Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Jo Fenton #interview #writerslife

It’s my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to Jo Fenton.

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
My novels all fit into the Psychological Thriller genre. The first two in The Abbey Series have been published: The Brotherhood and The Refuge.

What made you choose that genre?
I think it chose me. When I first decided to write a novel, I was originally going to go down the fantasy route, but decided to start with something a bit less daunting. When the idea of a religious sect popped into my head, with all its potential for fear and manipulation, it just felt right.

I’ve discovered that when I write, all the darkness comes out! I’m a very sunny person in reality!

How long does it take you to write a book?
For the latest 2, it’s taken me around a year, including drafts and pre-submission edits. My first novel took 6 years and 10 drafts, but I was learning on the job.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I have a full time job in Clinical Research, so writing fits around work. I try to do an hour a day, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Some days it’s half an hour in the morning before work; other days it can be an hour or two in the evening. Football season is great, because I get the house to myself for home matches – lots of time and peace and quiet to focus on writing.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
I love running (although I’m very slow), and I ran a half marathon on the day I finished my last draft of The Brotherhood (it was a great day to write – my fingers were about the only bit of me that could still move!)

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started my first book at the tender age of 41. It wasn’t so much that I was a late developer; more that the kids were finally old enough for me to have a bit of time spare in the evenings. When I was younger, I had a lot of stories going round in my head, but I was such a slow writer and typist, that it never occurred to me to actually introduce the stories to paper (or laptop).

The other trigger for me to start my novel, was completing a touch typing course. I wrote a few short stories, then NaNoWriMo was introduced on breakfast TV, and my husband suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to begin a novel.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that 50000 words get written in a month. I think I managed about 20000, but it gave me the impetus to continue.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
As mentioned above, I love running. I’ve also recently
got into mountain hiking, although I am guilty of looking for suitable places to throw my victims over a cliff. Funnily enough, my hiking companions are always very nice to me…

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think I was most surprised about the way characters have a life of their own. I might have certain plans for them, but if they disagree… well, suffice to say, they always get their own way.

I’ve also been surprised by how hard it is to predict what sort of a writing experience I’ll have when I sit down. I might think one day that I’m brimming with ideas, but when I start it’s like running through treacle. Then another day, I might eventually get started after a lot of procrastination, but the words will flow really well. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it.

How many books have you written?
My third book is now with my publisher…

The fourth one is simmering in my brain, waiting for me to decide it’s ready to start prepping. When it’s ready, I’ll sit down and start the first chapter. I like to do this before I write the plan, as I then have a better idea of how it will evolve, and who the key characters will be.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
Yes. I mostly just find stuff about my writing – mostly blog posts that I’ve written or that I already knew about, or details on my publishers’ websites (I have separate publishers for ebooks and audiobooks, so I appear on both sets of websites).

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a scientist or a doctor. I managed the scientist bit, although my early ambitions of becoming an astronaut disappeared when I realised I don’t like fairground rides.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
Currently just the one unpublished novel that’s with my publisher. I’m hoping it won’t remain unpublished for long.

I had been tempted to give up on my first novel after everyone told me ‘first novels never get published’, but fortunately some very good friends dissuaded me!
However, I should state that the final novel bore only minimal resemblance to the original version.

Bio: Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.


Website www.jofenton137.com               


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Friday, 18 October 2019

Friday Fiction Feature: Single All The Way

Thanks so much for inviting me over to talk about my new Christmas release, Single All The Way. I’m so excited about this book, it’s my second Christmas book - the first one, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Heart’s Hotel was released last year.  Although Single All The Way is set in Cornwall again – one of my favourite places - it‘s completely different to Snowy Nights. In fact, it’s not at all like the traditional Christmas romance novel.

There are two main characters, Meg and her mother Sally, and the story starts with them both breaking up with their husbands just before Christmas and deciding to go away together to spend the festive season in a cosy little cottage in Cornwall. Without giving too much away, the story follows both their journeys as they each try to come to terms with their marriage break up. They meet a friendly cast of characters, including two handsome men, in the little Cornish village where they are staying who soon include them in their festive celebrations. There is some soul-searching, reminiscing and regrets but this doesn’t stop Meg and Sally enjoying the festivities and they grow closer together, determined to get over their heartbreak and face the future with hope. It’s a story about love, hope and having the courage to go for your own happiness.

I enjoy reading family dramas and really wanted to explore a mother and daughter relationship, and all the nuances that involves. Although Meg is initially shocked that their parents’ long – and what she thought was happy – marriage has broken down, she and Sally are brought closer together as they help and support each other through this difficult time. The reasons why they have both walked out on their marriage aren’t divulged straight away but are very topical and I hope that readers will relate to them and be rooting for both women to be strong and get through the heartache.

We get to see Meg’s husband Oliver’s point of view too, and that of Ted, Sally’s husband, to give an insight into both sides of the relationships. Early reviewers have called Single All The Way an ‘impactful’, ‘thought-provoking’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘ultimately uplifting’ story. I hope that readers will enjoy reading it. It will be published by Bookouture on 28th October, and is now on pre-order.

Blurb
I can see my mother is calling me. I answer the phone, knowing I’ll have to tell her about Oliver and me breaking up. But before I can, she announces, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this… But I’m leaving your dad.’

Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted, long-suffering mother Sally are cancelling Christmas, and running away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…

Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.

Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with her husband all over again, and one marriage will be over for good…

An escapist, romantic and heart-warming novel for fans of One Day in December and No One Cancels Christmas.
Pre-order links


Karen King is a multi-published bestselling author of romance novels, YA and children's books. She has had eight romantic novels, two YA books and 120 children's books published. She has also written several short stories for women's magazines.
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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Vikki Patis #interview #writerslife

Very pleased to welcome Vikki Patis who is here to tell us about her writing life.

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
Psychological thrillers

What made you choose that genre?
I actually didn’t intend to write psychological thrillers! I wrote what would probably be classed as women’s fiction, but my publisher helped me turn it into more of a psychological thriller.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I wrote the first draft of my first book during NaNoWriMo, then spent some time editing, so maybe two months in all. Though it went through several editing phases with my publisher! Usually I can get a decent first draft done within six months.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I work full-time as well as writing, so I mostly snatch an hour here and there to get some words down! I have started taking a day off my day job every couple of weeks in order to dedicate some time to writing, and I treat it as a normal workday – up early, sit down with a cup of tea, and write.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
My books are always quite personal to me. I know a lot of authors would say the same, but writing about real events or themes in my life is a form of therapy for me. The traumatic event that Lauren goes through on Bonfire Night in The Diary happened to me when I was her age, and the relationship between Isla and Jake in The Girl Across the Street is loosely based on the abusive relationship my parents were in when I was growing up. And The Girl Across the Street is set where I live in Hertford.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
For my first published novel, I was 25, and I self-published a collection of short stories when I was 23.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to walk, to read, and bake cakes! I’m also a big fan of binge-watching shows on Netflix.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
For me, it was the process a book goes through from first draft to published novel. There are so many stages!

How many books have you written?
Two books published.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
I do occasionally – how vain am I! – but I’ve only found links to my books and reviews. The best thing I found was a discussion on Goodreads where people were talking about my book. It’s such a bizarre feeling!

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Cliché, but I always wanted to be a writer. I used to pinch exercise books from school and fill them up with stories, giving them to friends to read on the school bus.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
A few! I recently stumbled upon an unfinished book which I believe I started when I was a teenager, which featured Greek mythology and sirens. I don’t think I’ll continue with that one!

Bio: 
Vikki Patis is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Diary and The Girl Across the Street, published by Bookouture. She is also the author of Weltanschauung, a self-published short story collection, and her BSc dissertation, I Ink, Therefore I Am, was published by Lambert Publishing in 2016.

When she isn’t writing or working as a Regulatory & Compliance Manager, she can usually be found drinking tea, baking cakes, or taking walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. She lives with her partner and two cats.

The Girl Across the Street: https://amzn.to/35ETkOP
Twitter: @PatisVikki



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Monday, 14 October 2019

Friday Fiction Feature: Rise of the Petrol Queen

I am delighted to have Jon Hartless on here to talk about his outstanding and original book, Rise of the Petrol Queen.

Rise of the Petrol Queen follows on directly from Full Throttle in which our heroine, Poppy Orpington, astounded the racing community by taking them on and beating them in her petrol-fuelled car. Rise of the Petrol Queen sees Poppy now embarking on her first full season as a driver while also setting up her own car-making business in the hope of making a car available for the workers rather than just the obscenely wealthy.

What follows is her battle on the track and in the boardroom – and matters aren’t helped by the frequent and unfair personal attacks on her from the bigoted British Press who hate Poppy for her unconventional life...


Rise of the Petrol Queen is Steampunk, (an alternative-history adventure in which steam was the main source of power rather than petrol, electric, nuclear etc) but beware; this is a world very close to our own, in which the more fantastical elements of traditional Steampunk – the clockwork automatons, the airships, the sanitised Victorian era – are absent. Instead, Poppy lives in a very real, grimy world where she is unable to get ahead or to prove her worth simply because she is born female, working-class and disabled.


Bio: Jon Hartless was born in the 1970s and has spent much of his life in the Midlands and Worcestershire. His latest novels, a steampunk motor racing adventure examining the gulf between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, started with Full Throttle in August 2017 and continued with Rise of the Petrol Queen in 2019, both published by Accent Press.


Twitter: @JHartlessauthor


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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Richard Dee #interview #writerslife

Delighted to post my interview with Richard Dee

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
Thanks for inviting me here today. My books are broadly Science Fiction, based either in the future or an alternative now. To be more specific, I write in several styles within the genre. I would describe them as either Space Opera, Steampunk or Crime/Mystery in space.

However, I like to mix things up a little, blur the lines between genres. In this way, I’ve attracted readers who would not normally be Sci-fi fans. In general, they seem to have enjoyed what I write.

What made you choose that genre?
It’s always fascinated me, ideas about what the future will hold and what we will find. I try to make my future a recognisable extension of our now, I think it makes it more relatable.

In the same way, with my Steampunk books, I took a point in our history and bought it up to date it in another way. So that we still have the technology that we have today, just done differently.

Crime mysteries, in the style of Agatha Raisin, Miss Marple and Jonathon Creek are also a favourite of mine, with clever plot twists and unexpected endings. My books in that style are really a homage to them.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies, I can get inspired and write a first draft in a little over a month, other ideas can take a lot longer to develop. I have several stories in progress at any one time, if I run out of inspiration on one, I can try something else.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I try and write every day, usually early in the morning and late at night. I’m retired now so I like to spend the day doing something else. Unless it's raining; when I might write all day. 2000 words is a good daily average, that includes blog posts and short stories, as well as novels.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
I’ve guided a 166m long passenger ship through Tower Bridge…, BACKWARDS.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started writing my first novel in 1979, at the age of 21. I finished it in 2012. Now I’m a little quicker.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I bake bread and cook using local produce, walk around the cliffs near my home in South Devon, see my grandchildren, go out for lunch with my wife, all the usual things.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it. And that it didn’t involve much effort. Once I get an idea, I see the story playing in my head, like watching a film. I can rewind and slow the action, but I can never fast-forward. I just write what I see and hear. The ending is as much a surprise to me as it will be to the reader, after all, we both came to it at the same time.  It scared me at first, now it’s as natural as breathing.

How many books have you written?
In October, my twelfth novel (a crime mystery) will be published. I’ve also published two collections of short stories and several separate ones. I’ve appeared in a collection of stories based on the Battle of Hastings. (I wrote a time travel story about it). I’ve also written a textbook on World-Building.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
No, I’ve resisted, apart from checking that my website is visible to search engines. Richard Dee isn’t my real name. Not that my real name is a secret, I just thought Richard Dee looked better on a book cover.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to see the world. I achieved that in a forty-year career at sea. Amongst other things, I’ve been around Cape Horn, up the Amazon, been shot at a couple of times, was on a jumbo jet that crash-landed, was in Gdansk, Poland in 1981 and left Kuwait just before the invasion in 1990. Everything else has been a bonus.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
Seven or eight. That number never seems to decrease no matter how much I write. There are sequels, prequels and spin-offs to many of my stories, as well as some new ideas. I also get suggestions and questions from fans, which often lead me to write an “explanation” of something. The last time I explained a comment, it took me nearly 90,000 words to do so. Not only that, it raised enough questions for part three of the original story!


Bio
I'm Richard Dee and I'm from Brixham in Devon. I was never a writer, at least not for ages. I saw stories in my head, based on dreams and events in my life, but I never did much with them. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept me busy.

I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and finally as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything I could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.

I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When I'm not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.

My first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective.

Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I'm currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.

Life and Other Dreams, a dual-time psychological thriller
Survive, a Space Opera
Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space

You can find me at







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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

I know it's a cliché, but ... #writetip

Trevor from Leeds wants to use clichés because he feels they do the job. He asks: are clichés really that bad? My writing group members are forever banging on about them, but sometimes they get across exactly what I want to say.

Yes, they clichés really are that bad. They are phrases that were once fresh and new, but are now stale and tired. To make your writing stand out and bring your own unique voice to life, you need to create your own original expressions. The words and phrases you use have to help flesh out your characters and also make the narrative sparkle.

You might well have a character speaking in clichés and there is nothing wrong with that. You’d be using it as a character quirk. But if the narrative is littered with clichés, or more than one character uses them, that is a sign of lazy writing.

Be bold – create your own similes and metaphors. You never know, in years to come your phrases might be so frequently used that they will be classed as clichés. After all, when Shakespeare and all the other great writers wrote what are now considered clichés, they were then original and fresh. It’s because they so exactly fitted the characters and situations that the phrases have been used over and over again.

As a writer, it’s your job to use words to the best effect. This means being innovative and allowing your voice to come through via your use of words.


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Monday, 7 October 2019

Friday Fiction Feature: The Space Between Time

I am delighted to have Charlie Laidlaw on here to talk about his wonderful book, The Space Between Time.

The inspiration for The Space Between Time flowed from my last book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead.  It was inspired by a quote from the Roman philosopher and emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who said that “our life is what our thoughts make it.”

To me, it’s quite a profound quote as most of us think that our lives are shaped by experience.  But. Looked at in a different way, our lives are actually shaped by our memories of those experiences.

My first book’s central premise was what would happen if we were to remember our past slightly differently?  Would we also become changed?  The answer: yes, we would.

The Space Between Time takes that idea forwards.  It asks the question: do our memories of childhood shape who we are now and, just suppose, what if those memories are false?

I think that a life well lived is also about failure and making bad decisions.  The trouble is that it can take many years for us to realise that, and how small decisions can have unintended consequences. 


The Space Between Time is a book about love, loss and mental illness, but told with humour. I hope it balances poignancy with laughter, charting the central character’s story as she finally comes to terms with who she is and finds her second chance.

I hope the book is uplifting, largely because I like happy endings!  However, the book is also about the big stuff like family bereavement, and the smaller stuff that we live through every day.  It’s a portrait of a mentally fragile young woman who gets some things right, and gets other things wrong.

It's a book told in the first person and, as she admits, she is an unreliable narrator.  She sets out to write a story in which her father is the bad guy, and her mother is pure perfection.  It’s a narrative she wants to believe and, more than anything, it’s a narrative that she wants us to believe.

But as the book progresses, her mother isn’t as perfect as she’s portrayed, and her father probably did nothing wrong.  The book is therefore about her coming to terms with false memory, and finally coming to terms with her past.


Biography

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I have worked in national newspaper journalism and defence intelligence and now live in East Lothian, where my books are set.  I am married with two children, and that’s about it.

F: charlielaidlawauthor
T: @claidlawauthor


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