Category Archives: Guest Posts

Blog Tour – Unforgivable by Mike Thomas *Guest Post and Review*

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas. I’m chuffed to bits to be a part of this and to be sharing my review AND I have a brilliant guest post from Mike on his three favourite supporting characters in his novels. I will hand you over to Mike and then check out the blurb and my review of Unforgivable…

The Three Favourite Supporting Characters in My Novels

It’s always enjoyable writing your protagonist’s story and pushing them around on the page – go here, you swine! – but what I often find more entertaining, certainly if my hero or heroine is having an off day, is writing supporting characters. They’re often great fun, because they’re not really as important (but they’re still very important), and therefore the pressure’s off and there’s more freedom to do things with them that you couldn’t do with your main character. They also act as a counterpoint to your protagonist, and a means to demonstrate your main character’s personality or behaviour without doing the old ‘telling’.

Just look at Saul Goodman in ‘Breaking Bad’, or Bunk in ‘The Wire’, or The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And what about Ron and Hermione in the Potter books? All of them, fully-formed and interesting supporting characters that add further depth and shade to the protagonist and the story itself.

So who are the three favourite supporting characters in my novels? Which of them were the most interesting and gratifying to write? Let’s take a look…

1. DC Warren Harrison – rotund, perpetually eating and wrapped in a fug of smoke, ‘Wazza’ is the ‘senior man’ – in age, not rank – on the team of CID officers who feature in the MacReady novels, ‘Ash and Bones’ and ‘Unforgivable’. An old sweat who has seen it all, he’s world-weary but has a mischievous sense of humour, not least in his choice of footwear: he refuses to wear shoes and turns out for duty every day in socks and sandals. The inspiration for Warren was an ex-colleague who could regularly be found wandering the corridors of the police station looking like a lost German tourist who’d raided the nearest vending machine. Lots of older real cops end up like Wazza: nothing fazes them, they couldn’t care less about anything other than their approaching pension, and they think all new officers are utterly useless. Often they’re not wrong.

2. FLUB – real name David Murphy, FLUB is the elder PC on the elite public order team in my 2014 novel ‘Ugly Bus’. His nickname, gifted to him by his colleagues on the van, is an acronym for Fat Lazy Useless Bastard. Given that FLUB likes food and moving slowly – his favourite line is ‘I may not look like I’m busy most of the time but on a molecular level I’m a hundred fuckin’ miles an hour’ – he was happy enough to shrug and accept the moniker. Like Warren Harrison above, FLUB is the old sweat, but while Wazza is a spiky individual, David Murphy is an anything-to-keep-the-peace sort – which backfires spectacularly for all concerned at the climax of the novel. I love old FLUB, he’s a lot like I used to be towards the end of my career – especially his penchant for disgracefully unhealthy takeaway food on night shifts.

3. PC Frank MacReady – or ‘Frankie’ or ‘The Frankster’ as ‘Pocket Notebook’s protagonist (I hesitate to call him a hero) Jacob Smith calls his best buddy. Frank is a specialist firearms officer, working alongside Jake, and is Jake’s only true friend – he’s patient, wise, loyal, and long-suffering – but Jacob even manages to lose him, in the most despicable manner possible, during a house party where far, far too much alcohol is consumed. Without Frank anchoring him our protagonist is finally doomed, and we see it happen in real time during the latter part of the book. I always think of Frank and Jake as mirroring my wife and I during this period in our lives: she was the strong sensible, caring one who had to support me while I lost my marbles writing this crazed debut novel…

Brilliant post, thank you so much Mike. I love Wazza too!

The Blurb

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

My Thoughts

The second DC Will MacReady novel is totally explosive … and that’s not just because of the bombs that go off in the book! Unforgivable totally lived up to all of my expectations with Thomas proving that this is one hell of a crime series!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Ash and Bones, don’t worry as Unforgivable works as a standalone. Thomas perfectly gives enough information in order for you to be able to follow how MacReady and his colleagues got to where they currently are without deflecting from the new plot. However, trust me when I say you will want to read Ash and Bones!

I was expecting from the blurb a fairly straightforward story about the police investigating a terrorist attack. Unforgivable delivers more than this, however, with Thomas turning the theme of terrorism on its head. Thomas taps into the rise of Islamophobia and far-right groups across the country resulting in Unforgivable being incredibly current.

You are dragged into the story from the start. Unforgivable starts with a bang (literally!) and the pace is unrelenting from there on. The vivid descriptions within the first few chapters place you directly in the middle of the action, experiencing everything that is going on, and all its horrors. This is a book that you struggle to put down as its pace and plot beg for it to be read quickly and it becomes all absorbing.

I was pleased to spend time with MacReady et al again and Unforgivable takes up where we last left off a few months down the line. While MacReady is no longer the new boy within his team, he is still treated as such especially following events that occurred during Ash and Bones. He has a new partner in the completely unlikable Paul Echols who isn’t making his life any easier! MacReady’s personal life remains complicated which adds another layer to the book. I really like MacReady; he is intelligent, plucky and on the ball.

Thomas’s first-hand experience of police work shines through and his writing remains authentic. He doesn’t shy away from describing the less than glamorous side of police work and in Unforgivable the impact of austerity cuts enforced by the current government are starkly visible. While as a civvy you are aware that the cuts have an impact, Thomas brings the actual realities straight into your consciousness as resources to investigate the murder of a young woman are scant following the terrorist attacks. This true-to-life approach is one of the things that really appeals to me about Thomas’s books.

Unforgivable is a fantastic, high-adrenaline, close-to-the-bone read and the DC MacReady books are now firmly placed on my list of favourite and highly recommended detective series’.

Published on 27 July 2017 by Zaffre Publishing.

A huge thank you to Mike Thomas and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can read my review of Ash and Bones HERE and Mike’s Author Influences HERE!

Be sure to catch the rest of the tour for more reviews and brilliant guest posts by Mike … they really are worth reading!

Author Guest Post by Michael R Martin – The Inspiration Behind My Writing

I’m delighted to hand over Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to Michael R Martin today. The author of three novels and a collection of short stories, Michael tells us about the inspiration behind his writing.

The Inspiration Behind My Writing

I write thrillers in a variety of genres: horror, paranormal and science fiction. But I like to blur them whenever possible. My narratives mostly play out in fictitious locations based on actual towns and places I know well. “Write about what you know” is sound advice. So I try to make the settings as real as possible. But what happens to the characters that inhabit them is a different thing altogether!

I was born in Lancashire in North West England. I left home at eighteen to study and spent the next twenty years living and working in different parts of the country. I returned in 2000 and met my long-term partner, Lez. She’s an avid reader of crime thrillers and gives all my manuscripts a thorough critique.

So far, I’ve worked as a design engineer, a volunteer IT tutor and a medical records officer. Currently, I’m a freelance graphic designer and computer animator. And, of course, a writer.

As a child, The Enid Blyton books were the first proper stories I read from start to finish and really enjoyed. My junior school headmaster read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to the senior class every December. The very nature of Christmas, for me, was changed in a positive way by this story, and I came to realise just how powerful the written word can be. When I started Grammar School, we were issued with a recommended reading list. My father bought me two at random: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, and I couldn’t put them down. Both took me to other worlds I didn’t want to leave. A couple of years later, a friend introduced me to the Pan Book of Horror Stories anthologies, which steered my imagination into far darker places. At fourteen, all the seeds had been sown.

I enjoyed writing assignments at school and was encouraged by a teacher to hone my ability. But instead I chose to study engineering and worked in product design for many years. I did try my hand at short stories on numerous occasions but never felt confident enough to contact an agent or publisher. I started writing Screams in the Woods in 2009.

I’m a committed indie author. I have been published, but the publisher went bust without paying out any royalties. Once bitten, twice shy. I’m always prepared to talk to agents and publishers should they show an interest, but I’m not actively pursuing any.

The writers that are of particular inspiration to me now are H P Lovecraft, M R James, R Chetwynd-Hayes, Stephen King, Arthur C Clarke, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Alan Garner. I also enjoy the works of Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, Irvine Welsh, William Goulding and J G Ballard amongst others.

I draw inspiration from film and TV, too. The late Nigel Kneale is one of my favourite screenwriters. It’s hard to say which genre exerts the greater pull. I love both, to be honest.

As a graphic designer, I create my own cover artworks. The concept takes form as I write the narrative. That said, it takes quite a while to settle on a final design. I also create covers for other writers, and I’m keen to expand this business.

My first novel, Screams in the Woods, begins when a private investigator is tasked with finding two men who have been missing for over a year. As the case unravels, she realises that, despite her initial doubts, their research into a local, 19th century mining accident is directly related to their disappearance. She soon reaches the point of no return, with little choice but to confront a shadowy group hell-bent on changing the world to their design.

Area 62 is the story of an entrepreneur confronted by the evidence of something truly bizarre in a derelict shop he purchased to expand his internet-based business. It embroils him in an international conspiracy and leads to a quest for answers to some deep questions about the nature of reality and the destiny of the human race.

13 Dark Tales: Collection One is just what is says on the tin. The working title was Darkness at the Edge of Town because the majority of the stories were envisaged during long walks in the local countryside. My imagination became entangled with childhood memories, urban myths and sinister folklore. And the ideas took form along the ragged boundaries between town and country: bleak fields and lonely woods set against swathes of grey boroughs studded with church spires, industrial chimneys and steam-belching cooling towers.

Zombie World, my latest short story, involves four guys who are fans of The Walking Dead TV series and jump at the chance to indulge in an ultrarealistic virtual reality game that lets them fight and kill zombies. It’s intended to be a stag weekend to remember, but the experience turns out to be much more than they bargained for. This is the first time I’ve published such a short narrative, but I plan to release another in the not-too-distant future.

I’m always open to constructive criticism and feedback about my work. I can be contacted on social media where I’ll always respond to genuine people.

Twitter: @MRMartin_Author

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MichaelRMartinAuthor

If you want to discuss a book cover design, you can find me here:

http://www.redherringcg.com

A huge thank you Michael for the guest post. You can visit his author pages and purchase his books on Amazon UK HERE and Amazon US HERE.

Blog Tour – His Frozen Fingertips by Charlotte Bowyer *Author Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be on the His Frozen Fingertips blog tour today with a guest post by author Charlotte Bowyer on getting her book published at the age of seventeen. I don’t generally feature YA books on Bloomin’ Brilliant Books as it’s not a genre I read, however I was intrigued and impressed by the fact that Charlotte has published her first novel at such a young age, so agreed to help out.

Firstly, let’s find out what the book is about.

The Blurb

When he is diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition at the age of seventeen, Asa is certain that his adventures have come to an end. He is alone, having been abandoned by parents who never wanted him and a village that couldn’t raise him. However, as the bells start to ring, those are the least of his problems. The evil sorcerer Erebus has the land of Eodem under his control. Thrust into a world of distrust and aggression, Asa can rely on just one person: his friend Averett. The wall that divides Eodem seems to be an unobtainable goal, and danger is always one step ahead.

I will now hand you over to Charlotte…

How I got my book published at the age of seventeen

I was fifteen years old when I finished the first draft of my novel ‘His Frozen Fingertips’. It was 15th September 2015, and this seemed to be the greatest thing that I would ever achieve in my entire life. For a teenager to sit down and stick to a writing schedule for over six months was a herculean task, especially since I wrote it during Year 10 when I should have been working on my GCSE’s. My novel was at that moment the best piece of work that I had ever done, the exhilaration and pride that I felt on completing it has not been paralleled before or since. At that moment I thought that I had written the next ‘Harry Potter’, which was my favourite book series I had ever read at that time.

My novel was awful. It took me a few weeks to comprehend how convoluted the plot and characterisation was but when I did I was crushed. My expectations of my talent had far exceeded the skills that I had at the time; I had managed to write ninety-eight thousand words of rubbish without realising this. I put the matter out of my mind for a month in favour of doing homework, sports, and social activities but it bothered me that my magnum opus was languishing in some remote file of my computer. I still had a soft spot for the work that had shattered my pride, and I decided that I wanted to edit it until it was good enough to post on Wattpad and show to my friends. After all, they had pretended to read the vampire novella that I wrote when I was thirteen, it did not seem like it would be too much work to push this up to a suitable standard.

How wrong I was. Editing, in this case, was more of a total rewrite than tinkering with grammar and syntax. I went through my novel chapter by chapter, deleting situations and characters that obstructed the story’s flow. In a moment of bittersweet success, I had to all but get rid of my favourite character, a sword-maiden whose plot arc was intense but wholly unrelated to the message that I wanted to get across. It improved the plot but my relationship with the book deteriorated, it became less of a pastime and more of an obsession. I wrote religiously every night with a discipline that I would later only apply to my a-levels. My teachers were expressing concern for the lack of school work I was doing; I did terribly in my GCSE mock exams and stopped putting effort into my homework. School seemed to be a chore, something that was stopping me from having time to spend on writing.

Why was this so important to me? As an avid reader of Young Adult fiction, I was aware that LGBT+ representation was improving in the genre but it seemed as if the B in the acronym was silent, there were few positive bisexual characters who did not fall back into the stereotype of bisexuality being for white, middle-class girls. It was important to me to write a character who broke out this mould so I created Avery Hardy, who is by far my favourite literary invention of all time. He is a bisexual miner from the North who also happens to be the undisputed hero of the novel. The recognition and excellence that I wanted to be associated with a bisexual protagonist was of utmost importance to me whilst writing as many books either erased the identities of those with that sexuality or made them into one-dimensional caricatures. This is what inspired me to refine and recraft my book with such precision and care.

Eventually, I got over this frenzy of writing. No one can sustain that sort of habit as well as schoolwork. It was now April 2016, I had more important things to worry about, such as the imminent exams that loomed over the breadth of the summer. However, I decided that my finished product was good enough to consider for publication. I was sixteen now, after all, the height of maturity. In a fit of misguided enthusiasm, I typed ‘publishers’ into Google and sent a few of them copies of my manuscript and a cover letter.

Needless to say, they did not even dignify me with a response. Confused, I sent a few more out, receiving mixed reactions that ranged from mild interest to vehement disgust. It was at this moment I knew that my book was more controversial than I had previously thought. The combination of my age and the subject matter made me interesting, but it soon became apparent that this also made me a risk. I was unknown, I had not thought to get an agent, and was utterly lost in the difficult world of publishing. Moreover, a couple of publishing companies were impolite in ways that I had never imagined, one of them telling me that I had ‘a lot more growing up to do before [I] could write something worth reading’. I made further edits to my novel and decided that I would try one last time, having researched an American publisher that I had seen on the cover of a book I had been reading. They said that they would accept unsolicited submissions, so I submitted my manuscript to them and promptly forgot all about it. They were publisher number fifteen.

Having received fourteen rejections, to say I was not confident that my novel be accepted would be an understatement. A few weeks passed and I returned to my studies. My GCSE’s started and I decided that I had to work harder, bearing in mind that my writing career was obviously not the massive success that I had assumed it would be. I then received an email saying that Koehler Books wanted to have a Skype call with me to discuss my work. I had a Skype call with them and a few days later I was offered a traditional contract. It was the day of my Physics GCSE.

So, how did I get my book published when I was seventeen? That is a complex question. A lot of it has been down to luck. I was incredibly lucky to find the right people who wanted my book, to have had the right people working with me on publicity and other aspects of the process. Another important factor is work. I gave up any chance of a regular social life when I decided that I wanted to be an author, and now I am doing my a-levels my life has become even more orientated around my schoolwork and writing. It does not really matter to me, because this is what I want to do and I am an introvert but I can imagine that some people would find this difficult. When I felt sad or lacking in inspiration during the process I would look at the works of my favourite authors: William Nicholson, Madeline Miller, and J.K. Rowling. To know that every other author has been through something similar is a relief and will always help to keep me writing.

‘His Frozen Fingertips’ came out on June 26th 2017 and I am still as proud of it as I was when I completed the first draft all the way back in 2015. Over these past few years, I have come to terms with the fact that it is not perfect, though I still have to remind myself of this when I feel myself growing too critical. It is a complete coincidence, but it seems fitting that it was published on the 20th anniversary of the publication of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. ‘Harry Potter’ has been a major part of my life ever since I read it in early childhood and to hear that it has reached twenty years old now is almost unbelievable. Now that I have achieved my first step in becoming a proper author, it feels like I have grown up, too.

Wow! What an amazing story! A huge thank you Charlotte for the great guest post and thank you to Bookollective for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

Author Guest Post by Susan Gandar ‘Absent Father’ and Excerpt

It is Father’s Day on Sunday and as a celebration of that I have a gorgeous guest post from the lovely Susan Gandar. Susan is the author of the beautiful We’ve Come To Take You Home and along with her guest post you can read an excerpt of her debut novel. I’m delighted to have Susan vising the blog today as We’ve Come To Take You Home was one of my favourite books of 2016. I will now hand you over to Susan…

 

Absent Father

What was it like to grow up, the daughter of a 4 Oscar winning father? Yes, it had its moments, very exciting and very different. One of my birthdays was spent, with a group of friends, visiting Shepperton Studios where Carol Reed’s musical ‘Oliver!’ was being shot. We watched as Mark Lester, playing Oliver, crept up to Harry Secombe’s Mr. Bumble, held out his bowl – and whispered, ‘Please, Sir, can I have some more?!

With my father working away so much of the time, most of my school holidays were spent visiting him on location. One of those summer holidays was spent in Spain, in Madrid, where ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was being filmed. Early one blazingly hot morning, heat already shimmering off the pavements, we set off from the cool, dark apartment my parents were renting to visit the unit filming on the other side of the city.

An hour later, I was standing, up to my ankles in snow, in ‘Kropotkin Street’ in Moscow. And it was still over 100 F! And there wasn’t just one street but several, with trams clanking up and down, even a cathedral and in the far distance the crenellated walls of the Kremlin – the Magician, as my father was known, and his team had been at work again.

Those are the positive memories. But there are many that are less so: the number of birthdays that were missed, my very unhappy and frustrated mother, the bullying at school because I was so ‘different’.

Things came to a head when my father was offered and accepted the role of production designer on David Lean’s epic ‘Laurence of Arabia’. He packed his bags and walked out of the front door – not to return for two years. I remember so well the puzzlement, the heartache, the tearful phone calls, the feeling that we all, my mother, my sister and I, the rest of the family, had been deserted.

And then it was Christmas – and he was coming home, just for a couple of days, but that had to be better than nothing. I stood there, five years old, trembling with excitement, staring out of the window, watching out for my father. And there he was, walking down the street, towards our house. I ran out of the sitting room into the hallway, wrenched open the front door, flew down the steps, down onto the street – and threw myself into his arms saying those lines which Jenny Agutter made so famous in the film The Railway Children, ‘Daddy, my Daddy!’.

But the magic moment I’d been dreaming about, better than any Christmas present, being hugged, kissed, burying myself in my father’s arms, didn’t happen. My father just stood there, shuffling his feet, saying nothing, doing nothing. And then my mother was there, pulling at me, apologising, saying she was really sorry, and I was being led back up the steps, through the front door, into our flat. This man wasn’t my father, he was a stranger, just a man walking down the street, my real father would be coming later. And he did, tall and suntanned, and rather glamorous, but rather aloof, mentally and emotionally- still out in Jordan, in the desert, drawing a line through the sand, for Omar Sharif to follow when riding into the well on his camel.

My mother threatened by father with divorce – and the films abroad stopped, at least for a while. And I had a father who was at home, not all of the time, but at least some of the time. And we did what other families did, going for walks together in the local park on a Sunday. To me, even now, the memory of my father’s hand gripping mine, him being there, with us, fills me with a mix of huge happiness – but also huge sadness. Not because of all the time he spent away, not being there when we were growing up. But because, when I was older, when I could spend more time with him and really appreciate who he was, he became the most supportive and most wonderful father – and my dearest friend.

A huge thank you Susan for such a wonderful and moving article.

We’ve Come To Take You Home Excerpt

The accident and emergency waiting room was full, every seat taken, with bonfire night casualties.
‘Your address?’
‘7 Seaview Road.’
‘Your friend’s name?’
‘Friend?’
‘The girl you came in with? In the ambulance?’
‘Amy Roberts.’
‘Address?’
‘Tudor Close.’
‘Number?’
A tall figure, dressed in pilot’s uniform, gold braid on his sleeves, cap perched at just the right angle on top of his head, was striding towards the entrance doors of the accident and emergency department.
‘I’m sorry…’
The automatic doors slid open.
‘The house number? In Tudor Close?’
‘Twenty-four, I think. I’m not sure…’
The figure disappeared outside.
‘No problem. We can check. If you’d like to take a seat I’ll get…’
She couldn’t wait. She’d done all she could. There was a police car sitting outside the girl’s house. When her parents arrived home they would be driven straight to the hospital.
She pushed her way past a family, a little boy his head buried in his father’s shoulder, his right hand tightly bound in a wet towel, the mother sobbing into her phone. Behind were two girls, the same age as herself, supporting a third, the side of her face streaked a livid red. The doors slid open. And there he was. Head held high, arms and legs pumping, on his way to somewhere else.
‘Dad…’
An ambulance, blue lights flashing, sirens blaring, turned off the main road. It accelerated up the ramp directly towards her father.
‘Dad, look out.’
There was no slamming of brakes. No thump of hard metal crunching into soft flesh. The ambulance continued up the ramp. It screeched to a stop outside the accident and emergency department. The driver got out, walked round to the back and threw open first one door, and then the other. An elderly couple looked Sam up and down, shook their heads, muttered something to each other, and continued walking down the ramp towards the main road.
She stood there, trembling, staring at the spot where her father had just been. There had been no slam of brakes, no thump of metal, no screaming or calling out for a doctor, because there had been nothing to scream or call out about. Instead of shattered bone and blood and guts there was empty space. Her father had vanished – if he had ever been there at all.
She ran back into the accident and emergency department, through the waiting area, and down the corridor to the lift. She punched the button. She stepped inside. The doors closed, the doors opened, people got in, people got out; sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and, at last, the tenth floor.
‘Stand clear… oxygen away…VF… shock.’
A trolley, laden with equipment, stood at the end of her father’s bed. She recognised it.
‘Asystole. Flat line.’
It was the same trolley the doctors had used to shoot electricity through the old man’s body. The old man with the grey face thick with stubble, locked away in his coma, who had suddenly sat upright, straight backed in his bed, his arms outstretched, his eyes staring, his mouth opening and closing as if he was trying to say something. That bed was now empty.
‘There’s no heartbeat. It’s been too long.’
A nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from her father’s right arm. A second nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from his left arm. A third nurse unplugged a monitor.
Her father was being tidied up, packed away, like he was nothing more than a head, and a chest, with two arms and two legs which had never felt pain, had never felt anger – had never known love.
She pushed past the trolley, with its plugs and its wires, its paddles and its cables, which had produced the electric shocks that had shot through her father’s body, sending him convulsing off the bed. None of which had worked.
‘Dad, it’s me, Sam.’
She grabbed hold of his hand.
‘Please come back.’
Someone was trying to pull her away from the bed.
‘Sam, come with me now. Your dad can’t hear you…’
It was Mac. Standing next to him was Dr. Brownlow.
‘We did everything we could.’
And now Mac was putting his hand on her hand, and he was uncurling it, finger by finger, out of her father’s. She kicked out, hitting him hard on the shin. He jumped back. She held on to her father’s hand even tighter.
‘We love you…’
Her whole body was screaming.
‘Please come back…’
She had to make him hear.
‘We love you, we love you. Please come back.’
‘Sam, stop now, Dad can’t hear you…’
She had a special gift. That’s what the old lady in the church had said. She could see and hear things other people couldn’t see or hear, go to places other people couldn’t reach. So where would her father be now? Where would he go, inside his head, if he was in a coma?
She closed her eyes. Sometimes her father would be away for just a couple of days, sometimes a full week, often even longer, but, wherever he was, even if it was on the other side of the world, they had always been able to talk to each other. She had always been able to reach him.

You can purchase a copy of We’ve Come To Take You Home HERE.

Read my review HERE and Susan’s Author Influences HERE.

Author Guest Post ‘A Sense of Place’ by Rose Alexander

I’m thrilled to be able to bring you a great guest post by Rose Alexander on the sense of place in a novel. I adored Rose’s debut novel Garden of Stars (you can read my review here). Her latest novel Under An Amber Sky has been getting great reviews. Anyway I will hand you over to the lady herself…

A Sense Of Place

One of the most exciting and liberating parts of writing is that, as you tap away at your keyboard, you can transport yourself and your readers to absolutely anywhere. Literally anywhere in the world. Some people might think that the location is a function of the story rather than the reason for it. But in my experience the best writing comes when a country or landscape gives – or perhaps gifts – the story to you.

This is what happened with my latest novel, Under An Amber Sky. News stories about the tiny, uninhabited Mamula island off the coast of Montenegro caught my attention. The only structure currently on Mamula is a partially ruined Austro-Hungarian fortress constructed in 1853, but over recent years there have been several proposals to develop the island for tourism. All have come to nothing – until now. The government has leased the land to a hotel group that plans to turn it into a resort boasting swimming pools, a yacht marina, a spa, restaurants and dance floor. Nothing wrong there, you might think – but local people are appalled. Why? Because Mamula was a World War II concentration camp used by the Italian occupiers to imprison men, women and children accused of a variety of crimes. Many were tortured or starved to death.

What must the lives have been like for those taken there? For those left behind, desperate for news, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones? From these questions the plot grew and burgeoned and developed into the novel published on 24th May 2017. The book really wrote itself; the protagonist and her tragedy, the many characters who turn up to join her in rebuilding her life in Montenegro, the historical figures so deeply affected by war and bloodshed. The words simply flew from my fingers to the page. Sometimes writing is hellish difficult and takes forever, but creating this book was not like that at all; it flowed. I have no idea if books with a genesis such as this are better or more enjoyable to read than the ones that have to be wrenched out of one with great force and effort – perhaps you readers will be able to tell me the answer! – but it certainly makes the creative process a joy rather than a torment and that has to be a good thing.

Happy reading.

Thank you Rose for a wonderful guest post. This has definitely whet my appetite for Under An Amber Sky which is out now. 

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of GARDEN OF STARS comes a heartwarming and emotional story of hope and second chances.
When Sophie Taylor’s life falls apart, there is only one thing to do: escape and find a new one.
Dragged to Montenegro by her best friend Anna, Sophie begins to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. But when she stumbles into an old, run-down house on the Bay of Kotor she surprises even herself when she buys it.
Surrounded by old furniture, left behind by the former inhabitants, Sophie becomes obsessed by a young Balkan couple when she discovers a bundle of letters from the 1940s in a broken roll-top desk. Letters that speak of great love, hope and a mystery Sophie can’t help but get drawn into.
Days in Montenegro are nothing like she expected and as Sophie’s home begins to fill with a motley crew of lodgers the house by the bay begins to breathe again. And for Sophie, life seems to be restarting. But letting go of the past is easier said than done…

 

 

Author Guest Post ‘Do You Come Here Often?’ by Fiona Ford

I am delighted to hand over the blog today to debut novellist Fiona Ford who has written a wonderful piece about the research she undertook for her book The Spark Girl. Firstly lets find out about the book and then I will pass you over to Fiona.

The Blurb

A knock on the door early one morning wouldn’t normally be cause for concern but it is 1941, Britain is at war, and Kitty Williams’s fiancé Joe is far from home fighting Hitler with the Navy. As Kitty’s heart is shattered into pieces hearing the news she had been dreading, resolve kicks in and she becomes more determined than ever to do her bit for the war effort.

Signing up to the Women’s Army is just the sort of challenge Kitty needs and on meeting new recruits Mary, Di and Peggy, she is happy to learn that the challenge won’t be a lonely one. But it also won’t be easy and when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and supposed allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.

Do You Come Here Often?

It’s a cheesy chat up line isn’t it? But one I have found myself answering much more frequently lately because for the past three years, as part of my research, I have found myself, living, breathing and occasionally sleeping in the Imperial War Museum’s Archives, devouring all things World War II.
My first historical novel The Spark Girl tells the story of Kitty, who joins the women’s army (ATS) with a desire to fight for freedom after learning of the death of her fiancé. But when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and supposed allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.
This novel which has been three years in the making has been a labour of love for me, something I have poured my heart and soul into. But although I have always had a passion for the past, I knew I was going to need more than a love of history and a vivid imagination to write Kitty’s story. No, I was going to need cold hard facts.
Now, obviously The Spark Girl is a work of fiction, not a documentary so of course there are things I have taken poetic licence with, and I sincerely hope that in the interests of the story, the readers will forgive me.
But by and large I have tried to remain as close to the facts, as possible. Of course it would have been easy to make it up and use fiction as the excuse. But for me, its vital to try and get the detail right. Not just out of respect for those who served or lost their lives, but because it makes for a more authentic novel, something every writer strives for.
There’s no getting away from the fact that World War II is an emotive subject for most of us, as there’s usually someone we know who served in the war. For me, it was my beloved Grandfather, Joe who gave me the link. He served in the Royal Navy and as a child I would listen eagerly to his stories of wartime life on board his ship. It wasn’t just the tales of battle I wanted to hear about, but his travels around the globe, and most importantly the people he served with. What were there stories? How did they cope and survive during a war that claimed almost 500,000 lives in Britain alone.
Granddad was a wonderful story teller and brought the period alive for me with his tales of life in the forties. But sadly, when I had the idea for my novel three years ago, I couldn’t ask my grandfather to tell me his stories any longer as he had passed away in 2000.
However, Granddad had done such a marvellous job of bringing the war to life for me I decided to start my research with a place close to his heart – The Imperial War Museum (IWM). Based in south London, the IWM is a treasure trove of history where I happily lost hours, days and weeks in the archives, and I adored every second.
Within these beautifully sculptured walls contained everything I could possibly have wanted to know about the war. While facts and figures were useful for context, what I really needed were people’s stories. And so I requested diaries, letters and scrapbooks from civilians, children, pilots and soldiers all so I could learn as much as I could from as many different sources as possible.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional as well as intellectual journey this research would take me on. Immersing myself in this world of war, I became caught up in people’s personal dramas. Each day I would return to the archives and devour each diary and letter as if they were the latest bestseller, eager to know how events unfolded for the real-life characters living their lives on paper. I felt people’s joy as keenly as if it were my own, I celebrated their triumphs and cried when they shared their losses.
As I sat in the museum’s research room day after day, the strangest of things would bring out the oddest emotional response. A photograph of children sheltering in an Anderson shelter would have me chuckling at how they thought it an adventure. A recipe for Woolton Pie written out in a housewife’s best handwriting left me marvelling at such attention to detail, while the sight of a Cuban sweet wrapper, safely stuck to a scrapbook page and collected by a pilot that never made it home left me in tears.
My research at the IWM took me on a rollercoaster ride, one I never tired of and don’t think I ever will. I was lucky enough to find more than enough material for my second novel, The Spark Girl’s Promise but with each new discovery the one thing I held dear was my desire to do right by the people who fought for our freedom, and try to honour them with a fair representation of facts amongst my own version of fiction.

About Fiona Ford

Fiona Ford is a freelance journalist. She has spent the last 15 years writing gritty real-life stories, news and a smidgeon of celebrity tittle-tattle for national newspapers and magazines. Following a stint as a ghost writer, Fiona plucked up the courage to combine her love of writing and history to write a novel in her own name. The Spark Girl, is her first saga.
Originally from Bath, Fiona now lives in Berkshire and is married with two cats. Thankfully, both her husband and pets have all mastered the art of pretending to listen patiently as she begins yet another anecdote with the words, ‘during the war’. When she is not writing or researching World War 2, Fiona can be found running along the Thames Path, training for a half marathon of some kind and wishing she was sat on the sofa eating chocolate instead.

Website: www.fionaford.co.uk
Twitter: @fionajourno
Instagram: @folowrites

The Spark Girl is published by Orion on 1 June 2017 in hardback and ebook. Paperback available for pre-order and out 24th August.
Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Orion 

A huge thank you for the wonderful guest post Fiona. Wishing you a very happy publication day and success for The Spark Girl.

 

Author Guest Post – What Inspired Me To Write ‘Before You Were Mine’ by Em Muslin

Today I am joined by debut author Em Muslin, who has written a wonderful guest post on what inspired her to write her novel, Before You Were Mine. I’m always interested in where authors get their inspiration from and Em has written a wonderful piece. Enjoy!

What Inspired Me To Write Before You Were Mine

Before You Were Mine, my debut novel partly came from a documentary I watched many years ago. It followed a group of people, whether they were mothers searching for their child they had given up for adoption, or children who were given up for adoption, looking for their mothers. It was a painful journey, as not only did you discover the stories behind the women who were placed in a position where they were either forced to give up their baby for adoption, or they felt it would be best for the child, but also it followed some families reuniting for the first-time. The fantasy they had carried in their head for so many years didn’t always live up to the reality. Similarly, Before You Were Mine touches on some of the key human emotions explored in the programme; love, regret, grief and hope.

I could only imagine how it felt for the mothers to give up the baby and the moment when they realise the child is no longer considered theirs. I wanted to explore the concept of absolute pure love, and the grief that follows once a mother and child are separated. Eli, my main character is placed in a position where she is forced to give up her baby for adoption and the book follows her as she tries to come to terms with the fact she may never meet her own daughter. She uses the grief that consumes her to drive her forward. She is determined, no matter what, to one day be reunited with her.

There is a Hebrew word Mizpah that can be interpreted as an emotional bond between people who are separated, either physically by distance or by death – and I think that is the underlying theme of the book. No matter what, the emotional union between Eli and her daughter will always be there. It is what drives her to search for her despite how many knock-backs life throws at her.

As anyone who has suffered grief, deep relentless grief – it is the closest one gets to crazy. It is a fine line that you have every chance of tripping over. Eli tip-toes along that line each day. There is a quote in the book from C.S Lewis (A Grief Observed), which talks about how the ‘same leg is cut off time after time’. Every instant Eli is knocked back, the raw primitive sorrow of losing her child comes back to haunt her. Inside she is screaming. The need, the absolute visceral need to grasp something that somehow seems unfeasible; the possible loss of her daughter forever – someone she feels such profound love for – is simply impossible for her to comprehend.

On the flip side, Eli also demonstrates unrelenting hope. Hope that one day they will finally be reunited. This optimism is what drives us all forward, no matter our goals and it is the key emotion that keeps Eli upright. Although, readers may find the book emotionally challenging at times, it does offer hope. As Eli says ‘Without hope, what have you got?’

She is a character that despite the adversities she has faced demonstrates great strength, grace and drive. She is loved greatly by her husband Tommy, who unbeknownst to her has profound regrets of his own. He battles with his part in her story and he too has hope that Eli and her daughter will one day be reunited.

I dug into my own experience of grief to unearth a little of Eli’s psyche, to see what drove her. The book idea was born before my own encounter with deep personal grief, but it certainly grew up afterwards.

It began as a short story called Regret;

‘Once you’ve done something, ticked the box, nodded your head, raised your hand, picked something up, it’s impossible to turn back the clock. Sure you can lower your hand, cross out the mark you had made, put something down, but forever the smudged mark would remain, your prints all over the moment. If only you had had more time to think, less time to regret. Regret. Regret. Even saying the word makes you shake your head and look down to your scuffed shoes in pity, sorrow resting in the creases on your brow, like crows on the roof ready to swoop.’ (Excerpt Before You Were Mine)

I wanted to explore that feeling of how when an event changes a life forever, we are soon full of regret. That life in retrospect is much clearer. If we knew then, what we now know, how different our lives would or could be.

The book is set in a hot dusty town. Her life at times can seem suffocating and I wanted very much to the use the climate of the setting to layer the book. Eli talks and dreams of snow. It is the opposite of her reality.

‘Often I’d lie awake in the dead of night, whilst he lay sleeping next to me, and I would think of you. I would think of you and me. I’d imagine us feeling snowflakes against our skin. The cold tiptoe of a snowflake on our rosy cheeks. Tiptoeing, tap dancing on our skin. Melting. No one else would be around and only our footprints could be seen in the snow. I’d place my footprints in yours and yours in mine, and we’d become one. I would press my cheek against yours and I’d hold you, and this time, in the dead of night, this time, I promise I would never let you go.’ (Excerpt Before You Were Mine)
The fantasy she constructs is so far removed from her actual life. It is a place she escapes to, where she feels closest to her daughter.

Readers of course will have to read the book to discover whether or not she is finally reunited with her child. However, I hope as they travel along the journey with Eli, they too feel that anything, no matter how impossible it seems, can be with determination and strength, attainable.

A huge thank you to Em for the gorgeous guest post. Before You Were Mine is published on 26 May 2017 by HQ Digital.

 

Here is the all-important blurb:

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…
Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.
Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…
While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.
Don’t miss the breathtaking debut Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin! Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Alice Peterson and Lucy Dillon.

You can pre-order you copy HERE.

 

Blog Tour – Watching You by J A Schneider *Guest Post*

Whoop whoop it’s my turn on the Watching You blog tour along with Whispering Stories. Sadly my current TBR pile is verging on unmanageable so I haven’t had time to read and review Joyce’s latest novel. I am pleased though to be able to bring you a brilliant guest post by Joyce . Enjoy!

Procrastinate Much? By J.A. Schneider

Do you procrastinate? Who doesn’t? But do you kick yourself and feel guilty when you do? Everyone does that too. And shouldn’t. It’s normal.

Your wheels are really turning, all the time, even in your sleep. That thing that’s so important to you is busy 24/7, down there in the subconscious sweatshop where they never stop. In fact, downtime might be not only good but part of the process. Take a walk, play with the dog, re-watch your favorite movie or TV series. Lying fallow re-charges the batteries. You’ll come back to your work refreshed, able to look at it anew and take it to the next level.

I see authors who say, “Eight a.m., I’m outta bed, coffee beside me and hitting those keys.” Wish I could do that. I’ve tried, but I want to see the news, what’s happening in the world, who’s arguing & bitching on Twitter, ha. Maybe I need that bigger worldview – for whatever reasons, I just do. Simultaneously, I absolutely must go through the email or it will bother me, like a nagging to-do list that will continue to nag as I try to get into that fragile place of deeper concentration.

If you have routine ways of procrastinating, that’s good! A sure sign that what you’re doing is really part of the process. Don’t fight it. The guys down in the sweatshop need those stolen minutes or hours to catch up, re-fire the engine.

Picasso said that he did his best work thinking, just staring out the window. Looking out, he saw what he was trying to do better than when he stared at the taunting canvas. Too much pressure, that canvas, like authors glaring at the bleeping blank page. Did Picasso consider his staring out the window or spending hours at the local café as procrastinating? Unlikely. He was doing the work in his head, and knew it. He also spent tons of time on amorous misadventures. Mistresses would complain that talking to him was like “he was on another planet.” He was. His mind was more on his work than the current love throwing the empty Merlot bottle at him.

To each his own. Me, I’ve just looked out and spotted a Baltimore Oriole (not the baseball team) sitting on the fence. It’s October, getting chilly here in Connecticut, too cold for him. Why hasn’t he migrated south yet? Fly away, birdie, tonight’s gonna be cold!

I watch until he departs, then I go back to work. Where was I? Oh right, Detective Kerri Blasco has just pulled her gun on the guy who’s already aiming his gun at her – what happens next?

OMG, one of them shoots, my adrenalin pricks, and I’m back in the story…

Thank you Joyce for taking the time to write this fantastic post. Now I know you are all wanting to know more about Watching You so here goes…

The Blurb

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

Fans of Karin Slaughter, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Abbott will be gripped by this nonstop serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

Sounds great, right? Watching You is out now and can be purchased via the following links –

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-You-terrifying-mind-bending-Detective-ebook/dp/B06XK66X7D/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492268435&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=watching+you+Joyce+Schneider

US: https://www.amazon.com/Watching-You-terrifying-mind-bending-Detective-ebook/dp/B06XK66X7D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492271365&sr=8-1&keywords=Watching+you+ja+schneider

For reviews and more guest posts catch the other fab bloggers on the Watching You blog tour…

Author Guest Post – Good Vs Evil – A Story as Old as Time by Kerensa Jennings

I was approached to see if I would be able to read and review Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings. Because I am  being good (and for once in my life sensible!) and trying to make a dent in my ever-toppling ‘to review’ pile, I very sadly had to say no. I was pretty gutted about this as Kerensa’s debut novel sounds stunning and is definitely on my TBR list.  I am very excited, however, to be able to bring you a fantastic guest post by Kerensa on Good vs Evil, which I know you will enjoy reading as much as I did. So instead of waffling on I will place you in Kerensa’s good hands…

Good versus Evil – a Story as Old as Time
“There was once a poor man, who was a woodman, who went every day to cut wood in the forest…

And the two children were so very fond of each other, that they were never happy but when they were together….

In the afternoon of the third day they came to a strange little hut, made of bread, with a roof of cake, and windows of barley-sugar…

Hansel had torn off a large piece of cake from the roof, when the door opened, and a little old lady fairy came gliding out….

But the fairy was a spiteful one, and had made her pretty sweetmeat house to entrap little children…”


Hansel and Gretel. Two little children, pottering off together into the woods. The picture of innocence.

We are all familiar with the story. A classic tale of good versus evil. Innocence triumphing over adversity. And some horrific incidents involving a wicked witch; a dreadful mother who brutally casts the children in her care to a fate in the woods; and a weak father who helplessly colludes.

A story as old as time.

We all love stories. We can lose ourselves in them. Escape, run away. Use them as a source of solace and comfort. Empathise with the characters, feel their joy, endure their pain. Stories give us permission to live an alternate reality, fly away into our imaginations. Stories give us permission to experience what psychologists call ‘transference’ – where we project our emotions and life stories onto others. It is easier for a child to hate a step-mother in a story than to admit in his or her heart of hearts they hate their own.

The extracts above come from a precious 1839 edition I have of the Grimm brothers’ collection of ‘Popular Stories’. I have always been fascinated by fairy tales and have a collection of beautiful books from around the world. Fairy tales help us make sense of life, one step removed. And everyone always lives happily ever after.

The original collections the Grimm brothers amassed were collected as oral stories then written up. These were adapted several times even in the brothers’ own lifetime, and these days the Disneyfied stories we tell our children are scarcely recognizable from their early incarnations. The original tales were imbued with darkness, sex, incest. Not the type of thing you would choose as a bedtime story for your little one.

When I was at university, my thesis was titled ‘Persecution and Revenge of the Innocents’. I took five of the stories  –  including Hänsel und Grethel –  (from the third publication of the Grimms’ collection) and conducted a psychoanalytical analysis of the tales, exploring themes of innocence, corruption, good and evil.

I examined archetypes in the Grimm’s stories. In fairy tale land, there is a logic which works something like this – if a character is beautiful and light, then they are innocent and good. If a character is ugly and dark, then they are corrupt and evil. Even the Disneyfication of fairy tales notwithstanding, we are all familiar with the idea…

In SEAS OF SNOW, I have attempted to create a profound dichotomy between good and evil. We see the world through the eyes of little Gracie, a picture of innocence, kindness, sweetness and loveliness; and then also through the perspective of her uncle Joe – a character whose darkness seeps through every pore.

Gracie and her best friend Billy often go to play in the woods, using playtime and stories to invent worlds and games in fairy tale kingdoms with dragons and princesses. Friendship and love bind the past and the present as the story dances through time. And the horror unfolds with uncle Joe turning his violent attentions to little Gracie.

I so wanted to write something so that victims and their families could have ‘permission’ to stop feeling they are at fault, or to blame. The truth is in today’s troubled times as much as ever – so much goes on behind closed doors. People on the outside are often perplexed that someone stayed in a domestic abuse situation; or can’t fathom why no-one took action to help. SEAS OF SNOW seeks to offer a way for people who are suffering to see they are not alone.

I wrote the novel as a process of catharsis for myself. I had lead the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, working closely with the police. This was a terrible case where a school caretaker brutally murdered two little girls, stealing their futures and robbing their families and friends of their loved ones.

The caretaker, Ian Huntley, was interviewed by the press and the media in the days after the girls went missing. He outwardly betrayed the appearance of someone who was a caring member of the community. All the while, as he lied and lied, he knew exactly what he had done. Hiding in plain sight. Working on this case for many months affected me profoundly.

So in creating Joe, I wanted to explore whether evil is born or made. Examine that age old debate of nature versus nurture. Bring to life an antagonist who people would fall in love with because of his outward appearance and charisma. Then make him evil to the core so our revulsion at him and what he is capable of makes us feel duped and horrified. I wanted that emotional disjuncture. That sense of not being able to trust our own eyes.

My fascination for fairy tales has influenced my writing throughout my life. People who read SEAS OF SNOW will recognise some of that thinking I suspect. Trust. Betrayal. Consequences.

When I was putting my thoughts together on how to craft my story structure in the novel, I began casting around for inspiration of time and place. I knew I wanted to transplant the original genesis of my thinking into another time and place.

I had bought the book “Mémoires d’Enfance”  while I was living in Paris, largely because I was entranced by the photograph on the front cover. I discovered it was by a truly great American photo journalist called W Eugene Smith.

This is what he said about photography: “A photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.”

This is exactly what happened to me when I saw the little boy and the little girl in the woodland clearing. A sort of early twentieth century Hansel and Gretel. I found myself imagining who could have taken the photograph, who the children were, what their back-stories might be. Where did they live, what were their lives like? What were they called?

Suddenly, the names “Gracie” and “Billie” startled themselves into my mind. Whatever the truth of their identities, I “knew” that was what this sweet little twosome were called. And in time, these grew into “my” Gracie and Billie. During the development edit, my editor Scott Pack not unreasonably pointed out that the normal spelling of the boy’s name is Billy. So Billie became Billy. Early readers of my first drafts might have fond memories of Billie as he was, but it felt fitting to give him his proper boy name.

With the photograph came the inspiration for placing the story in the 1950s. From there it was a hop and a skip to deciding North Shields in Tyneside for the location as this was where my Nanny had grown up. I’d been there for a special and rather formative holiday with her in my early teens.

SEAS OF SNOW is bleak psychological thriller. Uncle Joe appears unexpectedly in Gracie’s life when she’s just five years old. And changes everything. SEAS OF SNOW is a story of trust and betrayal, of the worst kind.

Drawing on the power of storytelling in fairy tales, it’s about good versus evil.

A story as old as time.

A huge thank you to Kerensa for taking the time to write such a wonderful piece. I loved reading this!

Seas Of Snow – The Blurb

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

How brilliant does Seas Of Snow sound? Published on 16 March 2017 you can purchase a copy via the following links –

UK: Amazon Link

US: Amazon Link

Author Guest Post – Behind the Scenes in the Reading Group with Della Parker

I’m very excited to be joined by The Reading Group author Della Parker today. She is taking us behind the scenes of her series of novellas and talking about the importance of and how she created the settings. Without further ado I will hand you over to Della…

Settings

Settings are incredibly important for fiction. They are where our characters live and they are where we are going to take our readers. So for me, it’s important to choose a setting I know well.

The setting for my latest series of novellas, The Reading Group, was a seaside town in Devon called Little Sanderton. The nearest big town to Little Sanderton is Exeter which is 21 miles away and is mentioned frequently throughout the Reading Group.

I should confess here that Little Sanderton doesn’t actually exist but if you were to look up Branscombe, which is in Devon, you’ll have an idea of where I had in mind. When Jojo and Kate go walking to talk about the breakdown of Kate’s marriage in the February, novella they are walking on Branscombe Beach.

Serena’s house where the Reading Group meet each month, is set on a clifftop close by. So is Anne Marie’s father’s house.

The beauty of choosing an imaginary setting is that you can’t mistakenly libel anyone or upset anyone, but you can go and look at actual houses and base your fictitious ones upon them. I tend to use the outsides of real houses and make up what’s on the inside. (So far, no one has actually let me in to have a look around their house, but you never know!)

I also tend to set my stories in places I love. I have some very fond memories of holidaying in Branscombe, which is not a million miles away from where I live. I have walked along several sections of the coast path and spent many a happy day in the local seaside towns and villages, not to mention restaurants. (All in the name of research, obviously!)

Setting a series of novellas in this area was a delight. It meant I could go back there in my mind. Skip back to this idyllic place and take my readers with me. Not a bad way to earn a living, is it!

 

Thank you Della for this lovely guest post. The first instalments of The Reading Group by Della Parker are out now.  Each month concentrates on a different character and has elements of the classic literary fiction they are reading that month as part of their reading group. You can read my reviews of December, January and February and find out more about the characters HERE and my review of April HERE.