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‘Surrounded by Water’ by Stephanie Butland – Blog Tour

Blog Tour Poster

 

‘Surrounded by Water’ is Stephanie Butland’s debut novel.  It was published on the 10th April 2014 by Transworld in hardback and eBook.  We are celebrating the release of this wonderful book with this blog tour.

 

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Synopsis

Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.

Or so she thinks.

What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn’t the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?

Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.

 

As part of the tour I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie.

I have really been enjoying ‘Surrounded by Water’.  How long did it take you to write?

It took a long time for SURROUNDED BY WATER to find the right shape. An early NaNoWriMo version stalled and sat waiting to be developed for about a year. Once I found the key to the story, the first completed draft took about three months. And then when I started to work with my editor we changed the structure of the book and it was about another three months to get into the form that it’s now in. So the genesis of SURROUNDED BY WATER was probably two-and-a-half years, and within that about eight months of serious, solid writing.

Where did you get your ideas for this novel from?

They grew. Believe it or not, SURROUNDED BY WATER started life as a comic novel about a committee. Feedback from an early reader persuaded me to drop the committee and then the real story of Elizabeth and her grief emerged. More than that though I believe the stories should be character driven, so once I was clear about the people in the book everything flowed from there.

Have you always wanted to write or is something you fancied doing later on in life?

As a child I wanted to be a writer. Life took me in other directions but cancer brought me back to the page, when I wrote two memoirs of my dance with the disease.

Can we expect more novels from you?

Yes! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE YOU is well through the editorial process at the moment and will come out next year. I’m just started working on IT COULD BE TRUE. These novels are set in Throckton too, although they bring in new characters.

Have you got any good advice for anyone wanting to write their debut novel?

Yes. Just do it. It’s better to find 20 minutes a day and write something that you don’t think is very good than it is to wait until you think you have the time and the right words.

 

One very lucky person has the chance to win a signed copy of ‘Surrounded by Water’.  To enter just leave a comment about this interview.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 4th May 2014.

The winner will be notified within 7 days and his or hers details will be passed on to Transworld who will send out the prize.

Good luck everyone! 🙂

 

Visit http://www.theloveofagoodbook.wordpress.com tomorrow for another interview with Stephanie Butland.

Stephanie is on Twitter – @under_blue_sky

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Stephanie.  You are one amazing lady and I am really looking forward to reading your next two novels.

Sonya x

 

Interview with Vivienne Tuffnell + Competition

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Vivienne Tuffnell kindly agreed to an interview for my blog.  Vivienne has written several books.

 

When did you first start writing?

I began creating stories before I could read or write. My father had a typewriter that I was sometimes allowed to use and I used to bash out strings of letters on that. I somehow believed that the story in my head would appear on the paper. I was about three or four years of age, and one of life’s optimists.

I wrote my first novel when I was ten. I burned it about three years later because my brother gave me such a hard time over it, telling me it was rubbish. I’d begun another one by then which I do still have somewhere, buried deep in a packing crate in the loft.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

That’s the question most writers dread because there’s no simple easy answer. Story ideas can pop up from almost anywhere, from a conversation overheard in a station to a musical phrase without words that sets off a feeling. Many of mine come through a process of letting impressions and thoughts sink in, and then I incubate them using active dreaming. I write down vivid scenes from dreams, and some of those start to grow into new concepts, characters and even plots for novels. I also draw a lot of inspiration from poetry.

 

Can we expect more books from you soon?

I’m in the final stages of getting a new book ready to publish. It’s called Square Peg, and I’m waiting on final edits before the proofreader gets her hands on it. I’m also waiting on news about a cover. The hope is to have it on the market for Easter but as I have a major operation between now and then, I’m not convinced I’ll manage it all. Here’s the blurb so far:

“Chloe is a square peg in an increasingly uncomfortable round hole. Brought up by her wildly unconventional grandmother, she’s a true free spirit and has never learned to pull her punches. She’s just married trainee Church of England clergyman Clifford, and is living at the theological college and trying to figure out what’s going on around her. She’s had very little connection with formal religion, and has a talent for stepping on all sorts of emotional land-mines with the wives of the other ordinands. That would probably be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that her grandmother has inconsiderately died, and left her a house full of exotic souvenirs of her days as a travelling doctor, instructions to track down her father and sister, and what everyone else regards as a really bad attitude. She’s also lost her job, her temper, but not the will to live.

Chloe’s life begins to unravel in ways she could never have imagined as she tries to understand her own background by setting out to find out what became of her sister and father. But trying to integrate her uncompromising approach to life brings her into escalating conflict with the other women of the college, leaving her isolated and friendless. In Clifford’s final year of training, Chloe meets the arty, anarchic Isobel and together they concoct a plan whereby the irrepressible Isobel becomes the mole amid the college wives and they start to undermine and sabotage the status quo with a series of practical jokes and psychological warfare that has terrible consequences for Chloe when things go horribly wrong.”

 

Have you got any advice for people wishing to write their first novel?

Yes, start about twenty years ago! Seriously, most strong story-lines have been brewing in the unconscious for many years.

I’d also say to read more than you write, in every genre, including ones you don’t like. When you come to write, though, just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Get a draft down on paper, shove it in a drawer and forget about it for a good six months, preferably longer. Then you can take a long cold look at it and begin to work with it. Don’t slam it up onto Amazon three days after writing The End. Let it settle first, and then work with what you have. The more expertise you develop, the more likely it is you’ll be able to produce a decent enough first draft that doesn’t need a total rewrite. The figure often quoted is a million words and I suspect that’s not far off. The more you’ve absorbed unconsciously from reading books by respected authors, the more readily your own unconscious learns to shape your work. If a million words sounds daunting, remember a reasonable length of novel is perhaps one hundred thousand words. That means around ten novels is a fair apprenticeship. The ones you write before then will often be reworked much later; it’s probably only your execution of the ideas that’s been at fault, not the ideas themselves. Don’t expect perfection of yourself; that way lies madness. Also, don’t model yourself on a favourite author. Fan fiction is all very well but it’s self-defeating if you want to achieve something truly your own.

 

Describe a day in your life

I lead a very dull life at present. Most of the excitement and interest goes on in my head.

 

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your work?

I did a degree in English and Latin so I have a lot of authors I’ve loved. I’m not sure if any one in particular has influenced me that much; it’s more a general thing. When I graduated, I’d told the careers’ advisor that I wanted to be a writer and she laughed at me. It was several years after I graduated that I read again for pleasure and it was the same for writing. I couldn’t write because my soul was still in such awe of the superb authors I’d spent three years studying. It seemed the height of hubris to start writing after that.

 

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Watching the fish in my pond. I’ve had some serious health issues so what I like doing and what I’m able to do are rather different things. I used to love long walks in the countryside away from the hurly-burly. I love museums and art galleries and I do enjoy drawing and painting too.

 

If you had to stay on a desert island and were only allowed to take one book, which would it be?

It’d be a nice big plain journal so I could write down my account of life on the island. Preferably a leather-bound one; I have a thing about lovely leather covered journals.

If I had to say an actual book, it’d be the S.A.S Survival Guide. I have the pocket version of it. I don’t think I’d need anything fictional; I’d stay sane by telling myself stories.

 

For more information about Vivienne, visit her blog – http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com

Vivienne’s Amazon pages:-

UK –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

USA – http://www.amazon.com/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook fan page – https://www.facebook.com/VivienneTuffnellAuthor

Twitter – @guineapig66

 

3 lucky people have the chance to win a paperback copy of Vivienne Tuffnell’s latest book ‘The Moth’s Kiss’, which is a collection of ten short spooky and creepy stories.

To enter just leave a comment telling me why you love reading.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 13th April 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Vivienne Tuffnell who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck! 🙂

Interview with Martin Pond

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Back in April 2012 I reviewed ‘Dark Steps’, Martin Pond’s debut book of short stories.  My review can be found here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/dark-steps/

Martin very kindly offered to take part in an interview.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I wrote a lot in my teens and early twenties, but that somehow fell by the wayside as the world of work got in the way. I started again in 2007, at the suggestion of my partner. I gained further impetus from taking a diploma in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and haven’t stopped since then (though, sad, to say, the world of work is an ever-present obstruction).

Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

My career for the past 20 years has been in IT, in a number of different fields. And that is not without creativity – writing a program, designing software, building a user interface, these are all creative activities. But they don’t scratch the itch like writing always has. Also, I’ve always felt that I’m half decent when it comes to stringing words together – I won a big silver cup for a story I wrote as a child, and it sat on my parents’ mantelpiece for a year. That sort of thing makes you feel pretty good, I can tell you, and gives you confidence in your own abilities from an early age.

Have any authors influenced you in your writing?

Inevitably, I’m influenced by the authors I like to read. Fortunately, I like different authors for different situations and moods. I love Stephen King – one of my most treasured reviews described my writing as “like a British Stephen King”. I also very much enjoy Nick Hornby, with “High Fidelity” being one of my favourite books of any genre. And Margaret Atwood is simply incredible, as are Cormac McCarthy and Chuck Palahniuk. I particularly admire McCarthy’s concision, and try to bear that in mind with my own writing.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I am trying very hard to finish my first novel-length work, Drawn To The Deep End. It charts a thirty-something’s decline in the wake of his fiancée’s death. No, it’s not a comedy. I have 65,000 words down, and I know how the story ends, I just need to get there… I also have three short stories that are crying out to be written but I’ve promised myself I won’t start them (beyond rough notes) until the novel is finished.

Can you describe a day in your life?

After a relaxing morning writing on my golden typewriter (sorry, younger readers may need to Google ‘typewriter’), I recline on top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies (sorry again, that line is for fans of Rainier Wolfcastle), to count my Booker and Pulitzer prizes. Then I wake up, stop dreaming and stumble off to work…

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

The hardest thing is to just make a start. So, to paraphrase King, just take a character, put them in a situation, and start writing. You’ll find the story as you go. Also… you’ll be forever thinking that what you’ve just written is rubbish. DON’T let that stop you. Just keep going, get something down. You can revise and improve it later. Also, and this is very important, the best way to catch errors and things that just don’t work is to read what you’ve written aloud. Those bits that catch in your mouth? They need changing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I work full-time, three quarters of our house is in mid-decoration, we have a pre-school son and I try to write too… what spare time?

What sort of books do you like to read?

So many different types. Perhaps some examples would help: I very much enjoyed “Let’s Kill Love” by Mark Kilner, a collection of dark short fiction published earlier this year. I devoured “Joyland” by Stephen King whilst on a recent holiday, further proof, if proof were needed, that he’s not just a horror writer. And I’m currently reading “The Psychopath Test” by Jon Ronson – disturbing, thought-provoking and yet also funny in equal measure.

I would like to thank Martin for taking the time to answer my questions.  Below are some links:-

Interview with Steven Dunne

Publicity (1)

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Steven Dunne’s fourth novel, ‘The Unquiet Grave’.  To me it was crime fiction at it’s very best.  I asked Steven if he would be willing to take part in an interview for my blog and he very kindly said yes.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I’ve written since university when I became more interested in the expressive arts. I wrote sketches and stand-up routines for myself then moved on to comedy pilots and even wrote the book for an award-winning pantomime version of Hansel & Gretel. It was when a Channel 4 pilot fell at the final commissioning hurdle that I decided to move into novels because it was a form that required no-one’s approval to bring to completion.

Does it take you a while to research for each book?

Research tends to get done on an ad hoc basis as and when the story needs it. I don’t have a big list of research topics when I set out, rather at any given point in the story some unchecked fact will glare out at me and I will either research it there and then or make a note, usually in CAPITALS, in the MS if I don’t want to disturb the flow. I won’t leave it too long to do the work because the results may change the direction or tone of what you’re writing from that point.

How long does it take you roughly to write each novel?

I still have a part-time teaching job in Derby so my turnaround is about fifteen months. Without the job it would take a year. And it’s only just enough time but these are the demands of a publishing contract. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

You’ve done it, your new book has been published.  Do you celebrate in any way or buy yourself something nice?

I honestly don’t reward myself with anything other than really mundane things that I will have missed during the final frantic days of meeting a deadline – a couple of days staring at a wall to uncouple my thoughts from the myriad plot points that I have tinkered with in the final week. Exercise is another treat. A walk in the Peaks as antidote to fourteen hours a day confined to a chair and a laptop. A week later, I’ll shake my head and realise I have to start the next novel soon.

On publication day I’m usually too wrapped up in the next novel to go overboard on celebration. Honestly it’s more a time to worry about whether people like what you’ve produced.

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What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

Sit in a chair and do it. Take pleasure from the lack of deadline and enjoy what you do. Writing is its own reward; don’t write with a view to publication. Only when you’ve finished and read it and rewritten it should you show it to someone else. If it passes that test then start thinking about the process. But don’t set out to do anything other than please yourself.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

It pains me to do so because a writer’s life is soooo boring. An early start if possible, all the better to hit a word target – yes, you must have targets and generally you must stick to them – endless cups of tea and saunters around the house mulling things over. If I reach my target, and am loving it, I’ll keep going. If I reach my target and I’m not, I’ll stop and go to the gym, do some chores, go for a walk. Life and your mental health take precedence sometimes.

What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Being stuck behind a desk means exercise is important. I swim, walk, read, cook, watch TV. All the normal things, not forgetting Twitter, of course. I’m not the best tweeter. I find any remote communication problematic as I prefer face-to-face conversation which means I don’t breeze around all the small-talk that flies around on Twitter.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading 1Q84 by Murakami. It’s a very interesting book and I’m enjoying it immensely. I don’t actually read that many thrillers, unusually. Possibly because it’s a bit of a busman’s holiday and possibly because I love top quality literature, usually American.

When can we look forward to your next book?

I can give you my deadline which is April 1st 2014. I’ve only missed one deadline and that by only three weeks for my first book written to order – The Disciple. Having said that, it was three weeks well spent when I found my killer ending. After delivery it’s up to Headline when The Companions is released.

Is DI Damen Brook still going to be the main character or are you planning to work on something completely different?

DI Brook is the main character in The Companions, yes. As for the future I’m always exploring different possibilities and storylines for Brook in my head. When they dry up – and I’m always expecting them to – then I may come up with a new lead character.

I would like to say thank you to Steven Dunne for agreeing to this interview and providing me with the pictures.  I’m really looking forward to your next book.

Sonya

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