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London Hat Hunting Mission Blog Tour: Interview with Winnie Mak Tselikas

Today I’m welcoming Winnie Mak Tselikas to my site to chat a little about her brand new children’s book, London Hat Hunting Mission, as part of her fabulous blog tour.

Let’s get started…

What inspired you to write your book?

I am Chinese from Hong Kong and my husband is half French half Greek, we have a 3-yr old son. Having grown up in a traditional Chinese family and now having my own multicultural family gave me food for thought on my own cultural root, role as a mum, and the world I want my son to be in. I believe the world can become a better place when people can better appreciate themselves as they are and at the same time respect the differences in others. So when I found that I couldn’t find a nice black rag doll for my son easily, it inspired me to create multicultural doll characters so that children from different part of the world can be represented in toys and books.

When I first moved to London, the diversity of people I got to meet here amazed me. The idea of this story in London comes naturally when I want to write a storybook that explores cultural diversity.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I chose the name of one character after my Indian friend. I develop the characters base on an existing personality model, so each character has his/her own personality. For example, Lea is logical and analytical while Parth likes hands on experience.

Have you always loved hats??

I don’t love hats in particular but I find it an illustrative way to introduce cultural diversity to children on picture books. I also like to imagine everyone having a unique invisible hat that controls how we think. While each of us has a different hat, I can’t really expect other people think like I do.

What excites you the most about your book?

It excites me each time when I hear from parents or teachers that they think positively of my book. I am also happy to receive plenty of interest from schools when I approach them on an upcoming book tour around London, so the opportunities to tell the story in front of a big group of children excite me too!

Any more books on the horizon?

My plan is to make the Adventure in One Dear World a series for the dolls and Mr Globe to travel around the world! I will probably set the scene of my next book in Paris. Later on, I would like to incorporate more cultural elements such as language, food, festivals in the future books/products I develop so children can have an all round experience through the stories.

Blurb :

Four little Londoners, Hope, Jun, Lea and Parth, come from a different cultural background, are good friends living in London. They are travelling to the iconic places around the city in search of magic hats to cure Mr Globe’s headache.

 The book is illustrated with a mix of real life photographs of iconic places in London and digital illustration so children can have a vivid visual experience of London and at the same time open up their world of imagination.

Buy Link: https://onedearworld.com/products/childrensbook-london-hat-hunting-mission 

Amazon UK –https://amzn.to/2HbY6e6

***

Links:

Homepage: https://www.onedearworld.com

Bio:

Winnie Mak Tselikas is a believer in diversity. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she studied engineering, worked in commercial sales and in 2011 switched to education upon moving to London. There, she met her half-French, half-Greek husband and they had a son, who now has family in China, France, Greece, HK, the UK and the US. Winnie considers her son to be a world citizen rather than of a particular nationality or culture. Inspired by her family and London’s diversity, she founded One Dear World and created the lovely adventures of Mr. Globe and the little Londoner dolls.

Social Media Links –

www.facebook.com/onedearworld

www.twitter.com/onedearworld

www.instagram.com/onedearworld

***

(This is a Rachel’s Ransom Resources Blog Tour)

Don’t forget to catch every leg of the blog tour!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 


Opening Lines: Country Rose by Nell Peters

Don’t panic- it isn’t the end of the month!!

Nell Peters is with me today to share her ‘Opening Lines’ rather than her bloggish wisdom. So, get cosy to read the beginning of Nell’s work in progress- Country Rose.

 

Hello! How strange to be lurking on Jen’s blog in the middle of the month. Why am I here? Oh yes, it’s Opening Lines …

I’ve chosen Country Rose, the third book in a psychological/crime series and a work in progress – although in truth, the progress bit has been somewhat lacking over the last year or more. My protagonist is DCI Rose Huntingford, an atypical murder detective who’ll not see forty again and who wages a constant but losing battle with her weight, amongst other things. I’m very fond of her.

The real Rose was my paternal Great Grandmother, born in Kingston upon Thames workhouse in 1876. She and her single mother – also Rose and also born in the workhouse – must have experienced an unimaginable degree of poverty and hardship in those patriarchal Victorian days of extreme inequality. However, it seems Rose was made of stern stuff because she pulled herself up by the bootstraps and married a wealthy landowner. Well done her! The only picture I have of Rose is when she’s in her fifties, I would guess.

Blurb for Country Rose:

Rose Huntingford has taken a sabbatical following the violent death of a colleague, and rented a cottage away from it all hoping for a quiet life, while dangerously unaware that someone is watching her every move. When an old lag seeks her out to claim he didn’t commit the murder for which he was imprisoned, he winds up dead in her garden, before Rose herself is viciously attacked. And his corpse is just the first, as skeletons aplenty fall from cupboards and the past comes back to haunt those who wrongly thought they were safe from detection after so many years.

Because this is a WIP, I have roughed (very rough!) up a cover – use of (non-copyright) image with thanks to www.pixcove.com 

 

 

First 500 words…

Glancing up briefly at a sky the colour of a dirty dishrag, Rose tossed a generous handful of bird seed in a low arc, and immediately had to intervene as referee when an unseemly scramble ensued, ‘Hey Jasper, ladies first – remember your manners!’ When he ignored her, she resorted to flattery, ‘You’re looking very dapper this morning, by the way.’ She could have sworn the cockerel’s chest swelled with exaggerated masculine pride.

How typical of the male of any species.

Poking his head around the back door, and giving The Watcher a nasty moment, Drew mock-frowned at her; he didn’t need to say ‘you know you’re talking to the chickens, right?’ because his expression did that most eloquently on his behalf. She grinned, shame-faced. ‘Can you pass me the bag of meal worms, please?’

He reached back to the counter and lobbed it her way, ‘There you go. How come you feed them before me?’

‘You are quite capable of getting your own breakfast, whereas Pavlova, Svetlana and Jasper might struggle turning the gas on.’

‘There’s no hope for you … fancy coming back to bed, take pity on a condemned man?’

She shivered in the cool March breeze and pulled her coat firmly around her girth, ‘If you’re hoping for a sympathy shag, you’re out of luck. I promised to meet Liz in town to have coffee and check over wedding stuff, most importantly outfits.’

Once inside, Drew closed the door behind them, ‘Hers or yours?’

‘Both – since I’m Best Woman, we should at least co-ordinate.’ She dragged her coat off by the sleeves and flung it over a chair back.

‘I can’t believe she didn’t invite me.’ His bottom lip jutted like a spoiled child unused to being denied their own way.

Rose shrugged, ‘She can’t stand you, never could – as you well know, and you really don’t help yourself in that respect with your smart-arse remarks – so when I said you’d most likely be out of the country anyway, she didn’t bother wasting an invitation.’

‘But I’d have been your ‘Plus One’! Just an extra flick of the pen away … unless Rob Roy is hoping to dive in there?’

Ah, lovely Rob Carnegie – what are you doing these days?

‘For goodness sake, will you drop it – I’ll almost certainly go on my own. Have you finished packing?’

‘Now you’re trying to get rid of me – I know when I’m not wanted.’ He sniffed loudly, chronically overacting.

Rose was starting to feel tetchy, a combination of dreading Drew leaving so that she’d be on her own again twenty-four seven, and annoyance at his constant probing – which she accepted was a totally unreasonable reaction, after he’d been such a stellar support to her when she’d hit rock bottom, following Lydia’s death. However, she knew deep down that he really did have her best interests at heart and so made a supreme effort to appear bright and breezy, ‘Toast and scrambled eggs?’

‘If you’re sure the chickens won’t object?’

***

If the Opening Lines of Country Rose grab you and you’d like to read the self-published prequels, you can find them here:

Double You (Book I)       www.myBook.to/doubleyou

Santa’s Slays (Book 2)     www.myBook.to/santa

Thank you for having me, Jenny – great idea for a blog series!

Toodles. NP

***

Thanks Nell! Brilliant as ever.

Don’t forget to come back next Thursday for more Opening Lines with Heide Goody

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 


Romancing Robin Hood: A Hooded Man

My timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood, has a special place in my heart for many reasons . It reflects a great deal of my own life within its many pages- it gave me by first taste of writing medieval fiction (the novel is part modern romance and part medieval mystery)- and it gave me a chance to doff my hat to all those who were involved in the recording and production of the ITV series, Robin of Sherwood- a formative part of my upbringing.

Here’s the blurb…

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea..

 

Little did I know when I wrote Romancing Robin Hood that the book itself would give me a chance to thank the actors and behind the scenes team who worked on the show over 30 years ago- in person.

This weekend I am attending my second Hooded Man Event – this gathering (evey 2 yeaars) brings fans of Robin of Sherwood together- along with the stars themselves- to talk all things RH and medieval. It is a lot of fun and one of the friendliest events I have ever attended.

Last time I went- thanks to my novel-  to sell books from a stand in the corner of the room. I stood and watched the world go by in a sort of RH heaven.

This year however, I am selling 3 books- Romancing Robin Hood, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw. The latter 2 books are the direct result of comments made to me at the last event by kind readers.

I will not be staying behind the safety of my book  year – on Sunday afternoon I will be up on the main stage with  fellow writer, Tony Lees, talking about writing audio scripts for Robin of Sherwood. I am still not sure I can quite get my head around that I do that- but I do!!

And all because- four years ago- I wrote a novel called Romancing Robin Hood… I owe that novel BIG time!!

***

If you would like to read Grace’s adventure- not to mention discover what Mathilda of Twyford gets up to in fourteenth century Leicestershire- then you can buy the new look Romancing Robin Hood from all good retailers, including…

Paperback

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517319761&sr=1-2&keywords=romancing+robin+hood+Jenny+Kane

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517404290&sr=1-1&keywords=Romancing+Robin+Hood+Jenny+Kane  

Kindle

So why not treat yourself to a little something to read this weekend while I am away talking to the merry men- and a couple of Robins!

Happy reading,

Jenny and Jennifer xx


Opening Lines from Charlie Laidlaw: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

It’s that time again! ‘Opening Lines’ day is upon us. This week we are diving straight into the action with the first 500 lines from Charlie Laidlaw’s ‘The Things We Learn When We’re Dead’.

Blurb

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a modern fairytale of love and loss.  It’s about the subtle ways in which we change, and how the small decisions that we make can have profound and unintended consequences.

On one level, the book is a simple story of a young woman’s life.  But, for those readers who want to make the connection, The Things We Learn is also a retelling of The Wizard of Oz: how a young woman in ultimately tragic circumstances comes to reassess her life and find a new beginning.

500 Words

Single is the race, single

Of men and gods;

From a single mother we both draw breath.

But a difference of power in everything

Keeps us apart;

For one is as nothing, but the brazen sky

Stays a fixed habituation for ever.

Yet we can in greatness of mind

Or of body be like the Immortals

On the Olympics: Pindar of Thebes, ancient Greek lyric poet

 

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.

Meditations: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

121AD – 180AD

End

At the end of her Edinburgh street, where it joined a busier road, was a security camera perched high on a metal pole.  If anyone had been watching they would have seen a slim young woman in a red dress illuminated under a streetlight.  They would have seen that she seemed agitated, her feet fluttering on the pavement’s edge, her hands raised to her face, turning this way and that, and then stepping into the road.  She seemed to be crying, unsure what she was doing.  They would have seen the approaching car and that the young woman was looking in the wrong direction.  When she did hear it, turning in mesmerised surprise, it was too late.  But perhaps nobody had been watching the CCTV screen because it was the driver of the car who called for the ambulance, a small crowd gathering, and who then tried to make the young woman comfortable – talking to her, even pushing his jacket under her head – and waited beside her until the ambulance arrived and the paramedic said that he couldn’t detect a pulse.

On the morning of her death, suicide bombers blew themselves up on London’s transport network.  Three on the Tube and one on a bus.  Dozens were dead, many more maimed.  She watched, appalled, as the news unfolded, curled on the sofa, making cups of coffee that she didn’t drink, while the sun traversed the rooftops and patterned her in shadows.  It seemed a rerun of 9/11 or Bali or Madrid; random and senseless.  That’s what angered her the most: it was carnage without fathomable purpose.  She was alone in her flat; she’d had an argument with her flatmate who had flounced off, muttering darkly and swearing loudly.  But she was used to being alone, to the silence; she welcomed that kind of solitude because it didn’t allow for distraction: it gave her the space to frown over her law books, sucking on a pencil or tapping on her keyboard.  But not today; today she wanted company: someone to share her outrage with, but she didn’t know who to phone.  Instead, she’d make another cup of coffee, set it on the table beside the sofa, and then throw it away when it was stone cold…

***

Bio

Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley, Scotland and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.  He is a former national newspaper journalist and Security Service intelligence officer, now working as a marketing and PR consultant.  He is married with two grown-up children and lives near Edinburgh.

Social media

www.charlielaidlawauthor.com

T @claidlawauthor

F @charlielaidlawauthor

Buy Link

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_19?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+things+we+learn+when+we%27re+dead&sprefix=the+things+we+learn%2Cstripbooks%2C149&crid=

23Q141W3424RZ 

***

Many thanks Charlie!

Come back next week to enjoy the first 500 words from one of Nell Peters’ novels.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


A PEPPERMINT AND A MAD PARLIAMENTARIAN: Chris Chalmers

Delighted to be joined by Chris Chalmers. Today, he’ll be giving us the low down on the inspiration behind his novel, Five to One.

Over to you, Chris…

Ask what set me off on the road of writing some of my books and I’ll waffle manfully.

Ask me about Five To One, and I can give you a definite answer.

Two, to be exact. Five To One is the story of the day a helicopter crashes on London’s Clapham Common, and how it affects the lives of the people who witness it. It’s not based on fact, thank goodness — though there was a helicopter crash a couple of miles away in Vauxhall a year or two later. But it was inspired by a couple of real-life incidents.

When I wrote it I was living in a flat overlooking the south side of the Common. My desk was at the front window, with a perfect view of the spot where, in my mind’s eye, that helicopter comes down at 12.55 on a fateful, blue-sky summer day. My flat was on a corner above an estate agents, and one night  the previous year I’d been in the kitchen cooking (read: microwaving) my dinner, when I was shaken till my teeth rattled by the loudest bang I’d ever heard in my life. The entire flat shook yet it was over in an instant. I ran to the front room where the main road divided me from the Common. Down on the pavement below stood a few dazed pedestrians looking on — and the rear end of a London black cab, sticking out of the shopfront.

My first thought was that the driver had had a heart attack. He’d clearly veered off the road, across the wide pavement and through the window. Mercifully the shop was shut at the time, and no one was seriously hurt including the driver. Police, ambulance and fire engine all appeared within minutes, and the whole incident soon felt completely surreal. As did the real cause of the crash when I later found out: the taxi driver had choked on a peppermint.

Needless to say the cab was extricated, the window replaced and within a couple of days there was nothing to show it had ever happened. Life moves on, and in London it moves on pretty sharpish. But it did set me thinking about those extraordinary instances when something happens we couldn’t possibly predict. I remembered a local news story from a few years before, when a wall collapsed killing a number of passers-by; ordinary folk on their way to work, or school or the shops. People who left home that day without the slightest inkling they were never coming back. That taxi went through the window at the exact spot you’d find me half a dozen times a day, fumbling for my keys or checking if I’d brought my phone.

The other incident had happened a few years before. This one you might remember: it involved a minor politician and unseemly goings-on in the bushes of Clapham Common, in what was famously referred to as ‘a moment of madness’. Considering what politicians the world over get away with nowadays, it was pretty small stuff. But it was a big story at the time — and I remember the very odd feeling of sitting in bed one Sunday morning, opening the paper on a page-wide photo of the view from my window. It was the edge of the Common, with the sign bolted to the railings that read ‘CLAPHAM COMMON SOUTH SIDE’.

That was the moment when it dawned on me I subconsciously viewed all news — press, broadcast, and the then fledgling online variety — as fiction, or as good as. News wasn’t real; it was stuff that happened in a parallel dimension, with no relevance to me except as an intermittently engaging form of entertainment.

This news story, and later the cab that rattled me and my safe little flat to the core, were the impetus behind Five To One. It’s the story of Ian, Glory, Tony and Mari; four people going about their lives in a quiet corner of south London, when an utterly unforeseeable incident thrusts them into the spotlight and changes them forever.

The opening line of the cover blurb says that ‘Every moment starts somewhere’. And that’s how the book begins — by telling the story of each of them, from the exact moment that will ultimately lead them to be on the Common just before one o’clock that afternoon.

Here’s one of them:

Extract from the first chapter of Five To One

‘I like your radishes. They are werry nice.’

Ian looked up from the compost. He hadn’t heard the back door open. It was Agnes, the nanny to the child of the house, standing on the garden path.

He wiped his hands on his vest. Shading his eyes from the fading sunlight, his fingers framed her in an aura that seemed entirely appropriate. It reminded him of tales of shepherd boys on lonely hillsides, visited by visions of the Virgin Mary and/or a very bright light. Except that the way this particular maiden was looking him over was rather less than virginal.

He’d seen her before: through the window preparing the child’s tea, and hanging out the washing in that lacy T-shirt that exposed her belly button to the breeze. But this was the first time he’d ever heard her speak.

‘Sparkler White-Tips,’ he said, breaking a foolish silence. ‘Top variety for the soil around here.’

Agnes nodded her mane of reddish curls as she opened her hand. Inside were two healthy round roots, cleaned and trimmed and ready to eat. She rolled them deftly, one over the other, like a tennis pro preparing to serve.

‘And they are werry good for childrens. They have a lot of witamins and also iron.’

Her flat, Polish tones pronounced it eye-ron, which to Ian’s surprise he found spectacularly arousing. As if her natural cleavage and the hipbones peeping saucily over her jeans weren’t enough. He leant on his spade to disguise a sudden awkwardness in his all-weather shorts. Watched, as she cradled the pinky-red balls a moment longer. Popped one in her mouth, and crunched.

Ian Newton was forty-seven. He’d run his own gardening business for eleven years, since a long-forgotten drop in the FTSE lost him the City job he hated. He preferred fresh air and being his own boss to watching screens and fielding calls from Tokyo. His friends joked about the temptations of bored, immaculate housewives, with nothing to do between school runs but sip espresso and wait for the gardener to get his shirt off. But the fact was, he’d never strayed. As a professional, a pessimist and a coward, he automatically assumed any husband would have hit-squad connections if he so much as left a bootprint on the stair carpet. So in all his years of marriage he had never seriously considered being unfaithful, even when Carla was at her most bloodyminded.

Until now.

On a late May afternoon in the Wallaces’ back garden, when Agnes Skirowska smiled and chewed a second radish in the sunlight.

***

Half an hour later, with Jasper at his heels, Ian knocked the earth from his spade and tossed it in the van. Followed by one welly, then the other, swapping them for the moccasins he wore for driving. Another of Carla’s little rules – though God knows why he was sticking to it now …

‘In you go, fella!’

The little West Highland terrier made a mountain of climbing in the passenger door, settling for base camp in the footwell rather than striking out for the summit. By the end of an afternoon, his dog was more tired than he was. Even the earthworms that once whipped him into a snuffling frenzy had lost their allure.

Not many summers left for the old team now, thought Ian, driving with one eye on the furry bundle. Jasper was highly impractical as a gardener’s dog. His white fur showed every sticky bud and bloodied raspberry that clung beyond the canine radar. On one occasion they had narrowly avoided a collision when Ian caught sight of that noble muzzle accessorised by a jaunty feather.

But on this day he looked without seeing. His fingers quivered and his armpits gave off an aroma a little like fear. They were signs of anticipation; of a man about to break new ground without working through the consequences. As they pulled out of Luther Road, Ian ran through his imminent schedule:

Feed dog. Shower. Get changed. Set Sky Plus.

After every glance at Jasper, his eyes trailed back via the dashboard clock. Nine minutes to seven; just sixty-nine minutes to go.

They opened a fraction wider.

***

FIVE TO ONE – Blurb

Every moment starts somewhere                    

 ‘Ninety metres beneath his feet the wake from a dredger unzipped the murky satin of the Thames…’                   

 A care assistant with a secret. A gardener with an eye for more than greenfly. An estate agent and an advertising man, each facing a relationship crisis. And a pilot with nowhere to land.

At twelve fifty-five on a sunny afternoon, five lives converge in a moment of terror as a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common. It’s a day that will change them all forever — and for some, will be their last.

Winner of the Wink Publishing Debut Novel Competition

Nominated for the Polari First Book Award

 ‘A funny, often painfully honest and moving story about the absurdity of modern life and the concerns that propel us. Chalmers writes with a sensitivity and wit that recalls Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City’ – Penny Hancock, bestselling author of Tideline

 ‘A charming novel that’s cleverly structured and consistently engaging’ — Matt Cain, Editor-in-Chief, Attitude magazine

’A poignant study of genuine love in a big and fantastically diverse city’ – BytetheBook.com

 

BIO

Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at www.chrischalmers.net

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook: (THE EBOOK IS ONLY 99p FOR THE WHOLE OF MAY)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-One-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B0727VVSVH/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

***

Many thanks for coming by today Chris- great stuff.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 


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