to me somehow and I was looking forward to reading it. I liked Rachael Featherstone’s style of writing and the way the story was presented. The storyline was great and I thought it to be very original. This was such a fun and light-hearted read, although there were a couple of serious issues too. I loved the humour throughout. It was exactly the tonic I needed.

There were some fantastic characters in this story. I absolutely adored Cassy. She wanted to be successful in her career and she had a good chance of getting a promotion. Determined not to let this opportunity slip through her fingers Cassy did everything she could to secure the position. But in doing so she lost sight of what was really important and couldn’t see what was actually staring her in the face which was a bit of a shame. Cassy also loved solving puzzles. The cryptic clue in the puzzle book at the doctor’s surgery certainly got her thinking and trying to work out who had left it for her. The things Cassy got up to in trying to solve the mystery were hilarious. I also really liked Dan. He is exactly the sort of person you would want as a best friend.

The ending was just so lovely and was exactly what I hoped for. It left me with a nice feeling. My only complaint is that the story had to finish.

If you are looking for a nice relaxing read then I recommend ‘Puzzle Girl’. I hope there will be more books from this author.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Puzzle Girl’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2vo0qXk

 

 

Competition

One very lucky person has the chance to win an eBook copy of ‘Puzzle Girl’ and a very special puzzle notebook which is being donated by Rachael Featherstone herself.  To enter, just leave a comment.

 

Terms and conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 12th August 2018.

The winner will be picked randomly within 7 days of the closing date and contacted via email.  Their details will then be passed on to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press.

 

About Rachael Featherstone

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

Puzzle Girl will be published by the Dome Press in ebook on 2nd August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019.

 

Social Media & Links

Twitter: @WRITERachael

Instagram: @rachael_featherstone

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

Website:  www.writerachael.com

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – June 2018 ~ @LMMilford

I really hope you have been enjoying Lynne Milford’s monthly guest posts.  Lynne won my Twitter competition last year to feature on my blog for a year and so far things seem to be going well.

This month Lynne has decided to do something different.  Having talked about her debut novel, ‘A Deadly Rejection’, she thought it would be nice for you to be able to read an extract from it.  I think it’s a brilliant idea myself.  She is also giving away 1 of 5 x signed paperback copies of her book.  How nice is that!  I really hope you enjoy the extract.

 

Extract

Chapter 1

 It was the smell that drew the spaniel to the clearing. She loved anything dirty and smelly; the smellier the better, in fact. She didn’t even mind being hosed down by her owner when they got home, as long as it wasn’t too cold. It was worth it.

The long grass and brambles crunched under her paws as she leapt through the undergrowth. Coppin Woods was her favourite place for a walk. She paused a moment, sensitive nose twitching as she sniffed the air. Yes, it was definitely getting stronger. She wasn’t entirely sure what it was but that wasn’t important.

She could hear her owner calling her name, but she carried on running.

When she found the clearing, she stopped stock-still and began to bark; a warning bark rather than the joy of spotting a rabbit. By the time her owner caught up to her, she’d circled the car with the engine running and the hosepipe running from the exhaust into the car through an open and duct-taped window. She’d scampered back to the edge of the clearing whimpering. This wasn’t what she’d been expecting.

The smell of car fumes was drifting all around the clearing. She watched as her owner rushed forward and tugged at the door handle of the car. She barked a warning and ran to his side, but he pushed her away. The door wouldn’t open and, finding a rock on the ground, her owner smashed the car window. Coughing, he leaned inside and switched off the engine. Flicking open the door lock, he dragged the driver from the car and laid him on the ground.

‘Can’t tell if he’s breathing,’ he muttered, pulling out his mobile phone. The skin on the driver’s face was burned and blackened, as were his hands.

Soon an ambulance, fire engine and police car were pulling up at the end of the track that led to the clearing. The paramedics ran to the clearing, carrying their heavy equipment, but after a short examination, they were shaking their heads.

‘Gone, never stood a chance,’ said one.

‘I’ll never understand why they do it,’ replied the other.

‘Peaceful, I suppose,’ remarked the police sergeant who had just joined them.

The spaniel was twitching and pulling at her lead while her owner spoke to the police officer. She no longer thought that smell was interesting. She wanted to go home.

 

Competition

If you liked A Deadly Rejection so far, there are five copies up for grabs. Just comment in the box below by 6th July 2018 and I’ll pick five names at random.  Good Luck!  Please note this competition is open to UK residents only.

 

~~~~~

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-april-2018/

Fifth guest post (May 2018)  What I do when I’m not writing

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-may-2018/

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – May 2018

It’s time for Lynne Milford’s monthly guest post.  I really look forward to receiving her posts and this month’s is really interesting.

 

What I do when I’m not writing

When Sonya offered me this opportunity I asked a friend what she, as a reader, would want to know about writers. She replied ‘what you do with your spare time?’. I laughed and said ‘Writing’. And it’s true, I do spend a lot of my free time writing. But once I’d thought about it, I do other things as well. So, here’s how I spend my time when I’m not writing (although whatever I’m doing I’m probably also still thinking about writing or feeling guilty for not writing).

Exercise

This is a tough one for writers because we spend a lot of time sitting in a chair. Add into that my day job – which involves sitting down at a computer – and I recently ended up in a whole lot of trouble. My favourite exercises are running and Pilates. The former helps me blow of a bit of steam, the latter helps my poor sore chair body. By strengthening and stretching out my muscles at Pilates I keep my body mobile and protect it from the aches and pains associated with spending time sitting down. Going running helps clear your head and (hopefully) balances the effect of snacking while buried in your writing.

Cooking/baking

I make no bones – I love food. I also find cooking and baking relaxing. In fact, I broke my recent writing blockage by making scones. There’s something creative and yet distracting about cooking that appeals to my brain. The only problem being that I have to eat what I’ve baked or cooked and that’s where the running also comes in!

Watching TV

I could lie to you and say this is in the name of research. I spend a lot of time watching crime drama or thrillers so I am learning about plot and structure. But really I find it to be good down time. Watching TV doesn’t need as much brain power as reading does and it’s a break away from my phone/tablet/laptop. Generally speaking my telly watching is quite targeted. Most of what I watch is recorded so I can watch when it’s convenient for me. This means if I do decide to write in the evenings I don’t miss out on anything.

Reading

I should really include this in writing activities but I find reading very relaxing. Yes up to a point this is research for writing – reading other people’s work helps you learn how to write – but with a really good book you find that you’re not analysing you’re just reading. My favourite book for that is Tell No One by Harlan Coven. What could be better than losing yourself in a different world and with different people.

Going on holiday

Ok this only happens a couple of times a year but a week or two away from home, preferably somewhere hot and sunny, is great for recharging the batteries. It’s a chance to exercise, read and chill out while letting someone else cook your dinner and bring you a beer. It gets me away from work, and mostly from writing as well. The first couple of days are usually affected by guilt for not writing, but after that I start to unwind and forget about anything but relaxing (and where I’m going to have dinner – see, obsessed with food!).

And of course into all these things – and the most important – is spending time with my boyfriend. I couldn’t manage without him and he doesn’t mind too much when writing takes over.

So that’s what my life revolves around on a regular basis. I don’t always manage to fit them all in, after all writing takes priority especially at weekends, but they’re my way of stepping away from the fictional world and into the real one.

 

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-april-2018/

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Man on the Middle Floor’ by Elizabeth S. Moore

‘The Man on the Middle Floor’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 12th April 2018 by RedDoor Publishing.  I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  I have a competition for all of you to enter, but first lets find out what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking.

~~~~~

‘The Man on the Middle Floor’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Middle-Floor-Elizabeth-Moore/dp/1910453544/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Competition

One very lucky winner has the chance to win a paperback copy of ‘The Man on the Middle Floor’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 10th May 2018.

The winner will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to RedDoor Publishing who will send out the prize.

 

About Elizabeth S. Moore

Elizabeth S. Moore has worked as a journalist since she won the Decanter Young Wine Writer of the Year at seventeen. She has written columns and articles on restaurants, politics, South Africa and all things foodie. She comes from a family that has given her a lot of writing material and is currently finishing her second book, having written the first after completing the Faber Write a Novel course and being approached by fourteen agents after reading an excerpt of her novel to industry professionals. Elizabeth lives in London with her South African husband and has three daughters and a son as well as two lazy Labradors.

 

Links

Website – https://elizabethsmoore.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LizzyMoore19

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

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – April 2018

Lynne Milford (aka LM Milford) won my Twitter competition last year to feature on my blog for twelve months.  Her debut novel, ‘A Deadly Rejection’ sounds really good and I am still enjoying learning all about it.  This month Lynne is talking about writing a series.

 

Why you should write a series

The definition of a series is probably quite fluid. It could be over a short period of time with a definite beginning and end – like Broadchurch – or over a longer term with the same characters but different plots – like Midsomer Murders. Whichever way you choose to do it, it takes some long-term planning.

When I was a very green writer, scribbling away desperately on my first novel, I envisaged vaguely that it could be a series. I had no firm plans about how to accomplish this (crazy, isn’t it?) apart from that I’d go about it slightly differently. Instead of the series being led by the main character, the link for the series would be that it all happened in Allensbury with a different main character for each book. The police officers would remain the same, because the series is set in the same town, but I wanted a different protagonist to keep things fresh. One of the police officers has his own novella, but in theory that sits outside the series.

However, when I had Book One structurally edited, it was suggested that the protagonists would make good series characters. This pulled me up short, because clearly it wasn’t something I’d considered before.

If I was going to turn the books into a series, there were a few questions I had to ask myself:

  • Are the main characters strong enough to carry a series? If not, then I needed to beef them up, or come up with some new ones.
  • Is it realistic that they could come across so many murders without people asking questions? I read somewhere that you shouldn’t have a journalist as a main character because their motivation, as reporting on the story, wouldn’t be strong enough. This is another piece of advice that I ignored and gave him a damn good reason to investigate.
  • Do you have enough legitimate plot ideas to turn into a series? You need to make sure every book is believable or you’ll lose the readers. I’d say you need to think up at least four ideas before you start working on a series, and have a skeleton plan for each of them to make sure they’re sustainable.

At first I decided that I’d stick with my original plan and change the protagonist for Book Two, but when A Deadly Rejection was published I got some positive feedback about Dan, the news reporter who leads the story. I decided that if people really like Dan then he needs to continue. His job means that he will constantly come up against crimes and have a legitimate reason to want to solve them. He’s also ably supported by Emma, the crime reporter, who can also become the protagonist if necessary. In fact, that will happen in the next book in the series – titled at present Book Three.

I already had Book Two written from start to finish, with Dan only playing a cameo role. It took a lot of thinking and replotting to get the book to a point where he would convincingly fit in as the lead character. I was concerned that it may look like he’d been shoehorned in, but early feedback from beta readers suggests that, in the main, the story works. There is still work to do on the book and it’ll soon go off to my professional editor for her feedback. I’m fairly confident that she’ll be happy with it, but I’m sure there’ll also be plenty of suggestions to make the book better.

At present I have plans for another two Allensbury novels – they’ll be badged as the Allensbury Mysteries once I have more than one, and there are also 2-3 novellas to come as part of the series. However, once I’ve finished those I’ll be considering whether to continue to come up with Allensbury-related ideas or whether to strike out and try something new. All I can promise is that there’ll be more murder and mayhem, and that it’ll be another series.

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Book Review – ‘The One’ by Maria Realf

‘The One’, Maria Realf’s debut novel, was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 22nd March 2018 by HarperImpulse.  I was contacted by Heidi of Bland PR about this book and would like to thank her for my copy to review.  You’ll find out what I thought about ‘The One’ in a minute, but first here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

You never forget the one.
You’ll never forget this book.

Lizzie Sparkes should be the happiest girl in the world she’s three months away from marrying The One in the wedding of her dreams! But then The One before the One walks back in to her life with a bombshell.

Alex’s unexpected return changes everything and now Lizzie faces an impossible dilemma. Because how can you leave the past behind you, when it’s standing right in front of you….asking you for one more chance?

Fall in love with this beautiful l love story. A must read for fans of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You and Cecelia Ahern’s PS I Love You.

 

My Review

I am so very glad that I agreed to read ‘The One’. I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. The story has been beautifully told and is very realistic with a number of flawed characters.

Set in Surrey, this story switches between the present and the past giving readers a good insight into Lizzie and how she first met Alex. I thought this worked really well without any confusion. I also liked the way the chapters counted down to the wedding and I loved the build up to it.

I was just as intrigued as Lizzie as to why Alex was back in town and I found myself wondering if the wedding would actually go ahead.

I liked Lizzie and really felt for her. It’s stressful enough organising a wedding without your ex turning up and confusing matters. It seemed that even years later Alex still carried a torch for her. He was more encouraging of Lizzie’s dream than Josh was, something that I really loved about him.

‘The One’ looks at a number of different issues including relationships, illness, death, loss, break ups and marriage. It definitely is a story that will stay with you for a while.

The ending was just so sad but also really beautiful and because of this I am giving the book 5 out of 5. I am looking forward to reading more by this author. Perhaps there could be a sequel?

~~~~~

‘The One’ is available to buy from:-

HarperCollins – https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008278960/the-one/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-moving-unforgettable-story-emotional-ebook/dp/B074Z2FGF4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1523810804&sr=1-1

 

About Maria Realf

Since graduating with a degree in multi-media journalism, Maria Realf has wrked on a staff or freelance basis for many of the UK’s best-known magazines, including The Mail on Sunday’s YOU Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan Bride, Fabulous, Marie Claire, Now and You & Your Wedding. In her spare time, Maria is also an all-round movie obsessive, theatre lover and karaoke enthusiast. Find out more at www.mariarealf.com.

 

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MariaRealf

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

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – March 2018

It’s time for Lynne Milford’s monthly guest post. I hope you have enjoyed her posts so far. They really are fascinating. For ease of reference I will add the links to them at the bottom. Today Lynne is talking about creating the perfect cast for her book.

 

Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

JK Rowling famously said that Harry Potter walked into her head fully formed. Sadly, my main character, journalist Dan Sullivan, certainly did not. Instead he’s been dragged, kicking and screaming into the person he is now.

I started writing A Deadly Rejection a long time ago and, as I was writing what I know, I based Dan very loosely on the male friends I had at the time. Boys in their early 20s are a bit daft and don’t really take things seriously – or at least the guys I knew didn’t – and so that’s what Dan did.

But then I shared the book with my editor and she said ‘he seems a bit childish’. And indeed he was. He was a terrible sulk and didn’t really think things through. This worried me because I needed the reader to take him seriously. So I took a step back and Dan grew up a lot, very quickly.

I’d decided to write a male main character because I always struggled to develop realistic female characters. Instead of coming out as real people, they were always what I wanted to be – tall, slim, gorgeous and brilliant at everything. That doesn’t work for a fictional character because no one is perfect – and frankly they’ll just come across as smug and annoying for the reader. So instead I took a step away by choosing a male lead.

All great characters generally have a fatal flaw, something that will prove to be their downfall. For example, Macbeth’s fatal flaw is ambition. In a journalist, this works particularly well and so Dan developed a serious ambition problem. You can see by the mistakes he makes and the way he acts that he’s getting carried away. He needs someone to bring him in line. That’s where your supporting cast comes in.

Your main character needs friends who bring out the best in them and enemies who bring out the worst. In the first instance, Dan has Emma and Ed, both work colleagues and friends. I often feel deeply sorry for them as they battle to keep Dan from flying off at a tangent. Then there are those who play on his fatal flaw and drag him towards danger knowing that he’ll follow where they lead, desperate for the next step in his career.

But the relationships between Dan and Emma and Dan and Ed are not straightforward. For a start, Emma can’t stand him. His ambition and borderline arrogance get on her nerves. But one of the reasons that happens is because she shares his ambition, up to a point. (There is a reason but that’s for a later book.) However, she has a well developed sense of self preservation. You can’t imagine her behaving the way Dan does. Ed again is different. He’s not ambitious but he does a good job at what he does. At times Dan drives him mad because he doesn’t understand why Dan behaves the way he does. He doesn’t understand the need to prove yourself because he’s secure in himself and what he wants.

It’s equally important to create a good villain. Your bad guy needs to work against your hero and frustrate him at every turn. This means that your bad guy needs to know how to push your hero’s buttons. In A Deadly Rejection, the bad guys know exactly how to reel Dan in until they’ve got him exactly where they want him. But your bad guy needs to be realistic. He (or she) needs to fit into the book, sometimes fit right into the world your characters live in, hiding his evil nature in plain sight. It’s as important for your villain to be right, as for your hero.

I hadn’t initially planned for Dan to be a series character. I’d intended to make the town the centre of the story, with the same police officers, but Dan would only play cameo roles in the later books. But he seems to have been popular with readers so far and so he’s going to be leading the series. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to his head, eh?

 

 

Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.

 

Links

Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest Post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Blog Tour – ‘Dead Ernest’ by Frances Garrood

‘Dead Ernest’ is being published as an eBook tomorrow the 1st March 2018 by Sapere Books.  It is also out in paperback.  I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour today along with two other bloggers.

I have an exclusive extract from the book for all of you to read, but first here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling Andrew things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest. When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

 

Extract

CHAPTER ONE 

Dead Ernest

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest. He prided himself on coming from tough, Yorkshire stock, and had often told Annie that he would easily outlive her. So, when he had his heart attack, Annie’s feelings were at first of surprise rather than anything else.

“Are you sure?” she asked the policewoman, who was making tea in the kitchen. (How odd that it was always the police who were sent to break bad news; almost as though dying in the street were an offence against the law). “Are you sure he’s dead?”

“Quite sure. I’m so sorry, dear.” The policewoman handed her the tea (much too sweet, and not hot enough) and put an arm around her shoulders. “It must be a terrible shock. Is there anyone you’d like us to contact?”

“Billy. My son Billy. You’ll need to contact him.”

Because, of course, Billy must be told. Strangely, Annie had rather wanted to keep the news to herself for a while; to taste it and think about it on her own before sharing it with anyone else. But Billy would think it odd if she didn’t tell him at once, and besides, there would be things that would need doing. Annie had only the vaguest idea of what those things were, but she was sure Billy would know how to deal with them. Billy was good at that sort of thing.

“How do you know it was a heart attack?” Annie asked. “How can they tell?”

“Well, they can’t tell. Not for certain. But that’s what it looks like. There’ll have to be a post-mortem, of course.”

“Ernest wouldn’t like that,” Annie said, remembering Ernest’s dislike of being touched and even greater dislike of anyone seeing him in a position of disadvantage. A post-mortem, she could see, was going to place him in a position of considerable disadvantage.

“It has to be done, dear. It’s the law. Because he didn’t die in hospital.” The policewoman poured herself a cup of tea, although Annie hadn’t invited her to have one. Death, it would seem, muddled up all the rules of normal behaviour.

Ernest would have hated dying in the street like that, with everyone watching. Dying in hospital would have been acceptable, with dignity and nurses and clean sheets. But then Annie might have had to sit with him while he was doing it, and she wasn’t sure she could have managed that. Perhaps, after all, it was a blessing that he had died in the street.

“Where was he?” she asked. “Where did Ernest die?”

“Outside the fish and chip shop.”

“Outside the fish and chip shop,” Annie repeated, surprised. It seemed such an odd place to die. She wondered what he had been doing there. The fish and chip shop was the wrong end of town for the barber’s, which was where Ernest was supposed to be, and he’d only just had his lunch, so he couldn’t have been hungry. But now she would never know. Nobody would ever know what Ernest was doing before he died outside the fish and chip shop.

Annie was aware of the policewoman watching her, waiting to see how she would behave. “What do people usually do?” she asked, suddenly interested.

“Do?” The policewoman looked bemused.

“Yes. When someone dies. You must see a lot of them. When you tell them, what do they do?”

“Everyone’s different of course,” said the policewoman carefully. “They cry, of course, and some people even scream. And sometimes they’re just shocked and quiet. Trying to understand what’s happened.”

“And what am I?”

“What are you?” The policewoman’s teacup paused, trembling, halfway to her lips.

“Yes. How would you say I was taking it?”

“I would say,” the teacup returned firmly to its saucer, “I would say that you were being very brave. Perhaps it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she added gently. “It’s a terrible shock for you.”

Was it? Was it really a terrible shock? A surprise, certainly, but a shock? Annie wished the policewoman would go away and let her think. She needed time to sort herself out; to get to grips with what had happened. Ernest was dead, and she didn’t feel anything much at all. Not sad, not happy, not anything. Was she normal? Was it okay to feel like this?

“Ernest is dead.” She tried the words to see what they felt like. “Ernest — is — dead. It sounds so strange.” She paused. “He had this little joke he used to tell: ‘Once upon a time there were two worms fighting in dead Ernest.’ I never thought it was funny, and Billy didn’t like it, but it always made Ernest laugh.”

The policewoman smiled.

“Did he have a sense of humour then, your Ernest?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Ernest only had the two jokes, and I’ve forgotten the other one.”

“Would you like another cup of tea?” the policewoman asked.

“No thank you. I think I’d like you to go now,” Annie said.

“But we can’t leave you here on your own. Not at a time like this. Is there a neighbour who might sit with you? Just until your son gets here.”

Annie thought of her neighbours. Of odd, secretive Mr Adams, a tiny man of indeterminate age who lived alone and who hoarded things. Annie had only once been inside his house and had been left with an impression of disturbing smells and what appeared to be wall-to-wall jumble and bric-a-brac. The piles were neat and appeared to be in some kind of order, but the impression was not welcoming. On the other side lived a young couple, with a frog-faced toddler who screamed a lot. Annie certainly didn’t want to involve them, and she quite definitely didn’t need the toddler.

“I don’t really have much to do with the neighbours.” She stood up. “I want to be by myself now. I don’t need anyone else.”

After the policewoman had gone, Annie locked and bolted the door. Then, because it was getting dark, she drew the curtains and turned on the gas fire. Ernest would be home any time now, and wanting his tea. Ernest was very particular about his tea. He always had it at six o’clock on the dot, the same time as he used to have his meal when he got home from work. Ernest liked routine and order, and because it was easier to do what Ernest wanted, Annie had always gone along with it. Yes. She must get Ernest’s tea ready. A nice piece of fish (it was Friday) and some mashed potatoes and cabbage. Annie thought it was odd to have cabbage with fish, but Ernest had read a book about green vegetables being particularly good for you, and recently he had insisted on having them with everything.

But Ernest is dead, she realised again. Ernest is dead. He isn’t coming home for his tea. The green-vegetable book came too late to save him. He won’t be coming home at all; not ever. His heavy tread on the gravel (a slight limp because of his bad hip), his key in the door, his voice calling her name as he hung up his coat and cap. None of these things would ever happen again. The coat and the cap were — where? At the hospital, presumably. And Ernest himself; where exactly was he? Lying somewhere, cold, waiting for the post-mortem. Annie shivered. At least she wouldn’t have to go and identify him. Billy would see to that. She couldn’t understand why anyone had to go and identify Ernest, when he’d been carrying his pension book.

~~~~~

‘Dead Ernest’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors/dp/1912546019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1 

The eBook can be pre-ordered – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors-ebook/dp/B077Y1R7PP/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1

 

About Frances Garrood

My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counsellor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.

I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest.

All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).

 

PRAISE FOR FRANCES AND HER BOOKS

“Frances Garrood is a magnificent writer.” — thebookbag.co.uk

“Dead Ernest is remarkably well written, well constructed.” — Grumpy Old Bookworm

“Light-hearted, heartwarming and enjoyable.” —writers-online.co.uk

 

Links

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

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

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Lynne Milford aka LM Milford back to my blog.  Lynne was the winner of my competition to feature on my blog for a whole year.  Here is her second guest post.

 

Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

When you’re starting out as a writer, one of the first pieces of advice you’re given is ‘write what you know’. There are several schools of thought on whether this is good advice or not – some say you can write about what you like as long as you’ve done the research. But I think when you’re first starting out, writing about something you know well means you can concentrate on learning how to write, without having to stop and research every step. That can come later, once you have writing experience.

In a former life, I was a local newspaper reporter for about 8 years. In that time I did some great jobs and some awful jobs. One of the not-quite-so-bad jobs was covering council meetings. I’d been to them all – planning, licensing, governance, for example. These meetings could be fascinating and dull in equal measures. Sometimes you had to dig to get a story from them, but there was always something there if you looked hard enough.

It was during a meeting of the ‘Innovation Panel’ that my brain started to stir.

The meeting had run on for two hours, with very little innovation taking place, when the councillors decided they’d better have a comfort break. My heart sank at the idea of yet more time wasted. Bear in mind that it was now after 8pm and I’d been working since 9am. In addition, I have to file what stories I could glean from the meeting before I could go to bed (to fill any spaces left in the next day’s edition). I had pages and pages of shorthand notes and began to review them to make writing up easier. Near me, as I sat at the desk kept for the press, was a small gaggle of councillors and officers deep in whispered conversation. As I picked up my pen to make a note in the margin by a useful quote, they all stopped talking, stared at me and then, as a group shuffled away to the back of the room.

Immediately my suspicious journalist brain lit up with ‘what were they talking about that they thought I’d overheard?’. It was probably nothing, but for the next few weeks I couldn’t shake that idea from my head, that if something was going on, what would they do to stop me from printing what they thought I’d overheard?

There would have been a lot of ways to do that without going to the extremes of what happens to Dan, the reporter in A Deadly Rejection, but I’ve always been somewhat over-dramatic about this type of thing – a good skill for a crime writer to have, don’t you think?

I can’t recall the moment I sat down to write the book, but it probably began to emerge over the next few weeks. It seems strange to look back now, when the book has been edited and changed so much, and think that without that one moment, that one reaction to a journalist, A Deadly Rejection might not have happened.

The book took over my life for many an evening, weekend, holiday for years but finally I’ve got it onto the virtual bookshelves and readers are enjoying it (most importantly).

I thank those councillors and officers for the inspiration. I promise that none of them is in the finished book, nor is the innovation panel. After all, who would believe that such a thing existed? You couldn’t make it up.

~~~~~

You can read Lynne’s first guest post about her writing journey here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

 

Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.

 

Links

Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford

 

Lynne Milford’s Monthly Guest Post

Last year I ran a competition on Twitter, the prize being for an author to feature on my blog for a whole year.  The lucky winner was Lynne Milford aka LM Milford.  During the course of this year Lynne will be writing a variety of guest posts which I hope you all enjoy.

 

My writing journey

If you’d asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer would, without any thought, have been ‘a writer’. By that, I meant a published author with a shelf groaning with my books. I think I was about seven or eight-years-old when I developed this ambition. It was last year, at the age of 36 and a half, that I finally achieved that aim. That should tell you just how long my writing journey has been!

But in actual fact, I’ve been a writer since the day I picked up a pencil at the age of seven or eight and started to try and write a story. When I look back at my work it’s clear what I was reading at the time because my writing very much mirrors it. When I was in my Famous Five phase, it was always children having adventures without the problem of parents stopping you from having fun. When I hit my teens and moved on to Sweet Valley High and other romantic fiction, I tried my hand at that but soon realised it wasn’t for me. I simply couldn’t create a heroine who wasn’t a carbon copy of any other heroines out there. Maybe it was that I didn’t really believe in romance – it was something that hadn’t really touched me and so I couldn’t express it.

Then I met (figuratively speaking) a nice lady called Agatha Christie. Suddenly reading, and writing, took on a new dimension. I’d found my home – my genre – in the tightly plotted mystery. I recently said to a friend that Agatha Christie was one of my major influencers and she said you can see it in my book – what a compliment! So it’s clear that you learn to write by reading extensively in your genre.

It was an exercise in a Year 9 English literature class that really set me off on my journey to being a crime writer. We were told to write the opening scene of a novel, using a number of set words. Mine turned into a private detective heading down to a country house party to tackle a mysterious circumstance. You can see Agatha Christie’s influence there, can’t you? I never finished that book (I may one day, who knows) but it gave me the taste for sitting down and creating people and a mystery that my main character had to solve. And, of course, he would be the only person who could solve it!

I’ve always been aware that a career as a full-time writer is a long way off – if not out of my grasp – and so I’ve always had a full-time job. I started out in journalism and it was during a very dull council meeting that the book that became A Deadly Rejection started to develop. That was in about 2007, so that will also tell you how long the writing journey is (or can be). Over the next two years I poured the unplanned story onto the page and then learned, the hard way, that a novel needs to be plotted out before you start writing. Otherwise you spend ages going up blind alleys and wasting a lot of time. At the end of the two years I was quite pleased with the story and after a bit of tinkering sent it out to a few agents. I now recognise this was a bit of a mistake because the book was nowhere near ready, but I have a very nice rejection letter from one agent which I’ve kept all these years.

When nothing happened with Book One, I decided to sit down and write another. Again it took two years, thanks to my full time job and a period of illness. It was also unplanned. However, this gave me the confidence that I could do it again – by which I mean finish something. That’s a big challenge in writing – to not decide that what you’re writing is a load of rubbish (it probably isn’t) and give up.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I revised A Deadly Rejection over and over again, learning more and more about the plotting and editing process as I went along. It’s been slow progress and has taken longer than it took to write to kick the book into shape. It’s taken blood, sweat and tears (literally in some cases) to get the book to where it is, but it’s been worth every second. To stand there holding your paperback, knowing that you did it all yourself (it’s self-published) is a feeling that’s second to none.

Publishing the first book is fantastic, but it’s not the end – it’s only the beginning. I’m currently kicking Book Two into shape and am hoping to publish it later this year. Then it’s onto writing Book Three and editing the novella that I’ve already written.

Sometimes writing is hard work. Just getting into the writing chair feels impossible. But it’s worth it for the end result!

A Deadly Rejection is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

 

About Lynne Milford

By day, I work in PR and communications; by night (and at weekends) I write crime fiction (as well as baking pies and chocolate brownies).

In a previous life I worked as a local newspaper reporter. This gave me the inspiration for the story that has become my first novel, A Deadly Rejection.

I live in Kent and spend far too much time on trains commuting into London for work, which does however give me time to work on plotting and writing my books.

You can keep tabs on what I’m up to by following me on Twitter @lmmilford or by checking out my blog www.lmmilford.wordpress.com. I write about what I’m working on, advice on what I’ve learned through my work and how to move forward with writing.

 

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 – ‘Last Stop Tokyo’ by James Buckler

‘Last Stop Tokyo’ is James Buckler’s debut novel. It is being published on the 24th August 2017 in hardback and as an eBook by Doubleday and Transworld Digital. The lovely Anne Cater invited me to participate in this blog tour and I would like to say thank you for my review copy.

Alex thought running away from all his mistakes would make everything better. He decides to move to Tokyo where he’ll have a new life.

The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate Alex and he finds himself transfixed. Not long after he arrives in Tokyo, Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko. He doesn’t realise it at the time but the peace he is after is about to slip even further from his grasp.

Alex is about to discover that there’s no such thing as hitting rock bottom. Things could get even worse.

Wow! Are you sure this is really a debut novel? It was absolutely fantastic and had me totally hooked. This was such an exciting and fast-paced read and I felt as if I had come off a rollercoaster by the end of it. I loved the author’s writing style and the storyline. I also enjoyed reading about the events which led to Alex deciding to make a new life for himself.

It was interesting reading about Tokyo. Life there seemed to go on non-stop and it sounded like a very modern city. This book is such a good example of being able to travel to another country without actually leaving your seat.

Out of all the characters Alex was my favourite. He thought starting off afresh in another country would solve his problems but unfortunately things weren’t that simple. He found himself in an extremely difficult situation and one that to me seemed impossible to get out of. I didn’t really know what to make of Naoko. She appeared to be nice at first, but there was just something about her. I admired her though for her gutsiness.

I would never have guessed how the story was going to end and I was left quite shocked. I didn’t know who could be trusted anymore.

‘Last Stop Tokyo’ is not a story I will forget in a hurry. It is definitely going to be on my list of favourite books of the year. I am looking forward to more from James Buckler.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About James Buckler


James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London. In the past he lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher, providing inspiration for Last Stop Tokyo. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in film & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel.

 

‘Last Stop Tokyo’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Stop-Tokyo-James-Buckler/dp/0857524968/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1503130393&sr=1-2

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Companion’ by Sarah Dunnakey

‘The Companion’ is Sarah Dunnakey’s debut novel. It was published in hardback and as an eBook on the 27th July 2017 by Orion Books. I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for which I was kindly sent a copy of the book to review.

Set in Yorkshire from 1932 onwards, Billy Shaw has spent the first twelve years of his life living in a palace. Potter’s Pleasure Palace is the best entertainment venue there. His ma runs the tea rooms and Billy is looking forward to becoming Mr Potter’s assistant when he’s a bit older. But Mr Potter has other plans and Billy soon finds himself going up to the High Hob on the moors to be a companion to Jasper Harper who is a wild and very unpredictable young man. Jasper lives with his mother Edie and Uncle Charles who are brother and sister authors. For four years the boys are mostly inseparable but when Charles and Edie are found dead, apparently having committed suicide, Billy has already left with the intention of starting a new life in London.

Almost a century later, Anna Sallis, the newly appointed custodian of Ackerdean Mill, formerly the Palace, arrives. She begins to sort through the chaotic archives of the Mill, the Palace and the Harper siblings and it is left to her to unravel the knots and discover the truth. Just what will she find out?

I firstly want to mention the cover which I absolutely love. The design and the colours are beautiful and it caught my eye straight away. I really liked the sound of ‘The Companion’ and was looking forward to reading it. This book was right up my street and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I literally could have read it forever. I loved Sarah Dunnakey’s style of writing. The story is set in two different timelines, 1932 onwards and the present day and is narrated by Billy and Anna.

I so enjoyed reading Billy’s story. I wish I could have been there exploring the moors. I liked Billy but I didn’t really warm so much to Jasper. I also really liked Anna and I felt that in a short time she did so much for the community. Some things were maybe best left in the past though, but all the same it was interesting seeing what Anna discovered.

Although Anna’s story is set in the present day I do feel it would have been better if the chapters had been headed up with the year and not just the months. There could also have been a map at the beginning of the book.

I really hope there will be more from Sarah Dunnakey. A great first novel and one I recommend.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Sarah Dunnakey

When she’s not writing fiction, Sarah writes and verifies questions and answers for a variety of TV quiz shows including Mastermind, University Challenge and Pointless. She has an honours degree in History and has previously worked as a librarian, an education officer in a Victorian cemetery and an oral history interviewer.

Sarah has won or been shortlisted in several short story competitions and her work has been published in anthologies and broadcast on Radio 4. In 2014 she won a Northern Writer’s Award, from New Writing North after submitting part of The Companion. She lives with her husband and daughter in West Yorkshire on the edge of the Pennine Moors.

 

Links

‘The Companion’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Companion-Sarah-Dunnakey/1409168557/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501612303&sr=1-1

Twitter – @SarahDeeWrites

 

Blog Tour – ‘Blue Gold’ by David Barker

Congratulations to David Barker whose debut novel, ‘Blue Gold’ was published yesterday the 11th May by Urbane Publications.  For a taster of David’s book click on the link below:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/extract-from-blue-gold-by-david-barker/

It’s my turn on the blog tour celebrating the publication of ‘Blue Gold’ and I am delighted to be hosting a guest post written by David Barker.

 

Water, water, everywhere…

And not a drop to drink, as the Ancient Mariner once said. Hopefully by now you know that Blue Gold is a thriller set in the near future during a world war for water. Articles about water shortages are becoming more common. I’ve been thinking about this for the past seven years or so as I tried to craft a setting for my novel. So, what’s the problem and why is it getting worse?

Many of you may know that only 2.5% of the world’s water is drinkable, the rest being seawater. And two-thirds of the freshwater is locked up in polar icecaps or glaciers. That in itself is scary but not a problem; our ecosystem has always been like that.

The problem is a combination of three factors: demographics, economics and climate change. The demographics part is quite easy to follow. Over the next twenty years the global population is expected to rise by 20%, that’s 1½ billion people who need food and water. Unfortunately, most of those extra people are likely to be born in regions of the world already stressed by water shortages: Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Many of the countries with the biggest populations are showing economic success, raising families out of poverty towards better incomes. That, of course, is fantastic news – and an oft forgotten aspect of the global inequality debate – but richer families tend to consume more water. Their diets shift away from vegetarian to meat-based. Cattle require ten times as much water as crops do to grow. And when a family can afford its own apartment, with their own bathroom, they use more water.

So, it’s obvious that demographics and economics will boost the demand for water significantly over the next 20-30 years. The effects of climate change are more subtle. A hotter atmosphere doesn’t change the amount of water in the ecosystem. But extreme weather events – droughts and floods – are becoming more common. California just went through its worst drought in over a thousand years. Floods, oddly, are unhelpful for water supplies too because rivers and drains can’t cope with the deluge; the excess water is often contaminated and can’t be stored. The effective supply of rainwater is declining with weather extremes.

What can we do about this problem? In the first instance, we simply tap into the underground stores of water known as aquifers. But these take millennium to refill, and the rate of depletion in most suggests a looming problem.

People often assume that desalination – removing salt from seawater – can solve the problem, but even with technological improvements it’s still expensive. It leaves behind a concentration of salt that can be devastating for the local environment. Water is very heavy. If the city you are trying to supply is miles from the sea, or as in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, 7000 feet up an escarpment, you can forget about desalination as a practical source of freshwater. And desalination uses a lot of energy. It will be hard enough for us to meet the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions without the extra burden of powering desalination plants and transporting water inland.

The real solution lies in using our freshwater more carefully. Educating households and businesses on the importance of looking after this precious commodity. Reducing pollution in our rivers. Building homes that catch rainwater and use that to flush our toilets. Modernising our sewage systems. Inevitably, all of this will require a helping hand from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’. The price of water will have to rise significantly to persuade people to take the issue seriously and to reward the innovators.

What will happen in the poorest parts of the world then? It was probably no coincidence that the Arab Spring of 2010-12 occurred during a period of rapid increases in the price of flour and bread. People like to grumble when luxury items become more expensive. People riot when basic, essential items becomes unaffordable. I hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s one prediction I’ll gladly get wrong.

 

Find out more about Blue Gold and me on my website:

www.davidbarkerauthor.co.uk

 

About David Barker

David was born in Cheshire but now lives in Berkshire. He is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time.

David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing.

 

‘Blue Gold’ can be purchased from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/blue-gold/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Gold-David-Barker-x/dp/1911331655/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488657122&sr=1-1&keywords=blue+gold+by+david+barker

 

Blog Tour – ‘Trust Me’ by Gemma Metcalfe


I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour celebrating Gemma Metcalfe’s debut novel. ‘Trust Me’ was published as an eBook on the 10th March 2017 by HQ Digital. I got my review copy from NetGalley.

Lana is stuck in a dead-end job working for a callcentre in Tenerife, making the sort of phone calls most people find annoying. Her boss is breathing down her neck as she hasn’t been able to sell even one holiday yet. Time is running out for her. If she doesn’t make a sale she’ll be out of a job. Dialling yet another number Lana hopes that this will be the one. Never in a million years did she expect the response she got.

Hundreds of miles away in Manchester, Liam has decided that life just isn’t worth living anymore. As he contemplates the best way to commit suicide the phone rings. At first he doesn’t intend to answer but then he decides that at least one person should know the truth before he dies, even if it is a complete stranger.

As the clock ticks, Lana and Liam find themselves sharing their deepest secrets. Will Lana be able to help Liam and stop him from committing suicide?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Trust Me’. I have to say there wasn’t much in the way of happiness in this story and I thought it to be a bit too depressing at first, but I soon found myself totally hooked and wanting to learn more about both Lana and Liam. I thought the plot based loosely on Gemma Metcalfe’s experience as a callcentre operative worked really well. Spread out over an afternoon, this story is about two complete strangers opening up to each other.

I really admired Lana and how she risked her job to try her best to help a stranger in his hour of need. At the same time though Liam was also of some comfort to Lana as she felt able to reveal her past to him. I was just itching to know why Lana had no choice but to up and leave with her daughter and to run away to a different country. Surely things couldn’t have been that bad? But as I read on things became very clear indeed and I was left shocked at what happened to Lana. Equally shocking was Liam’s story and what he had been through. I felt so very bad at the way he had been treated. I couldn’t help but hope that there would be a happy ending for them both. I think that what happens next though is left to the reader’s imagination.

‘Trust Me’ is a gripping read which will leave you absolutely aghast.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Giveaway

There is a giveaway being run throughout this blog tour.  It is open to UK residents only.  For you chance to win a Boots voucher, a hardcopy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots goodies click on this link Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

About Gemma Metcalfe


Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…

 

Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01M4KBUBM/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33853393-trust-me?ac=1&from_search=true

Twitter: @gemmakmetcalfe

 

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/

Guest Post by Adam Steiner

I would like to introduce you all to Adam Steiner.  His debut novel, ‘Politics of The Asylum’ is out this autumn.   Adam has written a guest post for this event.

 

Notes From the Abyss

Politics of The Asylum (PoTA), forthcoming from Urbane (Autumn 2017), is a nightmare vision of the modern NHS. Based on the author’s own experiences, the novel tells the story of a hospital in decline through the eyes of a downtrodden cleaner, Nathan Finewax. As things fall apart accidents, mistakes and cover-ups are on the rise and Nathan becomes institutionalised by hospital routines, finding it harder to escape his circumstances and the inevitable fate of one day becoming a patient himself.

I wrote Politics of The Asylum with a clear goal in mind: I wanted to provide a critique of the NHS pushed to breaking point, based upon some of my own experiences working as a hospital cleaner. I started writing the book back in 2013, and it has become ever more prescient in the intervening years.

My pervading memory is a Proustian hangover of bleach. Endless bleach, washing and re-washing surfaces, day in and day out, life reduced to the mode of repetition – which ultimately made me question what the staff and patients were living for. This sounds very OTT, but at the time, I was trapped in a very debauched and damaging cycle of early-morning work and mad, wild evenings driving around country lanes of the Warwickshire hinterland, trying to find something to do and somewhere meaningful to go, with not enough sleep and steadily going out of my mind. Needless to say, there were many scrapes and much unpleasantness, but I’m glad to say I came through it, more or less undamaged, but I remember everything – and what I experienced went straight into the book. Names are changed, identities erased and the real fictionalised; in an ironic meta-sense, I’ve been as paranoiac and controlling as the NHS itself. And I’ve tried to be as respectful and secretive as I can to the dead and the damaged – but without pulling the teeth from the book.

From a political, that is to say, personal, standpoint – I believe that if we are to call ourselves a democratic society, one of our most important is to critique and question the political and civil state in which we live. So it should be with the NHS – it is an institution more meaningful to our daily lives than any monarchy could ever hope to perform – although I expect they go private – which makes them the enemy, or at least part of the problem.

The people who work as part of the NHS, dedicating their lives in order to help others, are, in my view, a form of civil servant – they have chosen this role, and with it comes certain expectations – the most crucial being the duty of care. This applies to frontline, hands-on staff, but also to all administrative bodies, up to the highest managers and directors – they would do well to remember this.

In any large organisation there is always corruption, maladjustment and the power of ego corrupted by power. And while I have to emphasise that the majority of NHS staff are excellent people with the right intentions; the purposeful dismantling of the NHS by the current occupying government is the major source of the rot which has created a climate of fear and decline in NHS behaviour and standards. I have experienced staff pushed to breaking point, attacked by the media and deliberately undermined by the state. Ultimately, this leads me to a wider philosophical concept, that undermines the unity of the NHS, the Death of Affect.

One of the major themes of my book is the nature of power relationships between individual beings; from the level of atomic exchanges of heat and energy, people pushing and shoving, and psychological manipulation of patients, staff and civilians – all of which reside in power – a preoccupation of the French philosopher, Michel Foucault. He argued that through completing an archaeological account of social and civic institutions, hospitals, asylums etc. we can draw an arrow of time through to the present, and re-evaluate how we live now. So far, so straight edge.

The minutiae of these day-to-day power relationships is embodied in the simplest of tasks; from handing a thirsty person a glass of water, listening to the lubb-dupp of their heartbeat or helping them to the toilet. These are acts of kindness, driven by duty and obligation of a role – but ultimately, these individuals are motivated by their ability to be affected by the plight and need of others. The NHS staff member is placed in an intimate position of power and responsibility, they are faced with options in their daily lives, hard choices to be made; and must make decisions of how and when to act – or not.

Death of affect is comparable to the lack of empathy present in sociopathic mindsets and psychopathological traits; where people see no need to act, let alone care, in order to help others. The pressure and pejorative scrutiny placed upon NHS staff creates this same deadening of affect – creates a failure to care or to act to the utmost of their abilities – engendering a return to the state of nature and sheer individualism – it is in this environment in which cruelty breeds and failure is accepted as a day-to-day occurrence. It is this schism in human nature, these internal tensions that are throttling the NHS that my novel explores, challenges and struggles to find the answers to.

Adam Steiner, 2017.

 

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

 

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