Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: Interview Page 1 of 6

Interview with Jill Barry: The House Sitter

Today I’m delighted to welcome Jill Barry to my place today to chat about her new novel, The House Sitter.

“A chilling and page-turning psychological thriller that is impossible to put down and perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, C. L. Taylor and Shari Lapena.”

Why not put your feet up for five minutes, grab a cuppa, and come and join us?

Welcome Jill, let’s start with the obvious question, what inspired you to write The House Sitter?

After years of writing romance, I opted for a challenge. A friend’s move from the area sparked an idea and the house sitter walked on to the page. I found it surprisingly refreshing to write Ruth’s flawed – no, let’s say, evil – character. And the sales negotiator doing her utmost to sell the house is a good match for her adversary.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

The mid-Wales setting prompted me to think whether to use real place names or fictitious ones. I looked at lots of real names and did a kind of pick and mix then asked a Welsh speaker to approve them. While writing, I always had the actual towns and villages in mind as the characters played out their story. Having lived in the area helped me create the weather conditions needed for some of the scenes.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

For a novella, I usually have a story outline in place. The House Sitter is character driven so I was happy to go with the flow. I knew where the story was leading but didn’t know exactly how it would end.

What excites you most about your book?
I know that many of my friends and family don’t have a Kindle. Headline have made The House Sitter available as both paperback and eBook, so it’s easy for readers to order both versions on line. I’m thrilled to say it’s also available from independent bookshops.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Except for my second victim, I’m avoiding those who would be practical choices. For mental stimulation, I’d choose Victoria Coren Mitchell who’d also probably devise some way of playing poker and distilling gin. Tom Booker of The Horse Whisperer is used to outdoor living and would be a calm and comforting presence. Stephen Mangan is a brilliant entertainer and hopefully would help us see the funny side of things!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I love to entertain my readers, whether by romantic fiction or this, my first venture to the dark side. My aim is to keep on keeping on, so many thanks, Jenny, for giving me the opportunity to show another side to my writing.

Many thanks for dropping by today, Jill.

Here’s an extrat from The House Sitter to whet your appetite

Early in the novel, Eddie and Suzanne invite their friend and house sitter round for morning coffee. As she approaches the house, to Ruth’s disgust, she discovers the couple have already put their house up for sale, without informing her. From here on, a sequence of disturbing events is set in motion…

“I imagine I’m here so you can tell me why you’ve put your house on the market?”

Ruth dragged out a chair, not missing the surprised glances the couple exchanged. Eddie hunched his shoulders. Shuffled his feet. Glanced at his wife a second time, his expression uneasy.

“How, er. how did you find out? Eddie and I decided to keep our decision secret from people until the sale was publicised.”

“Really?” Ruth kept her voice calm, almost nonchalant. “Surely the clue is in the signboard?”

Suzanne groaned. “Oh, no. I didn’t realise they’d stuck that up already.”

***

Buy link for The House Sitter   https://tinyurl.com/t7pq7l3 

Social media links:

Facebook    www.facebook.com/JillBarryBooks/

Twitter                   @barry_jill

Website       www.jillbarry.com

***

 

Many thanks for popping over today Jill.Good luck with your new novel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Interview with Colette McCormick

Today I’m delighted to welcome Colette McCormick to my place for a cuppa and a chat.

Why not put your feet up for five minutes and join us? There’s cake…

Welcome Colette! Let me start by asking what inspired you to write An Uncomplicated Man?

The song ‘Danny Boy.’ I was on dialysis one night, just sitting there waiting for the four hours to be up when I started to think about my dad. ‘Danny Boy’ or ‘The Londonderry Air’ to give it its correct title, was his favourite song and that popped in there too. I thought that ‘Danny Boy,’ would make a great title and I started to throw a few ideas around in my head. The story that I came up with didn’t really work out and over time, developed into An Uncomplicated Man though if I’m honest I sometimes wish that we’d kept the original title.

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

I think that I probably pinch little bits from lots of people but I doubt that anyone would recognize themselves. If my mother had lived long enough, she might have seen pieces of herself in the obsessively house-proud mother in Ribbons in Her Hair, who made the best mashed potato in the world. She was guilty as charged on both fronts.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I had to read about bank interest rates in 1957 and the Suez crisis but I mainly just had to get a feel for the era.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

All of my books have been written in the first person and the last three from dual perspectives so that the reader gets both sides of the story. I like the first person because it allows me to get into the characters head and tell things through their eyes.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I generally know where I want to go with a story but I let the characters take me there. There was one point in my first book, Things I Should Have said and Done, where I actually thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t see that coming.’

What is your writing regime?

It’s very relaxed I’m afraid. I work full time so that doesn’t leave a lot of time. I’ll do big chunks of writing on my days off, maybe three or four hours but the rest of the week it might just be an hour in the evening. I try to write at least something every day because I need the routine of it. I have to give myself a deadline because I find that helps to focus my mind.

What excites you the most about your book?

This book is totally alien to me inasmuch as it’s set before I was born so I have no experience of the time. Lucy is a completely different character for me too and while I’d probably hate her if I met her in real life, I enjoyed writing her.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Great question. If I couldn’t take my husband and two sons, the first person I’d want to be on the island with me would be Bear Grylls because he’d make sure that we survived. He’d be great when it came to building camps and finding things to eat. I would also want to have Anne Frank there because she’d be safe with us. Obviously, I knew her story before I read her diary but the way it ended broke me. I sobbed for ages and I still can’t get it out of my mind. The third person I’d like to share my desert island with is Sherlock Holmes. For me, he is one of the most complex and enigmatic characters ever created and I would love to try and understand how his mind worked.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’d like to thank you for inviting me to spend time here. It’s been a lot of fun.

You are very welcome- thanks for coming along today.

***

Here’s the blurb to An Uncomplicated Man

An emotional, uplifting story about one man split between two lives… Perfect for fans of Amanda Prowse.

What if the man in your life isn’t who he says he is?

Daniel Laither is a mild-mannered and uncomplicated bank manager, but when his boss asks him for a favour, things begin to get tangled. Introduced to businessman Arthur Braithwaite, Daniel reluctantly agrees to a financial arrangement that will create an unbreakable link between them.

When Daniel meets Lucy, Braithwaite’s daughter, he becomes a man obsessed. From the steamy afternoons spent together in hotel rooms, to evenings out with Lucy in fancy restaurants, Daniel’s life moves a million miles from the one he’d had.

He finds himself lying to his friends, his colleagues and, most importantly, his wife. He borrows money from a loan shark to afford this double life, but when the debt demands to be paid, he contemplates stealing from the bank. When Lucy falls pregnant and Braithwaite insists upon a marriage, Daniel has to choose between his two lives…

***

Links

Facebook Author page

@colettemcauthor

Colette McCormick on Books and Life in General

Buy An Uncomplicated Man on Amazon

Bio

Originally a city girl, Colette has made her home in a one of the many former mining villages in County Durham. When not working as a retail manager for a large children’s charity she will more than likely be writing, even if it’s only a shopping list. She also enjoys cooking, gardening and taking the dog on long walks in the countryside near her home. She has been married for almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

The Rollercoaster: Disappointment

At the beginning of the year I wrote the blog -below- about handling disappointment in the writing business.

Over recent weeks I’ve have good cause to practice what I preach, as it’s been my turn to hit the low point of the ride and try desperately to un-stick the superglue that keeps me on my writing seat.

This last week has been the closest I’ve ever come to throwing my career out of the window.

However- just as the laptop was about to be launched onto a trajectory for the cafe window, a photograph, not unlike the one below, landed on my Facebook page.

It was followed by another photograph, and another, and then more…and suddenly I was drowning (in a very pleasant way) in book covers with my name on, posted by fans of Robin of Sherwood. Not just my name, but my name in association with Richard Carpenter’s name- one of the best writers for television of all time (in my opinion).

Obviously, I knew the book was coming out- but what I wasn’t prepared for was the outpouring of love for it- before it was even read. Now- I’m not a fool (well, I am- but that’s besides the point)- the love is for the Robin of Sherwood canon, not for me- but these generous people- these fans of a show that finished 35 years ago – have wrapped me up and made me feel as if maybe it’s worth carrying on the ride a little longer.

In short- I’ve had the confidence boost I needed to keep going- to help me believe I can keep going.

So – a timely reminder for us all- because I know very well I’m not the only one out there who has so nearly hung up their pen- disappointment is part of life- disappointment and promises made of thin air is 50% of writing.

And yet still we go on- because we must!

To those lovely FB photograph sharers- I say thank you. x

And so to blog…

***

There is simply no avoiding it- writing and disappointment goes hand in hand.

This could be shortest blog ever, because the best advice I can give any writer or aspiring writer is to believe nothing you are promised until you see it in black and white, on a piece of real paper, with signatures on it.

roller coaster

I am aware this sounds cynical, but in fact it is just the reality of the publishing business. Incredible offers are frequently made, and frequently taken away again. I’ve had people offer me the moon in one moment and then taken it away the next. It’s how it is.

These points might help you prepare for those ‘disappointment lows’ –

-Never forget an editor/agent/ publisher is in the business to make money first, and make you (and all the other authors on their books) successful second. OK- there are exceptions to this rule- but not many. Also- it does not mean these business people are BAD people- of course they aren’t- they are just trying to survive in an incredibly cut throat business.

-A genuine promise made in the heat of a friendly conversation will probably never be upheld because circumstances change in publishing on an almost daily basis.

-Getting a contract is 100% incredible, but the come down after your book comes out and doesn’t instantly sell thousands can be hard to take- don’t worry about it- it’s a normal reaction. Market your own work. Use every PR opportunity given- I refer you to my post on books being invisible.

The golden rule is to be patient- work hard- and accept there will be massive highs and massive lows. When the lows come, have a strategy to deal with them- pick a place to walk where you can get lost in the scenery- go out with friends- do a top up your wardrobe by holding a cheap and cheerful raid of your nearest charity shop. Whatever makes you happy- do just that. Remember the next high won’t be far away if you keep working at it.

Disappointment

I think my favourite low was when a major publisher (who I will not name), told me I would never be successful because I wrote too intelligently; that I was too broadsheet and wasn’t tabloid enough. I don’t know who that is more insulting to- me or my readers. I was gutted at the time, but I laugh about it now.  

So the moral of this blog is this- if you want to be a writer you will be disappointed often- but the highs, when they come, are so worth it.

Good luck out there every one. Don’t give up!!

Jenny x

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

 

 

 

20 Quick-Fire Questions – with me!

20 Quick-Fire Questions – With Me!

1.Why have you neglected this blog so much lately?

One of the other mes- Jennifer Ash- has been very busy writing a novella for ITV/Spiteful Puppet, The Meeting Place– a Robin of Sherwood story. You can imagine how excited I am about that- being something of a Robin Hood fan.  What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was a fan…?.

As ‘Jennifer,’ I have also been researching the historical records prior to drafting the fourth of The Folville Chronicles. This will (eventually) be called Outlaw Justice, and will follow on from The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw.

2. Are you more like Jennifer or Jenny or Kay (Kay Jaybee- erotica) in real life?

Jenny

3.Do you love coffee as much as the characters in your Another Cup of Coffee series?

Even more than they do!

4. How do you take it?

Black- nothing added- Americano for preference

5. How many cups do you drink a day?

Three – none after 2pm.

6. Do you really write in cafes and coffee shops like JK Rowling?

I really do.

7.What is your favourite hot drink – apart from coffee?

Coffee is the only hot drink I like- I HATE tea, and I’m allergic to milk, so can’t have hot chocolate, latte etc

8. Favourite colour?

Purple

9. Boots, trainers, or heels?

Boots – I am not sporty and I’d break my neck in heels. I am very clumsy!

10. Are the characters in Another Cup of Coffee based on real people?

Some of them are.

11. Which ones?

My lips are sealed.

12. Spoil sport- give us a clue?

I knew three of them at University- although I obviously wrote exaggerated versions of them- and they are all still my friends and totally lovely.

13. What did you study at University?

I did an Archaeology degree, and then a Medieval History  PhD.

 

14. Ohhh-  like Amy did in Another Cup of Coffee and like Grace did in Romancing Robin Hood.

Yes- just like Amy and Grace did (at University of Leicester – just like them)- I think I can guess the next question! (Of course I can, I’m making the questions up!…Straight jacket handy anyone??)

15. So  are you Amy or Grace?

I am a little tiny bit both of them.

16. You feature Kew Gardens in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Glass of Champagne. Have you been there, or did you just research in on Google?

I’ve been there a few times. I really like just wondering around the various greenhouses- and sitting in the cafe of course!

 

17. Jack and Rob run a bookshop in Another Cup of Coffee, is that based on a real place?

No, that I invented.

18. Coffee shop or book shop?

Both! But if I was only allowed to go to one – coffee shop (with a book- purchased in a bookshop on a previous trip-  or work in my bag)

19. Do  you prefer being Kay Jaybee- Queen of BDSM Kink- or Jenny Kane- writer of  book chocolate- or Jennifer Ash- medieval crime writer ?

I love being all of them – it is wonderful to be able to create such different styles of work, and thus- hopefully- make more people happy when they read! (Well- that’s the plan!)

20. What is Jenny going to do next?

As Jenny, I’ve just finished the first in a new trilogy of contemporary fiction novels set on Exmoor. This ‘feel good’ story – which obviously contains many servings of coffee and- in this case- generous helpings of lemon cake-  is currently with my agent. Fingers crossed she likes it!

 

Happy reading!

Jenny xx

 

Dealing with the Rollercoaster: A Writer’s Guide to Handling Disappointment

There is simply no avoiding it- writing and disappointment goes hand in hand.

This could be shortest blog ever, because the best advice I can give any writer or aspiring writer is to believe nothing you are promised until you see it in black and white, on a piece of real paper, with signatures on it.

roller coaster

I am aware this sounds cynical, but in fact it is just the reality of the publishing business. Incredible offers are frequently made, and frequently taken away again. I’ve had people offer me the moon in one moment and then taken it away the next. It’s how it is.

These points might help you prepare for those ‘disappointment lows’ –

-Never forget an editor/agent/ publisher is in the business to make money first, and make you (and all the other authors on their books) successful second.

-A genuine promise made in the heat of a friendly conversation will probably never be upheld because circumstances change in publishing on an almost daily basis.

-Getting a contract is 100% incredible, but the come down after your book comes out and doesn’t instantly sell thousands can be hard to take- don’t worry about it- it’s a normal reaction. Market your own work. Use every PR opportunity given- I refer you to my post on books being invisible.

 

The golden rule is to be patient- work hard- and accept there will be massive highs and massive lows. When the lows come, have a strategy to deal with them- pick a place to walk where you can get lost in the scenery- go out with friends- do a top up your wardrobe by holding a cheap and cheerful raid of your nearest charity shop. Whatever makes you happy- do just that. Remember the next high won’t be far away if you keep working at it.

Disappointment

I think my favourite low was when a major publisher (who I will not name), told me I would never be successful because I wrote too intelligently; that I was too broadsheet and wasn’t tabloid enough. I don’t know who that is more insulting to- me or my readers. I was gutted at the time, but I laugh about it now.  

So the moral of this blog is this- if you want to be a writer you will be disappointed often- but the highs, when they come, are so worth it.

Good luck out there every one. Don’t give up!!

Jenny x

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

 

 

 

Interview with Rachel Brimble

I’m delighted to welcome a great writer, and my good friend, Rachel Brimble to my blog today.

Why not grab a cuppa and a slice of cake, and join us for a chat?

What inspired you to write your book?

It feels like forever since I’ve wanted to write a book against the backdrop of women’s suffrage, but the character I needed to drive the story continued to elude me. Then, during the writing of THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S (book 1 in the series), a secondary character pushed herself forward. Very soon I knew Esther Stanbury was the woman I’d been waiting for and she quickly became the heroine for book 2, A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I read a LOT of books on women’s suffrage, social and expectation of women in the early 20th century and also looked anywhere and everywhere for real-life women who made profound changes at the time. It wasn’t long before I discovered some amazing stories and, after attending several talks on the fight for the Vote, I was pumped up and ready to create a heroine I hoped readers would find as inspiring as they will entertaining.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

My preferred POV is third person and allowing the hero and heroine alternating scenes. As a reader, I like to be able to read characters as though I’m watching them – third person POV gives the freedom to consider so much more than first person when you are completely embedded in one character’s mind. With third person, the author can give a wider view of what is going on around the character as well as within.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I am most definitely a plotter. I usually start each book with a setting and an issue I want to explore. Then I use character sketches to create my hero, heroine and villain (if I have one) and uncover their goals, motivations and conflicts. I then write a short paragraph for each chapter which leads me to write a rough 3-4 page synopsis.

Then comes the first draft, which I write from beginning to end without looking back – the hard part comes in the following drafts!

What excites you the most about your book?

The series theme is ‘female empowerment’ which is something that endlessly excites me! I love seeing women grow and push themselves forward; making a difference in their own lives and others’ lives. In A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S, I have created a cast of women fighting to make a difference that will impact women for generations. It must have been an exciting, empowering time, but also a challenge with consequences that could prove dangerous, if not fatal. If putting yourself on the line in the name of change isn’t empowerment, I don’t know what is…

Blurb 

A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S – out Feb 5th. Preorder today!

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Extract

Esther’s heart skipped a beat as Lawrence Culford crossed the street towards her, his gaze on hers, seemingly oblivious to the passing horse and carriage that separated them for a brief second. He was alone. No children to act as a barrier or distraction should he look at her for too long with his deep blue eyes.

Eyes that were maddeningly memorable.

She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat. What was he doing here? Could he be looking for her? The sentiment sent a shiver through her which she wasn’t certain derived from pleasure or alarm.

Turning to the window, she quickly feigned intense interest in her notes, hating the slight tremor in her pencil.

‘Miss Stanbury?’

She briefly closed her eyes against the warming effect of his deep, rich voice before turning, her smile in place. This man should not have such control of her faculties.

She turned. ‘Mr Culford. No children today?’

‘Alas, Nathanial is taking a trip to the park with his nanny, and Rose is at school.’

‘So, you find yourself in town. Might I ask, for business or pleasure?’

‘Business. I’m a hotelier.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘You know?’

Heat pinched her cheeks for so willingly admitting she’d learned more about him than he’d previously offered. ‘Yes, Elizabeth… Miss Pennington knew of you when she saw you the other day.’

He drew his gaze over her hair and face. ‘I see.’

‘Yes. I’ll leave you to carry on. I’m sure you’re just as busy as I am.’

But Mr Culford continued unperturbed. ‘Did you grow up in the city?’ he asked.

A little taken aback that he’d so quickly moved to the personal, Esther hesitated but conceded answering his question could do no harm. ‘No. I grew up in the Cotswolds but moved here about two years ago.’

‘Then that’s another thing we have in common.’

She frowned. ‘Another? I wasn’t aware there was a first.’

His eyes gleamed with that infernal spark of amusement. ‘But, of course.’

Pulling back her shoulders, Esther regarded him with suspicion. ‘Which is?’

‘The Cause, of course.’

She exhaled. ‘Oh, yes. Of course. You never told me your role in the fight. Are you a campaigner?’

‘More of a supporter. I help as and when I can.’

‘I see.’ Although a little disappointed he didn’t play a more active role, Esther nodded, pleased he was at least on the women’s side. ‘Well, we could most definitely use more men behind us.’ She glanced towards Pennington’s doors. ‘I’m afraid I really must get back to work, Mr Culford.’ She stepped back. ‘If you’ll excuse me…’

As she turned, he gently clutched her elbow. ‘Miss Stanbury, I…’

Her heart raced at the contact and when she looked into his eyes, she saw what could only be described as over-interest. What did he want with her? Worse, why was he having such an alien effect on her? No one had ever made her feel such confusion or interest.

She eased her arm from his grasp, the indecision in his gaze rousing her self-protection. ‘Why are you here?’

‘That is a question I am scrambling to answer myself. In all honesty, I don’t know, but I do know it feels right to be here. Talking. With you.’

Time stood still as their gazes locked and Esther’s body heated under the sudden sombreness of his gaze. He smiled so often, his eyes lighting with amusement and humour, yet both had now disappeared as he considered her.

And, in that moment, she had no idea which of the two sides of him she preferred.

***

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/d/aMjIi3K

Amazon US: http://a.co/d/dAhCQiZ

Barnes & Noble:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-rebel-at-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_A_Rebel_at_Pennington_s?id=r5RtDwAAQBAJ

Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world.

Links

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

Newsletter: https://us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ab0dc0484a3855f2bc769984f&id=bd3173973a

Blog: https://rachelbrimble.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/?hl=en

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelBrimble?lang=en

***

Great interview! Thanks for stopping by Rachel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

Opening Lines: Karen Ankers’ The Crossing Place

Another week has flown by, and it’s ‘Opening Lines’ time once more!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Karen Ankers to my blog. Why not grab a cuppa, put your feet up for five minutes while you join our chat and enjoy some fabulous first words.

What inspired you to write your book?

My original inspiration was a book by Brian Weiss, called Only Love Is Real, where he examines the idea of love transcending lifetimes.

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

All my characters have something in them from people I know, or have observed.  I do a lot of people watching!  The barefoot man in the opening scene of the book was inspired by a young man I found in a similar situation, many years ago.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

The book is really Laura’s journey towards self-acceptance, so I had to explore her character, rather than do research.  It is set in Chester, where I grew up, although I did have to check on some of the details from the sections set in the eighties.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I don’t really have a preferred point of view.  It depends what works for the story.  The Crossing Place is third person, but my current project, The Stone Dancer, is in first person.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A bit of both.  My first draft is never planned.  But once that’s written and I know the basic shape of the story, I will then write a plan to work from, to help with structure.  I don’t usually stick to it, though!

What is your writing regime?

I write every day, usually in the afternoons.  I started my writing career as a poet, and I will usually start by writing a poem, as a way of loosening up the creative muscles.  Then I work on the novel.  I try and write 1,000 words a day, but I know better than to force it.  I’ve usually got other projects on the go – poems, plays and short stories – so if I’m struggling, I will work on one of those.

What excites you the most about your book?

I’m really excited by the reviews it is getting!  It’s brilliant to know that other people are enjoying it.  What I really enjoyed about the story is Laura’s realization that she is not damaged if she chooses to see life differently from other people.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Ok…D.H. Lawrence would be an interesting companion!  Jeremy Corbyn would be great company, although I imagine he’d have a few arguments with D.H.L!  And Robin Williamson.  He could just sing and tell stories to keep everyone calm.  I’d like some non-human companions as well, if that’s possible?  Lots of dogs and cats!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

My new novel, The Stone Dancer, will hopefully be out next year, if all goes well.  It’s set in North Wales and has echoes of Celtic myths.  I didn’t think I would be able to write another novel – the characters in The Crossing Place had such a grip on me I was worried they wouldn’t let go!  But they did, and it’s fine.

***

First 500 words

Laura’s breath caught in her throat as her foot slipped at the top of the worn, icy steps.  Her hand scraped the rough sandstone wall as she grasped for the metal handrail and missed.  She landed sprawled across a heap of clothes that lay across the pavement.  Dazed, she lay still, mentally examining her body for damage.  Nothing seemed to be broken.  When she tried to get to her feet, the pile of clothes moved, and she screamed.

As she scrambled away to a safe distance, the face of a man turned slowly towards her.  Pale, unshaven, his mouth cracked and blistered.  Greasy curls of black hair stuck out from beneath a grubby green and yellow striped hat.  Wearing a thin grey coat, he sat like a broken doll on the frozen ground, leaning against the low wall that led to the busy Kale Yard car park.   Tired turquoise eyes struggled to focus.  Long legs lay limp across the pavement, his bare feet blue and swollen.

It was the first Sunday in February and winter was unwilling to loosen its icy grip.  People pale and pinched with cold stared at the pavement as they hurried to their various destinations.  Carefully wrapped in bright, warm clothes, they walked past the man with no shoes and the fallen woman without a glance.  Laura felt her face turning red as she realized they thought he and she were both drunk.  She tried to guess his age.  A little older than her, perhaps.  In his thirties.

As she stared, he frowned. “Sorry.  I’ll get out of your way.”

He tried to stand, wincing with the effort of trying to move cold, cramped limbs.

Laura wondered if she ought to help.

“It’s ok,” she said hurriedly.  “Stay there.”  If he fell, she wouldn’t have the strength to hold him.

Her side ached where her ribs had bounced along the edge of the steps.  A glimmer of colour distracted her as a butterfly landed on the snow-lined wall.  Fragile crimson wings with blue circles that looked like eyes.

The man stretched out a pale hand towards it.

“You’re in the wrong place, mate,” he murmured.

Laura gazed across the road towards the hardware store where she worked.  The shortcut behind the cathedral onto the city walls and down the steps into Frodsham Street had seemed a good idea after a dawdling bus ride.  Now her coat was torn, and a bruise was forming on her left hand.  She pulled herself to her feet and looked at her watch.  If she went now, she would only be a few minutes late for her shift.   But the more she tried not to look at the man’s swollen, bare feet, the more she saw the pale blue of skin deprived of blood.  Brushing the dirt and snow from her coat, she opened her green leather handbag to reach for her purse, but then snapped it shut. This man needed more than money.  His head had dropped onto his chest…

***

Blurb 

A desperate decision made by a young homeless couple has far-reaching consequences.  Years later, Laura’s life is disrupted by a series of unsettling dreams.  The man who appears to offer her a way of understanding these dreams is charming and plausible, but has a questionable past.  When danger comes from an unexpected source, Laura has to deal not only with very real threats in the present, but also doubts and fears from the past.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers-ebook/dp/B078THPLYJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540071292&sr=8-1&keywords=karen+ankers

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers/dp/1948200708/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1540071340&sr=8-2&keywords=karen+ankers

https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers-ebook/dp/B078THPLYJ?crid=37C7SY770K58K&keywords=karen+ankers&qid=1540071391&sprefix=karen+ankers%2Caps%2C569&sr=8-1&ref=sr_1_1

 

Bio

Karen Ankers is a poet, novelist and playwright who lives in Anglesey.  Her poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and her recently published poetry collection, One Word At A Time, was described by poet/performer Laura Taylor as “a collection that shines with honesty and integrity”.  Her one-act plays have been performed in the UK, USA, Australia and Malaysia.  Her debut novel, The Crossing Place was published in January 2018 and is currently receiving excellent reviews, being described as “gripping”, “compelling”, “captivating” and “brilliant”.  

https://sites.google.com/site/karenankers/

https://www.facebook.com/karenankers37/?ref=settings

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Many thanks for such a great blog, Karen.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Interview with Kerry Watts: Into Darkness

It’s interview time. This week I’m chatting to Kerry Watts about her serial killer inspired story, Into Darkness

What inspired you to write your book?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a bizarre fascination with serial killers. I wanted to write a book that delves into the mind and behavior of one of the most well known of these. Ted Bundy’s behavior and crimes have both intrigued and terrified me in equal measure. The character, Paul Gregory, from Into Darkness, is like Bundy in many ways. I wanted to write a book that I would like to read.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

The research for Into Darkness by spending a seriously long time watching footage of interviews Bundy gave over the years before his execution. I looked for his every mannerism and movement to get an idea of what he was saying non-verbally because what he expressed verbally was in no way the whole story. Another good form of research is to interact with friends on social media to grasp how far to push the boundaries in my writing. There are some topics I would never entertain.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I’m a storyteller rather than a wordsmith, so I find my default setting to be third person past narrative. It feels more natural to me. Perhaps it’s the gossip in me that makes that easy!

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I begin with a plot in several notebooks sometimes, but I do tend to wander because other ideas and scenarios hit me later. Characters have even died unexpectedly on me. The buzz of a new idea is so exciting and if I can’t get my hands on a notebook to scribble in it’s uncomfortable. I need to write. Writing makes happy. It’s an escape.

What is your writing regime?

My writing day pretty much plays out like this. My son goes to school, I make my own breakfast and usually watch something like ‘Most Haunted’ while I eat. (The temptation to binge watch it is hard to resist at times.) I then check my social media which can sometimes be hard to tear myself away from. I will promote some of my books before putting kettle on again for my 4th cup of tea. It is with this tea in hand I start the day’s writing, which is approximately 2000 words, but that target is not set in stone. I prefer to aim for 10000 words a week. Sometimes I write more. Sometimes I write less.

What excites you the most about your book?

The other aspect of Into Darkness that excites me is the romance element. This is book one of my DI Joe Barber series and it is in this book he meets the love of his life. No spoilers but their introduction to each other is definitely not conventional. The book does have several adult scenes, but these are necessary to evolve the relationship towards the shocking conclusion.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

The first person would be my 11-year-old son for sure. He has the craziest sense of humour and personality. He is a young actor and gaining a following on Instagram, so he could post our exploits on the island I’m sure. The second person would be the character Dexter Morgan because he is the best fictional character ever created. I guess my fascination for serial killers makes him appeal to me. The final person would not be a person but a horse. The race horse Secretariat. Being able to spend time in his company would be awesome as my other obsession is horse racing.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have a secret! I write erotic romance fiction under a pen name. Ssh! I also once tried acting but found it wasn’t for me. Film totally bombed anyway!

Links

http://mybook.to/intodarkness

twitter.com/@Denmanisfab

https://www.facebook.com/KerryWattsAuthor/

http://kerrywatts.simplesite.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kerry-Watts/e/B01F7D6T5E/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Bio

Kerry Watts was born and raised in Perth and can still be found living in rural Perthshire with her family. She also shares her home with an elderly Border Collie named Misty, a hamster named Buttercup and Domino, her orange Rex house rabbit who is more trouble than a naughty puppy.

She was inspired to pick up a pen and begin scribbling after reading Isla Dewar’s novel, Giving up on ordinary, when she devoured it and thought ‘I quite fancy doing that’ – so she did. She’s been writing for over twenty years but only began sharing her work two years ago. Writers who have inspired her since have been Jeff Lindsay, the creator of her favourite fictional character, Dexter Morgan and Stephen King. She listens to loud nineteen eighties rock when she is writing and for that she is unashamed. She loves Heart, Vixen and Richard Marx among others and wonders where the skinny rock chick she once was went to. She loves going to comedy gigs and binge watching episodes of her favourite shows on Netflix. She also loves dunking digestive biscuits in a sweet tasty brew.

She once tried her hand at acting but it wasn’t for her. She prefers to create the characters rather than be them. When she’s not writing she loves spending time on her other passions which are Rescue dogs and Horseracing. She has been involved with a couple of dog rescue charities over the years and is a passionate advocate of the adoption of unwanted dogs. Racehorses stir her soul and the sight of a thoroughbred thundering down the track at over forty miles an hour brings a lump to her throat and tears to her eyes. One day she is going to buy a Racehorse and call him Dexter King.

Her years as a psychiatric nurse and her experiences there often find a place in her books. Forensic psychiatry being her main field of interest. She loves to push the boundaries of the nature versus nurture debate. She wants her readers to question their previous perceptions of what and who is good and evil.

***

Many thanks for dropping by today, Kerry,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Interview with Julie Ryan: Going Greek

I’m delighted to welcome Julie Ryan to my place today. We are chatting fiction, the Greek Islands and romance.

Grab a cuppa and come and join in!

What inspired you to write your book?

I lived in Greece in my twenties but it wasn’t until I was at home in Gloucestershire years later that I idly began to wonder how my life would have been different if I’d stayed there. I began writing what I thought would be a short story but ‘Jenna’s Journey’ took on a life of its own. I love the idea of ‘What if..?” and gave my book a kind of ‘sliding doors’ double ending.

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

A lot of my friends look at my characters to see if they can see themselves in my books. The truth is I may take an element from someone I know and then mix it with the looks of a person I’ve seen on TV and the voice of someone I overheard on the bus. I don’t consciously base my characters on anyone I know but if you look closely enough you may find just a little bit of you in there.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I chose to base my book on what I know so that’s why it’s set in Greece in 1987. I didn’t have the opportunity to go back and see how Greece has changed so I deliberately set the story on a fictional island. I did do a lot of online research into Greek customs as well as getting out all my old photos and a map of Athens from the period. I think setting it during the time I lived there gives the book a sense of authenticity that I wouldn’t have got by just Googling it.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

It really depends. I chose third person for most of Jenna’s Journey but sometimes find myself using first person too. The characters and storyline usually decide for me as I often find that I need to switch person if it’s just not working. Third person is useful as the narrator can tell the overall story from different characters’ points of view, whereas first person means you are usually limited to just one character.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I like to have a general idea of where the story ends and then throw in a few characters and a setting and see where it takes me. I can’t possibly plan out all the novel in detail chapter by chapter as it wouldn’t be a surprise to me either. I rather like not knowing where the story is going but it does mean a lot of revisions!

What is your writing regime?

I write when I can and wherever I can. In practice this usually means in the morning at my dining room table once my son has gone to school. I fit it around teaching and am lucky that I work from home. As I’m nearing the end I may take my laptop to bed and write for an hour or so. I also write longhand in a notebook on long car journeys. It really is a case of when inspiration strikes – write! The opposite is also true. If I have writer’s block there is no point just looking at a blank page – I just get on with something else.

What excites you the most about your book?

Finishing it! I’ve always been a reader and admired writers for the pleasure they bring. I never actually thought I had it in me to finish a book. Seeing it in print ranks up there as one of the top three moments of my life, after my wedding and the birth of my son. It’s hard to  believe that I’ve now written four books in total, three in the Greek Island mystery series and a Christmas humorous romance.

***

Blurb for Jenna’s Journey – the first book in the Greek Island Mystery series

Heading to the Greek Isles without telling husband or friends is heady medicine for a failing marriage. Seduced by Grecian sun and sky, Jenna innocently obtains an ancient urn that tangles her into a web of a criminal world more sinister then she could ever have imagined. Romance is always afoot in the Greek Isles and Jenna gets a large helping with the seductive Nikos.
Twenty-five years later, Allie takes this same journey in a story that spans 25 years and intertwines the lives of mother and daughter. Twisty as the streets in a Greek island village, full of unexpected characters and threatening villains, Jenna’s Journey will keep you turning pages far into the night.

***

Buy links

JENNA’S JOURNEY
SOPHIA’S SECRET
PANDORA’S PROPHECY
CALLIE’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

Bio

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

Jenna’s Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far and promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles.

In a new venture, Julie’s latest book is a short rom-com called Callie’s Christmas Countdown.

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and dippy cat with half a tail.

You can find Julie on her websites:

Website/blog for book reviews

Blog

Twitter @julieryan18 

***

Many thanks Julie. Do drop around for coffee and cake again!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Ask a writer: Robin of Sherwood

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Hooded Man Event in Gloucester. This gathering was for fans of the 1980’s television show Robin of Sherwood – a show that I have recently written three brand new audio scripts for.

While I was in Gloucester I was busy selling my novels, so I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I would have liked. Since my return to Devon, I’ve been asked a number of questions relating to the writing of those three scripts – The Waterford BoyMathilda’s Legacy – The Baron’s Daughter.

Today, I’m going to attempt to answer those questions. Obviously the answers I give are from my angle only. I don’t work for Spiteful Puppet or ITV- so I have no knowledge as to what the future holds for RoS.

So- in no particular order….

How difficult is it to switch from writing books to script writing for audio?

Script writing is a whole new world. I had never written a script before, so I was learning fast when I wrote The Waterford Boy. I was kindly lent a couple of scripts that Iain Meadows (The Blood that Binds and The Templar’s Promise) had written in the past, so I knew how to format my work, but beyond that I felt my way along. (With help from Iain and Barnaby)

I’ve been a novelist for 12 years, so it was quite a challenge suddenly writing something where I couldn’t describe a scene properly with words. Everything has to be displayed via dialogue and background sound. This meant that writing about someone’s appearance, for example, has to be done via the comments of other characters. The scene in The Waterford Boy, where Robin, Will and Nasir disguise themselves to blend into Nottingham market, was particularly tricky to put together for that very reason.

It was slightly easier writing the two narrated stories- The forthcoming The Baron’s Daughter however, is a full cast reading…so that needed everything explaining via conversation and sound effects. You’ll find out if I managed that in a few months time!

Although writing scripts is a very different skill to writing a novel- I loved it! Let’s hope I get to do some more one day.

Will Robin of Sherwood audio do anything like prequels or sequels for example prequel Rebels of Loxley or the daughters (sons) of Sherwood? Any plans to expand the Robin of Sherwood universe further?

I’d have to say ‘no’ to that. The licence for what Spiteful Puppet can do is strict- plus, there isn’t the mega multi-national audience that you have for other popular shows such as Doctor Who or Star Trek. The prequel angle has been explored a little bit with Mathilda’s Legacy (the story of how the Earl of Huntington met Robert of Huntington’s mother).

However, if you enjoy all stories Robin Hood, then there are many writers who have been inspired by Robin of Sherwood and have expanded into many other directions, from fantasy to comics to legend redevelopment. You only have to look at my fellow audio script writers Paul Kane (The Red Lord) and Tony Lees (The Trial of John Little– coming soon) to find a collection of Robin Hood stories to keep you going for ages.

Do you make drawings to picture parts of your audio-book stories?

The only art work associated with the audio books is the brilliant cover showing both Robin’s.  I am not responsible for that thankfully – which is probably just as well as I have no artistic skill at all! I wish I did.

Once you knew you were doing more than one audio story, did you put your own returning characters (other than the obvious) into the stories, or was that a temptation too far (against the canon)?

It would be so tempting to do that. I would love to write more about Mathilda of Huntington if the chance ever arose. (Unlikely!) However, the answer to the question is ‘no’. The stories are slotted into the ready made framework of the existing episodes, and so any onward play with my own invented characters wouldn’t be practical – although it would be fun for me as writer.

However, I have enjoyed making reference to the characters we know and love. I took great pleasure, for example, in referencing Lord Edgar in Mathilda’s Legacy– Robert’s mother clearly had very little time for her future brother-in-law….

It is wonderful to be able to play with the nostalgia we all feel for the characters we loved – and the ones we loved to hate.

Which was your favourite of the audio scripts you’ve written?

Tricky one.

The Waterford Boy will always be special because it was my first script- and it made a dream come true. Never did I think I’d write for the best TV show of all time (to me anyway!) Judi Trott read it so beautifully as well. I have to confess to listening to it often just to hear her lovely voice.

The Baron’s Daughter was also special because it was my first full cast script. I got to put words into Michal Praed’s mouth – and who wouldn’t want to do that???

However- if pushed- I think Mathilda’s Legacy is my favourite. Partly because it was the first one I heard as a completed audio. The second I heard Michael Craig read my words- and then the famous theme music burst into life- I was a star struck 14 year old unable to believe that  I was listening to a story I’d created.

It was also quite something being given the responsibility of inventing (to some extent- David of Huntington was married to Mathilda) Robert of Huntingdon’s mother. I hope you all like the woman I created to be a future heroes mother.

Which was your favourite RoS episode?

That is an impossible question. I love them all. To narrow it down – it was either Adam Bell (first one I ever saw) or Herne’s Son parts one and two or The Prisoner…or…..

Many thanks to everyone who has sent questions to me since the HM3. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness showed to me after I fiddled with your favourite stories. I promise, if I am ever lucky enough to write more, I will continue to try as hard as I can to be true to the Robin of Sherwood ethos, and write stories to make you feel as though you have been transported back to 5.35 on a Saturday afternoon in the 1980’s. Well – I’ll try anyway!

Nothing’s forgotten,

Jennifer x

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