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 7

Interview with Anna Legat: Broken

The eagled-eyed of you will notice that today’s guest – Anna Legat – appeared on this blog last Thursday, with the opening lines of her latest crime mystery – Cause of Death.  Books however, can be like buses in the publishing world, and so I’m delighted to welcome anna back today – this time for a chat over a coffee and some cake.

Take a break, and learn a little about Anna’s new thriller – Broken.

First of all – here’s the blurb –

What if you lost the memory of who you are?
What if you had to pick up the loose ends of life that wasn’t yours?
What if you had to fight somebody else’s battles?
What would YOU do ?

Camilla’s life will never be the same after her beloved son Christopher is sent to prison .

Father Joseph’s faith is sorely tested when a deranged psychopath uses the sanctity of the confessional to gloat about his most heinous crimes.

Both Camilla and Joseph are paralysed by doubt and inaction.

But then their lives collide…

BROKEN explores where it takes a stranger to break through one’s bindings and inhibitions in order to do the right thing.
It is a story of a mother’s love for her son and a priest’s blind adherence to the seal of confession.
It is a story about Fate’s intervention.

Broken, a domestic noir suspense thriller, is published by SpellBound Books

***

What inspired you to write your book?

Like many fiction writers I live slightly on the periphery of reality – I observe it from the sidelines and dip into it for inspiration and ideas, but there is that grey area, that no-man’s land between reality and my writing. I like to speculate in my fiction and to imagine scenarios with which to confront my characters. Those scenarios don’t have to be extreme but they have to create a challenge or a dilemma for my characters to respond to.

Broken is the result of my fascination with the idea of the randomness of life – we are born into a particular set of circumstances which we can’t predict or plan for. It is pure chance whether we end up as orphans somewhere in a war-torn country or find ourselves next in line to the throne of the Kingdom of Sweden. So when I conceived Broken I asked myself this: what if somehow two people’s lives became mixed up through Fate’s mysterious intervention? What if one day they woke up in somebody else’s skin to continue with that stranger’s life as if it was their own? What if that other person’s life was a real mess?

So, I created the characters of Father Joseph and Camilla Bramley-Jones, each of them struggling to overcome bindings and inhibitions which have led them to make bad choices. Then I swopped their places and let them deal with each other’s problems.

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

I do, and I don’t. I definitely pick up personality traits of the different people I come across in life and on my travels, but I do enjoy mixing and matching them when I construct my fictional characters. Often people will ask me if I based a particular character on them because they will see themselves in that character or will recognize an event in which they were involved. Most of the time, I will plead guilty but only to the lesser charge of being inspired by them rather than to the crime of outright theft of their personality.

Oddly enough, my husband recognizes himself in most of my fictional creations, sometimes to my utter bafflement. I suppose I often absorb people into my writing without realizing I’m doing it.

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

There wasn’t much research involved in writing Broken other than the exploration of human psyche. I read a little about the personality distortions of sociopaths and the differences between sociopaths and fanatics.

I also ventured into the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church as one of my two lead protagonists is a catholic priest.

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

I enjoy getting into my characters’ heads and writing from their deepest, innermost perspective. Writing in the first person is tempting because it gives me the chance to fully blend with the character – sort of become the character, rather than just a narrator.

Broken features two protagonists, Father Joseph and Camilla who tell their respective stories in the first person. Allowing them to tell their own stories was useful especially because they are both unreliable narrators with huge gaps in their memories and are confused about their identities. I tried to give them their own distinct voices and mannerisms. I hope it worked.

I avoid writing from the point of view of the omnipresent – omniscient narrator. I find that form a bit dry and impersonal.

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

I plot and I plot, and I plot some more before I start writing. It all happens in my head so for days I come across as an idle procrastinator who does nothing all day apart from pacing in her study and dragging the dog out for lengthy walks. But I work really hard on my plot. Then I start writing and at that point things get slightly out of hand and my diligent plot strays into uncharted territory. It is at this point that I start documenting my storyline in writing. Otherwise, I would lose the plot altogether!

Many thanks Anna. Great answers!

You can find the buy links to Broken, here – http://viewbook.at/BrokenbyAnnaLegat

Bio

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

To find out more: www.annalegat.com

Follow Anna on Twitter: @LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: @AnnaLegatAuthor

Instagram: @LegatAuthor

Many thanks for joining me here today Anna – good luck with both of your new novels.

Happy Reading, everyone.

Jenny x

Interview with Karen King: The Best Christmas Ever

It’s been a while since I interviewed anyone on this blog. Today, I’m remedying that in style, by chatting to the excellent Karen King about her writing and her latest novel, The Best Christmas Ever.

So, grab a cuppa, open the biscuit tin, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Blurb

A heart-warming Christmas romance, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Mandy Baggot and Milly Johnson.

Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family. So they’re having a family Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.

But then Lexi sees Ben kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone. She’s determined not to let her break up with Ben spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on The Green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.

Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?

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

Not completely but my family and friends will often find bits of themselves in my stories. My mum is definitely the inspiration for Granny Mabe in The Best Christmas Ever. Mum is ninety years old but doesn’t act it. She is fiercely independent. She still drives herself around, lives by herself and is always visiting friends and relatives to look after them and help them. She’s often one of the last ones to leave a party and is out almost every day. She doesn’t knit so isn’t involved in yarn-bombing but Granny Mabe’s feisty spirit and independence definitely comes from my mum.

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

Lexi is a teacher so I checked with a teacher friend if she had to do any work during the Christmas holidays and she said she had lesson preparation to do, but if she was going away she’d take her laptop and do it, so that’s what Lexi did. For the scenes with the tree on the green, I asked two tree surgeons for information about tree diseases and ailments, felling trees and safety procedures. I also researched yarn-bombers and the various festive yarn bombs they created – I found that part of the research very interesting.

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

I usually write in third person because I like to write from different characters viewpoints so find that easier to do in the third person. However, I have written a couple of young adult books, and used first person viewpoint for them both as I felt that it added pace and tension.

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

My publishers like to see a synopsis of the story so I always write that first, then I jot down any major plot twists or events and fill in a profile sheet for every major character. After that I usually write the first draft as it comes. Sometimes as I write the story will go off on a tangent and I’m fine with that providing it meets the overall plot outline. I don’t edit until I finish the first draft but if I get stuck I go back over what I’ve written to check why it isn’t flowing, it could be that a scene need rewriting or a character isn’t working. If so, I tweak it then carry on writing.

What is your writing regime?

It depends on the length of the deadline my publishers give me. I prefer to write first thing in the morning, working until midday, and then do edits, social media, blog posts etc in the afternoon. I try to keep my weekends and evenings free. It doesn’t always work out this way though, sometimes I am writing two books at the same time, or am working to a very tight deadline so have to write into the evening.

Thanks so much, Jenny! x

You can buy The Best Christmas Ever from all good retailers, including –
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08X1STJ4V/

Bio

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had ten romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Contact links

Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub

Many thanks for coming by to chat today, Karen. Wishing you lots of success with your novel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Interview with Jane Risdon: Ms.Birdsong

Today I’m welcoming fellow author, Jane Risdon, back to my place for a cuppa and a slice of cake, while we chat about her latest novel writing venture.

So, grab a coffee, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Hello Jenny,

Thanks so much for hosting me on your lovely blog once more. I’ve always enjoyed my visits as both guest and reader.

I’m going to chat about my latest novel (book one of the series) Ms. Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka, which is out with publishers now so it is not available yet, but I hope this will interest your readers enough to seek it out once it is in the wide world.

What inspired you to write Ms. Birdsong Investigates?

I’ve always had an interest in espionage, organised crime, and the workings of our Secret Intelligence Services. I’ve read about it a lot and I have always wanted to include elements of these in my writing.

When I was younger I worked for many Government departments before I went into the international music industry with my musician husband. I worked at the British Ministry of Defence in Germany, The Atomic Energy Research Authority, The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, and when I was in my late teens I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, London.

The FCO at that time was a vastly different entity than it is today. It was the height of the Cold War, we had IRA threats daily, and I loved it. I was living in London at the time it was THE place to be on the planet and for a young girl who loved music, fashions, and a good crime thriller to read, it was heaven.

Whilst I was there we experienced the expulsion of British diplomats from the Soviet Embassy in Moscow in a tit-for-tat move sparked by the expulsion of 90 Russian diplomat spies from their London Embassy in 1971, who had been spying for the KGB. Also, the kidnapping of our Ambassador to Montevideo, Jeffrey Jackson, meant months of negotiations with the Tupamaros guerrillas; it was so exciting.

There were other incidents which have left an indelible mark on my memory and which have gone towards the inspiration behind Ms Birdsong’s series. The whole atmosphere around that time captured my imagination and I promised myself I would include what I experienced in a novel at some point. Ms Birdsong’s series will allow me to indulge myself over several novels, I hope.

Ms Birdsong is a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has been forced into ‘voluntary’ retirement following a messed-up joint operation with MI6 — Operation Matryoshka. She finds herself in a rural village in Oxfordshire, trying to work out what happened and why, and how to get back into the Security Services. She is asked to help find a missing local woman and sees this as a perfect opportunity to inveigle herself back into Thames House (home of MI5) when her investigations lead her into familiar territory. Her experience of organised crime and counter-terrorism is tested once more.

Do you model my characters on people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I have not modelled anyone in Ms. Birdsong Investigates on any person as far as I am aware. There were so many ‘characters’ working with me at the FCO and elsewhere that I am sure someone has found their way — albeit unconsciously — into my head and on to the page.

I would love to include the Commander from Special Branch who carried out my periodic Positive Vetting (PV) whilst at the FCO. He was instrumental in tracking and arresting the Russian husband and wife spies, the Krogers, who were part of the Portland Spy Ring of the early 1960s. He told me so much about it all. I’d love to weave it into a Ms. B story at some point.

I (we) have loosely modelled Only One Woman on real people because Christina Jones and I were writing about actual events we’d been involved with during our teens in the late 1960s UK music scene. We tried to blur the lines a lot and changed names and descriptions to save ourselves from litigation, but there are real people in the book. No-one, so far, as come forward to ask if they are the inspiration for any of the characters, and many have passed away since then anyway.

What type of research did you have to do?

I tend to research as I go along because I don’t plot or plan a book. I get inspiration for a story from a name, a location, something in the news, or a memory or an experience I have had, or I know others have had. I start writing and stop if I find myself needing to check something.

Only One Woman was written from memory, experiences, and the many diaries, tour schedules, photos, fan letters, and photos I’ve collected over my many years in the music business, as well as those garnered being married to a professional musician. Christina had her career as a rock/pop journalist and writer, as well as her personal experiences to fall back on, I am sure. We merged them in the novel. We both had to check facts such a venue names, chart positions, music, fashions, and the food and beverages we consumed, as well as world events. In general, I think our memories were all we really needed.

Once Ms Birdsong was underway I changed the story quite a lot from the one I thought I was writing. It got more involved with MI5 and organised crime and so I did have to look things up. For example, when I started the novel the role of MI5 and its involvement in the investigation of organised crime was slightly different to the role the Security Services has today. I had to go back and make changes to allow for this.  For example, MI5 spies are now allowed to kill! Back in 2016 when the story is set, they could not. In December 2020, the High Court ruled that spies operating on behalf of MI5 ‘can kill in the line of duty.’ This is a massive change to their former brief.

The role of MI5, as defined in the Security Service Act 1989, is “the protection of national security and in particular its protection against threats such as terrorism, espionage and sabotage, the activities of agents of foreign powers, and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means”.

Their work is guided by the government’s overall strategy to counter threats to the UK’s national security.  This includes organised crime.

I have and must still, keep up to date about what can and cannot be allowed, and how the SIS operates, to ensure that Ms Birdsong is working within those boundaries given the time in which the series is set. Having said this, Ms Birdsong is a work of fiction and so I do employ a great deal of poetic license within her story.

Which Point of View do you normally write in and why?

I feel comfortable with third person POV and for me it is the easiest way to get a story across. Having said that, Only One Woman is written in the first person because it just happened that way for me, and poor Christina Jones was faced with having to write her characters and insert them into a virtually completed story, so she has told her part — as Stella — in the first person too. I take my hat off to her, she did it all brilliantly. Many readers are unaware of who wrote what. But seriously, I don’t think too much about such things. I just write and see what happens.

What excites you about the Ms. Birdsong Investigates series?

From the moment her name came into my head I have been excited. It popped up from nowhere and I knew everything about her before I sat at the computer. She has undergone a couple of re-writes. I’ve tried to blend the grit of an MI5 Intelligence Office with her new life in a rural Oxfordshire village where she is going out of her mind with boredom until a local woman goes missing.

As I’ve adapted her story I’ve become more and more convinced she is a fresh voice; a heroine for the 21st century. She is an unusual protagonist, strong but also caring when she allows herself to be. The former MI5 officer is intelligent, quick thinking, she is well educated, and she speaks five languages. Lavinia Birdsong is a physical woman; she is a great shot with firearms, she is a martial arts practitioner, but is always worried about her weight. She is not over-weight, just worried she might become overweight. I love that she is human, has foibles – always about to go on a diet, but never quite managing to. She has a dry sense of humour and fights to keep the grin off her face at times. But she does not suffer fools gladly, so woe-betide anyone crossing her.

Lavinia loves men. She cannot help herself, yet, all the time she was with her now former lover, MI6 Intelligence Officer, Michael Dante, she was faithful, perhaps not mentally faithful, but physically she behaved herself. She is susceptible to a man with a twinkle in his eye, who has an aura of danger about him. I think there is a lot of scope to play with her personality and character in my series.

Ms. B as she is known to the locals of Ampney Parva, loves music – rock music especially – and fine wines. She has a case delivered monthly and worries what people might think when she leaves the empties for the bin men. I love this about her and writing her has been a joy. As my series unfolds I think readers will love her too. She is unpredictable and full of humour, but she is also a patriot, and she cares deeply about England – Britain – and her life has been dedicated to keeping our country and peoples safe. Now she is retired, she finds she cannot stop wanting to serve and protect.

I can imagine so many scenarios for stories about her and her mission to get back into the MI5 family. I have books two and three underway and there could be more if my agent can find a publisher willing to take her on. I hope so, she needs to see the light of day. Those who have read her along the way have been excited about her and tell me she is a breath of fresh air. She has elements of being somewhat of a cosy mystery crime read with the grittier, harder elements of a serious thriller. Just when you think you are reading a village mystery, you find you are actually in the midst of a thriller. I love that, and I hope any future readers will too.

In case you are wondering what Matryoshka means – they are the little Russian dolls which sit inside of each other.

***

There is a taster of Ms Birdsong Investigates in my crime collection of short stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, it is the last story in the collection and is called Undercover.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Undercover-Crime-Shorts-Jane-Risdon/dp/0359397832

Thanks so much, Jenny, for letting me hold forth about my latest novel and character, Ms Lavinia Birdsong. Although she is not in print yet, there is a lot I can reveal about her without any spoilers.

If any of your readers is interested to know a little more about MI5, MI6, Ms B and much more, they can join her in her own secret Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/msbirdsonginvestigates

And she has also got her own page on my website where they can find her CV, her photo gallery, and lots more: https://janerisdon.com/ms-birdsong-investigates/

Bio

Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent), and author of ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies and writing for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February 2020 Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com and The Brian ‘Hammer’ Jackson Radio Show.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers.  They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.

In December 2020 Jane signed with Linda Langton of Langton’s Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at: www.langtonsinternational.com

LINKS

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

Only One Woman: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZR9QZQN

Website: https://janerisdon.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-risdon

Thanks for stopping by today Jane. Ms Birdsong sounds great.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Morwenna Blackwood

Today I’m chatting with new novelist, Morwenna Blackwood.

So, grab a cuppa and a slice of cake, put your feet up, and join us for five minutes chatter.

Was The (D)Evolution of Us your first attempt at novel writing?

It was and it wasn’t!

I’ve always written, and have always – and only ever – wanted to be a novelist. However, for a myriad reasons it stayed as a daydream, although I have taken writing courses and been involved in writers’ groups wherever I’ve lived, and I even have an MA in Creative Writing.

I found out about self-publishing and decided to have a go, in my mid-30s. I rushed out a melange of all my surviving notebooks; as my intention was to convey mental breakdown, I’d written sections of it in stream-of-consciousness, and much of it without capital letters and punctuation. I asked a friend to read it, and then hit ‘publish’. I don’t know what I expected, and after a while I pulled it off the internet!

The (D)Evolution of Us was my first serious, well-thought-out attempt. I had it edited professionally; I submitted it to publishers and agents; made a marketing strategy. All this thanks to being on Imagine’s Novel in a Year course!

Which POV works for you?

Writing in the first person comes naturally to me. I like the intensity of it, and I find it more compelling to read. It also serves my purpose as the main themes of my writing are mental illness and existential dread. A first person narrative helps me to get into my characters’ heads, too – I write as they think.

Which three people you like to meet on a desert island?

This is a difficult one! I have three sets of threes:

  • Matt Bellamy, Dom Howard and Chris Wolstenholme. I am a Muser!
  • Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I fell in love with the Beat writers in my teens, and I think they’d make a desert island feel like Alaska!
  • James Bond, Ford Prefect and Gandalf. For the survival skills.

Okay, I have to select three, so I’ll go for Dom, Jack, and James Bond.

So, where is this desert island, anyway, and when can I get a flight?!

Do you plot your stories or go with the flow?

A combination of both!

Generally the process is that I have an idea and write it out by hand. As I write, things change and develop. After a while, the characters are so real in my head that they start doing their own thing. And that’s before all the rewrites and edits. So, yeah – a combination of both.

What is your writing regime?

It’s ironic, really, because I’ve started to write seriously at a time in my life when I have never been busier! Maybe it’s like exercise – the more you do, the more energy you have…

Anyway, I just take every free moment to write: when my little boy has gone to bed; in my lunch break at work – before lockdown, obviously!; the hours in the night when I can’t sleep; and sometimes (again, before lockdown) I take days off and spend the day writing in my local café. I always used to write my best in the early mornings, but am finding that you have to adapt to your circumstances, or it doesn’t get done. I’m really lucky in that I have a very supportive and understanding husband!

My friend told me a great quote from Oscar Wilde the other day: “People are verbs, not adjectives,” and that sums things up pretty well.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

  • Write what comes out and just get it down – you can polish it later, and you need something to work with.
  • Write everyday.
  • If it’s something that you really want to do, prioritise it. It’s so easy to put it off and do all the seemingly more important day-to-day things, or think, ‘Oh, I’m really tired, I’ll just go to bed and start tomorrow.’
  • Don’t underestimate your need for an editor or a beta-reader. When you’re really close to the story, it’s easy to see what you think is there, rather than what is.
  • Never give up!

Many thanks Morwenna. xx

Here’s the blurb to The (D)evolution of Us

… the water was red and translucent, like when you rinse a paint brush in a jam jar. The deeper into the water, the darker the red got. No, the thicker it got. It wasn’t water, it was human. It was Cath.

Cath is dead, but why and how isn’t clear cut to her best friend, Kayleigh. As Kayleigh searches for answers, she is drawn deeper into Cath’s hidden world. The (D)Evolution of Us questions where a story really begins, and whether the world in our heads is more real than reality.

You can buy this #psychologicalthriller at mybook.to/devolution

Bio

When Morwenna Blackwood was six years old, she got told off for filling a school exercise book with an endless story when she should have been listening to the teacher/eating her tea/colouring with her friends. The story was about a frog. It never did end; and Morwenna never looked back.

Born and raised in Devon, Morwenna suffered from severe OCD and depression, and spent her childhood and teens in libraries. She travelled about for a decade before returning to Devon. She now has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter, and lives with her husband, son and three cats in a cottage that Bilbo Baggins would be proud of. When she is not writing, she works for an animal rescue charity, or can be found down by the sea.

She often thinks about that frog.

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/morwennablackwood

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/morwennablackwood

Twitter: @MorwennaBlackw1

Instagram: morwennablackwood_

Many thanks for taking the time to chat today.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny x

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

 

 

 

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