Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

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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

 

 

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

 

Interview with Rachel Brimble

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

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

What inspired you to write your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What excites you the most about your book?

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

Blurb 

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

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

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

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

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

Extract

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

Eyes that were maddeningly memorable.

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

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

‘Miss Stanbury?’

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

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

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

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

‘Business. I’m a hotelier.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘You know?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘The Cause, of course.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Buy Links:

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

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

Barnes & Noble:

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

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

Bio

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

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

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

Links

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

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

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

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

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

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

***

Great interview! Thanks for stopping by Rachel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

Opening Lines: Karen Ankers’ The Crossing Place

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

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

What inspired you to write your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your writing regime?

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

What excites you the most about your book?

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

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

***

First 500 words

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

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

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

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

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

Laura wondered if she ought to help.

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

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

The man stretched out a pale hand towards it.

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

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

***

Blurb 

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

 

Bio

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

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

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

***

Many thanks for such a great blog, Karen.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Interview with Julie Ryan: Going Greek

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

Grab a cuppa and come and join in!

What inspired you to write your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your writing regime?

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

What excites you the most about your book?

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

***

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

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

***

Buy links

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

Bio

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

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

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

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

You can find Julie on her websites:

Website/blog for book reviews

Blog

Twitter @julieryan18 

***

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

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Ask a writer: Robin of Sherwood

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

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

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

So- in no particular order….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tricky one.

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

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

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

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

Which was your favourite RoS episode?

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

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

Nothing’s forgotten,

Jennifer x

Interview with Patricia M Osborne: House of Grace

It’s interview time! So go and pop that kettle on, cut a slice of cake – and join myself and Patricia M Osborne as we chat about her latest novel, House of Grace.

What inspired you to write your book?

House of Grace, began as a screenplay for my BA dissertation. It was on completion of this project that I discovered my story had the potential to be developed further as a novel. Inspiration was derived from George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier and television dramas Mr Selfridge, and House of Elliott.

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

I prefer to write in first person. I’ve experimented in third but I feel too detached. In first person I feel everything that my character is feeling, I am my character.

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

I do plot in so much as I need to know the beginning, middle and end of my story but these are often subject to change.

What is your writing regime?

Mornings are for marketing, critique/editing and research. My muse tends to hit me late afternoon/evening and this is when I do the most of my writing. I never target myself to a specific number of words but I like to write every day in some form or other, whether that’s novel writing, a short story, poetry or re-working old pieces.

What excites you the most about your book?

I get very excited that readers are loving my book. I still haven’t quite got a handle on that. Regarding writing the book, stepping back in time and reliving memories that I can use to write my fiction.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I spent last year as Poet in Residence at my local Victorian park as part of my MA Creative Writing course. Researching the park’s past life inspired me to compile a fictional poetry anthology, titled In a Delightful Country, which will be published later this year.

Links:

patriciamosbornewriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: Patricia M Osborne, Writer

Twitter: PMOsborneWriter

Bio:

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool and spent time in Bolton as a child and now lives in West Sussex. Patricia is a novelist, she also writes poetry and short fiction. Many of her poems and short stories have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing with University of Brighton. Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s was released in March 2017.

***

Blurb

Blurb for House of Grace by Patricia M Osborne

It’s 1950 and all sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this frivolous activity as nonsense and wants to groom her into a good wife for someone of his choosing…

Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school in Brighton. She’s blissfully unaware of her father’s plans when she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.

Travel with Grace through two decades as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy. Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?

House of Grace, A Family Saga is available to order in paperback and kindle versions via Amazon:

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

***

Extract

House of Grace

Part 1

Chapter 1

 

I closed my sketchpad and crossed the room to the window. Seagulls flocked on the rocks, waves splashed high. I’d miss Greenemere but I was now a talented dress designer and full of dreams. One day, Grace Granville would change Britain’s vision of fashion.

The door creaked. Katy, my roommate, strolled back in. ‘Well?’

I turned around, mulling over her earlier words.

‘Well don’t just gawp.’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Come on Gracie, it’ll be fun. You can see how the other half lives.’

‘Wigan though.’ I twiddled my hair around my finger. ‘Father isn’t going to like it.’

‘It’s nineteen fifty, not the nineteen-hundreds, you know?’ She huffed. ‘Does he need to know about Wigan? It’s only for the dance. Just tell him you’re going to Bolton and that my Dad owns a cotton mill there.’

‘Maybe.’

‘Surely that should be respectable enough, even for your parents.’

It did sound thrilling. Would Father let me go? Katy was right, I didn’t need to tell him about Wigan or the dance.

‘Your parents are such snobs Gracie, best not mention Dad started off in a two-room terrace. Or that Mum was in service before she got married.’

After I finally agreed to phone my parents, Katy jumped off the bed, grabbed a small purse and waltzed into the bathroom.

‘What are you doing in there?’ I called.

‘Lippie.’

By that I assumed she meant lipstick. I’d never worn any. Would I need to? Should I be buying some? Maybe Katy would help me choose? I’d no idea what colour to get. I picked up a magazine with Bette Davis on the front cover. She was wearing bright red. Katy and I had seen her earlier in the year in All about Eve.

If we were going to a dance I needed to buy material to make a dress. I could see it now, a full skirt, fitted waist and belt, showing off my slim figure.

The door slammed shut as a new Katy rushed back in. What a metamorphosis. I wondered if I could change like that.

‘Dad said he’ll send his driver with the Rolls to collect us. Forgot to say, my cousin Jack can’t wait to meet you.’

Golly, she’d never mentioned him before. Better not mention Jack to Father. I wondered what Jack was like. Probably a spotty faced, lanky lad. He’d be no threat to my chastity…

***

 Many thanks for visiting today Patricia- wonderful interview.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Interview with Terry Lynn Thomas

I’m delighted to be joined by the lovely Terry Lynn Thomas, today.

So, go and grab a cuppa- maybe some cake- and come and put your feet up for a few minutes and join us for a chat.

What inspired you to write your book?

My dad fought in the Navy during the World War II. (I know, dating myself.) And he regaled me with stories of his time in the Pacific theater, stories of bravery and courage in the collected effort of the military and civilians to overcome the axis powers. His stories inspired me to memorialize this period of history lest we never forget this global war. As I dug into the research of the Sierra I quickly became captivated by the events which led up to the war, and the state of the world at that time. In light of the divisive times we live in now, it struck me how United help the people were in their efforts to support the war. People made sacrifices in their everyday life, selflessly committed to those who experienced battle firsthand. The bravery encourage of the people who fought in the war and lived through its difficulties inspired me to write mystery set in this time. As a writer of historical fiction, my goal is to transport my readers into my story and stay out of their way, so they can experience what it felt like to live in the world at this particular point in time.

I have always loved mysteries, especially those written during early- to mid-twentieth century. (Think Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth.) So writing a mystery series set in the United Kingdom during the time leading up to World War II was a natural fit. The Silent Woman is set in June 1937. King Edward has abdicated the throne to Mary Wallis Simpson, and the country is in coronation fever as King George takes the crown. While in Germany, Adolf Hitler is conscripting an army and building planes in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. England is headed to war, but her citizens do not know it. I couldn’t ask for a more dramatic backdrop for story. (True confession: I also really like hanging out in an era where people aren’t so connected via its cell phones and computers. I am hoping that young readers will visualize what the world was like without this technology when they read my books.)

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

My favourite topic! When I set out to write a new book, the first thing I do is pick a specific time set for the arc of the story. Once I have a specific date, I read the newspapers during that period of time, paying attention to the small details of day-to-day living. (Sidebar: the personal columns were the equivalent of social media. I’ve come across ads such as this, “Will the woman with the Green Beret please meet me under the old maple tree.” I can’t help but wonder if she met this person, and what they said.)

I also research the socio-political climate at the time read proper novels, and watch movies that were playing at the cinema. The National Archives provides a cornucopia of diaries and papers, so I spent some time researching there as well, and usually budget four weeks for this type of effort. By the time I’m finished with this research, I’m well versed on the world my characters inhabit. Then I step away. It’s important to remember that only a fraction of this information will make it into the book. A light touch is needed, as I don’t want to bore my readers with an info dump.

 

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

I wrote the Sarah Bennett Mysteries in first person, and loved the immediacy in the way I could crawl inside Sarah’s head and show her thoughts and motivations to my readers. I changed point of view with the Cat Carlisle series and now write in third person. The switch has set me free! Third person allows me to let my story unfold from the viewpoint of different characters and-in my opinion-allows me to flex my “deep” point of view writing muscle – I hope my readers are able to bond and empathize with my characters and become emotionally invested in what happens to them in my third person writing. My job as a writer is to write in such a fashion that I get out of the reader’s way and let them sink into the story. I am a third person point of view writer now and I love it!

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

I am a confirmed plotter and have been known to spend as much time working on my treatment as I spend writing a novel. The treatment includes detailed character sketches, scene development, and the most time consuming a detailed plot outline I use the outline as a map, and often compare writing a book to a sea voyage. When I push away from the dock and lose sight of the shore, it’s nice to know where I’m going. Having said that, my outline is never set in stone. More often than not, my story takes an entirely different direction. If that happens — and it often does — all stop and re-outline. I use my outline is a way to track arcs and tie up all the loose ends.

What is your writing regime?

Mornings are best! I like to get up around 4:30 AM, drink a giant (think soup bowl) cup of very strong coffee, and plug away until 7 AM or so. I set a word count (usually 1500 to 2000 words) and try to hit that five days a week. I think it’s important to step away from story a little bit and let things gel. Sundays are my day to spend with my husband and animals. It seems at times that the biggest challenge is to get my you-know-what in the chair. But I do love this job, and I’m grateful that I’m able to entertain readers with my stories.

Links

http://Terrylynnthomas.com

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008271596/the-silent-woman

https://twitter.com/TLThomasBooks

Bio

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches, windy dunes, and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. Neptune’ Daughter is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, is slated to release in April 2018.  When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

 ***

Fantastic interview. Thank you so much for coming along today Terry. 

Your mysteries sound wonderful.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

 

 

Interview with Karen King: Rise of the Soul Catchers

It’s interview time!

Today my lovely friend Karen King is dropping by for a chat. Why not grab a cuppa and come and join us?

What inspired you to write your book?

Rise of the Soul Catchers is a mixture of my favourite genres, fantasy and romance. It’ s inspired by my belief that love is eternal and that we meet our loved ones again when we die.  The two main characters, teenagers Sapphire and Will, are killed in the first chapter and separated. They discover that the afterworld is split into seven zones, each named after a colour of the rainbow. They each believe the other one to have been taken by the Soul Catchers to Red, a zone where all your nightmares come true. They love each other so much that they go to Red to find each other. The story is written from both their viewpoints, so for some of the story we follow their individual journey separately. It was first published as Sapphire Blue but has now been republished and rebranded, by Littwitz Press.

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

I never base any of my characters on an existing person but I do take bits from people I  know or meet, things they say or do, certain mannerisms they have, so it’s very likely that some traits, actions or incidents will appear in one of my books. My daughters often say to me ‘you got that off me!’ or that they can think one of their characters is based on something one of their sisters did. And I confess in my acknowledgements that they are a constant inspiration for me

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

None! As it’s set in the afterlife I could make the world and characters however I wanted them to be!

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

I don’t have a preference it depends on the character and the story. Rise of the Soul Catchers is written in the present tense, using first person viewpoint for Sapphire and third person for Will.  It was the way the story came to me, so I went with it. I chose different viewpoints for Sapphire and Will so that it would be immediately clear which character viewpoint we’re in. So far, I’ve used third person past tense for all my romance novels, but first person past for my other YA, Perfect Summer. The YA I’m now working on is written in first person too, so maybe it’s a YA thing!

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

A bit of both. I always work out my main characters and story plot before I start so I have a base to work from then I just write the first draft as it comes. The characters often do things I hadn’t planned, and the plot might go off at an unexpected tangent, but I go with it. Once I’ve finished the first draft I start rereading and revising, deleting anything I don’t think works.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Yes, can I give a shout out for my romcom, The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma, which is now on pre-order  and will be published by Accent Press on 7 June.

***

Blurb- Rise of the Soul Catchers

Can love survive anything – even death?

Sapphire and Will vow to love each other forever. But when a car crash ends that dream all too soon, they find themselves separated in an afterlife with zones named after the colours of the rainbow. Determined to find each other, they start an adventurous journey alongside a cast of characters they don’t know whether to trust. They finally meet again in the terror-fuelled Red Zone where the dreaded Soul Catchers are planning on taking over the entire afterworld and are plunged into a dangerous battle. Is their love strong enough to survive against the odds?

 (Previously published as Sapphire Blue)

***

Here’s a great extract for you…

Rise of the Soul Catchers extract. Sapphire’s Viewpoint

Chapter Two 

I am alive.

I lie still, keeping my eyes closed, trying to feel if I’m hurt, if anything is broken. I flex my fingers, my toes, move my head real slow from side to side. Everything seems fine.

Oh God, Will! Is Will okay?  I snap open my eyes, sit up, look over at the passenger seat praying that Will is alive too. Only there’s no passenger seat. No car. No Will.

What the hell has happened? Did I dream it?

I couldn’t have dreamt it. I remember it all so vividly. Will driving along, singing, the container in the middle of the road, the tree zooming toward us, the crash. Besides I’m not in bed. I’m…

I look around. Everywhere is covered by a thick, white mist and it’s eerily quiet. Where am I?

“Sapphire!”

Grandpa?  Surprised, I swing around and stare at my grandpa walking through the mist toward me, waving with a big smile on his face. Now I know I’m dreaming. Grandpa died two years ago.

“Sapphire!” Grandpa’s right in front of me. He holds out his arms for me to run into them, like I used to when I was little, but I can’t move. My feet are glued to the ground as I gape at him. “Grandpa?” I whisper

. “It’s me,” he says. “It’s really me.” He reaches out and envelopes me in a big hug. I feel his arms wrap around me, smell the familiar musky-scent and relax a little, allow myself to sink into the warmth and comfort of his embrace. “Don’t be frightened, I’ll look after you.” Grandpa’s voice is soft, gentle and I’m so glad to see him again that I nestle in closer and rest my head on his shoulder just like I used to do when I was little.

“I’ve missed you, Grandpa,” I mumble.

“I’ve missed you too, sweetie. It’s so lovely to see you again, but not like this. Not so soon. You’re too young.” His eyes are shining with tears.

Too young for what? Suddenly I’m jolted back to the present. What’s happening? What’s Grandpa doing here? I want to wake up. I don’t like this dream. I focus on waking, imagine myself opening my eyes, finding myself in my comfy bed with its bright, daisy-flowered duvet cover, snuggling up to the big, yellow Miss Sunshine cushion Will bought. That’s what he calls me. His Little Miss Sunshine. He says I brighten up his life.

Will.

Where’s Will? “Wake up,” I whisper to myself. “Wake up.”

“This isn’t a dream, love,” Grandpa tells me as he strokes my hair. “I know it’s a lot to take in and it will seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. There’s lots of family waiting to meet you, aunts and uncle and your great-grandparents. We’ll all look after you.”

His words freak me out. I try to pull away from him. “They’re all dead!” I scream. “And, so are you. You’re dead!” I pinch my arm. Hard. Squeeze my eyes shut. This is a dream. It must be a dream.

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! …

***

Buy Links

Rise of the Soul Catchers is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on 25th April.

Amazon: http://ow.ly/Fz1L30j0hqh

 

Author bio

Karen King writes edgy YA with a heart and sassy, heart-warming romance. Her first YA, Perfect Summer, was runner up in the Red Telephone Books 2011 YA Novel Competition and her second YA, Sapphire Blue, now republished as Rise of the Soul Catchers by Littwitz Press, was called ‘the best YA book out there right now’ by a reviewer for Ind’Tale magazine.

Karen has four romcoms published by Accent Press, and a fifth one is due out in June this year, Her latest romcom, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, was #3 in the Amazon bestseller holiday reads.  She has recently signed a two book-contract with Bookouture for more romance novels.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/ 

***

Many thanks Karen. Great interview.

I happen to know this is a fabulous book- so happy reading folks,

Jenny xx

Interview with Rachel Sargeant: The Perfect Neighbours

It’s interview time! Why not get the kettle boiling, make a cuppa, grab some cake and settle down to see what I’ve been talking about with author, Rachel Sargeant…

Hello, Jenny. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog and for giving me these fun questions to answer.

What inspired you to write your book?

My latest book, The Perfect Neighbours, came out of two ideas. I lived for ten years in a British expat community in Germany. It is an unusual, close-knit environment that I’ve always felt would make a great setting for a novel if I could find the right project. When I moved back to England, I read a newspaper report about a criminal case that was going through the courts at that time. The crime was so bizarre and audacious that many people thought it was a spoof. I did some research and discovered that the case was by no means unique. This kind of crime has sadly claimed many victims over the years. This made me wonder whether a similar crime could occur in a small community where everyone knows everyone’s business, or thinks they do. I found the right story for my expat setting.

 

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

My characters are completely made up. Apart from the dubious ethics of using real people, I don’t think I could mould real people to do and say what I want. My latest novel features a dark mix of secretive and menacing neighbours. Thankfully all my real neighbours, past and present, are nothing like them.

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

This book started life as a portfolio piece for my M.A. in Creative Writing and required a lot of research for the accompanying academic essay. I researched a number of topics including hospitality and friendship. (There were other major topics too which I can’t mention without giving away the plot.) By the time I finished working with my editor at HarperCollins, the novel became more commercial and these topics provided only a light touch.

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

I tend to write in the third person, possibly because I like to feature several characters’ viewpoints in the story.

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

I have to plot. In life, I’m a planner and list maker. The same holds true for my writing.

What is your writing regime?

I get home from my job as a school librarian at 4pm, check social media and then write until 7pm. I also put in a few hours at the weekend. Most of this writing will be editing previous drafts as I tend to write first drafts in school holidays.

What excites you the most about your book?

The most overwhelming thing is seeing the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads from real readers who’ve bought my book, read it and written about it. It’s very humbling.

About the author

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. The Perfect Neighbours is her third novel. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

Website: http://www.rachelsargeant.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3

 

About The Perfect Neighbours

The Perfect Neighbours is a Kindle Top Ten bestseller published by HarperCollins Killer Reads.

“An original, gripping thriller that is both unnerving and shocking in equal measure. I was immediately drawn into the strange, claustrophobic neighbourhood and Rachel Sargeant creates a thrilling sense of foreboding throughout.” Phoebe Morgan, author of The Doll House

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.

When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

Available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Neighbours-Rachel-Sargeant-ebook/dp/B074M2VJ3P/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507722593&sr=1-1&keywords=the+perfect+neighbours

Or HarperCollins website:

https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008276737

***

Extract from The Perfect Neighbours

Gary squeezed Helen’s hand. “Excited?”

She said nothing. Was she excited? New start in a new country. As a full-time wife. She managed a smile and nodded.

They drove off the A road – the Landstrasse as Gary called it – into a grey, built-up area. She thought of the coach trip she’d made with a Year 10 class to Bulgaria; Communist-built apartment blocks on the outskirts of Sofia.

Gary pulled up at traffic lights and pointed. “And behind there is the Niers International School.”

Through the spike-topped metal fence on the right she made out rows of full bicycle stands. It looked like a provincial railway station.

“But you can’t see it properly from here,” he added.

A pot-bellied man in a dark uniform was standing by a sentry hut, the wooden roof scabby and cracked.

“You have guards?” she asked.

“Don’t mind Klaus. We have two full-time security men to patrol the site. The parents like it. Except our guys spend most of the time playing toy soldiers in their little house.”

Helen laughed until she noticed Ausländer Raus spray-painted on a bus shelter. “Does that mean what I think it means?”

The light went green, and they turned left.

“Foreigners Out – but you hardly ever see that stuff. Most of the Germans love the international school,” he said. “Lots of locals work here in support roles, and the parents spend good money in the town.”

He’d told her about the parents before. Most worked for big international companies in Düsseldorf, and others were rich locals prepared to pay for an English-speaking education. And some were teachers.

“Think about it, Helen,” Gary had said when they sat down with their pros and cons sheet on one of his weekend visits, agonizing over where to live. “Not yet, but in a few years, if we have children, it could be their school. There are so many perks, as well as the salary.”

That had been the clincher: Gary could earn more staying out here than the two of them put together in the UK. Helen had stopped being stubborn in light of the cold hard figures. She quit her job and put her house up for rent.

He went over a speed bump, and she felt the seatbelt rub against her collarbone.

“Have you noticed the street names?” He pointed at one, multisyllabic, a jumble of Ls and Es. “Can you read them?”

She shook her head. They had been driving non-stop since Calais. The traffic signs after the border into Germany had become a strident Teutonic yellow. Here the street names were in white, more like British ones, but they were unpronounceable.

Gary crawled along at 20 mph and seemed unfazed by the need to slalom his way around parked cars, playing children, and speed bumps. She glanced at his profile – round cheekbones, smooth jaw, patient eyes. Who would have thought affability could be so magnetic? Her stomach settled.

***

Many thanks Rachel. Great interview and wonderful extract.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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