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Opening Lines: Sophia’s Secret by Julie Ryan

It’s opening lines time again. This week, Julie Ryan is taking us on a Greek mystery…

Sophia’s Secret is the second book in the Greek island mystery series but can be read as a standalone. I never intended to write a series but having created the setting in Jenna’s journey, I was reluctant to leave it alone. My books, whilst always having romance at their core, deal with the dark side of Greece that tourists rarely see so be prepared for murder and suspense too!

Blurb for Sophia’s Secret

Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart. It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty-year-old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?

FIRST 500 WORDS

The boy knew he shouldn’t be out so late on his own but a dare was a dare! His best friend, Vasilli, had dared him to meet up at midnight in their den in the woods. He’d been so excited he could barely sleep. His mother had come to tuck him in—not that a boy of nearly eight needed tucking in he’d reminded her as they went through the usual nightly ritual.

“Night night.”

“Sleep tight, mind the bugs don’t bite.”

Then when she’d gone, he forced himself to stay awake until he heard his parents come back up the stairs to their room.  He waited for the light to go out and gave it a few more minutes to be on the safe side. The luminous watch that he’d asked for on last birthday was showing nearly 11.30. There would be plenty of time to get there. He peered out of his bedroom window. It was dark out. There were no streetlights in his village. It was lucky that he’d remembered to pack a torch. He crept silently down the stairs, careful not to wake either his parents or the sleeping twins, put a jacket on over his pyjamas, slipped his trainers on and spying the fruit bowl on the table, put a couple of apples in his pocket in case he got hungry.

The gang had built the den during the long summer holidays when they were allowed to play out until late provided that they told an adult where they were. This was different. The summer had given way to autumn and there was a chill in the night air. He wrapped his arms round himself for extra warmth or maybe just to give himself courage. He thought fleetingly of turning back but he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand Vasilli’s taunts of ‘chicken’ the next day. All he had to do, he reminded himself, was cut through the woods at the back of his house and meet his friend in the den. Just then, as if giving him a signal, the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the woodland path. He set off at a run, not wanting to be late. Once he reached the safety of the den, they’d have a good laugh about what a great game it had been.

An owl hooted in the branches above him almost scaring him silly. It felt so different at night. Every sound was magnified a thousand times, making him alert to every eerie sound. Little creatures scurrying around made the leaves underfoot rustle. Twice now he’d thought he heard someone following him but when he stopped there was no one. Only a few more metres to go and he’d be safe.

Not wanting to cut through the churchyard, he kept to the wall until he reached the woods. The moonlight showed him the den, just as he’d left it. He rushed inside, breathing heavily, surprised to see that Vasilli hadn’t arrived yet…

***

Buy links

JENNA’S JOURNEY

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenna s-Journey-Island-Mystery-Myste ries-ebook/dp/B01GGOCKLK

SOPHIA’S SECRET

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophi as-Secret-Greek-Island-Mystery -ebook/dp/B00LFJGCWA

PANDORA’S PROPHECY

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pando ras-Prophecy-Greek-Island- Mystery-ebook/dp/B00V6CWVBW

CALLIE’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ Callies-Christmas-Countdown- Julie-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0188T7H2I

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

***

Thanks for visiting today, Julie.

Come back next week to read some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny


Opening Lines: The Case of the Missing Bride

Today I’m delighted to welcome Carmen Radtke to my place, with the first 500 words from her novel, 

Over to you Carmen…

It started with a conversation in a museum, with an elderly immigrant talking about her voyage as an imported bride.

In an idle moment, I typed a few words into Google, and found a few lines in an old article about a bride transport from Australia to Canada in 1862 that hadn’t gone according to plan.  A story full of possibilities slowly unfolded in my mind. What mattered most to me though was that these girls really existed and deserved to be remembered.

They grew up in Victoria, in Australia, struggling with poverty in a country that was both incredibly modern and yet strictly clinging to the values of the British empire they simply called Home. The few well-to-do, like my heroine Alyssa’s family, had a lifestyle that could have come straight out of Jane Austen’s novels, with balls, country visits and parties. For the poor, and their numbers grew rapidly after the gold rush in 1851 had fizzled out, survival was a never-ending struggle. No wonder that my brides leaped at the chance of marrying well-off men, no matter how far away.

How lucky they must have felt when they boarded the ship, their few possessions stowed carefully in their wooden boxes.

They would spend months at sea and endure storms huddled under deck, or being thrown around like a sack, but they endured it together, and with visions of a good future ahead. Until they disappeared in San Francisco. A Canadian newspaper at the time blamed the Californians for having the brides seduced away with money. I wish I could believe that…

The Case of the Missing Bride is my attempt to honour these women and write a cracking yarn about them. The novel was a finalist in the Malice Domestic competition in a year without a winner and nominated for a CWA Historical Dagger.

Blurb:

When a girl goes missing on board of an ocean liner, only one person is convinced that the disappearance is no accident.

Alyssa has found herself with a group of impoverished girls who are embarking from Australia to Canada in the hope of marriage. As the daughter of a senior official, Alyssa doesn’t share this goal. She hopes to return to England via Canada.

But the girls all share one problem. Their presence on the ship is not known to many of its passengers but their worlds collide when one of the gentlemen discovers them. Then Emma, one of the intended brides, goes missing. Alyssa is convinced the disappearance is no accident and will risk her own life to search for the killer.

What happened to Emma? Is there a murderer on board the ship?

Alyssa is about to discover that there is more to her voyage than she bargained for.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Alyssa Chalmers shifted her weight from one foot to the other. How long could it take to read out 22 names, match them each to a face and tick them off a list? She watched Matron McKenzie’s slow progress. If she kept on at this pace they might all be here by nightfall.

Black sateen rustled as Matron came nearer. “Louisa Jane Sinclair?” A sparrow of a girl curtsied, her brows nearly disappearing into her fair bangs as her eyes grew wide. She shouldn’t be here, Alyssa thought with a pang, she is only a child.

“Where is your box? Nothing missing from the items on your list?” Louisa Jane’s eyes widened more, her pupils two dark disks in the paleness that was her face. She bent down to rummage in the patched cardboard case she carried instead of the regulation wooden box. “Yes, Ma’am,” she finally mumbled. Matron made a note on her list before she called out the next name. “Emma Sayce?”

By the time the pen scratched over the paper for the last time, the train station lay deserted, its outlines barely visible in the gas-lights that illuminated Port Phillip.

Matron clapped her plump hands to get everyone’s attention. “Now listen, girls. No dawdling or gossiping on the way. We shall proceed speedily and as quiet as mice.” She waved her right hand. “Off we go. I’ll be in front, and dear Father Pollock will bring up the rear until he sees us safely off.”

The girls obeyed, trudging in silence towards a new life.

The air smelt of salt, dead seaweed and sadness, Alyssa thought, with the gulls screeching like banshees in the all-enveloping darkness. The sea, so full of promise for a better life and a fresh start by daylight, was nothing but a miserable graveyard at night. She shivered. She must be coming down with something. Otherwise there was no explaining this feeling of doom in someone as sensible as she was.

The girls marched on until Matron came to an abrupt halt. “Ouch,” a girl cried out. “Can’t you watch what you’re doing, you daft cow?”

Matron turned around to confront the speaker. “Be quiet,” she hissed. “And watch your words, girl. I’ll have none of that language, thank you very much – Nellie, isn’t it?”

“What on earth is going on?” a long-suffering voice asked.

“Nothing, Father,” Matron said. “It seems we have arrived. There’s a man waving a lantern over there. Can you make out the name of the ship next to the small barge?”

Father Pollock peered through his spectacles. “I can’t be sure, but it does seem to be made up of two words. Surely you can read it? You’re much closer to it than I am.”

Alyssa suppressed a smile. Matron’s eyesight must be less keen than she might care to admit. The name “Artemis’ Delight” was written in large enough letters to be deciphered, with the gas-lights casting their glow onto the ship’s massive brown hull…

***

Buy the book: myBook.to/MissingBride

***

Bio

Carmen has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers. She has worked as a newspaper reporter in Germany and New Zealand, but now has swapped the newsroom for a cramped desk in her spare room in the UK She loves history, travel, animals and has convinced herself that day-dreaming is considered work. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching TV series and films (1930s to 1940s screwball comedies and film noir to blockbusters from the Marvel universe) and planning her next trip, although the cat prefers her to stay home.

She also writes historical fiction as Caron Albright.

Connect with her on twitter: @CarmenRadtke1 or Facebook: Carmen Radtke

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines, Carmen.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 


Opening Lines: Unbroken

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Madeleine Black to my site, with the ‘Opening Lines’ from her stunningly powerful memoir, Unbroken.

Over to you, Madeleine…

 

Unbroken is my memoir and tells my story of being gang raped at aged thirteen by two American teenagers and it follows my journey of survival, healing, forgiveness, transformation and hope.

Blurb

For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented… difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.

Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.

Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.

Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. But the road to piecing her life back together was long and painful. For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.

In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down – we are defined by how we get back up.

The first 500 words 

Chapter One – One Night

Author’s note: The names used in this account have been changed for personal and legal reasons.

It happened in May, 1979, in north London, where I grew up. The exact date was something I had never tried to establish. Some of what happened to me was very clear in my mind, but most details were hazy, disjointed, or gone all together. It took many years and a lot of hard work to unravel and examine all the details from that night. For decades, I shut the memories out, burying them in my mind beneath a mountain of guilt, fear, and self-preservation. And yet even though I didn’t consciously think about or remember most of the violence done to me, all of my consequent actions were shaped and influenced by it. I was 13 years old.

Like many girls I knew, the priorities of my life were pretty straightforward: friends, fun, school, and boys.  My parents were loving and supportive and most of the time I got on well with my older brother and three younger sisters. I tried to help out at home as much as possible and I kept quiet. I was a shy girl, never one to bring a lot of attention to myself. My grades were average and by all means, I was pretty “normal”. But my friend Kelly was something different all together.

Almost everyone has that one person in their class that they look up to and want to be like. For me, it was Kelly. She seemed so different from the rest of us and in many ways, she was. Her parents were divorced and I had never met anyone from a single-parent family before. Her Dad was an American, which seemed exotic at the time, and she wore makeup. She had Farrah Fawcett flicks in her hair and wore far cooler clothes than anyone else in school. She was outgoing and flirtatious with boys and was far more mature and physically developed than most girls in my class. She seemed so bold, so fearless. I was on the other end of the spectrum from Kelly. But being friends with her made me cool.

My dad was always unsure of Kelly and didn’t like our friendship for all the same reasons that I found her so intriguing. He felt she was a bad influence on me. I just thought she was fun. The fact that my dad didn’t approve of our friendship appealed to the rebel in me. I was, after all, a teenager.

Even though our family got along well, the dynamic in our home at that time was quite difficult. My mum was ill with neck and back problems and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, having operations and recuperating. When she came home she was often in her bed for weeks or even months. There was a rotation of nurses in the house looking after my mum and between my siblings, my father, and I, we did what needed to be done around the house, but it was very stressful.

Perhaps all of those…

***

Amazon link  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unbroken-Journey-Shattered-Violence-Survival/dp/1786062763

Bio

After many years of keeping quiet, Madeleine Black decided in September 2014, to share her story on The Forgiveness Project’s website and she completely underestimated what the response would be.

Many women and men got in contact and explained how reading her story gave them strength, hope, and a different perspective of what’s possible in their lives. The founder of The Forgiveness Project, Marina, often refers to the various people on her website as  “story healers” rather than “storytellers” and now she completely understood why.

In March 2015, Jessica Kingsley Publishers released a book called The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, by Marina Cantacuzino. It’s a collection of 40 stories from the TFP website, including hers and has forewords by Desmond Tutu and Alexander McCall Smith.

The sharing of her story also opened many doors for her in ways she never imagined and after that the invitations started to pour in.

Her memoir, Unbroken, was published by John Blake Books on April 4th 2017

Twitter www.twitter.com/madblack65

Facebook www.facebook.com/madeleineblackunbroken

Instagram www.instagram.com/madblack65

Website www.madeleineblack.co.uk

***

Many thanks to Madeleine for sharing her powerful first 500 words with us today. 

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

 


Opening Lines: Cast a Horoscope by Suzi Stembridge

Thursday is here once more, which means more ‘Opening Lines,

This week I’m pleased to welcome Suzi Stembridge to my site. Let’s ‘Cast a Horoscope’…

Although this book is inspired by my four years as an air hostess in the early 1960s it is not autobiographical. CAST A HOROSCOPE has been awarded a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award in August 2018. It is volume One in the Quartet “Coming of Age” and the fifth volume for readers reading the whole JIGSAW series in chronological order. All books can be read independently of the others in the series but do combine as one long family saga. CAST A HOROSCOPE begins when Rosalind (Roz), the great-great-grand-daughter of the main protagonist in the first two volumes of “Greek Letters Quartet, starts her career as an air hostess full of excitement and hope. It continues into her life as a young woman in the seventies when the old Victorian mores of marriage and starting a family were still strong. This is an era when memories of WW2 are still fresh, when the pilots had either been World War 2 pilots or trained in the tradition of the RAF. There was a very different and much more casual attitude to training based on common-sense rather than formal examinations. Aircrew and passengers alike were living in a time before mass travel and enjoying a new sense of freedom. Shorthaul flights at this time were typically in Vickers Viking or Dakota aircraft with two pilots and a stewardess. It was unusual for an aircraft to travel say as far as Athens without a touch down to refuel at Lyons or Rome. Most holidaymakers travelled not just to lie on the beaches, but to see ancient sites and museums or absorb the culture of a country. People were happy to enjoy the new sense of peace but with traditional attitudes still prevailing life was not perhaps as liberating or as easy in the sixties and seventies as young people assumed.

Blurb:

Rosalind Peters, known as Roz, is an air-stewardess in the early 1960’s; in the days when they were called air-hostesses. With a one hour induction, a training flight to Paris and an afternoon swotting from her manual, she is embarking on her first flight at night and she is solely responsible for thirty-six passengers on a Viking aircraft. The chief pilot of the small Yorkshire-based charter airline is her captain and in these days of fledgling package holidays her passengers are businessmen going to Hamburg to play hockey. It doesn’t take long for the sardonic captain, ex RAF and Berlin airlift, and seeming to the youthful Roz as middle-aged and corpulent, to size up the rooky learner. But rather than suffering the agonies of initiation Roz is won over by the Captain’s winning smile and the joy of flying. The whole glamorous Mediterranean world is opened up to Roz. Greece: Athens when one could walk inside the Parthenon on the Acropolis, Lindos on Rhodes with pristine beaches, Crete when airplanes landed on grass airstrips, Cyprus: Kyrenia before its annexation to Turkey, Cairo: when you could touch the Sphinx and Jerusalem: when the airport was in the Jordanian quarter, not to mention Tangier: city of blackmail and torture, and all before the days of mass tourism. But Rosalind’s middleclass background is conditioned to preserve her virginity and allow her to make a good marriage; these are days when strict rules govern life outside marriage and young people are expected to abide by what is acceptable in respectable society. Do her Northern roots compete to draw her back from the heat and dust of a Europe fast recovering from, but still affected by, the horrors of two world wars? In an era when sex outside marriage, worse illegitimacy and adoption carry such stigma will Rosalind find true love and be able to resist the temptations and excitement on offer in this liberated life style? Will the consequences of her actions affect other lives?

First 500 words…

August 1960

With a buoyant step Roz Peters entered an aircraft for only the second time in her life. Uppermost in her mind was the knowledge that she, as the sole airhostess, would be entirely responsible for all the thirty-six passengers of a Vickers Viking aircraft. She had been told the night flight would be full. Once through the door in the tail she walked up towards the cockpit which was on stand-by lighting. She stopped where two small steps took her up over the wheel axle. Although there were passenger seats in the forward section before the cockpit door she felt inhibited to go further.

As the Ferryair Captain climbed on board, using the same and only entrance to the dark aircraft Roz was facing him. She welcomed him and introduced herself, lighting the entrance from the galley at the back with a standard issue torch. She had thought that if she switched on the cabin lights at night she would harm the aircraft, much as using the headlights in a stationary car flattens the battery. Roz was confident that her Captain would have been told that his regular hostess had gone sick and she was taking her ‘stand-by’ place, after completing only one training flight instead of the prescribed six.

However, without attempting to reply to the young hostess’ welcome or to reassure her, the stocky short Captain merely put down a switch marked ‘cabin lights’ and strode up to the cockpit.   ‘We are on ground power now,’ he snapped as he marched up the aisle, with the tall first officer silently following him. They then shut the forward door to the cockpit leaving Roz in the empty cabin nervously replacing the torch and awaiting the arrival of her passengers from the departure hall. A ground hostess led out the passengers, all men.

To her amazement, Roz found her nervousness quickly evaporating and she was able to remember the procedure she had been taught the previous day, particularly when it came to demonstrating the emergency procedures. She was glad she had spent all that afternoon swotting up from her manual, although the expression  ‘if the aircraft has to ditch it may float’ was reverberating through her head, but she was not going to alarm the passengers by telling them that. It was midnight and she didn’t feel ready for bed, just for work.

‘How long have you been in this job?’ one passenger asked her as she helped him fasten his seat belt.

She replied ‘half an hour!

He laughed, ‘that makes two of us…. I’ve never flown in a chartered plane before.’

Rosalind remembered sitting in the London flat, fed up after a hard day’s shorthand and typing, and that was little more than a month ago. On her application form she had given her full name, Pandora Rosalind Peters, and made a split second decision to be known henceforth as Rosalind or if pushed simply Roz. ‘This will be truly a new beginning,’ she said…

***

Buy links:

http://amzn.to/ZSpdvZ  ebook

https://amzn.to/2RLcXRh Paperback

We live on the Pennine hills in West Yorkshire between Halifax and Huddersfield but my heart is often in Greece.

I write historical and contemporary fiction, most of which has a Greek bias, either being set or partly set in Greece, with other scenes in the UK, particularly Northern England and Wales. Many of my characters like to travel, so much of Europe has been covered in the whole series which I have called JIGSAW. Jigsaw comprises two Quartets, THE GREEK LETTERS QUARTET which starts towards the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1827 and finishes in the present decade around 2011, and a second Quartet THE COMING OF AGE with a time span from 1960 to the present decade. The protagonists in these Quartets make up a family saga, with Rosalind, her son and her great-great grandfather, who was a Philhellene, being the main characters.

Because these 8 books are actually one long family saga, seven generations from 1827 to the present day, I have had to keep my mind very well organised to remember who is related to who, keep the dates tidy, and it has been quite a challenge. Despite this massive link I have also had to work hard to keep each book as an independent and different read.

As the books developed I realised they captured an age, a time from the industrial revolution but before the digital age. I love planning out a book and particularly the research. It has been a passion to check the facts, making sure that they are accurate. Studying for my Open University degree taught me the importance of primary and secondary sources. If I say it was sunny on a certain date – it was! It is a great pleasure to work at my desk in Yorkshire with windows over-looking the hills or alternatively by the sea in Greece and have time to write.

More than 30 years in the Travel industry has introduced me to many wonderful places in the world, but our extensive travel around mainland Greece and its remote islands when we founded and ran our two travel companies for 25 years has taken us to remote and stunning areas of coastal and mountain Greece. In addition, we built a small house in the foothills of Mt. Parnon in the Peloponnese, overlooking the sea, where we learned to appreciate a lovely local community.

Social Media links: 

Twitter Name: WriterOfGreekNovels@zaritsi

Website Link: www.greco-file.com

Facebook links:

Facebook: Suzi Stembridge

Pennine Writers & Landscape Artists Capturing Greece

GREECE IS THE THEME

Jigsaw: Greek letters & Coming of Age – Two Quartets

Instagram: suzi.stembridge.writer

WordPress: authorofgreeknovels.wordpress.com

                     suzistembridge.wordpress.com

 Linkedin: Suzi Stembridge at Freelance Author and Writer

***

Many thanks for such a great blog, Suzi.

Come back next Thursday to read 500 words from Madeline Black.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: Light From Other Windows by Chris Chalmers

Opening Lines time is here! This week Chris Chalmers is with me to share the first 500 words of his novel, Light From Other Windows.

Light From Other Windows — Blurb

How many secrets can a family hide?

19-year-old Josh Maitland is at the end of a gap-year trip round the world when the tsunami hits the Canary Islands. His family are devastated at the loss of someone they thought would outlive them all: mother Diana, advertising executive and shatterer of glass ceilings; older siblings Rachel and Jem, each contemplating a serious relationship after years of sidestepped commitment; and stepfather Colin, no stranger to loss, who finds himself frozen out by his wife’s grief.

Only with the discovery of the private blog Josh was writing for his friends does the significance of his travels become clear. It reveals secrets he knew about everyone in his family — and one about himself that will change the way they think of him forever.

Can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next.” SUZI FEAY, literary journalist

“Once again Chris Chalmers combines sensitivity and wit in his observation of human behaviour with a cracking storyline. Unputdownable.” PENNY HANCOCK, bestselling author of Tideline

You can choose your friends but…

How I was inspired to write Light From Other Windows — by Chris Chalmers

In every novel I’ve written, there’s been someone or something I can point to and say ‘Yep — that’s me!’ In the case Light From Other Windows, it’s not a character so much as a position within the family.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Maitland is the youngest child of three by a good decade. His older brother and sister feel more like secondary parents than siblings — and that was certainly the case when I was growing up. I was always “the little one”, which was nice in a way when I was very young; when I was eight or nine, my big sister was earning a living and kind enough to give me pocket money. And since she and my brother had long since left home I was ostensibly an only child, with all the advantages of full parental attention that can bring.

The trouble is, roles within the family have a habit of sticking. In my case until I was in my thirties, with a successful career and home of my own, when I realised my siblings still saw me just as they always had. It wasn’t malicious. Far from it, they’re both lovely people. But it took a flashpoint to end it; an argument in which the worm turned and told them he’d had enough of being treated like a man-child. My brother and sister were very contrite. In their defence, I don’t think either of them knew they had been doing it.

So that’s the dynamic I was working with in this book. The events are fiction. Unlike Josh, I didn’t go on a gap-year trip round the world, and mercifully I’ve never been caught in a tsunami. But the subtle way the members of the Maitland family perceive each other is very much based on personal experience.

Accidents of birth have a lot to answer for — and so do accidents of promotion (excuse the clunky segue). Light From Other Windows has been out for a while, but with the support of Amazon and its inscrutable algorithms, it has found a very healthy readership. If it’s new to you and you’d like to know more, here are the first 500 words:

 

First 500 words…

PROLOGUE

Funny. The bedroom still had his smell.

She paused in the doorway. The room was bathed in a milky January light; utterly lifeless, like someone had pulled the plug. It was never this quiet when he was here. The little blue chest of drawers was on the desk, just like he said. She left the door ajar and kept to the rug, avoiding the bare boards.

A wad of papers was tucked inside the bottom drawer, and as she yanked it out the drawer came with it. She pushed it back as she unfurled the papers. Licking her thumb, she flicked through for the right one… Ripped-out page from a glossy mag — something about the next iPad… Three old greetings cards (— one from her, ah!)… Flier for some club they’d never been to –  And something else, creased into quarters…

One glimpse of the lion-and-unicorn crest in the corner was enough.

Gotcha!  

She folded up the birth certificate, tucked it into the waistband of her skirt and slipped the rest back in the drawer. As she turned, his posters stared back at her from the wall. A couple of them — more of those god-awful rappers — were new, but some of those rugby pics had been there since they were twelve or thirteen. Mad…

Mad, but typical. He didn’t care! Even his ancient teddy was still there, wedged between the wardrobe and the wall, one paw sticking out like it was hitching a ride from the Teletubbies. When was he going to get rid of —

Laughter! Seeping up from downstairs. Four strides and she was back on the landing. A quick peep over the banister —

All clear. She nipped into the bathroom and flushed.

The casement window on the turn in the stairs sparked a memory: a circular rainbow. She could see the bracelet of sherbet sweets looped over the latch so clearly she could still taste its plasticky fizz… They’d been playing Treasure Hunt at one of his birthday does, his big bro and sis roped in to organise party games and hating it…

The house was shabbier back then.

As she reached the bottom stair, she slid the paper out of hiding and into the pocket of her jacket hooked over the banister. Her hand was on the kitchen door as she checked her watch.

Best not hang around too long. She just had time for a cup of tea if she was going to catch the Post Office.                                                       

CHAPTER ONE

“And finally –” said Diana Maitland, “Brad and Dan?”

Johnnie Grange, her deputy in the advertising agency’s Creative Department, was lounging with his bony knees splayed in a chair on the other side of her desk. The tongue of his ever-present raffia belt dangled tumescently.

“Doing enough to get by, I guess,” he said. “Though that last viral for Nissan kicked the budget into touch…”

Diana looked up from her list. Her ash-blonde bob and Moschino jacket suggested the kindlier judge on a reality show…

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

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

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Other-Windows-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B013GNUDD6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

***

Many thanks Chris.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Suzi Stembridge.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


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